Oct. 9, 2009
Six Days on the Road
When I was young and searching for my life,
I climbed into the cab of a semi.
The Aussie trucker pointed with his thumb
to the compartment behind him.
Get some sleep. I don't remember
if he was old or young.
His face was so plain
it left no impression.
I climbed into the narrow space,
closed my eyes, my body vibrating
to the hum of eighteen rolling tires.
Hours later, when I woke, the dashboard
glowed like a field of lightning bugs.
I flipped through his eight-tracks,
surprised to find familiar songs - Johnny Cash,
Willie and Waylon.
We sang Six Days on the Road,
over and over.
He taught me what it's like to keep moving.
Towns flew by our windows,
stoplights, billboards, traffic signs
became a blur. On the open road,
miles of white line and fence
separated gravel from the grass.
It's the birthday of historian Bruce Catton, (books by this author) born in Petoskey, Michigan (1899). He served in the Navy during WWI, then became a reporter, and in 1943 he became information director for the War Production Board in D.C. He wrote a book about his experience, The War Lords of Washington (1948), and even though no one paid any attention to it, it inspired him to become a writer. He started researching the Civil War and writing about it, but he had trouble getting his first book published. Instead of writing history as a straightforward account of facts, he wrote it like a story, and publishers thought that no one would be interested in reading history that way. But finally he published Mr. Lincoln's Army (1951), the first book in a trilogy he wrote about the Army of the Potomac, which was followed by Glory Road(1952), and then his most famous book, A Stillness at Appomattox (1953), which won the Pulitzer Prize for history and the National Book Award.
It was on this day in 1872 that the first mail-order catalog was delivered. It was sent out by Aaron Montgomery Ward, and it was just one page long, listing 162 items. By the mid-1880s, the catalog was more than 200 pages long and sold 10,000 items, allowing people in rural areas to get their hands on anything that city people could buy — jewelry, furniture, musical instruments, books, clothes, and much more.
It was on this day in 1967 that guerilla leader Che Guevara was executed by Bolivian military forces. A few years earlier, the Cuban photographer Alberto Korda took a photo of Guevara during a rally for Fidel Castro, a photo of the young revolutionary frowning slightly and gazing off into the distance. After Che's death, the photo was reprinted over and over, on posters, T-shirts, banners, and buttons.
It's the birthday of John Lennon, born on this day in Liverpool (1940). His parents separated when he was one. His mother came in and out of his life, and he was raised by his aunt and uncle. But his mom taught him to play the banjo and they listened to rock 'n' roll records together.
Sixteen-year-old John started a band called the Quarrymen, and when they were playing at a church fundraiser, Paul McCartney heard them and came up to introduce himself. Soon, McCartney was part of the band, and the two teenagers started writing songs together. When John's mother died in a car crash a year later, he and Paul McCartney became even closer, because Paul's mother had died from cancer less than two years earlier.
In 1960, the group became the Silver Beatles, and soon, just the Beatles, but it wasn't until 1962 that they ended up with the four band members who would become the band as we know them: Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
The Beatles became a sensation; "Beatlemania" swept across Europe and the United States.
When his son Sean was born in 1975, Lennon retired from public life and spent five years staying home with his family. In November of 1980, he and his wife, Yoko, released an album called Double Fantasy, gave interviews, and considered touring again. But on December 8th, he was shot outside his apartment by a 25-year-old man named Mark David Chapman. Chapman was obsessed with J.D. Salinger's novel Catcher in the Rye, and claimed that he thought of himself as Holden Caulfield, and that this would explain his actions — although he later admitted that Holden Caulfield would probably not have shot someone.
A few days after her husband's murder, Yoko Ono asked for 10 minutes of silence to honor him, and people all over the world observed the silence, including a crowd of more than 100,000 people in Central Park. The area of Central Park between 71st and 74th streets was designated "Strawberry Fields," a green space and peace garden in memory of John Lennon.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®