Wednesday

Jun. 24, 1998

Things My Grandmother Must Have Said

by Mark Cox

WEDNESDAY 6/24

Today's Reading: "Things My Grandfather Must Have Said" by Mark Cox from SMOULDER, published by David R. Godine (1989).

The BERLIN AIRLIFT began on this day in 1948, the first of two million tons of food and supplies flown by British and U.S. planes over a Soviet blockade. Berlin was mostly rubble when the war ended in 1945, and for years afterward thousands were homeless and hungry. When the Western Allies decided to unify the parts of Germany they occupied, the Soviets reacted by banning all rail and road traffic in and out of Berlin. President Harry Truman ordered the blockade broken. Planes began landing on June 24 and kept up throughout 1948. The airlift ended when the Soviets called off the blockade in September 1949.

It's the birthday in Boston, 1916 of poet JOHN CIARDI. Educated at Tufts and the University of Michigan, he taught at Kansas State until WWII broke out. He served as a B-29 gunner over Japan, then came back to lecture on poetry for 30 years at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont, half that time directing the program. He edited poetry for the Saturday Review from 1956 to 1972, and authored 40 books of poetry and criticism.

It's the birthday in Waldstein, Austria, 1883, of physicist VICTOR FRANCIS HESS. He won the Nobel Prize in 1936 for discovering cosmic rays, the high-energy radiation that comes from outer space.

It's the birthday near Pomeroy, Ohio, 1842, of writer AMBROSE BIERCE, whose stories about war, horror, and death earned him the nickname "Bitter Bierce." In 1891 he brought out the first of his three best-known books, In the Midst of Life, followed two years later by Can Such Things Be? — both of them story collections. In 1906 he wrote The Devil's Dictionary, a book full of definitions like: Bore, noun: a person who talks when you wish him to listen.

It's the birthday in Litchfield, Connecticut, 1813, of the preacher and social reformer HENRY WARD BEECHER. The Beecher family was prominent in 19th-century Ohio and Connecticut: Henry's sister Harriet wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and four of his brothers all became famous preachers and teachers.

It was on this day in 1647 that MARGARET BRENT, a wealthy landowner in Maryland, appeared before the Maryland assembly AND DEMANDED THE RIGHT TO VOTE. The men of the Assembly were shocked at her request and turned her down. She moved to Virginia.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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