Jun. 26, 2002


by Anonymous


by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Poem: "Latin," by an anonymous author and "Letters," by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Latin is a dead tongue
dead as dead can be
first it killed the Romans
now it's killing me
all are dead who wrote it
all are dead who spoke it
all are dead who learnt it
lucky dead they've earnt it


Every day brings a ship,
Every ship brings a word;
Well for those who have no fear,
Looking seaward, well assured
That the word the vessel brings
Is the word they wish to hear.

On this day in 1974, bar codes were introduced in supermarket checkout lanes. They were the brainchild of Wallace Flint, vice-president of the National Association of Food Chains.

It's the birthday of novelist Thomas Boyle, born in East Stroudsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1939, author of several mystery-thriller-police-procedurals, including The Cold Stove League, and Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.

It's the birthday of children's writer Charlotte Zolotow, born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1915. She began her career as an editor at Harper and Brothers, and was also the author of more than 70 picture books for young readers.

It's the birthday of poet and novelist Laurie Lee, born in Stroud, Gloucester, England, in 1914. He is best known for his autobiographical trilogy, Cider with Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, and A Moment of War.

It's the birthday of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Big Bill Broonzy, born in Scott, Mississippi, in 1898 (sometimes said 1893), one of 17 children of parents born into slavery. When he was a young boy, his uncle made him a fiddle from a cigar box and taught him how to play. He moved to Chicago and started playing fiddle tunes, which did not appeal to sophisticated Chicago audiences. So, he learned to play the guitar and sing the blues. It took him several years to get the hang of it, but he began making recordings in 1927, and soon became one of the most popular blues singers in the country. He sang at Carnegie Hall in 1939, but by the late 1940s, the blues began to change with Muddy Waters' electric guitar sound and style. By 1950, Broonzy was working as a janitor at Iowa State University when Studs Turkel "rediscovered" him and had him on his program as a frequent guest. He toured Europe and England in the early 50s, where his records were best sellers, and Eric Clapton later credited Broonzy as one of his first influences.

It's the birthday of writer Pearl Buck, born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, in 1892, who spent most of the first 40 years of her life in China, where her parents were Presbyterian missionaries. She learned to speak Chinese before she could speak English. She married an agricultural economist named John Buck and they lived in a rural province in China, which became the background for much of her writing. Her second novel, The Good Earth, was tremendously popular in 1931. It became an instant best seller and was one of the most popular books of the century. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, was translated into more than 20 languages, dramatized for Broadway, and made into a motion picture starring Paul Muni and Louise Rainer. She was a prolific writer who turned out more than 85 novels and collections of short stories and adopted nine children. In 1938, Buck won the Nobel Prize in literature. Later, she became active in the civil rights and women's movements, and she founded the first international, inter-racial adoption agency in the United States.

It's the birthday of the art critic Bernard Berenson, born in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1865. He was brought up in Boston and educated at Harvard. Berenson spent most of his life in a villa near Florence, Italy. He was an expert in Italian Renaissance painting, and he left his villa in Florence to Harvard University, where it is now the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

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  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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