Jul. 9, 1999

Recension Day

by Duncan Forbes

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: July 9, 1999

Poem: "Recension Day," by Duncan Forbes, from Taking Liberties (Dufour Editions).

On this day in 1942, Anne Frank went into hiding with her parents and sister Margot—who had just been ordered to report to the Dutch Nazi organization—in the attic above her father's Amsterdam office. Soon they were joined by two other adults and their son, then by an elderly dentist.

It's the birthday of artist David Hockney, born in Bradford, England (1937)—who grew up in a working-class Yorkshire family, and studied at the Royal College of Art in London. In 1978 he settled in Los Angeles and started painting a series of California swimming pools, which established his international reputation.

It's the birthday of poet June Jordan, born in Harlem (1936), author of the collections Who Look at Me (1969), and Things that I Do in the Dark: Selected Poetry (1977).

Today is the 66th birthday of neurologist Oliver Sacks, born in London to physician parents (1933). In 1966 he came across a group of invalids who had been stricken, between 1917 and 1926, with "sleeping sickness," encephalitis lethargica. When he tried an experimental treatment for Parkinson's victims—the drug L-Dopa—for a miraculous period his zombie-like patients came to life, after 40 or 50 years of passivity, before lapsing back into their waking 'sleep.' But when Sacks offered his findings to medical journals he was simply not believed. Reaching out to a wider audience, he wrote Awakenings (1973), which, 17 years later, with the success of the movie, became a bestseller. He also wrote several books on curious neurological phenomena including The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1985).

It's the birthday of illustrator Warren Chappell, born in Richmond, Virginia (1904).

It's the birthday of journalist Dorothy Thompson, born in Lancaster, New York (1894), the first journalist to be expelled from Germany by Hitler's Nazi regime.

It's the birthday of historian Samuel Eliot Morison, born in Boston (1887)—a Harvard scholar who recreated, in vivid prose, the nautical adventures of Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Francis Drake, as well as exploits of the U.S. Navy during World War Two. He made numerous voyages himself, sailing the routes taken by Columbus, and during the war served on 12 different ships in the Naval Reserve. Some of his books include Admiral of the Ocean Sea (about Columbus—Pultizer Prize for History, 1942); John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography (Pulitzer, 1959)—plus his 15-volume History of the United States Naval Operations in World War Two (1947-62).

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




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