Oct. 12, 1998

Susanna Fontanarossa

by Thomas Lux

MONDAY 10/12

Today's Reading: "Susanna Fontanarossa" by Thomas Lux from SPLIT HORIZON, published by Houghton Mifflin.

It's COLUMBUS DAY. Christopher Columbus made landfall on the morning of October 12, 1492, in the Bahamas. His mission had been to find a quick route to China, and a few days later he went ashore in Cuba searching for the Chinese emperor. When he returned to Spain in March, 1493, he reported to Queen Isabella that the islands he'd found were just off the Chinese coast. The U.S. began observing Columbus Day on October 12, 1792, with a celebration in New York.

Soviet premier NIKITA KRUSHCHEV took off his shoe at the United Nations in New York on this day in 1960, and pounded his desk with it. This was during a debate about the colonization of African and Asian countries. From the front podium Krushchev had earlier called the Philippine delegate a "jerk" and a "lackey of imperialism," then went back to his desk to listen to that delegate rail about Soviet colonization of East Europe. Krushchev then took off his shoe, waved it at the speaker and began pounding his desk.

It's LUCIANO PAVAROTTI's birthday, born in Modena, Italy, 1935. He went to college to become a teacher, and for two years taught elementary school. Then he started singing and winning competitions and made his debut in Italy in 1961.

It's the birthday of writer and actor ALICE CHILDRESS, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 1916, author in 1973 of the young-adult novel A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich, the story of a 13-year-old heroin addict; in which she wrote: "We think of poverty as a condition simply meaning a lack of funds, no money, but when one sees fifth, sixth, and seventh generation poor, it is clear that poverty is as complicated as high finance." Childress was brought up in Harlem, and wrote and starred in her first play, Florence, with the American Negro Theater during the late 1940s.

It's the birthday of ANN PETRY, born in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, 1908, author of the 1946 novel The Street.

Anton Chekov finished his final play, THE CHERRY ORCHARD, on this day in 1903 — the story of Madame Ranevskaya and her family's estate in Russia, part of which holds a beautiful orchard of cherry trees. She's forced to sell the estate to a developer, and the play ends with the sound of saws cutting down the trees.

It's the birthday of GEORGE WASHINGTON CABLE, the novelist of Creole life, born in 1844, New Orleans. He wrote about New Orleans in a pair of books that were popular in the late 19th century: the short story collection Old Creole Days (1879), and his novel, The Grandissimes (1880). His parents had been slaveholders, and Cable fought in the Confederate cavalry during the Civil War, but when he got out of the service he changed his mind about slavery. His books written in the late 1880s, The Silent South and The Negro Question, championed black rights and attacked discrimination. His fellow Southerners sharply criticized the books, causing Cable to move north and settle in Massachusetts.

It's the birthday in Paris, 1844, of ANATOLE FRANCE, author of the novels Penguin Island (1908), and The Gods Are Athirst (1912), and winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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




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