Aug. 9, 1998

A Walk Along The Old Tracks

by Robert Kinsley


Today's Reading: "A Walk Along the Old Tracks" by Robert Kinsley from ENDANGERED SPECIES, published by Orchises.

The SECOND ATOMIC BOMB was dropped by the U.S. on this day in 1945, on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The intended target was the city of Kokura, but poor visibility forced the B-29 bomber on to Nagasaki. The bomb detonated at 11:02 a.m., local time, and destroyed about half the city, killing 70,000 people. The Japanese surrendered, and WWII formally ended September 2nd.

It's the birthday of P. L. TRAVERS, the writer who created Mary Poppins, born in Maryborough, Australia in 1899. Her full name was Pamela Lyndon Travers, but she only signed her work with the initials P.L.T. She spent most of her life in England and lived to be 96, writing essays, stories, and journalism well into her 80s – but nothing so well known as her very first book, Mary Poppins. It came out in 1934, a tale about the Banks family at 17 Cherry Tree Lane in London, and the nanny who flies in under an umbrella, slides up staircases, produces furniture out of her satchel, and takes the children's temperature with a thermometer that registers moods, not degrees.

It's the birthday of JEAN PIAGET, the Swiss psychologist, born in Neuchatel, 1896. Piaget taught psychology for 50 years at the University of Geneva, and his specialty was children. He researched how children learn and theorized that a child learns in four basic stages: from birth to about two years old, they're trying to master physical things like blocks and toys; from ages 2 to 6, the child absorbs language; until 12, it's mostly numbers and the relationships between things; then to the age of 15, it's more abstract concepts.

It's the birthday in Charlton, Massachusetts, 1819, of the doctor who first used anesthesia during surgery, WILLIAM THOMAS GREEN MORTON. Morton was a Boston dental surgeon who hit on the idea of trying ether. He gave it to a hen on his farm and tried it himself, losing consciousness for eight minutes. Soon, a dental patient of his needed a tooth out, so, he gave the man ether and pulled the tooth.

The TREATY OF FORT JACKSON was signed this day in 1814, ending a war between the U.S. government and the Creek Indians, and giving most of Alabama and part of Georgia to the government.

It's the birthday in Stafford, 1593, of IZAAK WALTON, the English writer best known for The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation, a treatise on the philosophical pleasures of fishing.

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




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