Jul. 27, 2000
On this day in 1953, in Panmunjom, the Korean War was finally brought to a close after two years of negotiations. The election of Dwight Eisenhower and the death of Joseph Stalin helped the process to its completion.
It's the birthday of novelist Bharati Mukherjee, born in Calcutta (1940) - an Indian-born American writer who attended college in both countries. Her books include The Tiger's Daughter (1972), Wife (1975), and several collections of short stories. She said,
"I feel there are people born to be Americans. By American I mean an intensity of spirit and a quality of desire. I feel American in a very fundamental way, whether Americans see me that way or not."
On this day in 1921, at the University of Toronto, physiologists Frederick Banting and Charles Best, his assistant, isolated the hormone insulin, later used to control diabetes.
It's the birthday of New York chronicler Joseph (Quincy) Mitchell, born in Iona, North Carolina (1908). He went to New York City and worked at The New Yorker magazine, where he wrote about ordinary people: the Fulton Fish Market, the clammers of Long Island, and the oystermen of Staten Island. He wrote about gin-mill owners, con artists, a flea-circus operator, and Joseph Ferdinand Gould, "Professor Seagull," who claimed to know how to understand seagulls, and said he had translated the poetry of Longfellow into their language. Of the service at McSorley's Saloon in the East Village, Mitchell wrote in 1940:
"It is a drowsy place; the bartenders never make a needless move, the customers nurse their mugs of ale, and the three clocks on the walls have not been in agreement for many years. The backbone of the clientele is a rapidly thinning group of crusty old men, predominantly Irish, who have been drinking there since they were youths and now have a proprietary feeling about the place."
It's the birthday of the master of light verse Hilaire (Joseph-Pierre) Belloc, born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France (1870) to a French lawyer father and an English mother; he became a naturalized British subject in 1902. Although he wrote graceful, lucid essays on some of the thorniest issues of the Edwardian era, he is remembered today for his nonsensical verse for children: The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896) and Cautionary Tales (1907). Here's an excerpt from one of his poems:
Matilda told such dreadful lies
It made one gasp and stretch one's eyes;
Her aunt, who, from her earliest youth,
Had kept a strict regard for truth,
Attempted to believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her.
It's the birthday of novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas the Younger born in Paris (1824). He was the illegitimate son of the author of the same name, who wrote The Three Musketeers. Young Alexandre wrote the play Camille (1852), on which Giuseppe Verdi based his opera La Traviata (1853).
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