Nov. 26, 2001

A Little Tooth

by Thomas Lux

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Poem: "A Little Tooth," by Thomas Lux from The Drowned River (Houghton Mifflin).

A Little Tooth

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.

It was on this day in 1862 that mathematician Charles Lutdwidge Dodgson sent a handwritten manuscript called Alice's Adventures Under Ground as a present to Alice Liddell, the ten-year-old daughter of a colleague. Dodgson had improvised the story about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole during a boating trip on the Thames with her family. In 1865, Dodgson published the story at his own expense, titling it Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and using the pen name Lewis Carroll.

It's the birthday of the religious leader Ellen Gould Harmon White, born in Gorham, Maine in 1927. In her teenage years, she became a devout follower of a traveling Adventist preacher named William Miller who predicted that the world would end in 1844 with Christ's Second Coming. When that time passed without incident, Ellen had the first of many visions that explained why Miller had been wrong. She married James White, another follower of Miller, in 1846, and they traveled the U.S., preaching about the existence of the devil, the Second Coming, and the need to observe the Sabbath on Saturday. In 1863, she founded the Seventh Day Adventist Church based on those beliefs. In her lifetime, she wrote 55 books with help from her supporters.

It's the birthday of the cartoonist Charles Schulz, born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1922. He's known for his comic strip "Peanuts," which debuted under the name "Lil' Folks" on December 7, 1947, in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

It's the birthday of the French surrealist playwright Eugene Ionesco, born in Slatina, Romania in 1909. His first and best-known work, The Bald Soprano, premiered in France in 1950 to an audience of three people and contained no mention or appearance of a bald soprano. Ionesco wrote 20 more absurdist plays in his career.

It was on this day in 1919 that William Faulkner's first short story was published in the Mississippian, the campus newspaper of the University of Mississippi. It was called "Landing in Luck," and it was about a military cadet who lost his landing gear on his first solo flight, ran out of gas, survived the crash landing, and then bragged about it as though it were his skill that had saved him. In 1918, Faulkner enlisted in the U. S. Air Force, but he was rejected because he was too short. Not to be dissuaded, he joined the Canadian Air Force instead, pretending to be British, and trained in Toronto until the war ended and he was honorably discharged. Although he never saw combat, on his return he led his friends to believe he had, telling untrue war stories and exaggerating his accomplishments. He turned some of those stories into published works, including his first novel, Soldier's Pay.

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