Oct. 9, 2000

Things I Know, Things I Don't

by David Huddle

Broadcast date: MONDAY, 9 October 2000

Poem: "Things I Know, Things I Don't," by David Huddle, from Summer Lake (Louisiana State University Press).

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur commemorates the day on which the Israelites received the second Tablets of the Law as a sign of forgiveness from God.

Today marks the observance of Columbus Day, although it was not until the morning of October 12, 1492 that the lookout on the Pinta announced the first sight of land.

Today is also Leif Erickson Day, this year commemorating the one thousandth anniversary of the Scandinavian discovery of Vinland in the New World. In the summer of the year 1000, Leif Erickson was blown off course while making the voyage from Norway to the Scandinavian settlement in Greenland. Instead of landing on the southern tip of Greenland, Leif put ashore in Labrador, on the North American mainland.

On this day in 1992, thousands of residents of the eastern United States watched a meteorite streak across the sky over several states before it landed in Peekskill, New York, fifty miles north of New York City. The meteorite, had been orbiting the sun for millions of years, entered the Earth's atmosphere with a sonic boom, and was immediately engulfed in flames. It finally came to earth on the back end of a 1980 Chevy Malibu.

It's the birthday of Australian-born historian, memoirist, and college president Jill Ker Conway, in Hillston, New South Wales (1934). A noted historian specializing in the experience of American women in the 18th and 19th centuries, Conway became the first woman elected to the presidency of Smith College in 1975. In 1990, she received both critical and popular acclaim for her memoir The Road from Coorain, a narrative of her isolated girlhood on a sheep farm in New South Wales.

On this day in 1917, Clarence Saunders of Memphis, Tennessee received a patent for a self-service food store, the first supermarket. Before Saunder's creation, shoppers gave their orders to a clerk who gathered the items from the shelves. Saunders belived it would be more efficient if shoppers were given shopping baskets and allowed to shop for themselves on open shelves. On September 6, 1916, he put his idea into practice when he opened the first Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis.

It's the birthday of writer and historian Bruce Catton, in Petoskey, Michigan (1899). In response to a commission to write a Centennial History of the Civil War, Catton produced his monumental trilogy: Mr. Lincoln's Army (1951), Glory Road (1952) and A Stillness at Appomattox (1953), which won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1954.

On this day in 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward started the first mail order business with the delivery of the first Montgomery Ward catalogue.

At 3 P.M. on this date in 1781, American and French troops at Yorktown, Virginia, under the command of Generals Washington and Lafayette, fired the first shots of what would be the last major battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Yorktown. The battle ended ten days later, on October 19, with the surrender of the British commander, General George Cornwallis.

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