Tuesday

Oct. 13, 1998

Happiness Makes Up in Height for What it Lacks in Length

by Robert Frost

TUESDAY 10/13

Today's Reading: "Happiness Makes Up in Height for What It Lacks in Length" by Robert Frost from THE POETRY OF ROBERT FROST, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

It's jazz pianist ART TATUM's birthday, born in Toledo, Ohio, 1910. He was blind from birth, and started out playing violin when he was a boy, then got hired as a teenager to be the staff pianist at WSPD in Toledo. NBC picked up the show and aired it nationwide, and Tatum became famous particularly for how fast he could play.

It's the birthday of novelist ERNEST KELLOGG GANN, born in 1910, Lincoln, Nebraska, author of a number of popular naval and aviation novels that came out in the 1940s and '50s, like Island in the Sky, Soldier of Fortune, and The High and Mighty, most of which were made into movies. He flew in the Army Air Corps during WWII, and his books were based on his military experiences.

The editorial cartoonist HERBLOCK's birthday is today, born in Chicago, 1909, as Herbert Lawrence Block. He started cartooning professionally when he was 20 years old, drawing for the Chicago Daily News. In 1946 he joined the Washington Post and made his name lampooning Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s.

It's the birthday of writer ARNA BONTEMPS in Alexandria, Louisiana, 1902, author of God Sends Sunday (1931) and Black Thunder (1935). Bontemps broke in as a poet in the 1920s, then after writing novels turned to children's books. One of them, The Pasteboard Bandit, though written in 1935, just came out last year, 25 years after Bontemps' death.

It's the birthday of CONRAD RICHTER, in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, 1890, author of the trilogy The Awakening Land, about American pioneer life. He got his first job when he was 19 years old editing the Patton, Pennsylvania newspaper, then left journalism when he was in his late 30s and moved out to Albuquerque, New Mexico to research pioneer life. The first book in his trilogy came out in 1940, The Trees; The Fields followed six years later; and The Town — the story of Sayward Luckett Wheeler and her life as an early 19th-century Ohio River Valley pioneer — won Richter the 1951 Pulitzer Prize.

George Washington laid the cornerstone of the WHITE HOUSE on this day in 1792, which makes it the oldest building in Washington. It took eight years to finish, and John Adams and his family were the first to move in, in November, 1800.

It's the anniversary in 1775 of the U.S. NAVY. The Continental Congress authorized construction of two cruisers, one with 10 guns, the other with 14.

It's the birthday of Mary McCauly, better known by her nickname, MOLLY PITCHER, born in the south-central Pennsylvania town of Carlisle, 1753. Her husband enlisted in 1777 as a gunner in the Pennsylvania artillery, and she followed him into the Revolutionary War. The legend goes that, a year later, in June of 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, she carried a pitcher of water back and forth from a well to the frontline soldiers. When her husband collapsed from the heat, she took his place at the cannon, helping load and fire it until the battle was over. After the war she worked as a nurse, and in her old age the state of Pennsylvania awarded her a pension of $40 for her heroism at Monmouth.

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
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »