Poem: "Sometimes Even Putting a Nickel in a Parking Meter Feels Good" by Charles Bukowski from What Matters Most is How Well You Feel When You Walk Through the Fire published by Black Sparrow Press.
It's the birthday of Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, born in ancient Arpinium, now Arpino, Italy (106 B.C.). As a young man he studied law, oratory, literature and philosophy, worked as a defense lawyer, and in 74 B.C. was elected to serve in the Roman Senate alongside Julius Caesar. Cicero was known for his eloquence and incisive written dialogues on such themes as Law, Duty, Friendship, Old Age, The Republic and The Nature of the Gods. He preferred "tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity" and was passionate about true justice for the common man. He wrote, "Justice consists in doing no injury to men" and "The good of the people is the greatest law." He was executed by Octavian, conqueror of Rome, for his political views (43 B.C.).
It's the birthday of American abolitionist and feminist Lucretia (Coffin) Mott, born in 1793 on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The daughter of a staunchly liberal Quaker sea captain, Mott was given an education in both Boston public schools and Quaker boarding schools of New York; her father believed the exposure to these different worlds would teach Lucretia the realities of American life. She became a prominent figure in the Society of Friends and, enraged by the injustices of slavery and women's oppression, helped found the American Antislavery Society (1833) and the Women's Rights Convention (1848). With her husband, she made her home into a busy station of the Underground Railroad system; they helped many slaves escape to freedom. She wrote Discourse on Women (1850), outlining the hardships of American women in a male-dominated society. She lived to be 87, and died at her home outside Philadelphia in 1880.
It's the birthday of British philologist, medieval scholar and fantasy writer J(ohn) R(onald) R(euel) Tolkien, born in South Africa (1892). He's best known for his wildly fantastical epic fiction set in the make-believe world of "Middle Earth," a mythic place that mirrors the world of medieval literature Tolkien studied as a scholar at Oxford. He wrote his famous children's novel, The Hobbit, in 1937, and a trilogy of sequels about the forces of good and evil entitled The Lord of the Rings in the 1950s (1954-1955).
It's the birthday of Danish poet and resistance fighter Morten Nielsen, born in Ålborg, Denmark (1922). Nielsen was a young man when the Germans occupied Denmark during World War Two, and like many of his generation he felt he had no choice but to work for his country's liberation. He not only joined the Danish Resistance, his poetry became its guiding spirit. The Gestapo executed Nielsen for the anti-German content of his work in Copenhagen (1944). He was 22 years old.
Poem: "Smelling the Snow" by David Citino from Broken Symmetry published by Ohio State University Press.
On this day in 1960, French novelist and existential philosopher Albert Camus was killed in an automobile accident at Villeblerin, [veel-bluh-REHNH] France, at the age of 46. His novels include The Plague (1947), and The Fall (1957). In 1957 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
It's the birthday of English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, born in Woolsthorpe, England (1643), inventor of Calculus. He solved many mysteries of physics involving light, optics, gravitation and motion. Newton himself always gave credit to his scientific predecessors for his achievements, and wrote in his journal, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." When he was 50, Newton suffered a severe emotional disorder and turned from science, developing a passionate interest in alchemy, mysticism and theology subjects he wrote about until his death (1727).
It's the birthday of German scholar, philologist and author, Jakob (Ludwig Karl) Grimm, born in Hanau, Germany (1785). He studied linguistics and medieval literature as a young man, and developed a definitive German Grammar (1819). Jakob and his younger brother Wilhelm, a literary critic and librarian, were both extremely fond of traditional German folktales, and together they collected a comprehensive volume called Household Tales (1812). The collection was later expanded into the familiar Grimm's Fairy Tales (1857).
It's the birthday of musician and teacher of the blind, Louis Braille, born in Coupvray, France (1809). Braille was blinded in an accident at the age of three, attended the Institute for the Young Blind in Paris (where he loved science and excelled in music), and became a respected organist and violoncellist in Paris music circles. In 1828, Braille returned to the Institute as an instructor for the blind, and a year later conceived his idea for the Braille System of reading, writing and musical notation, a system of raised dots embossed in paper to indicate letters, numbers and punctuation.
On this day in 1643 the first legal divorce recorded in the American colonies was finalized. Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay colony had petitioned for divorce from her estranged and adulterous husband, Dennis Clarke. Mr. Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife and two children for another woman, and confirmed that he would not return to the marriage. The court's record read: "She is garunted to bee divorced."
On this day in 1887, the first United States school of "Librarianship" opened at Columbia University the beginning of the field of study now called Library Science.
It's the birthday of American Poet W(illiam) D(eWitt) Snodgrass, born in Wilkinsberg, Pennsylvania (1926), whose first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1959.
It's the birthday of American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, born in Rogers, Texas (1931). Ailey became involved with the Lester Horton Dance Theater while a student at UCLA in 1949, and took over as director of that company when he was only 22 years old. In 1958 he formed his own dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He's best known for establishing a place for blacks in modern dance, and for his works portraying black heritage. His most renowned work, "Revelations" is based on Negro spirituals.
It's the birthday of Italian author and scholar, Umberto Eco [oom BARE toh EKK oh], born in Allessandria, Italy (1932). Eco studied aesthetics and earned his doctorate at the University of Turin (1954). He taught in Florence, Milan, and Bologna and wrote several works of fiction and non-fiction, including his best selling fantasy In the Name of the Rose (1981), which blends mystery, philosophy and history, and questions "truth" from many perspectives. His other works include A Theory of Semiotics (1976) and Foucault's [foo KOZE] Pendulum (1989).
Poem: "The Visionary" by Emily Bronte.
It's the birthday of American novelist E(dgar) L(aurence) Doctorow, born in New York City (1931), whose fiction takes readers back to relive important events and remarkable eras in American history. His books include The Book of Daniel (1971), Ragtime (1975), Loon Lake (1980), and Billy Bathgate (1989).
It's the birthday of American author and photographer, Wright Morris, born in Central City, Nebraska (1910). His best known works include Field of Vision (1956), Love Among Cannibals (1957) and Plains Song: For Female Voices (1980).
It's the birthday of Icelandic poet Tomas Gudmundsson, born in Reykjavik, Iceland (1901).
It's the birthday of American poet and biographer Carl Sandburg, born in Galesburg, Illinois (1878), the son of Swedish immigrants. He first gained notoriety with his poem, "Chicago," in 1914. His poetry collections include Chicago Poems (1915), Cornhuskers (1918) and Smoke and Steel (1920). Sandburg also collected and published folk songs, wrote children's stories and published a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln.
It's the birthday of French military leader, Roman Catholic saint and national heroine Joan of Arc, known as "The Maid of Orleans," [OR lay ahn] born in Domrémy [doh RAY mee], France (1412) to peasant stock parents. At the age of thirteen she began to hear voices and see visions she believed came from saints who urged her to embark on a divine mission to help Charles Dauphin [doh FEHN] (later King Charles IV of France) and save France, which was embroiled at that time in the Hundred Years War with the English. Charles provided her with troops to lead into battle and she guided her troops to a decisive victory for France dressed as a male soldier, her hair shorn, carrying a white banner symbolic of God's blessing on the French campaign. Charles was later crowned King with Joan at his side. At age 18, Joan was divinely led to embark on another campaign against the English at Compiégne [koam PYEN] near Paris, this time without the support of Charles. She was captured by the Burgundian allies of the English, and was tried for heresy and sorcery at the ecclesiastical court in Rouen [roo AHN] and was given life imprisonment. A secular court then tried Joan for the same crimes and sentenced her to burn at the stake for heresy. She was burned in the Old Market Square in Rouen in 1431 at the age of 19.
Poems: "The Face in the Toyota" by Robert Bly from Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems published by Harper Flamingo; and "Ed" by Louis Simpson from his Collected Poems published by Paragon House.
On this day in 1894, Thomas Edison Studios filmed comedian Fred Ott sneezing as part of an experiment in making moving pictures.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook debuted on this day in 1896, written by the woman called "the mother of the level measure," Fannie Merritt Farmer.
On this day in 1927, the first transatlantic phone service was installed, allowing telephone customers to call from New York to London for the first time.
"Buck Rogers," the first American Sci-Fi comic strip, debuted on this day in 1929, as did one of the first American adventure comic strips, "Tarzan."
It's the birthday of German-American landscape painter Albert Bierstadt, born in Solingen, Germany in 1830, and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Bierstadt went abroad in his twenties to study painting. He was a student in Dusseldorf, Germany and Rome in the 1850s, then returned to the United States. He joined a survey team in the American western frontier in 1859, and sketched the majestic landscapes he saw therethe Rocky Mountains, Yosemite Valley, the Merced [mer SED] River. He then settled to work in a studio in New York City, and created huge realistic panoramas based on his sketches of Western scenery.
It's the birthday of Saint Bernadette, born Marie Bernarde Soubirous [mah-REE burr-NAR soo-bee-ROO] in Lourdes [Loord], France (1844). She was a quiet peasant girl known to family and neighbors by her pet name, Bernadette. The oldest child of six, she was a fragile youth, suffering asthma and other ailments, including cholera. At the age of fourteen, Bernadette claimed she saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the Grotto of Massabielle [mahss-ah-BYAY] near the River Gave [GAHV]. In eighteen separate visions, the Virgin instructed Bernadette to have a chapel built at the Grotto where healing waters from the spring would perform miracles for the sick.
It's the birthday of American cartoonist Charles Addams, born in Westfield, New Jersey, (1912), best known for his macabre humor and the Gothic settings of his cartoons, which regularly appeared in the New Yorker.
Poems: "A Daughter-In-Law Watches the Old Man Hesitate" by Elinor Benedict from The Tree Between Us published by March Street Press.
It's the birthday of British novelist (William) Wilkie Collins, born in London (1824). He was a close associate of Charles Dickens, and collaborated with him on the novel No Thoroughfare (1867). Collins' own novels are considered to be the first known English detective fiction, and his popular mystery, "The Woman in White" (1860), was received with great acclaim. He wrote over 30 popular full-length detective novels in his career.
It's the birthday of American publisher Frank Nelson Doubleday, born in Brooklyn, New York (1862). At the age of fifteen, Doubleday dropped out of school to work for Scribner and Sons Publishing, where he worked his way up to manager of Scribner's Magazine (1866). Eventually he founded Doubleday House.
It's the birthday of the King of rock and roll, Elvis (Aaron) Presley, born in Tupelo, Mississippi (1935). He made his first commercial recording, "That's All Right Mama" at age 19, which got him noticed by RCA Victor. Presley was signed by RCA for $35,000 in 1955. Among his greatest hits are "Hound Dog," and "Don't be Cruel," which hit number one on the rock and roll charts on this day in 1956 (flip sides of a 45). It stayed there for eleven weeks a record at the time. He died at his Memphis mansion, "Graceland," in 1977, reportedly of natural causes. He was 42. In his lifetime, Elvis Presley sold over 500 million records.
It's the birthday of English physicist and author (Dr.) Steven (William) Hawking, born in Oxfordshire, England (1942). He was educated in mathematics and theoretical physics at Oxford, Trinity Hall and Cambridge. Hawking's greatest interest is in the physics of black holes and their relationship to the Big Bang Theory of Creation. His research in this area brought to light theoretical properties of black holes, objects which previously had baffled scientists in many fields. In his twenties, Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, but continued to work despite becoming increasingly incapacitated. In 1988 he published his best-seller, A Brief History of Time: From Big Bang to Black Holes.
Poem: "Ladybugs" by Charles Goodrich from Insects of South Corvallis published by Knot House.
On this day in 1956 Abigail Van Buren's advice column "Dear Abby" first appeared in print after a young housewife, Pauline Friedman Phillips, convinced the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle that she could write a better advice column than the one the paper already ran. She was right. The column became so popular that it was nationally syndicated within two months.
It's the birthday of American novelist Henry (Blake) Fuller, born in Chicago, Illinois (1857), the son of a wealthy and established Chicago family. He spent most of his career writing realistic novels set in well-known Chicago locales, and is credited with writing what was called "the first important American City novel, The Cliff Dwellers (1893), about the tenants in a Chicago skyscraper.
It's the birthday of American women's suffrage leader Carrie (Clinton) (Lane) Capman Catt, born in Ripon, Wisconsin (1859). In 1900 she became president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and later the president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (1904). When women won the right to vote (1920), Catt founded the League of Women Voters.
It's the birthday of American cartoonist "Chic" (Murat Bernard) Young, born in Chicago (1901). Young's drawings of "Dumb Dora"(later renamed "Blondie"), a Roaring Twenties flapper, and her playboy husband "Dagwood Bumstead" first ran as the comic strip "Blondie" on September 8, 1930, when Young was just 29. The cartoon became widely popular and was soon syndicated in over 1,600 American newspapers as well as some foreign publications. In time, the comic couple's antics became known in most American households, and the huge sandwiches Bumstead created in the strip appeared on diner menus as "Dagwoods."
It's the birthday of the 37th American President, Richard Milhouse Nixon, born in Yorba Linda, California (1913), to poor parents. His father was a grocer and strict man who urged his children to excel. A gifted student, Nixon graduated second in his class at Wittier College (1934) where he studied Law. He practiced for a short time, then during World War Two, enlisted in the Navy (1942), where he served as an officer in the South Pacific. When he returned from the war, Nixon entered politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1947) and, while serving on the "House Un-American Activities Committee," was a key witness in the trial of Alger Hiss, a State Department official accused of spying for the Russians.SEE COMPLETE ARCHIVES