Jan. 1, 2000
Poem: "When Two Souls Stand Up Erect and Strong" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
On this day in 1959, FIDEL CASTRO led Cuban revolutionaries to victory over dictator Fulgencio Batista who'd ruled Cuba since the early 1930s. Castro had tried to overthrow Batista several times before in the '50s, and his most recent attempt began two years earlier when he banded together a group of 80 men to fight a guerrilla war against the government. By late 1958 he had about 800 rebels, to the government's 30,000-man army, but the federals were demoralized and poorly led, and on January 1st Castro captured Cuba's main army base without a shot and Batista resigned.
It was on this day in 1953 that one of the early greats in country music, singer HANK WILLIAMS SR., died of a heart attack in Oak Hill, West Virginia. He was in the back seat of a Cadillac being driven north to play a concert. He was only 29 years old.
It's the birthday in 1919, New York City, of writer J(erome) D(avid) SALINGER, author of Catcher in the Rye (1951), Franny and Zooey (1961) and several short story collections, nearly all of it first published in the New Yorker. He moved to rural Cornish, New Hampshire right as Catcher in the Rye came out, and has lived there in near-seclusion ever since, rarely granting interviews or making any mention of his work other than to say, as he did to the Boston Globe about 20 years ago, "I love to write, but I write for myself and I want to be left absolutely alone to do it. Sometimes I wish I'd never published. I have absolutely no plans to publish at this time." Catcher in the Rye remains his best-known work: Salinger's novel about the young rebel Holden Caulfield, still sells about a half-million copies a year.
It was on this day in 1892 that the Immigrant Station in New York formally opened. A 15-year old Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first of the more than 12 million immigrants to pass through Ellis Island in its 62 years of operation.
It was on this day in 1660, that the 27-year old English writer SAMUEL PEPYS began his famous diary, a book he'd keep up for nine years, recording both the grand events and minutiae of Restoration-era London where he worked as a naval administrator. His first entry: "At the beginning of this year, I live in one of the houses belonging to the Navy Office, and have now for about half-a-year with my wife, Jane, my servant Will; and Myself in constant good health and in a most handsome and thriving condition, Blessed be Almighty God for it."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®