Dec. 17, 1999
Poem: "Marrow" by Tim Saibles from Hammerlock published by Cleveland State U.
It's the birthday in 1873, Surrey, England, of the novelist and critic, FORD MADDOX FORD. In the First World War he was an ambulance driver in the British army and got gassed and suffered shell shock, and changed his last name to Ford. His best-known book, The Good Soldier, was written during the war, and he's also remembered for his four-novel autobiographical series, Parade's End, that came out in the mid-'20s.
It's the birthday of writer ERSKINE CALDWELL, born in Moreland, Georgia, 1903. His father was an itinerant preacher in the South, and Caldwell grew up among poor sharecroppers and day laborers, people he put in his first novels, Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933). Those were banned in libraries all around the country for obscenity, but Tobacco Road came to be a phrase in everyday speech: a nickname for a kind of rural squalor. Caldwell said, "I think you must remember that a writer is a simple-minded person to begin with and go on that basis. He's not a great mind, he's not a great thinker, he's not a great philosopher. He's a storyteller."
On the morning of December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright took turns piloting their flying machine in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Orville piloted the first flight that lasted just 12 seconds. On the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilbur traveled 852 feet, remaining airborne for 57 seconds, becoming the first to demonstrate sustained flight of a heavierthan-air machine under the complete control of the pilot.
It's the birthday in St. Paul, Minnesota, 1945, of writer CAROL MUSKE-DUKES (muskie-dooks), author of five poetry collections as well as the novel Dear Digby (1989). Her advice to writers: "Read. Beyond that, don't take any advice. Especially from writers, they all lie."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®