Jun. 26, 2005

For a Father

by Elise Partridge

SUNDAY, 26 JUNE, 2005
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Poem: "For a Father" by Elise Partridge from Fielder's Choice. © Vehicule Press. Reprinted with permission.

For a Father

Remember after work you grabbed our skateboard,
crouched like a surfer, wingtips over the edge;
wheels clacketing down the pocked macadam,
you veered almost straight into the neighbor's hedge?
We ran after you laughing, shouting, Wait!

Or that August night you swept us to the fair?
The tallest person boarding the ferris wheel,
you rocked our car right when we hit the apex
above the winking midway, to make us squeal.
Next we raced you to the games, shouting, Wait!

At your funeral, relatives and neighbors,
shaking our hands, said, "So young to have died!"
But we've dreamt you're just skating streets away,
striding the fairgrounds toward a wilder ride.
And we're still straggling behind, shouting, Wait—!

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the playwright Sidney Howard, born in Oakland (1891), who adapted Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind for the screen. It was Sidney Howard who said, "One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it."

It's the anniversary of the first publication of the New York Daily News. It was first published on this day in 1919.

On this day in 1963, 1,250,000 West Berliners turned out to welcome President Kennedy to their city. He made his famous speech that ended with the line, "As a free man I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'"

In 1974 on this date, barcodes were first used in supermarket checkout lanes.

It's the birthday of the novelist Colin Wilson, born in Leicester, England (1931). He made a big name for himself in 1956 with a book called The Outsider, a history of alienation in western civilization. He has since published more than 100 books of fiction and non-fiction.

It's the birthday of a man made famous for something he didn't actually do. Abner Doubleday, born in New York in 1819, was a distinguished general in the Civil War, and it's been alleged that in Cooperstown, New York, he mapped out a baseball diamond and invented the game of baseball in 1839. He was not even in the area in that year. He never referred to the game in any of his diaries. Nonetheless, Cooperstown became the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It's the birthday of children's book author Walter Farley, born in Syracuse, New York (1916). He was famous for his 20 novels about The Black Stallion.

It's the birthday of Pearl S. Buck, born in Hillsboro, West Virginia (1892). She was raised in Chinkiang, China by her Presbyterian missionary parents. She wrote about that experience in her famous novel, The Good Earth (1931). It was part of a trilogy which won her the Nobel Prizes for Literature in 1938.

And it was on this day in 2000, that rival scientific teams completed the first rough map of the human genome. Scientists had discovered the structure of DNA back in 1953, but it took the Human Genome Project nearly 50 years to pin down exactly how DNA makes us who we are.

They discovered that there is only a modest amount of genetic variation. The DNA of any two humans is about 99.9 percent identical.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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