Oct. 26, 1998

Manners for a Child of 1918

by Elizabeth Bishop

MONDAY 10/26

Today's Reading: "Manners (For a child of 1918)" by Elizabeth Bishop from THE COMPLETE POEMS 1927-1979, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

It's CLIVE BARKER's birthday, the British fantasy and horror writer, born in Liverpool, in 1952, who came out in the early 1980s with a series called The Books of Blood, then followed that with novels, The Great and Secret Show, and Imajica.

It's writer PAT CONROY's birthday, born in Atlanta, 1945, author of The Prince of Tides (1986), Beach Music (1995), and The Great Santini (1976).

It's the birthday of writer JOHN L'HEUREUX, born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, 1934, author of 15 books including the novel The Shrine at Altamira, the poetry collection No Place for Hiding, and short story collections, Desires, and Comedians.

It's the birthday of the English playwright JOHN ARDEN, born in 1930, Yorkshire, best known for his plays of the late 1950s and early '60s, like Sergeant Musgrave's Dance, and The Workhouse Donkey.

It's MAHALIA JACKSON's birthday, the "Queen of Gospel Song," born in New Orleans, 1911. She was brought up singing in the church where her father preached, and listening to the blues records of Bessie Smith. In the 1930s she began making cross-country tours with songs like "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and "God Gonna Separate the Wheat from the Tares." She said, "Gospel music in those days was the kind of music colored people had left behind them down South, and they liked it because it was like a letter from home."

It's the anniversary of NORWAY'S SEPARATION FROM SWEDEN, in 1905. A hundred years earlier, Denmark had given Norway to Sweden, but relations between the two countries had been rocky all the way though the 1800s. Around the turn of the century, Norwegian nationalism was on the rise, so on this day in 1905, the union was peacefully dissolved and a Danish Prince, Carl, took the name Haakon VII, and was made king of Norway.

It's the anniversary of the SHOOTOUT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, in Tombstone, Arizona, 1881. The three brothers, Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp and their friend Doc Holliday shot it out with the Clanton family, three of whom were killed: Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury. The fight was personal between the two families, and the feud kept up after the O.K. Corral: Morgan Earp was later murdered, and Wyatt, in retaliation, killed three more men.

It's the anniversary in 1825 of the ERIE CANAL, the waterway through New York state linking Buffalo on Lake Erie with Albany on the Hudson River. It took eight years to build, and as the first boat made its way out of Buffalo on the canal, cannons fired and parties were held all along the route. Because it opened up the Great Lakes to the east coast, New York became an even more important port city than it'd been, and immigrants came through the canal to settle the Midwest and Great Lake states; grain and other produce was shipped back east on it. The original canal was 363 miles long and four feet-deep. By 1918, it had been shortened by about 20 miles, but deepened to 12 feet.

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