May 1, 2000
Spring in Hempstead
Poem: "Spring in Hempstead," by Eleanor Farjeon, from Poems for Children (Lippincott).
MAY DAY is one of the oldest holidays known to man. In ancient Celtic times women rose on this day before sunrise to wash their faces in the dew, a practice believed to beautify the skin. Romans worshipped a spring goddess called Maia Maiesta.
Today the TIVOLI GARDENS IN COPENHAGEN open for the season, to stay open until September 17.
On this day in 1941, Orson Wellesí film CITIZEN KANE was released in New York City. Based on the life of media mogul William Randolph Hearst (played by the 25-year-old Welles), the film caused an outcry. But it went on to be judged one of the most influential American movies of all time. It featured long takescontinuous action in a single extended tracking shotand Ďdeep focusí: the use of a lens that gave sharp focus on action in foreground, middle distance and background all at once.
Itís the birthday of writer BOBBIE ANN MASON, born in Mayfield, Kentucky (1940). She writes almost exclusively about working-class and farm people who cope with the frustrations of modern life in western Kentucky, south of Paducah. Her books include In Country (1985), Love Life (1989) and Midnight Magic (1998). Her most recent title is Clear Springs: A Memoir (1999). She said, "I basically consider myself an exileÖ and thatís what gives me the distance to look back to where Iím from and to be able to write about it with some kind of perceptivenessÖ exile has a rather peculiar sensibilityyouíre straddling a fence and you donít know which side you belong on.
Itís the birthday of novelist and scriptwriter TERRY SOUTHERN, born in Alvarado, Texas (1924) a literary hipster who collaborated on the screenplays for Dr. Strangelove (1964), The Loved One (1965), and Easy Rider (1969). His novels include The Magic Christian (1959) and Candy (1958). His ex-wife said, "I think Hollywood had a terrible influence on him. He was a very disciplined writer, worked every single day, was wonderful company, did not drink in excess. Then Hollywood gave him permission to act out the dark side that all of us have. Itís an old story. Few people have the character to withstand that."
Itís the birthday of novelist JOSEPH HELLER, born in Brooklyn (1923) whose first novel, Catch-22, featured characters named Milo Minderbinder, General Dreedle, and Major Major. The Ďcatchí in Catch-22 is the Air Force rule stating that a man is insane if he continues to fly combat missionsbut if he can manage to make the formal complaint necessary to be relieved of such missions, he must be sane, and therefore may not be relieved of duty.
Itís the birthday of author of autobiographical fiction NICCOLO TUCCI, born in Lugano, Switzerland (1908) a longtime contributor to The New Yorker. Heís the author of an autobiography, Before My Time (1962), and the novels Unfinished Funeral (1964) and The Sun and the Moon (1977).
Itís the birthday of "MOTH ER" JONES, born Mary Harris Jones, in Cork, Ireland (1830). Her husband and 4 children died in a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis (1867). She moved to Chicago and lost everything in the great fire of 1871, then roamed across the country organizing strikes.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®