Jun. 9, 1999

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

by James Wright

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: June 9, 1999

Poem: "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota," by James Wright, from The Collected Poems of James Wright (University Press of New England).

It's the birthday of mystery writer Patricia Cornwell, born in Miami, Florida (1956), creator of Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner who tracks down killers based on how they have mangled their victims. Her first Scarpetta book, Postmortem, came out in 1990. Other bestsellers include Cruel and Unusual (1993) and Cause of Death (1996).

Today is the birthday of comedy playwright George Axelrod, born in New York City (1922), who enjoyed Broadway fame and fortune in the 1950s with such plays as The Seven Year Itch (1952), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955), and Goodbye Charlie (1959).

It's the birthday of virtuoso guitarist and inventor Les Paul (Lester William Polsfuss), born in Waukesha, Wisconsin (1915). A prodigy on banjo and guitar, he was playing hometown drive-in restaurants at 13. To make himself heard by people parked outside in their cars, he amplified his acoustic Sears & Roebuck guitar with a phonograph needle wired to a radio speaker. Later he devised the Gibson Company's first solid-body electric guitar (1952), and engineered such innovations as overdubbing and the record delay echo.

It's the birthday of cartoonist George Price, born in Coytesville, New Jersey (1901)—who depicted a world of domestic squalor in over 1,200 cartoons, between 1932 and his death in 1995, for The New Yorker magazine.

It's the birthday of playwright and biographer S.N. (Samuel Nathaniel) Behrman, born in Worcester, Massachusetts (1893), who wrote two dozen ‘comedies of manners,' nearly all of them hits: The Second Man (1927), Meteor (1929), Brief Moment (1931), No Time for Comedy (1939), Lord Pengo (1962).

It's the birthday of songwriter Cole (Albert) Porter, born in Peru, Indiana (1891), who wrote the lyrics and music to many Broadway hits, including Anything Goes (1934), considered his finest show, includes the classic songs "Anything Goes," and "You're the Top." "In olden days a glimpse of stocking|Was looked on as something shocking|Now heaven knows, anything goes." "You're the top—you're a Waldorf salad|You're the top—you're a Berlin ballad.|You're a baby grand of a lady and a gent.|You're an old Dutch master, you're Mrs. Astor, you're Pepsodent."

It's the birthday of inventor George Stephenson, born in Newcastle, Northumberland, England (1781). He invented a railroad steam locomotive (1825), which pulled the first public passenger train, going 15 miles per hour.

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




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