Oct. 14, 1998


Today's Reading:

#87 "o by the by" by E.E. Cummings from 100 SELECTED POEMS published by Grove Weidenfeld.

The REVEREND MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize on this day. In his acceptance speech in Oslo he said, "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence."

It's the anniversary of the breaking of the SOUND BARRIER, 670 m.p.h., done in 1947 by Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager, over Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was piloting a Bell X-1 rocket plane the day after falling off his horse and breaking several ribs.

It was on this day in 1944 that German Field Marshal ERWIN ROMMEL took his own life. Even though Rommel was Nazi Germany's most famous general, and had had huge successes fighting the war in Africa, he became convinced that the Allied offensive on D-Day spelled the end for the Third Reich, and he was implicated in the July 20th assassination attempt against Hitler. Two of Hitler's staff came to his house and accused him of complicity. The men gave Rommel the choice of a public trial for treason, or suicide. He swallowed cyanide.

It's the anniversary of the 1912 assassination attempt on THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Roosevelt had been out of the White House three years at that point, but was campaigning for a third term as president, this time against Woodrow Wilson. He was at a Milwaukee political rally and an assassin fired at him. It was a cold fall day in Milwaukee and Roosevelt had on a heavy woolen coat, inside of which he'd rolled the pages of a speech he was about to give. The coat and the paper slowed the bullet. Roosevelt was wounded, but he gave his speech anyway, then went to the hospital where he was treated and released. (Wilson won the election.)

It's EUGENE FODOR's birthday, who originated the Fodor Travel Guides, born in Leva, Hungary, 1905. He was working for a French shipping line in the 1930s, and in his spare time wrote travel articles. His first guidebook to Europe was a best-seller, and in 1938 he came here to the States to promote it. But World War II broke out while he was here, so he stayed and became a citizen. After the war he set up shop in Paris, and began publishing guides in English to France, Switzerland, and Italy. Eventually the guides included 140 countries, and they now sell about 200 million copies a year. He came back to the U.S. in the early '60s to live, and began writing travel books about the States.

It's poet E.E. CUMMINGS' birthday today, born in 1894, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He came from a long line of Boston Congregational ministers and professors, and after getting out of college he took off for France, where he drove ambulance in WWI just before America came into the war. The French threw him in prison for three months on suspicion of criticizing their war effort; his first book, The Enormous Room, was about the time he spent in jail. During the 1920s and '30s he turned to poetry, with collections like Tulips and Chimneys, No Thanks, and others, all of which caught on slowly with the public and which either he or his parents paid to have published.

It's the birthday of the short-story writer, KATHERINE MANSFIELD, born in Wellington, New Zealand, 1888, author of the 1922 collection The Garden Party, which came out just a few months before she died of tuberculosis at the age of 35. She grew up in New Zealand, but left it when she was in her late teens, to go to England and make herself a writer. In her early 20s her stories began getting published, and Virginia Woolf said that Mansfield's work was — quote — "the only writing I have ever been jealous of."

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