Aug. 26, 1999

Two Doorbells

by X. J. Kennedy

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: August 26, 1999

Poem: "Two Doorbells" by X. J. Kennedy, from Cross Ties: Selected Poems (The University of Georgia Press).

WILL SHORTZ, best known as the puzzle editor of the New York Times — "the most prestigious post in American games," — was born on this date in 1952 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Possibly the only person anywhere to hold a college degree in enigmatology (the study of puzzles), Shortz is the creator of crosswords, anagrams, rebuses, riddles, and mathematical teasers, all aimed at "trying to get people to bend their minds in new and original ways."

It's the birthday in Butte, Montana, 1941, of writer BARBARA EHRENREICH. She started out in science, earned a Ph.D. in biology, and taught public health, all before turning to writing full time in the mid-70s. Her first books were critiques of the health system, The American Health Empire; Witches, Midwives, and Nurses; and Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness. Her most recent book came out two years ago, A HREF=>Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War.

It's the birthday of the prolific Canadian writer, ELIZABETH BREWSTER, 1922, New Brunswick, who's written a half-dozen novels and short story collections, but is best known for her poetry, seventeen collections in all; her first came out in 1951, East Coast; her most recent, Garden of Sculpture, was published last year.

It's the birthday of scientist ALBERT BRUCE SABIN, in Bialystock (bee-AL-ih-stock), Poland, 1906, best known for developing the oral polio vaccine.

CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD, who was best known for the stories he wrote in the 1930s that served as the basis for the Broadway musical and movie, CABARET, was born in Cheshire, England this date in 1904.

On August 26, 1791, John Fitch was granted the U.S. patent for STEAMBOATS.

On this day in 1920, an 81 year struggle ended quietly with the signing of a proclamation giving American women the right to vote. No women were present when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the papers certifying ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Blocked for years in Congress, the amendment was finally approved and sent to the states, many of which had all wed women to vote within their borders for years.

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