Nov. 6, 1998

Returning to Earth

by Jim Harrison


Today's Reading: Two stanzas from "Returning to Earth" by Jim Harrison, from THE SHAPE OF THE JOURNEY, published by Copper Canyon Press (1998).

It's the half-way point of AUTUMN today. Tonight we'll have exactly 44 days of fall to go until the winter solstice on December 21.

It's novelist JAMES JONES' birthday, born in 1921 in Robinson, Illinois, near the Indiana state line. Jones wrote several books but is best known for his novel From Here to Eternity (1951), which won the National Book Award and part of a trilogy he completed several years later, together with The Thin Red Line and Whistle.

It's the birthday in Aspen, Colorado, 1892 of HAROLD ROSS, who founded The New Yorker in 1925 and ran it for over 25 years. Ross quit high school to become a reporter and during the First World War served in France editing the military paper, Stars and Stripes. He and the banker Raoul Fleischmann started The New Yorker on $25,000. Ross's guidelines were: "It will be human. Its general tenor will be one of gaiety, wit and satire, but it will be more than a jester. It will not be radical or highbrow. It will be sophisticated." Ross and Fleischmann cast about for a name. Manhattan, New York Life, and Our Town were all possibilities they considered, but they settled on The New Yorker.

It's the birthday in 1892 in Manchester, England, of aviation pioneer JOHN ALCOCK, the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic. He and his co-pilot took off from St. John's, Newfoundland on June 14, 1919 and landed 16 hours later in a bog in County Galway, Ireland. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic.

It was on this day in 1861 that JEFFERSON DAVIS was elected president of the Confederacy. Davis had been a U.S. Senator from Mississippi and a leader of the States' Rights party.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was elected the nation's 16th president on this day in 1860, winning 180 electoral votes to 12 over his rival, Democrat Stephen Douglas. Lincoln took a strong anti-slavery position and didn't win any of the 10 southern states.

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




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