Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
by Edgar Allan Poe
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfum’d sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand!
The agate lamp within thy hand,
Ah! Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy land!
“To Helen” by Edgar Allan Poe. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Patricia Highsmith (books by this author), born in Fort Worth, Texas (1921). She started thinking about writing crime novels when she was a teenager after she read a book of case histories about criminals.
She published her first novel, Strangers on a Train, in 1950. It’s the story of two men, Bruno and Guy, who meet by chance while taking a train. In chatting they discover that they each have someone they want out of the way. Bruno suggests they swap murders and when Guy turns him down Bruno carries out his murder anyway and then stalks and blackmails Guy until he holds up his end of the deal. Alfred Hitchcock turned the novel into a movie the following year.
It’s the birthday of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee, born in Westmoreland County, Virginia (1807). He was a career soldier, a graduate of West Point, and a veteran of the Mexican-American War. He was a hero in the South and even Northerners respected his military leadership. President Lincoln once offered him a position as a Union Army commander. Lee was loyal to the Union and didn’t believe that the South should secede, but he was even more loyal to Virginia, and when his home state declared its secession he committed himself to the Confederate cause.
After the war, he took a post as president of Washington College, which would later be renamed Washington and Lee University. Lee suffered a stroke in 1870 and died two weeks later of pneumonia. Four years later, Georgia Senator Benjamin Harvey Hill honored Lee, saying:
“He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick without his tyranny; Napoleon without his selfishness, and Washington without his reward.”
It was on this day in 1937 that Howard Hughes broke the record for the fastest transcontinental flight. The previous record was held by Hughes himself, who had set it a year earlier. He completed the trip in 7 hours and 28 minutes, breaking his earlier record by more than two hours.
Hughes had made a last-minute decision to attempt the flight after he heard that someone else might try to break his record; he said that he wanted the other pilot to have a more challenging number to work with. Hughes set off from Los Angeles at 2:14 a.m. The sky was overcast, so he flew above the clouds — at 14,000 feet for most of the trip. He barely saw the ground at all — once in Arizona, once going over the Mississippi River, and then more regularly once he neared his destination. He hit a tough patch over the Sierras — he was experimenting with his new oxygen mask and it wasn’t getting him enough oxygen, so he was getting faint. He let out a scream in order to equalize the pressure inside and outside his head and that helped him. Finally, he got his mask adjusted correctly but then he ran out of oxygen over Indiana and had to continue without it.
Everyone thought that he was going to land at Chicago, not Newark, so they were not ready to receive him. Newark was a busy airport, and there was a plane about to take off just where Hughes wanted to land, so he had to fly in circles around the landing field for about 20 minutes. By that time a crowd had gathered.
When he touched down in Newark Hughes climbed out of the cockpit with a smile. His face was darkened from the exhaust smoke and he admitted that he was very tired and a bit shaky, but he shared the statistics of his flight as well as he knew them.
Hughes was a movie producer and business tycoon who became one of the richest men in the world. He said, “I want to be remembered for only one thing: my contribution to aviation.”
It’s the birthday of James Watt, born in Greenock, Scotland (1736). There were steam engines before Watt became interested in them but they couldn’t do much real work; too much steam was lost when it condensed inside the chamber as it cooled and the engines used too much coal to be worthwhile. Watt became obsessed with the problem and spent two years making little model steam engines, one after another. He went through all his money and his wife died; finally, he had to give up the project and go back to work to recover his fortune. “Of all things in life,” he wrote, “there is nothing more foolish than inventing.” Soon a mine owner who hoped to pump water out of his mines offered to buy out Watt’s partner. Watt advised his partner to accept the cash: “Consider my uncertain health, my irresolute and inactive disposition, my inability to bargain and struggle for my own with mankind: all which disqualify me for any great undertaking.” His sponsor did sell, but the mine owner asked Watt to work on the engine again; six years later he had solved the condensation problem, and by the time he died, his name was known all over the country.
Today is the birthday of Dolly Parton (books by this author), born in Sevier County, Tennessee (1946). She was one of 12 kids, born and raised in a little cabin in the Smoky Mountains. She grew up “dirt poor,” in her words, and her father paid the doctor who delivered Dolly with a bag of oatmeal. One day, when she was about eight or nine years old, her ambition kicked in. “I didn’t hear a voice, but it was a knowing that came to me,” she remembered, “and it said, ‘Run. Run until I tell you to stop.’” She first started performing professionally when she was ten and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry when she was 13. The day after she graduated from high school she went off to Nashville. She had her first number one hit with “Joshua” in 1971.
Parton has never forgotten the poor people in the region where she grew up. Her theme park, Dollywood, is now the largest employer in Sevier County. She formed the Imagination Library which sends a free book every month to every kid under the age of five. She’s donated money to hospitals and provided schools with much-needed technology. And after a wildfire devastated the region in late 2016 she hosted a telethon that raised nine million dollars which she used to financially support families who lost their homes in the fire. The My People fund will give each family a thousand dollars a month for the next six months.
Dolly Parton has penned thousands of songs, an autobiography in 2021, as well as the childrens book Coat of Many Colors (2019).
It’s the birthday of the writer called “The Father of the Detective Story”: Edgar Allan Poe (books by this author) was born on this day in Boston (1809). Poe’s birth parents were traveling actors employed by Mr. Placide’s Theatre Company in Boston. They were in Richmond, Virginia, when his mother died of tuberculosis (1811). Poe and his sister were given to separate Richmond families. Poe went with a wealthy, but strict and frugal, tobacco merchant named John Allan. That’s where the “Allan” in Poe’s name comes from.
Poe was a leisurely boy with a dark streak which angered his adoptive father. He liked to write poetry on the backs of John Allan’s business ledger papers. They lived in a fine house in Richmond called Moldavia that featured a double portico. Jane Stith Craig Stanard, the mother of one of his school friends, encouraged Poe’s early literary efforts. He later wrote a poem called “To Helen” in her honor.
Poe went to the University of Virginia but left after accumulating gambling debts and quarreling with John Allan. He went to West Point where he may have gotten himself deliberately expelled by appearing nude at drill, but no one knows for sure. In Boston, he published his first book of poetry at 18 years old. It was called Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827) and only 50 copies were printed. In 2009 one of the remaining 12 copies was sold at the Smithsonian for more than a half-million dollars.
Edgar Allan Poe worked as a literary magazine editor, reporter, and critic. He became a household name after The Raven was published, traveling widely and reading the poem to wealthy women in dimly lit parlors. He died a few days after being found penniless, incoherent, and alcoholic on the streets of Baltimore. Some say his last words were, “Lord help my poor soul.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®