Sep. 27, 1998


Today's Reading: "On September 20, 1892, vast swarms," a section from Alison Hawthorne Deming's longer poem THE MONARCHS, published by Louisiana State University Press (1997).

Today is the FEAST DAY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL, a French priest canonized in 1737. In 1633 he founded an order called the Sisters of Charity, groups of laywomen who visited, fed, and nursed the sick and poor.

It's the birthday in 1917 in Lawrence, New York, of novelist and short-story writer LOUIS AUCHINCLOSS, who wrote a novel in his spare time while attending Yale University. When it was rejected by Scribner's, he took it as an omen and determined to follow his father into practice as a Wall Street attorney, which he did after getting his degree from the University of Virginia. He started his first published novel, The Indifferent Children, in the navy during World War II, and brought it out in 1947. He returned to his career as an attorney, but continued writing on the side for the next 40 years. His novels include The House of Five Talents (1960), Portrait in Brownstone (1962) and The Embezzler (1966).

It's the birthday of songwriter VINCENT YOUMANS, born in New York City, 1898. He's best known for the musicals No, No, Nanette (1925), Hit the Deck (1927), and the first movie teaming Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Flying Down to Rio (1933). He was born a day after Gershwin, across town in New York. And, like Gershwin, he worked as a song-plugger — which is a singing pianist hired by a music publisher to help sell sheet music — and he wrote music to the lyrics of Gershwin's brother Ira, and he died young. Some of his shows were flops but all of them included great songs, like "Tea for Two," "I Want to be Happy," "More Than You Know," and "Orchids in the Moonlight." He died of tuberculosis when he was 46 years old.

Today is the birthday of SAM ADAMS, born in Boston, 1722, the chief instigator of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. He'd failed at several business ventures, and made a living as a tax collector in Boston; but that didn't last all that long: he was so lax in his bookkeeping he was the object of several lawsuits. But he could give a great speech. In 1771, he told a crowd gathered in Boston: "Let us contemplate our forefathers, and posterity, and resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter. The necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and perseverance. Let us remember that if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom."

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




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