April 27, 2019
Garrison Keillor celebrates National Poetry Month with poems & song at a benefit for Performing Arts of Woodstock.
CROONERS SUPPER CLUB
April 14, 2019
At 76 years old, Garrison Keillor makes his solo nightclub debut! 5:00 p.m.
March 28, 2019
Garrison Keillor heads to Steele County for a solo performance to benefit the Historical Society. 7:30 p.m.
February 24, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Crooners. Shows at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fergus Falls, MN
February 23, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at A Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m.
by Barbara Crooker
Here, in the vernacular suburbs, lawns verb up
from curb to sidewalk, the active voice of spring.
The adjectival plantings of azaleas, rhododendrons.
The punctuation of small bulbs: pauses of crocuses,
semi-colon hyacinths whose perfume stops you short,
daffodils’ asterisky golden heads, the exclamations
of tulips: red red red. Though textbooks caution
the road to hell is paved with adverbs, spring
comes at us riotously, vigorously,
with a break-your-heart flourish.
Meanwhile, the house, the one solid noun
in this story, rests on its foundation, happy
to be modified, ready to open its door
to the other noun, the collective one,
that’s just now coming up the driveway.
“Usage” by Barbara Crooker from Les Fauves. © C&R Press, 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1833 that America’s first tax-supported public library opened, in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Today, there are more than 9,000 public libraries in the United States, including the Peterborough Town Library, which is still going strong.
Jorge Luis Borges said, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
Dr. Samuel Johnson said, “No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.”
It’s the birthday of poet Charles Baudelaire, (books by this author) born in Paris (1821). His father died and his mother remarried a man he couldn’t stand, who sent him off to military school, but he got kicked out right before graduation. He inherited a small fortune, but he spent so much on clothes, entertainment, and drugs that soon he had squandered half of it. His family took away what was left and doled it out in small, regular increments. So he started writing to make money — essays, criticism, and translations. Although he is remembered as a poet, he only published one book of poems, Les fleurs du mal (1857, The Flowers of Evil). He died at the age of 46, probably from syphilis.
It’s the birthday of scientist Gregory Pincus, born in Woodbine, New Jersey (1903). He was a successful teacher at Harvard, doing research on sexual physiology in mammals, but his career floundered after he completed in-vitro fertilization of rabbits in 1934. In-vitro fertilization was a new technique, and the general public was horrified by the idea of test-tube babies. Pincus lost his position at Harvard. A friend got him a position at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, but he still had to work as a janitor to supplement his income.
In 1951, he met Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and she realized that he could be a good choice to explore the possibilities of human contraceptives. She secured a grant for Pincus and his co-worker, Min-Chueh Chang, and they did research to confirm that excessive amounts of the hormone progesterone worked to stop ovulation. From there, they created the first birth control pills, which were approved by the USDA in 1960.
On this day in 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to the General of the United States Armies, Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the Civil War.
Lee and Grant’s armies had converged in Appomattox, Virginia, and fighting began at dawn; within a few hours, Lee realized his troops were outnumbered and surrounded. His choice was to commit most of them to slaughter and ensure a continuing guerrilla-style war, or to surrender with dignity. “There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths,” he told his staff.
Lee dressed in a crisp, new uniform, including a red silk sash, gloves, and a ceremonial, jeweled sword. He feared that he would be taken as a prisoner of war, he said, and wanted to look his best. Riding his horse Traveller to the front lines, he stood under a flag of truce in full view of the Union army, and requested a meeting with Grant. When the reply came that a meeting would do no good, Lee responded to tell Grant that he wanted to discuss the question of surrender. It was a full hour before a ceasefire was ordered, and almost another before Lee’s letter reached Grant.
When he did receive the request, Grant — younger, less experienced, and until just a few years prior an undistinguished soldier and unsuccessful businessman — immediately grasped the importance of the moment. Although President Lincoln had expressly ordered that only he was to negotiate peace and it was Grant’s job only to fight, Grant seized the opportunity. Lee, he wrote back, should choose the time and place for their meeting. This gesture allowed Lee to retain a bit of power, and therefore dignity. Grant had no intention of taking him as a prisoner, or anyone else.
Lee’s aide found an abandoned brick house in town for the meeting. Lee entered the house alone and waited in the parlor; Grant and a dozen of his generals and officers arrived soon after. Grant, who’d expected only battle when he rose that morning, was dressed in a private’s coat splattered with mud.
They had both served in the Mexican-American War, and Grant reminded Lee that they’d once met. They reminisced about it, for almost a half an hour — Grant wrote that he’d been enjoying their talk so much he’d nearly forgotten the reason for their meeting, but he also admitted that he’d been embarrassed to have to bring up the subject of surrender.
Grant assured Lee that the terms of surrender would be simple: Lee’s army was to hand over their arms. Grant continued to talk, going on about the prospects for peace and reconciliation, his hopes for a united country.
After the terms had been written and signed, Lee rode slowly back to his camp, where he met soldiers lined up along the road. They were cheering wildly. He began to cry, and as his men saw the tears, their shouts fell silent. Men sobbed. Some fell to their knees; others patted Lee’s horse for comfort as he passed.
Grant wrote about his meeting with Lee in his Personal Memoirs (1885):
“What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know,” he wrote. “As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”