Jun. 5, 1999

Meeting and Passing

by Robert Frost

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: June 5, 1999

Poem: "Meeting and Passing," by Robert Frost, from EARLY POEMS (Penguin, 1998).

It was in 1968 on this day that ROBERT KENNEDY was shot. He was running for President as a staunch critic of President Johnson's Vietnam policy and had already won five out of six presidential primaries, including one the day before, June 4, in California. A few minutes after midnight on the 5th he spoke to his supporters at a rally in Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel. He left through a kitchen hallway and was shot there by Sirhan Sirhan. He died the next day, 42 years old.

It's the birthday in Cardiff, Wales, 1949, of KEN FOLLET, best- known for his international spy thrillers, The Eye of the Needle (1977), Triple, and Lie Down with Lions. He wrote his first novel in a few weeks right after college because he needed money to fix his car. The book bombed, so he got a job as an editor at a London publishing house to study how books were written, and a few years later came out with The Eye of the Needle.

It's the birthday of the British playwright DAVID HARE, born in Sussex, 1947, whose plays include Slag, Teeth 'n' Smiles, and Plenty, and other satires about contemporary British life. He's best known in this country for Pravda: A Fleet Street Comedy (1985).

It's the birthday in Sheffield, England, 1939, of MARGARET DRABBLE, author of coming-of-age novels about young women, like The Summer Bird-Cage, The Garrick Year, and The Millstone, written in the early 1960s while she was pregnant with her three children; and who says, "On one thing professionals and amateurs agree: mothers can't win."

It's the birthday in Dublin, Ireland, 1932, of CHRISTY BROWN, born with cerebral palsy that left him with little control over any part of his body except his left foot, with which he learned to paint and work a typewriter. He published his first book, a memoir, My Left Foot, in 1954, and followed that with the novel, Down All the Days.

It's the birthday in 1926, Massillon, Ohio, south of Akron, of DAVID WAGONER, who grew up in Indiana and moved out to Washington state where he's written 10 novels, edited Poetry Northwest for years, and is best known for his own poetry collections, like Walt Whitman Bathing (1996), Through the Forest, and First Light.

It's the birthday in Middlesex, England, 1884, of novelist DAME IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, who wrote Brothers and Sisters, Men and Wives, and Manservant and Maidservant—books she began publishing in the 1920s about middle-class British family life, told almost entirely through dialogue.

At noon on this day, 1816, the thermometer in Boston read 83 degrees, and then it began to drop; within hours it was 43. The next day it snowed ten inches all across Massachusetts. The cold kept up all summer, with August highs in the 30s, and it became known in New England as THE YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER. Crops and cattle died, tens of thousands left and settled in the Midwest. The cause was the eruption of volcanoes in the Caribbean and South Pacific that spewed dust and gas into the atmosphere.

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