Apr. 26, 2000

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: April 26, 2000

Poem: " Grandson," by Anne Nicodemus Carpenter, from Ma's Ram and Other Poems (Saturday Press).

It's the birthday of American novelist and short-story writer BERNARD MALAMUD, born in New York City (1914). From the 1940s to 1986, Malamud taught in high schools and colleges, all the while writing. He wrote The Natural (1952), a fable about a baseball hero who is gifted with miraculous powers, and The Fixer (1966), which won a Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote short stories, including The Magic Barrel (1958), Idiots First (1963), Pictures of Fidelman (1969), and Rembrandt's Hat (1973).

Its the birthday of A(braham) H(enry) RASKIN, born in Edmonton, Canada--(1911). He wrote for the New York Times for four decades, and was an authority on labor and industrial relations. In 1953 he won the George Polk Memorial Award for his articles exposing racketeering in labor unions.

It's the birthday of the " mother of the blues," MA RAINEY, born in Columbus, Georgia (1886). She is considered by many to be the first great black professional blues singer. From 1904 throughout the 1920s, she and her husband, William (" Pa") Rainey, a comedian, toured southern tent shows, camps, and cabarets as a song-and-dance team. Rainey recorded more than 90 songs with country blues musicians and black jazz players, finally retiring in 1933.

On this day in 1877, the RESIDENTS OF MINNESOTA OBSERVED A STATEWIDE DAY OF PRAYER, asking for deliverance from a plague of grasshoppers that had been ravishing their farm crops that year. On April 27th and 28th, Minnesota was hit by a violent snowstorm, and the grasshoppers froze.

It's the birthday of ornithologist, artist, and naturalist JOHN JAMES AUDUBON, born in Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue, West Indies (1785). Young Audubon developed an interest in drawing birds during his boyhood in France. In 1827 the engraver Robert Havell of London published Audubon's illustrations as The Birds of America in 4 volumes with 435 hand-colored plates. In 1866 the National Audubon Society, dedicated to the conservation of birds in the USA, was founded in his honor.

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