Sep. 2, 2002
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Poem: "Hair," by David Citino from The Invention of Secrecy (Ohio State University Press).
One by one the children,
large cartoon eyes shining,
push away from the table,
rise and walk away from us
into their rooms. Doors slam
hard. Loud music, the bass
throbbing deep in our teeth,
dark rooms of the heart.
Oooo Baby Oooo Baby
Years pass, time enough
for something grand,
something terrible to happen.
When they come out, our sons
have wild, unearthly voices.
Our daughter has budded, mastered
the art of embarrassment.
She won't look us in the eye.
Oh, Daddy, she says, corners
of her mouth turning down,
Oh, Daddy. And everywhere
there is hair. Such hair.
Today is Labor Day. The first Labor Day was celebrated one hundred and twenty years ago, on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. It was the idea of the Central Labor Union in New York City, which organized a parade and a picnic featuring speeches by union leaders. The holiday was intended to celebrate labor unions and to recognize the achievements of the American worker. For most Americans, Labor Day marks the end of summer-and the last day before the start of the school year.
Early in the morning of this day in 1666, a small fire broke out in a baker's shop on Puddling Lane in London. The flames soon spread, and within hours all of London was ablaze. When it was all over The Great Fire of London destroyed more than eighty percent of the city, including over thirteen thousand houses. The diarist Samuel Pepys watched the fire from across the Thames River, after burying his wine and parmesan cheese to keep them safe from the fire. The Great Fire did provide at least one golden opportunity-the architect Christopher Wren was hired to rebuild the more than eighty churches destroyed by the blaze, including St. Paul's Cathedral.
It's the birthday of novelist Allen Drury, born in Houston, Texas (1918). He worked as an editor for papers in Tulare and Bakersfield, California, before heading out to Washington, D.C. to cover the United States Senate for United Press International. Two decades of experience as a journalist in Washington went into his Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel, Advise and Consent (1959), about political intrigue in the nation's capital, The book was a huge critical and popular success. His later novels include A Shade of Difference (1962), Preserve and Protect (1968), Pentagon (1986) and A Thing of State (1995). He said: "People defend nothing more violently than the pretenses they live by."
It's the birthday of Austrian novelist and journalist Joseph Roth, born in Brody, Ukraine (1894). His most famous novel is Radetsky March (1932), about the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg monarchy. He worked for many years as a journalist in Berlin, and wrote a book of essays The Wandering Jews (1927), about the plight of the embattled European Jews on the verge of extinction. He writes with particular fondness about the Jews of the shtetl, the small Jewish towns of Eastern Europe. He wrote: "The shtetl Jews are not rare visitors of God, they live with him. In their prayers they inveigh against him, they complain at his severity, they go to God to accuse God. There is no other people that lives on such a footing with their god. They are an old people and they have known him a long time!"
It's the birthday of baseball pioneer
Albert Goodwill Spalding, born in Byron, Illinois (1850). He was
a pitcher for the National League Boston Red Stockings from 1871 to 1875, then
became a pitcher and manager of the Chicago White Stockings in 1876. In that
same year, he and his brother founded the sporting goods company A.G. Spalding
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®