May 11, 1999
Poem: "Berryman," by W. S. Merwin, from Opening the Hand (Atheneum, 1983).
It's the birthday in 1904, Figueras, a town in northeastern Spain, of surrealist painter SALVADOR DALI. His parents had a boy before him, also named Salvador, but he died at the age of two, and Dali once said, "All the eccentricities that I commit, I do because I wish to prove to myself that I am not the dead brother, but the living one."
It's the birthday in rural Sheridan county, in the sandhills of northwestern Nebraska, 1901, of MARI SANDOZ, author of the six-volume Great Plains series. Her parents were Swiss immigrants who settled in Sheridan county in the late 1800s. In the 1920s she began working for the Nebraska state historical society and researching the lives of Native Americans. She wrote the Great Plains series of books that made her famous, a series that included the 1942 biography, Crazy Horse, and the 1954 Buffalo Hunters.
It's the birthday of IRVING BERLIN, the man who wrote "Blue Skies," "God Bless America," "White Christmas," and about 1,500 other songs. He was born Israel Baline in 1888, in the Russian village of Tyumin. He published his first song when he was 19. Because of a printing error, his name appeared on the sheet music as "I. Berlin" and he kept it. He died in 1989 at the age of 101.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®