Nov. 22, 1999

Ecce Puer

by James Joyce

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: November 22, 1999

Poem: "Ecce Puer" by James Joyce from Collected Poems published by Viking Penguin.

Today is the feast day of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of musicians.

36 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas while riding in an open convertible, in a motorcade, from Love Field to the Trade Mart in Dallas. One rifle shot hit him in his right shoulder, near his neck; as he pitched forward, another shot struck him in the back of the head. Jackie Kennedy, who had been sitting beside the President, held him as they were driven to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Within an hour, by noon Eastern Time, he was pronounced dead.

On this day in 1935, the China Clipper, piloted by Captain Edwin Musick, began the first regular trans-Pacific mail service. The plane, an American Martin "flying boat," (powered by 4 Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp engines), took off from San Francisco and reached Manilla, in the Philippines, 60 hours later. A crowd of 20,000 watched the mail service s first take-off. A year later, the first passenger flights across the Pacific went into service.

In 1916 on this day, novelist Jack London killed himself in Santa Rosa, California. He was found unconscious that morning, his face blue, two empty morphine vials beside him. Doctors pumped his stomach and worked over him throughout the day, but that evening at 7:45 he died, just 40 years old. His most recent novels hadn't matched the huge success of his early ones—The Call of the Wild (1903), The Sea Wolf (1904), and White Fang (1906). By the time he died, he had been worn down by heavy drinking, years of rheumatism, and a degenerative kidney disease.

Today is the 100th birth anniversary of musician (Hoagland Howard) Hoagy Carmichael, born in Bloomington, Indiana (1899)—a self-taught jazz pianist who began writing songs while studying law at Indiana University. At his parents urging, he made several attempts at starting a law practice, but couldn't shake the music bug. He collaborated with many lyricists, including Johnny Mercer and Frank Loesser, on such slow dreamy songs as "Lazy Bones," "Georgia on My Mind," "Two Sleepy People," "Lazy River," "Star Dust," and "Heart and Soul." He also wrote music for movies and appeared in over a dozen, notably To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).

It s the birthday of writer George Eliot, the pen name used by Mary Ann Evans, born in Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire (1819)—the Victorian novelist who brought psychological subtlety and heightened characterization to English fiction. Her mother died when she was a teenager, leaving her to run the household until her father died when she was 30. After traveling abroad, she returned and became the center of London s literary circle. Her novels include The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1872), and Adam Bede (1859), which she based on a story her Methodist aunt had told of visiting a girl who was convicted of murdering a child.

It s the birthday of prolific letter-writer Abigail Adams, wife of our second President and mother of our 6th—who was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts (1744). Although she had little formal schooling, she read widely, especially history. At 20 she married John Adams, a young Boston lawyer who was often in Philadelphia attending the Continental Congress. During these separations they exchanged a stream of letters; her genius as a correspondent flowered as she expressed her views on the Revolution, on women s rights (which she favored), and on slavery (which she opposed). "It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed... The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues."

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