May 14, 2000

Night Fishin

by Mary I. Cuffe

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: May 14, 2000

Poem: "Night Fishin," by Mary I. Cuffe, from The Woman of Too Many Days (Calyx Books).

On this day in 1948, DAVID BEN-GURION announced the formation of the state of Israel. He made the announcement over the radio, from a museum of ancient Jewish artifacts in Tel Aviv. It already had been decided that the new state would be called Israel, rather than Zion, and that the announcement would take place at 4 o'clock, since it was Friday and the Sabbath would be starting soon. Ben-Gurion was supposed to read from a parchment, but the artist had only time enough to finish the decoration, so the text was stapled in. After the announcement, an old rabbi said a prayer of thanks, and other leaders signed the scroll. It was over in a half an hour. Ben-Gurion later said, "There was no joy in my heart. I was thinking of only one thing: the war we were going to have to fight."

It's the birthday of journalist and novelist HAL (Harold Glen) BORLAND, born in Sterling, Nebraska (1900). His most famous book is High, Wide and Lonesome (1956), describing the frontier life of his boyhood.

It's the birthday of social reformer ROBERT OWEN, born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales (1771). He was a capitalist who considered a better society the real bottom line. He started at the bottom, working at a textile mill in Scotland, and came to understand the horror of long hours in squalid conditions. He rose up through the ranks, and became a partner in a cotton-spinning mill. Once he got there, he started to put his ideas for reform into action: he reduced child labor, reduced working hours for women and children, and improved conditions. Later, he set up a commune in New Harmony, Indiana, which failed and cost him most of his fortune. When he returned to England, he continued to work to promote unions, and universal education.

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