Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
by Julie Cadwallader Staub
There is no such thing as quantity in love
my mother said, correcting me.
No such thing as “much” love.
You can’t count it.
No such thing as “all my love.”
You can’t contain it.
There’s an endless supply.
I love you, she said.
REMEMBER by Julie Cadwallader Staub from Wing Over Wing. Paraclete Press, © 2019. Used by permission of Paraclete Press in Brewster, Massachusetts. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the writer who said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd,” and “Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.” She didn’t want a biography written about her because, she said, “Lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy.” That’s Flannery O’Connor (books by this author), born in Savannah, Georgia (1925). When she was five years old, she trained a chicken to walk backward, and a newsreel company came to her house to make a film about it, which was shown all over the country. She said, “I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.”
She spent much of her life on her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, raising poultry and writing novels and short stories: Wise Blood (1952), The Violent Bear It Away (1960), A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955), and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965). This last book of short stories was published after her death in 1964, at the age of 39, from complications of lupus.
She said: “Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”
It’s the birthday of the feminist writer and activist who said, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Gloria Steinem (books by this author), born in Toledo, Ohio (1934). Her father was an antique dealer and a summer resort operator who traveled all over the country in a trailer, looking for new business ventures. Steinem said, “He was always going to make a movie, or cut a record, or start a new hotel, or come up with a new orange drink.” She traveled around the country with her father, never attending school, until her parents separated, and she moved in with her mother, who suffered a mental breakdown. Steinem said, “[My mother was] an invalid who lay in bed with eyes closed and lips moving in occasional response to voices only she could hear; a woman to whom I brought an endless stream of toast and coffee, bologna sandwiches and dime pies.”
Steinem had poor grades in school, but she managed to get into Smith based entirely on her entrance examinations. After college, she went to work as a journalist and made her name with a piece called “I was a Playboy Bunny” (1963) about working undercover at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in midtown Manhattan. She went on to found Ms. magazine, devoted to women’s issues, in 1972. It sold out its first print run of 300,000 copies in eight days.
Steinem has written several books about the inequities women face in the modern world, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983).
She said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burned down on this date in 1911. One hundred and forty-six workers — most of them immigrant women and girls — died in the fire or shortly afterward. It remained the deadliest workplace disaster in New York City until the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The owners of the factory were Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, known as New York’s “Shirtwaist Kings.” They employed seamstresses to work 13 hours a day, seven days a week, at a rate of 13 cents per hour. Blanck and Harris already had a history of suspicious factory fires, because they would torch their buildings in the middle of the night to collect the insurance money. This isn’t what happened in the Triangle fire, but they had never installed fire sprinklers in the building in case they decided to burn it down as well. The building was horribly unsafe: the factory floors were cramped and overcrowded, the hallways and fire escape were extremely narrow, and only one of the four elevators worked. Of the two stairways that led to the street, one was locked to prevent the workers from sneaking out with stolen goods. The other opened inward, making it almost impossible to open when a panicked mob was trying to escape. The fire hose was rotted and the valve was rusted so badly it couldn’t be opened.
Six hundred workers were in the shop when the fire broke out in a rag bin on the eighth floor. Workers rushed to the elevator, but it only held 12 people at a time, and broke down after only a few trips. The lone fire escape collapsed. Some of the girls, desperate to escape the blaze, jumped down the elevator shaft or out the windows to their deaths. Blanck and Harris happened to be on a floor above the fire; they were able to make it to the roof, where they escaped to the building next door. They were later brought before a grand jury on manslaughter charges, but not indicted. Frances Perkins, who would later go on to be named Labor Secretary under FDR, witnessed the fire. She knew something had to be done about workplace conditions. “We’ve got to turn this into some kind of victory, some kind of constructive action,” she said. Perkins and New York governor Al Smith did finally bring about some safety reforms in New York City, including the Sullivan-Hoey Fire Prevention Law.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®