Aug. 16, 1998


by John Barr


Today's Reading: "Restoration" by John Barr from THE HUNDRED FATHOM CURVE, published by Story Line Press (1997).

It's the birthday in 1920, in the Rhineland town of Andernach, Germany, of writer CHARLES BUKOWSKI. His father was an American soldier and moved the family to Los Angeles when Charles was two. After college he moved to New York where he tried to make it as a writer. But after gathering a pile of rejection slips in the mid '40s, he essentially began a 10-year drinking binge. He wound up in an L.A. hospital with an ulcerated liver, then started to write books like Ham on Rye, or Notes of a Dirty Old Man. Bukowski also liked long titles in his work: Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit; Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts; Poems Written Before Jumping out of an 8 Story Window.

It's the birthday in Salt Lake City, 1902, of the Harlem Renaissance writer WALLACE THURMAN. He went to school in Utah and Los Angeles, then moved to Harlem in 1925 and joined writers like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston who contributed to the literary magazine Fire!!

GOLD WAS DISCOVERED IN ALASKA on this day in 1896. Three men found gold in a little tributary off the Klondike River named Rabbit Creek. They said it laid "thick between the flaky slabs like cheese sandwiches." The discovery opened up the great Klondike Gold Rush Discovery Day, an annual celebration in the Yukon, is tomorrow.

It's the birthday in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 1884, of HUGO GERNSBACK, an inventor, radio pioneer and editor, but who is best remembered as the "father of science fiction." He was twenty-years-old when he came to this country in 1904 with $100 in his pocket. He started writing, and in 1911 came out with a story in Modern Electrics magazine called "Ralph 124C41+" – in which he predicted things like radar, solar power, space travel, microfilm, tape recorders, synthetic fibers, stainless steel, and plastics. In 1953, the World Science Fiction Convention began an annual achievement award named for him, the Hugo.

It's the anniversary in 1780 of the Revolutionary War BATTLE OF CAMDEN. It took place outside Camden, South Carolina, a village 25 miles northeast of Columbia, and was one of the colonists' worst defeats in the war. The British and the Americans were evenly matched in terms of men – about 3,000 a piece – but the American supply system had broken down and many of the soldiers hadn't eaten in days. The British staged a ferocious bayonet charge; a thousand Americans fell, another thousand were captured and the rest fled all the way back to Charlotte, North Carolina, 60 miles north.

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




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