Sep. 3, 1998


by Randall Jarrell


Today's Reading: "Bats" by Randall Jarrell from THE BAT POEM, published by Harper Collins (1996).

The BLUE HILL FAIR begins today in Blue Hill, Maine. In Hoopeston, Illinois, it's the 54th NATIONAL SWEETCORN FESTIVAL. And the UTAH STATE FAIR gets underway today in Salt Lake City.

On this day in 1939, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Fifteen minutes after the expiration of an ultimatum that Germany halt its invasion of Poland—an invasion launched two days earlier—Neville Chamberlain announced on the radio that Britain was going to war. Winston Churchill was named First Lord of the Admiralty.

It's the birthday of novelist ALISON LURIE, born in Chicago in 1926. Her family moved to Westchester, New York, before she started school and from an early age she liked making up stories to entertain herself and her family. Her best known novel, The War Between the Tates, came out in 1974, followed by many others including Foreign Affairs, which won the 1984 Prize.

It's the birthday in Boston of the man regarded as the spiritual father of modern US architecture, LOUIS H(ENRY) SULLIVAN, 1856. Remembered for his famous dictum, "Form follows function." His 14-year partnership with Dankmar Adler produced more than 100 buildings, many of them landmarks in U.S. architecture—such as the Wainwright Building in St. Louis and the Auditorium Building in Chicago (1886).

American fiction writer SARAH ORNE JEWETT was born on this day in 1849, in South Berwick, Maine. She spent most of her life in the Maine seacoast village where she was born, writing about everyday life there, sold her first story when she was eighteen and went on to sell pieces to Harper's, The Century, and The Atlantic. Best known of her books are "Deephaven" (1877), "The Country of the Pointed Firs" (1896), and "A Country Doctor" (1884).

It's the birthday of the Quaker schoolteacher PRUDENCE CRANDALL, born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island (1803). Crandall's private girls' school was boycotted when she admitted a black girl, so in 1833 she started a school which was, she said, for "young ladies and little misses of color." The legislature promptly passed Connecticut's Black Law prohibiting such schools; when Crandall refused to submit, she was arrested, tried and convicted. Although the verdict was soon reversed, public outrage mounted, and Crandall was forced to close her school.

In 1783 on this day, Britain finally recognized the independence of the United States of America. The Treaty of Paris, signed after two years of negotiations between the beleaguered British and the colonial rebels, marked the end of the American Revolution.

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