Jun. 18, 1999

A Thunderstorm in Town

by Thomas Hardy

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: June 18, 1999

Poem: "A Thunderstorm in Town," by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).

It's the birthday in 1953, New York City, of AMY BLOOM, author of the 1993 short story collection Come to Me, nominated for the National Book Award. She said, "People have always liked to tell me their stories," she says. "Even when I was seventeen, taking the Long Island Rail Road to a summer job, the conductor sat down to tell me his life story."

It's the birthday of the writer and illustrator CHRIS VAN ALLSBURG, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1949, author of children's books like the 1981 Jumanji; and The Polar Express in 1985.

It's the birthday in 1947, Rockville Center, New York, of children's author PAM CONRAD, best known for her 1985 novel, Prairie Songs.

It's film critic ROGER EBERT's birthday, born in the university town of Urbana, Illinois, 1942. He's been the Chicago Sun-Times critic since 1967.

It's the birthday in Birmingham, Alabama, 1937, of novelist GAIL GODWIN, author of The Perfectionists (1970); Father Melancholy's Daughter, and Evensong.

It's the birthday in Pelham Manor, New York, 1877, of JAMES MONTGOMERY FLAGG, who in the early years of this century was the nation's most famous illustrator. During WWI he was commissioned to come up with several dozen war posters, one of which became the "I Want YOU for the U.S. Army" poster, with Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer. The drawing was based on an early 19th-century meat packer, Samuel Wilson, who supplied meat to the army during the War of 1812.

On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain, marking the beginning of the WAR OF 1812. Madison was frustrated with the British: they were the world's naval superpower at the time, and had created blockades and tariffs and a practice of kidnapping Americans on the high seas. The War lasted into the spring of 1815 with much of the action taking place at sea, while the land battles centered along the Canadian border. The war was essentially a draw. Both sides simply had enough of it and signed the Treaty of Ghent in December, 1814.

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