Dec. 18, 1999
It was on this day in 1940 that ADOLF HITLER signed a secret directive ordering the invasion of the Soviet Uniona little more than a year after he and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin approved a non-aggression pact and began WWII with a coordinated invasion of Poland. Hitler and Stalin had been sworn enemies before the war, and had made the pact just so they could grab Poland. Immediately afterward, though, Stalin took over the Baltic States and captured oil fields in Rumania that Hitler himself had had his eye on. Hitler's generals told him that the German army could take the Soviet Union in as little as two months time, so Hitler ordered "Operation Barbarossa" to begin on June 22, 1941. After three years and horrific losses, the Soviets drove the Germans out of the USSR and all the way back to Berlin.
It's writer MYRA SKLAREW's birthday, Baltimore, 1934, author of five poetry collections, most recently, Lithuania; and a collection of short fiction, Like a Field Riddled by Ants.
It's the birthday of the historical novelist JACQUELINE BRISKIN, born in London, 1927. She moved to the States as a little girl just before the war broke out, settled in California, became a citizen, married, had childrenand only began writing, by chance, at the age of 32. She took a college extension course called the "Craft of Fiction," believing it would be on literature. Instead it was a creative writing class, and before the semester was out she was hooked.
It's writer ABE BURROWS' birthday, 1910, New York, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for his play, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. For years in the '40s and '50s, Burrows was one of the country's best known radio comedians, first as host of "The Abe Burrows Show," then "Breakfast With Burrows," a show that aired every Monday evening because, he said, "I get up late." When he wasn't on the air, he was writing lyrics for Cole Porter shows, like Can Can (1953) and Silk Stockings (1955). He also wrote for Frank Loesser, and helped create their big 1950 hit: Guys and Dolls.
It's the birthday of Tyrus Raymond Cobb, born in Narrows, Georgia 1886, who came to fame as the baseball player TY COBB, batting .367 across 24 seasons.
It's the composer EDWARD MACDOWELL's birthday, born in New York City, 1861, who at the age of 35 became Columbia University's first music professor and wrote dozens of big orchestral pieces and concertos, but is best remembered for his little two-minute piano piece, "To a Wild Rose."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®