Mar. 2, 2000


by Robert Francis

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: March 2, 2000

Poem: "Waxwings" by Robert Francis from The Orb Weaver (Wesleyan University Press).

It's the birthday of gothic novelist PETER STRAUB, born in Milwaukee (1943). He started out writing poetry, got a couple of his collections published, then in the early 1970s tried his hand at a novel, which he titled Marriages (1973). Critics liked the book, but it didn't sell. Then he tried to write a book that would make some money: in 1979 he brought out Ghost Story, about a murdered young woman who returns to terrorize the men responsible for her death.

It's the birthday of JOHN IRVING, born in Exeter, New Hampshire (1942). His best-known book, The World According to Garp, came out in 1978. Irving says he begins his novels by creating "a character in whom the reader will make a substantial emotional investment—and then visit upon that character an unbearable amount of pain." Irving says, "No matter how gray the subject matter of any novel I write, it's still going to be a comic novel." His other books: Hotel New Hampshire (1981); The Cider House Rules (1985); and A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989), and A Son of the Circus (1994).

On this day in 1923, TIME MAGAZINE hit the newsstands for the first time, selling for 15 cents a copy. Briton Hadden and Henry Luce, both fresh out of Yale, had no real experience running a magazine—but they were convinced that 20th-century life was speeding up, and that people simply didn't have as much time to keep up with the news as they once had. The first issues somewhat resembled the Readers' Digest—they took articles from other newspapers around the country and re-wrote them, shortening them and making each sentence as compact as possible. Once the magazine started selling, Luce and Hadden hired their own reporters; by the 1930s, TIME MAGAZINE had one of the nation's biggest teams of journalists.

It's the birthday of (Theodor Geisel [GUYS-ehl])—DR. SEUSS—born in Springfield, Massachusetts (1904). During college, Geisel started drawing animals and writing little stories about them. He worked for a while writing gags for the humor magazine Judge, using his middle name, Seuss, as a pen name; he added the "Doctor" to it when he wrote science spoofs. His first book was And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street published in 1937, when he was 33; 27 publishers rejected it before the Vanguard Press picked it up. His other titles include: The Cat in the Hat (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) and dozens of other children's books.

It's the birthday of Texan SAM HOUSTON, born in Rockbridge County, Virginia (1793). While a teenager, he ran away from home and joined the Cherokee Indians for several years, then he traveled south and hooked up with the Texas army to fight against Mexico in the war for Texan independence. On his 43rd birthday, in 1836, TEXAS DECLARED INDEPENDENCE FROM MEXICO, and Houston was elected the new republic's president. When Texas was annexed (1845), he served in the U.S. Senate; in 1859 he was elected Governor. When the Civil War broke out, he opposed seceding from the Union: he was thrown out of office (1861), and retired from public life.

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