Sep. 23, 1998

The Life of a Day

by Tom Hennen


Today's Reading: "The Life of a Day" by Tom Hennen from CRAWLING OUT THE WINDOW, published by Black Hat Press.

It's the FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN, the equinox occurring at 1:37 a.m. EDT. We've got nearly identical amounts of daylight and darkness today: 12 hours, 8 minutes of each.

It's RAY CHARLES' birthday. He's 68, born in Albany, Georgia, 1930. He was struck blind at the age of seven, and orphaned while he was in his teens. He had his first million-seller record when he was 29 years old, "What'd I Say."

It's the birthday in 1926 of the tenor sax player JOHN COLTRANE, born in Hamlet, North Carolina, east of Charlotte about an hour. He broke in with Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band, then joined the Miles Davis Quintet in 1955, and became famous for his extended improvisations.

It's the birthday in Kiev of the American sculptor LOUISE NEVELSON, born in 1899. Her family moved to Rockland, Maine when she was a girl. For years she worked in poverty until the late 1950s, when museums started buying her work. She's best known for sculptures of open-face wooden boxes stacked to make free-standing walls. Inside the boxes she arranged things like old chair legs, fruit crates, stuff she'd found near her SoHo apartment. She said, "In the first grade, I already knew the pattern of my life. I didn't know the living of it, but I knew the line. From the first day in school until the day I graduated, everyone game me one hundred plus in art. Well, where do you go in life? You got to the place where you got one hundred plus."

WALTER LIPPMANN, the political columnist, was born in New York on this day in 1889. In 1914 he helped found The New Republic.

It's the birthday of BARONESS EMMUSKA ORCZY, born in Hungary, 1865 and best known for her romantic novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel. She grew up as a member of royalty, educated in Brussels and Paris, and moved to London where she wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel first as a play, in 1903, then two years later brought it out as a novel; the story of Sir Percy Blakeney, an English aristocrat who is actually a swashbuckling hero specializing in rescuing French aristocrats during the Revolution.

It was on this day in 1846 that the eighth planet, NEPTUNE, WAS DISCOVERED by two German astronomers, Johann Galle and Heinrich d'Arrest. The year before, a British astronomer, John Adams, and a Frenchman, Urbain Leverrier, theorized that an unknown planet was causing the fluctuations in the orbit of the seventh planet, URANUS. In Berlin on the night of September 23, 1846, the two Germans found Neptune within a single degree of where Leverrier thought it would be.

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




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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