May 18, 2001
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Poem: "Face Tapping," Anonymous.
fly away home
your house is on fire
and your children all gone
all except one
and that's little Ann
and she has crept under
the warning pan
hie thy way wum
thy haase is afire
thy childer all gone
all but poor Nanny
set under a pan
weyvin gold lace
as fast as she can
James Baldwin's first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, was published on this day in 1953.
It's the birthday of novelist Edward Tanner, better known as Patrick Dennis, born in Evanston, Illinois (1921). He's best known for Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade in Biography (1955).
It's the birthday of blues singer Big Joe Turner, born in Kansas City, Missouri (1911). He and pianist Pete Johnson recorded such songs as "Roll 'em, Pete" and "Cherry Red," and "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," which became a rock and roll hit.
It's the birthday of composer Meredith Willson, born in Mason City, Iowa (1902). He played the flute and piccolo in John Philip Sousa's band (1921-1923), then joined the New York Philharmonic, then became musical director for NBC radio. Next he wrote his musical The Music Man, in 1948, using his boyhood memories of life in a small town in Iowa. The character of Marion the Librarian in that show was based on Wilson's own mother.
It's the birthday of Hollywood director Frank Capra, born in Sicily (1897). He moved with his family to California when he was just 6 years old. He got into the movie business working as a prop man, a film editor, and a gag writer, then he started directing pictures. He's best known for his movie It's a Wonderful Life (1946). His other films include It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and You Can't Take It With You (1938). He was criticized for the sentimentality of his movies, to which he responded, "I always felt the world cannot fall apart as long as free men see the rainbow, feel the rain, and hear the laugh of a child."
It's the birthday of architect Walter Gropius, born in Berlin (1883), who developed the Bauhaus School of Art, which attempted to join art with architecture and design. After Hitler came to power, Gropius moved to the United States, where he was professor of architecture at Harvard University for 15 years.
It's the birthday of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, born in Ravenscroft, Monmouthshire, Wales (1872). He's best known for his books A History of Western Philosophy: Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1945), and Principia Mathematica (3 volumes, 1910-13).
"I have been painfully forced to the belief that nine-tenths of what is regarded as philosophy is humbug. The only part that is at all definite is logic, and since it is logic, it is not philosophy."
It's the birthday of publisher William Heinemann, born in Surrey, England (1863). He founded his house in London in 1890, and published Stevenson, Kipling, H. G. Wells, Somerset Maugham, and the first adequate English translations of Dostoyevsky, Turngenev, and Tolstoy.
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