May 17, 2000

Owen: Seven Days

by C. K. Williams

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: May 17, 2000

Poem: "Owen: Seven Days," by C.K. Williams, from Repair (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux).

On this day in 1954 , the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, unanimously decided that all laws permitting segregation in public schools were unconstitutional.

Itís the birthday of writer Gary Paulsen, born in Minneapolis (1939). He has written many novels for adults, and dozens more in the Young Adult category—mostly outdoor adventures. These include Dogsong (1985), Hatchet (1987), and The Winter Room (1989).

Itís the birthday of television writer Dennis Potter, born in Berry Hill Gloucestershrie, England (1935). He wrote 30 plays for television, which was the medium he liked best. He turned TV conventions upside-down in such series as "The Singing Detective," which features a crime writer who lies in a hospital bed and sees his life, his fictional characters, and all his unconscious figures parade before him in a surreal, musical dream.

Itís the birthday of novelist Frederic Prokosch, born in Madison, Wisconsin (1908). His best known novel was also his first: The Asiatics (1935).

Itís the birthday of baseball player James (Cool Papa) Bell, born in Starkville, Mississippi (1903)the "fastest man ever to play baseball." He never played in the majors because of the ban on black players. He retired from the Negro Leagues after 24 seasons, with a lifetime .338 average. Then, for 21 years, he worked as a janitor and night watchman at St. Louis City Hall. One of the few times he played against white players was an exhibition game in 1948. Against Clevelandís Ace pitcher Bob Lemon, in his second at-bat, Bell singled, then took off early for second when the next batter bunted. Reaching second without drawing a throw, Bell noticed the third baseman had failed to return to his base after charging the bunt, so he kept going, which drew the catcher toward third. With the plate now uncovered, Bell sidestepped the catcherís tag and scored. He was 45 years old.

Itís the birthday of novelist Dorothy M(iller) Richardson, born in Abington, Berkshire, England (1873), who pioneered stream of consciousness fiction well before Virginia Woolf or James Joyce. Her twelve volume "novel" is collectively entitled Pilgrimage.

Itís the birthday of surgeon Edward Jenner, born in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England (1749), who discovered the smallpox vaccination.

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