Jan. 21, 2000
Poem: "The Bait" by John Donne.
In 1952 on this date, William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross, who had recently died, as editor of The New Yorker. Shawn would serve as editor for 35 years, until being ousted by the magazine's new owner, S.I. Newhouse, in 1987.
It's the birthday of tenor Placido Domingo [PLAHTH-ee-doh doh-MING-go], born in Madrid (1941). As a boy he moved to Mexico with his family, where he studied piano and conducting at the National Conservatory of Music. His New York singing debut came in 1966.
It's the birthday of poet, novelist, and playwright David Stefansson, born in Fagriskogur, Iceland (1895). He spent most of his life in the small town of Akureyri [ah-kyure-AY- ree], where he worked as a librarian for 27 years. His books include Black Feathers (1919), Greetings (1924), and Among Human Habitations (1933).
It's the birthday of singer and songwriter 'Leadbelly ' (Huddie William Ledbetter), born in Mooringsport, Louisiana (1885). Serving a murder sentence in Texas, he was pardoned by the Governor, who had heard him sing during a prison visit. Six years later, he was back in prisonthis time in Louisianafor attempted murder; John and Alan Lomax organized his release. He died penniless, 6 months before his song "Goodnight Irene" became a million-record hit for the Weavers. His other songs include "The Midnight Special" and "The Rock Island Line."
It's the birthday of Confederate general 'Stonewall' (Thomas Jonathan) Jackson, born in Clarksburg, Virginia (1824). Robert E. Lee's most brilliant general in the Civil War, he was admired for his tactics of rapid movement and surpriseoften even his own officers didn't know his plans until ordered to strike. After he and Lee defeated a larger Union force at Chancellorsville (in May of 1863), he was accidentally shot by his own troops, at dusk, as he rode his horse back from the frontand died, 39 years old.
It's the birthday of explorer John Charles Fremont [FREE-mont], born in Savannah, Georgia (1813). With Kit Carson, he mapped out much of the territory between the Mississippi and the Pacific.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®