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.
Detroit Lakes, MN
February 22, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Historic Holmes Theatre. 7:30 p.m.
St. Cloud, MN
February 21, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Pioneer Place on Fifth. 7:30 p.m.
So We’ll Go No More A-Roving
by Lord Byron
So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.
“So We’ll Go No More A-Roving” by Lord Byron. Public domain.
It was on this day in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful telephone call. Bell’s first successful telephone used a liquid transmitter: a diaphragm that caused a needle to vibrate in water, similar to the way sound waves vibrate in air. He spoke to his assistant, electrical designer Thomas Watson, who was in the next room. He said, “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.” Later that day, he wrote an excited letter to his father. He wrote, “The day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid on to houses just like water and gas — and friends converse with each other without leaving home.”
“Hello” is, of course, the standard greeting when most English-speaking people answer the phone, but this was not Bell’s preferred greeting, and it was some time before the protocol was sorted out. In The First Telephone Book, author Ammon Shea tells us that Bell favored “Ahoy!” and stubbornly used it for the rest of his life. His competitor Thomas Edison, on the other hand, preferred “Hello.” Shea posits that “hello” caught on in part due to the “How To” section in early phone books, which recommended “a hearty ‘hulloa'” as a proper greeting. The phone book’s recommended sign-off — “That is all!” — never took root.
Zelda Fitzgerald, (books by this author) born Zelda Sayre, died on this day in 1948. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1900, her tumultuous marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald came to symbolize the Jazz Age of the 1920s. A writer, painter, and dancer herself, her creative endeavors were overshadowed by those of her husband; Scott relied on her heavily to provide inspiration and a “voice” for his female characters, so much so that she once said, “Mr. Fitzgerald — I believe that is how he spells his name — seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.”
A breakdown in 1930 led to a series of hospitalizations, with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She moved in and out of a number of institutions, eventually ending up at Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. On the day she died, a fire broke out in the hospital’s kitchen. Locked in a room awaiting electric shock therapy, Zelda had no chance as the fire spread through the dumbwaiter shaft and wooden fire escapes. She and eight other women died, and she was buried next to Scott, who had died eight years earlier, in the family plot in Rockville, Maryland. On their shared tombstone is inscribed the last line from The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
A woman known as “Moses” died on this day in 1913. Harriet (Ross) Tubman was born to slave parents Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green, in Dorchester County, Maryland. The exact year of her birth is uncertain, but it was probably around 1820. She was christened Araminta by her parents, and soon became known as “Minty,” though she eventually renamed herself Harriet after her mother. When she was about five or six, the slave-owner hired her out as a child-minder. She was whipped if the baby cried and woke its mother, and one day she received five whippings before breakfast.
When the 15-year-old Harriet refused one day to help an overseer restrain a runaway slave, she was hit in the head with a two-pound weight and was left unconscious without medical care for two days. Although she recovered, she began suffering from seizures, and narcolepsy, and also began to have visions and prophetic dreams. Deeply religious, she viewed these as messages from God.
She married a free man, John Tubman, around 1844, though she was still a slave. When the plantation owner died in 1849, Harriet escaped, with two of her brothers. John Tubman stayed behind and eventually remarried. Using the Underground Railroad and the aid of Quakers, traveling by night to avoid the slave-catchers, navigating by the North Star, she made it to Philadelphia and enjoyed a brief period as a free woman, until passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 made her a runaway slave once again. The thought of her family left behind in Maryland haunted her, and she worked odd jobs and saved her money, so that a year later, she might return to help her niece’s family escape.
Over 10 years and at least 13 trips, Harriet Tubman is believed to have led some 300 souls out of slavery into freedom in Canada. On one of her last trips, she brought out her parents, who were by that time around 70 years old. She used ingenious diversions to avoid being caught, like carrying two live chickens with her so that she appeared to be going on an errand. She worked coded messages into spirituals and hymns, and the singing of them spread her instructions from slave to slave. Once she evaded capture by simply pretending to read a newspaper — since it was well known that Harriet Tubman was illiterate. She traveled in winter, when folks who had homes were usually inclined to stay in them, and she scheduled departures for Friday nights because “escaped slave” notices couldn’t be published until the following Monday. At one point, the price on her head was as high as $40,000, but she was never betrayed. She was never captured and neither were the slaves she led. Years later, she told an audience, “I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say — I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.”
She also served as a cook, a nurse, a scout, and a Union spy during the Civil War, and though she received commendation for her service, she was never paid. She described one battle she witnessed: “And then we saw the lightning, and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder, and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling, and that was the drops of blood falling; and when we came to get the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.”
After the Civil War, she began taking in orphans, the elderly, and the infirm. In 1903, she bought land adjacent to her home in Auburn, New York, and opened the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged and Indigent, and then transferred the mortgage to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Though this was her final major humanitarian project, she continued to travel and speak at suffrage conventions into the early 1900s.
Today is the birthday of James Herriot, (books by this author) born James Alfred Wight, in 1916. Born in Sunderland, England, his family moved to Glasgow, Scotland, when he was still an infant. He became a veterinarian and moved to the Yorkshire Dales, and in 1966 at the age of 50 he began a series of much-beloved books loosely based on the people and animals he had known there. He took the title of the first book, All Creatures Great and Small, from a 19th-century Anglican hymn, and used the rest of the lines of the refrain for the next three books: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, and The Lord God Made Them All.
Herriot died of cancer in 1995, at the age of 78.
It’s the birthday of lexicographer Henry Fowler (books by this author), born in Tonbridge, England, (1858). Fowler was a schoolmaster for a while, then went to live on the island of Guernsey, off the coast of Normandy, where his younger brother Frank was a tomato farmer. Frank lived in a stone cottage, and Henry built another one less than 200 feet away.
The Fowler brothers collaborated on a book about grammar and punctuation, called The King’s English (1906). The King’s English was a big success, so the Oxford University Press commissioned them to edit an abridged Oxford English Dictionary. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1911) has been in print ever since.
After Frank died of tuberculosis, Henry wrote a book about style, word usage, and good writing. He came down on the side of direct, vigorous style, opposing the convoluted, pedantic, and arcane. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage was published in 1926, and it quickly set the standard for language and style. Winston Churchill ordered one of his officers to consult it when the man confused the proper usage of intense and intensive.
He wrote: “Display of superior knowledge is as great a vulgarity as display of superior wealth — greater, indeed, inasmuch as knowledge should tend more definitely than wealth towards discretion and good manners.”
It was on this day in 1965 that Neil Simon‘s play The Odd Couple (books by this author) opened at the Plymouth Theatre in New York City, starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney as Oscar and Felix, who become roommates after their marriages fall apart. Oscar is a recently divorced sportswriter, a total slob, relishing his new apartment. At one of his Friday-night poker games, Felix shows up, devastated because his wife has just kicked him out. Oscar invites him to share the apartment, but the two men’s styles couldn’t be more different. Felix wants everything neat and clean, he cries freely in front of women when he thinks about his wife, and despite Oscar’s best coaching, he isn’t good at throwing things against the wall in anger.