Sep. 6, 1998

A Cat in Eden

by William Greenway


Today's Reading: "A Cat in Eden" by William Greenway from WHERE WE'VE BEEN, published by Breitenbush Books (1987).

On this day in 1936, British aviator BERYL MARKHAM flew solo across the Atlantic from east to west—the first person ever to do so—taking off in England and crash-landing in Nova Scotia. Raised in Kenya, brought up to be a horse trainer and breeder, Markham then took up aviation, flying to remote corners of East Africa. In 1942 she published "West with the Night," a memoir.

In 1901 on this day, PRESIDENT WILLIAM McKINLEY was shot by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz (Chahl-gosh) at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, at a public reception in the Temple of Music. McKinley died 8 days later.

It's the birthday of JANE ADDAMS born in Cedarville, Illinois (1860), founder of Hull House in Chicago. During two trips to Europe during her twenties, Jane was depressed by the poverty she saw in many cities, but was inspired by a settlement house in London's East End. She was 25 when she located the abandoned Hull mansion in Chicago's 19th Ward, in a community of Greeks, Italians, Russians and Germans. She would live in Hull House, organizing social, medical, and cultural activities, for the rest of her life. In 1931, four years before her death, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On this day in 1847, HENRY DAVID THOREAU moved from the northwest shore of Walden Pond, where he had lived in a hut for two years, to his father's house in Concord, Massachusetts.

In 1666 on this day, the Great Fire of London was finally extinguished after Navy teams blew up a row of buildings in the path of the flames. The fire—which destroyed 90 churches and 400 acres of the city—started when a blaze at the Pudding Street bakery in the East End, spread next door to a tar store, which exploded, igniting the neighborhood.

In 1522 on this date, a Spanish ship returned to Seville after sailing around the world. Four other ships, as well the expedition's commander, FERDINAND MAGELLAN, were lost at various stages of the circumnavigation. By the end, only 15 crewmen were left alive to sail the surviving ship, the Vittorio, into Seville.

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