Jan. 4, 1999

Folding a Shirt

by Denise Levertov


Poem: "Folding a Shirt," by Denise Levertov, from COLLECTED EARLIER POEMS, 1940-1960 (New Directions, 1979).

It's the FEAST DAY of ST. ELIZABETH ANN BAYLEY SETON, the first American-born saint. She was born in New York in 1774 and canonized in 1975 for founding the American Sisters of Charity, the first American order of Roman Catholic nuns.

It's the birthday in Rockville Center, New York, 1943 of writer DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, author of the presidential biographies —No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt , which won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys; Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream; as well as a biography of Abraham and Mary Lincoln that she's working on now. She also wrote a baseball memoir, Wait Till Next Year, that came out in 1997.

It was on this day in 1935, in the depths of the Great Depression, that PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT claimed in his State of the Union message that the federal government would provide jobs for 3.5 million Americans on welfare. By then, about half of the banks in the nation had gone out of business, manufacturing was about half of its 1929 level, and 12 to 15 million people were out of work, or 25-30 percent of the labor force.

It was on this day in 1920 that eight African American baseball teams in the Northeast and Midwestern states formed the NEGRO NATIONAL LEAGUE, the most successful and longest-running black baseball league. The Negro National League had eight teams and they played in Chicago, New York, Detroit, St. Louis and Kansas City.

It's the birthday of writer THORNTON WALDO BURGESS, author of 54 books for children, born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, 1874. Titles of his best known collections include Old Mother West Wind (1910) and Mother West Wind's Children (1911).

It's the birthday of one of the Grimm brothers, JACOB GRIMM, born in Hanau, Germany, 1785, who with his younger brother Wilhelm collected over 200 German folk tales of the early 19th century and published them as Grimm's Fairy Tales. Their greatest achievement besides the fairy tales was the massive German dictionary that became a model for other dictionaries, begun in 1840.

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