May 16, 2002
O That Summer
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Poem: "O That Summer," by Ginger Andrews from An Honest Answer (Story Line Press).
O That Summer
my sister and I
both wound up back in Coos Bay,
basket cases, lonely as hell.
She was recovering from drugs and alcohol,
I was newly divorced, a Sunday School teacher
with no job skills whatsoever
and two little boys to feed,
praying for a maid job at Best Western.
Lord how we prayed
walking from one end
of Sunset Beach to the other, barefoot,
freezing in tank tops and cutoffs,
hair and makeup perfect,
fingernails painted with three coats
of Wet 'n' Wild, hoping
some good looking single doctor
was walking his dog nearby
should one of us happen
to slice our foot on beach glass.
On this day in 1929, the first Academy Awards were handed out during a banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Sound was new to the movies in 1929, and it was a musical that won the award for best picture that year: Broadway Melody, which introduced the song "Give My Regards to Broadway."
It's the birthday of bandleader (Woodrow Charles) Woody Herman, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1913). He started out in vaudeville as a child, billed as "The Boy Wonder of the Clarinet." He cut his first record when he was sixteen, moved to California, and joined the Isham Jones band in 1934. When that band broke up in 1936, he got some of its alumni together to form a new ensemble, which he called "The Band That Plays the Blues." The band eventually became known as "The Thundering Herd."
It's the birthday of broadcaster and writer Louis Studs Terkel, born in the Bronx, New York (1912). He moved with his family to Chicago when he was twelve, and throughout his career he was associated with that city as a broadcaster on radio station WFMT. His first program on the station aired in 1945, and in 1958 he launched the "Studs Terkel Almanac." The flair for interviewing that he demonstrated on the air translated into a series of successful books of oral history. They include Division Street: America (1967), Hard Times (1970), Working (1974), and Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It (1995). He became celebrated for his ability to record the words and thoughts of ordinary people. He said: "A tape recorder, with microphone in hand, or on the table, or the arm of a chair, or in the grass, can transform both the visitor and the host. It can be used to capture the thoughts of the non-celebrated-on the steps of a public housing project, in a frame bungalow, in a furnished apartment, in a parked car-and these 'statistics' become persons, each one unique. I am constantly astonished."
It's the birthday of British novelist H. E. (Herbert Ernest) Bates, born in Rushton, Northamptonshire, England (1905). He published his first novel when he was twenty, but didn't enjoy much success as a novelist until twenty years later, when he was commissioned as by the British armed forces as a fiction writer. His best known novel is The Darling Buds of May (1958), about a family of fruit pickers and scrap dealers.
It's the birthday of American writer and educator Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, born in Billerica, Massachusetts (1804). She was a member of the Transcendentalist circle-Ralph Waldo Emerson taught her Greek, Nathaniel Hawthorne married her sister, she was William Ellery Channing's editor, and Bronson Alcott's assistant at his experimental school. The Transcendental Club met at her bookshop in Boston, and their journal, The Dial, was published there. In 1860, she opened the first English-language kindergarten in the United States, and spent the rest of her long life lecturing and writing about the kindergarten movement, and organizing new kindergartens around the country.
On this day in 1763, James
Boswell first made the acquaintance of Samuel Johnson at Thomas Davies'
bookshop in London. The twenty-three year old Boswell became a determined hanger-on
of Dr. Johnson, and twenty-eight years later, to the day, he published the first
volume of his monumental Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson, one of the greatest
biographies ever written.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®