Dec. 27, 1999

Sister Mary Appasionata Lectures the Eighth Grade Boys and Girls: Flesh Willing, Spirit Weak

by David Citino

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: December 27, 1999

Poem: "Sister Mary Appassionata Lectures the Eighth Grade Boys and Girls: Flesh Willing, Spirit Weak" by David Citino from The Book of Appassionata published by Ohio State University Press.

It's the birthday of chemist and microbiologist, LOUIS PASTEUR, born in the city of Dole, in eastern France, 1822; who proved that microorganisms cause grape fermentation and disease. He went on to show how heat could kill harmful bacteria in food, and his name became a noun: pasteurization. His most spectacular success came on July 6, 1885, when he injected nine-year-old Joseph Meister with a weakened form of the rabies virus after the boy had been bitten by a rabid dog. Joseph lived and Pasteur was a hero for conquering one of Europe's most feared diseases.

It was on this day in 1831 that 22-year-old CHARLES DARWIN set sail from Plymouth, England aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin signed on as the unpaid ship's naturalist, assigned to observe and record plant and animal life that the Beagle encountered on its exploration of South America's coasts. The trip was supposed to last two years but stretched on to five. And after making it safely back to England, Darwin spent the next 30 years chewing over his findings, doing more research, attending scientific conferences, and in 1859, he published his theory of evolution in the book, On the Origin of Species, which concludes with: "From the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life: from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

It was on this day in 1900 that CARRY NATION first wielded her hatchet and wiped out every bottle and glass in the posh Carey Hotel bar in Wichita, Kansas. She called it "hatchetation" and she eventually took her campaign against alcohol across the whole country. This was in a day when women had few rights — even to their own children if the husband wanted to take them. If men "fell prey to drink," as she put it, the effects were awful for the whole family, and that's why she took up her hatchet.

It's the birthday in 1913 of Canadian poet and novelist, ELIZABETH SMART, born in Ottawa, 1913. Author of The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Smart which came out in 1992, a few years after her death, and By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945), a fictionalized account of her affair with the poet George Barker.

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