Oct. 22, 1999
Young and Old
Poem: "Young and Old" by Charles Kingsley.
JEAN PAUL SARTRE refused the 1964 Nobel Prize for literature on this day.
It's the anniversary of the CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS, 1962. President Kennedy had received photographs from U-2 spy planes over Cuba that showed the Soviet Union installing nuclear missiles and launch sites. He went on the air on October 22 and told the nation that Cuba would be placed under what he called a naval "quarantine" until the Soviets removed them. He also said that he would regard a Soviet nuclear attack on any Western nation as an attack on the U.S., and would retaliate. Two hours earlier, Secretary of State Dean Rusk gave the text of Kennedy's speech to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, and he said Dobrynin, who had never been told of the missile deployment, "aged ten years right in front of my eyes." One-eighth of the nation's B-52s went in the air that night, ready to strike, and for a few days the world was on the brink of nuclear war. Then, on October 28, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev withdrew the missiles.
It's the birthday of TIMOTHY LEARY, psychologist and advocate of hallucinogenic drugs, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1920.
It's the 80th birthday of DORIS LESSING, the British novelist and short-story writer born in Iran, in 1919. Her father was serving in the army there when she was born, then the family moved to a farm in Rhodesia where she was raised. She wrote about those years in her first novel, The Grass is Singing, and in particular focused on the violence of African life. Lessing moved to England when she was 30 years old and in the 1950s and '60s wrote other novels about Africa, like The Golden Notebook, and a series of five books, Children of Violence, that trace the girlhood-to-middle age of Martha Quest. Then in the 1970s and '80s she turned to science fiction; her 22nd novel, Mara and Dann, which is set in a future ice age here on Earth, came out in January.
It's the anniversary of the GREAT SPANISH INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC of 1918, which killed nearly 21 million people worldwide. The disease actually started that spring in China and spread by the movement of sailors and soldiers fighting the last months of W.W.I; it was called the Spanish flu because in Spain it spread particularly fast. A big problem in dealing with it was that no one knew exactly what influenza was.
It's the birthday of engineer KARL JANSKY, Norman, Oklahoma, 1905, who discovered radio waves.
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