Sep. 6, 1999

What I Know about Owls

by Paul Zimmer

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: September 6, 1999

Poem: "What I Know about Owls" by Paul Zimmer from Crossing to Sunlight: Selected Poems, University of Georgia Press, 1996.

It's LABOR DAY, probably first celebrated in 1882, in New York City, when Peter McGuire, secretary of the Carpenters and Joiners Union, organized a parade. By 1893, more than half the states were observing Labor Day on one day or another, and a bill to establish Labor Day as a federal holiday was introduced in Congress, then signed into law by Grover Cleveland the following year.

It's the birthday in Elyria (ill-EAR-yuh), Ohio, 1953 of short story writer LISA KOGER, author of the 1990 collection, Farlanburg Stories, a group of 10 stories set in small towns of the South. She started out as a newspaper reporter for the Auburn-Opelika News in Alabama, writing fiction on her lunch hour.

It was on this day in 1936 that BERYL MARKHAM became the first person to fly east-west across the Atlantic, a flight that took her from England to Cape Breton Island, Canada. She was 34 years old and had been flying cargo and passengers in east Africa for about six years, where she'd grown up. She wrote about the flight in her 1942 memoir, West with the Night.

It's the birthday in Minneapolis, 1928, of ROBERT PIRSIG, author of the autobiographical novel that came out in 1973: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, subtitled, An Inquiry into Values, the story of a cross-country trip with his 11 year-old son, during which he ponders philosophical questions, like can we really define what is good? And, why has technology alienated humans from the world around them? A book of philosophy and fiction that's sold about 4.5 million copies so far.

THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON was finally put out on this day in 1666, a three-day blaze that destroyed about four-fifths of the city. The fire claimed only a half-dozen or so lives and ironically probably saved thousands more: for the previous two years, the city had been ravaged by the Black Plague, and probably because so few of the rats that spread the disease survived the fire, cases of the Plague dropped sharply after September 6, 1666.

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




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