Sunday

Sep. 5, 1999

What Happened When Bobby Jack Cockrum Tried to Bring Home a Pit Bulldog or What His Daddy Said to Hi

by David Lee

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: September 5, 1999

Poem: "What Happened When Bobby Jack Cockrum Tried to Bring Home a Pit Bulldog or What His Daddy Said to Him that Day," by David Lee, from A Legacy of Shadows: Collected Poems (Copper Canyon Press).

Jack Kerouac's novel ON THE ROAD came out on this day in 1957, the story of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty roaring across America — the book that defined the Beat Generation. In the opening pages, Kerouac wrote: "I'd been poring over maps of the United States for months, even reading books about the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the road-map was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely (EE-lee), Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I'll just stay on 6 all the way to Ely, I said to myself, and confidently started." The book got good reviews: The September 5 New York Times review called it "the most beautifully executed utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as 'beat'."

It's the birthday of journalist and fiction writer WARD JUST, born 1935, in Michigan City, Indiana, author of several novels about the Vietnam War and politics in Washington including A Soldier of the Revolution, (1970), and Stringer (1974). He's also written short stories, was an editor at The Atlantic, and wrote books about the Midwest; but his latest novel, A Dangerous Friend, which came out this May, is set in Vietnam again: about a small band of U.S. aid workers secretly tied to the Pentagon.

It's the anniversary of America's FIRST LABOR DAY PARADE, in 1882, when 10,000 workers marched from New York's City Hall to Union Square, then gathered in Reservoir Park for a picnic. The idea came from a carpenter, Peter J. McGuire, who a year earlier founded the precursor of the AFL (American Federation of Labor). McGuire had suggested a holiday in September to honor workers and give them a break during the long stretch between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The first Labor Day was held on a Tuesday, but the holiday was soon moved to the first Monday in September. In 1884, Congress made Labor Day a national holiday.

Today's the anniversary of the FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, 1774, in Philadelphia. Forty-five men crowded into the main room of a brand-new building in town called Carpenter's Hall. Most of them were lawyers and they met to debate the latest acts of Parliament, like the closing of Boston Harbor, and the Quartering Act which allowed authorities the right to evict anyone from their house in order to provide shelter for British troops. Hardly any of the delegates knew each other. John Adams wrote to a friend, "We have numberless prejudices to remove here, and are obliged to act with great delicacy and caution." A few days later, news came from Boston that British ships were bombarding the city. A Connecticut delegate wrote in his diary "all is confusion here, every tongue pronounces revenge." The Congress ended in October with a call for each colony to arm itself against the British, and the following April, 1775, war broke out at Lexington and Concord.

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