May 20, 2000

The Sleepy Giant

by Charles E. Carryl

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: May 20, 2000

Poem: "The Sleepy Giant," by Charles E. Carryl.

On this day in 1927, the "Lone Eagle," Charles A(gustus) Lindbergh, took off alone from muddy Roosevelt Field on Long Island. His monoplane The Spirit of St. Louis held 451 gallons of gasoline and 20 gallons of oil, but no lights, no heat, no radio, no automatic pilot or de-icing equipment. It took Lindbergh 33.5 hours to make his 3,610 mile flight to Le Bourget field; he won the $25,000 prize for the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris. In the year preceding his triumph, 19 aviators had died trying.

It's the birthday of comedian Goerge Gobel, born in Chicago (1919), a TV star of the 1950s.

On this day in 1916, Norman Rockwell had his first cover painting on The Saturday Evening Post. It showed a boy pushing a baby carriage while his buddies set off to play ball.

It's the birthday of actor Jimmy Stewart (James Maitland Stewart), born in a town called Indiana, Pennsylvania (1908). He went to Princeton and majored in architecture, but left more interested in theater. After college he acted in summer stock, and, after three years in New York, went to Hollywood. Within five years he'd acted in 24 movies, become a major star, and won an Academy Award for Best Actor in The Philadelphia Story (1940). When the Second World War started, the army rejected him for being underweight. He stuffed himself, passed his weight test by one ounce, and became a bomber pilot, flying 25 combat missions.

It's the birthday of Norwegian novelist Sigurd Undset, born in Kalundborg, Denmark (1882). Her masterpiece was the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy (1920-1922).

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, by which a citizen could stake out a claim to a 160- acre tract of government land, and, after cultivating it for five years, take full possession of it.

It's the birthday of John Stuart Mill, born in London (1806). He's the author of a humane philosophy influenced by Coleridge. In Mill's view, actions are right if they bring about happiness, wrong if they bring about unhappiness.

It's the birthday of Honore de Balzac, born in Tours, France (1799). His major work, The Human Comedy, came out in 80 volumes. The series included Eugenie Grandet (1833), and Le Pere Goriot (1834).

It's the birthday of Dolly Madison, born in Guilford County, North Carolina (1768)the wife of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. Legendary as a hostess during the early presidencies, she was one of America's best-loved first ladies. In 1814, before the British burned the White House, she ignored her husband's instructions to leave immediately and saved the Gilbert Stuart Portrait of Washington that now hangs in the East Room.

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