Jul. 16, 2000

Daddy Fell into the Pond

by Alfred Noyes

Broadcast date: SUNDAY, 16 July 2000

"Daddy Fell into the Pond," by Alfred Noyes, from his Collected Poems (John Murray).

On this day in 1951, Little, Brown published J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye. He was 31 years old. The 214-page novel was a Book-of-the- Month Club selection and an instant best-seller. The story of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, the novel begins:

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

It's the birthday of violinist Pinchas Zuckerman, born in Tel Aviv (1948). A child prodigy and protégé of Isaac Stern, he studied at Juilliard and won the Leventritt International Competition at the age of nineteen (1967).

On this day in 1945, early in the morning at exactly 5:29 a.m., in the New Mexico desert, the first atomic bomb was detonated 125 miles south of Albuquerque. Powered by a sphere of plutonium the size of an orange, it produced a fireball that rose 8,000 feet in a fraction of a second, and vaporized the steel scaffolding that had supported the bomb. At ground zero the bomb emitted heat 4 times the temperature of the interior of the sun.

It's the birthday of novelist and art historian Anita Brookner, born in London (1928). Known for her spare, elegant style, she started late (in her early fifties), but in 8 years published 8 novels. Her titles include Providence (1982), A Misalliance (1986), Hotel du Lac (1984).

In 1918 on this day, Czar Nicholas the Second and his family were shot by Bolshevik 'Red Guards' in the basement of a house in Ekaterinberg, a mining city 1,000 miles east of Moscow.

It's the birthday of Mary Baker Eddy, born in Bow, New Hampshire (1821)-founder of the First Church of Christ Scientist, also known as the Christian Scientists. Having suffered a spinal ailment from youth, she was preoccupied with all sorts of cures. At 45 she decided her case was hopeless, but then read the New Testament and was healed. She maintained that disease was a mental misstep, and death an aberration.

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