Oct. 9, 2005
Poem: "Vocations Club" by Paula Sergi from Family Business. Finishing Line Press. Reprinted with permission.
We met on Tuesdays after school
with Sister Mary Agnes,
the two Mary Lous, Julie, Kay and me
to learn about being nuns.
The convent sounded good;
a room of my own, a single bed,
time to think and pray, no fighting
over what we'd watch-Bonanza versus Dragnet,
or who would get the couch.
I dug those crazy nun outfits, and hated hand-me-downs
with too long sleeves and too tight waists.
I'd take the smell of polished wood and incense
over burnt grilled cheese and sour milk.
I'd have a good job, teaching kids
and all the chalk I'd want,
long, unbroken pieces that echoed off the board,
all eyes on me as I'd tap directions,
conducting my classroom all day.
People, I'd begin, today we're talking about...
whatever I want to !
Nuns got great rosaries with fancy beads
and lots of gifts at Christmas.
And the solitude of celibacy sounded pretty good,
better than worrying about French kissing
like my sister, better than pining for men,
like mom, whose men left anyway.
Literary and Historical Notes:
Today is the day observed by many people as Leif Erikson Day, honoring the Norwegian explorer Leif Erikson, who landed in North America, some believe, in New England on this day in the year 1000.
It's the anniversary of the first English Luddite riots against the introduction of machinery for spinning cotton in Manchester, England on this day in 1779.
It's the birthday of the composer Camille Saint-Saëns, born in Paris (1835). He wrote 13 operas in his lifetime and was a little chagrined that the only one of them that the public really liked was Samson and Dalila, though his Carnival of the Animals was also popular; as was his Third Symphony.
It's the birthday of the historian Bruce Catton (1899), born in the very small town of Petosky in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was the son of a Congregational minister. As a boy, Bruce Catton grew up hearing the stories of old men who'd fought in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Civil War.
He went to Oberlin and joined the Navy in World War II. He became a newspaper man in Cleveland and Boston and was 49 before he published his first book. He's best known for his narrative writings on the Civil War: Stillness at Appomattox, Mr. Lincoln's Army and Glory Road.
Bruce Catton said, "I think I was always subconsciously driven by an attempt to restate the faith of the old veterans and to show where it was properly grounded, how it grew out of what a great many young men on both sides felt and believed and were brave enough to do."
It's the birthday of Charles Rudolph Walgreen, born in Knox County, Illinois, near Galesburg (1873). He became a pharmacist, worked in drugstores in Chicago, and in 1909, organized the firm that in 1916 became the Walgreen Company, the largest chain of drugstores in the country.
He was the first to add other lines of goods, in addition to pharmaceuticals and health items, to drugstores. He popularized the drugstore lunch counter, and it was said that the malted milk was first served in a Walgreen's drugstore.
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