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
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
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.
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.
Fatherhood hits a man
by Robyn Sarah
Fatherhood hits a man
like a bolt, like sunstroke.
It stuns him; he sees stars.
For months afterward
he shines, his smooth
forehead shines, his eyes
gleam above dark shadows
of broken sleep, his face
beams his new stature,
even his watchband glitters
more brightly on his hairy arm,
to catch the dim
gaze of the newborn.
The shining father: shines
like the watch he dangles
over the crib
to gurgles and waving arms––
the watch upon whose second-hand
he hung so recently, timing
contractions: it has already begun
to tick off the seconds
of this other life.
“Fatherhood hits a man” by Robyn Sarah from Wherever We Mean to Be: Selected Poems 1975-2015. © Biblioasis, 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1814 that Norway’s constitution was signed in the town of Eidsvoll. And May 17th, “Syttende Mai,” is a huge celebration in towns and cities across Norway. There are big children’s parades, where all the kids dress up in their best and wave flags and walk along with their classmates. It’s a day to eat traditional foods like sour cream porridge, cured meat or sausages, fiskeballer (fish balls), coffee cakes with almonds and raisins, fruit soup, krumkake (thin cone-shaped cookies), and pickled herring. By May 17th, spring has finally come to the northern lands, and Syttende Mai is a celebration of spring as much as independence.
And May 17th is the culmination of Russetid, a big three-week celebration for students ending the Norwegian equivalent of high school after 13 years of being a student — gymnasium. During these weeks, the students are referred to as russ. Most of them still have tests to take, but according to tradition, from May 1st until May 17th, russ wear brightly colored overalls that correspond to whatever they studied in school — red, for traditional academic subjects, is the most common color, but there is also blue for those who studied business or economics, black for engineering, green for agriculture, and white for medicine. Students are supposed to wear their overalls all the time, except when they’re sleeping, and they aren’t supposed to wash them. Students purchase buses and vans and decorate them, and then drive them between parties. They hand out joke business cards. And they wear caps that are decked out with souvenirs that symbolize various dares or feats that they have completed — it started in the 1940s when you tied a knot for each night you didn’t go to sleep, got a match stick in your hat for getting in trouble with the police, and a bottle cap for 24 bottles of beer in 24 hours. These acts have evolved considerably over the years, and students can now decorate their hats with a pen cap for getting teachers to autograph their underwear, with bread if they wear bread instead of shoes for a day, a flag for singing the national anthem in a public place without pants on, and plenty more inappropriate activities. May 17th is the final day, on which students conduct a mock-graduation ceremony with each other and write a name on each student’s hat that best symbolizes him or her, and then march in the parade, extremely happy and often drunk.
It’s the birthday of baseball player James “Cool Papa” Bell, born in Starkville, Mississippi (1903). He is famous for being fast, maybe one of the fastest baseball players of all time. He played for almost 30 years, mostly in the Negro Leagues, but no one is sure of his statistics because record-keeping for the Negro Leagues wasn’t very reliable. He grew up in Starkville, where his father was a farmer, and he played baseball in sandlots there. In 1922, he was signed as an outfielder and pitcher for the St. Louis Stars, for $90 a month. His manager nicknamed the 19-year-old “Cool Papa” for how collected he stayed while striking out a player.
There are plenty of stories about Bell. He scored from first base on an infield bunt, he stole two bases on just one pitch, he could run all the bases in 12 seconds flat. Cool Papa Bell played for the best teams in the Negro Leagues — the St. Louis Stars, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, and the Homestead Grays; and he played in Cuba, Mexico, California, and what is now the Dominican Republic. He played his last season in 1946, and then went on to manage and help fellow black players transition into the major leagues. In 1947, one year after Bell retired from playing, Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Cool Papa Bell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, and he died in 1991 at the age of 87.
The Supreme Court ruled that school segregation violated the Fourteenth Amendment on this date in 1954. An eight-year-old girl named Linda Brown in Topeka, Kansas, had to travel 21 blocks every day to an all-black elementary school, even though she lived just seven blocks from another elementary school for white children. Her father, Oliver Brown, asked that his daughter be allowed to attend the nearby white school, and when the white school’s principal refused, Brown sued. The court had five school segregation cases from different states on its docket, so the justices combined them under one name: Oliver Brown et al. v. the Board of Education of Topeka. The Supreme Court justices decided to list Brown’s case first because it originated in Kansas, and they didn’t want to give the impression that segregation was purely a Southern problem.
The legal basis for segregation came from the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which had established that separate facilities for black and white students were constitutional as long as those separate facilities were equal. When Brown v. Board of Education first came before the Supreme Court in 1952, most of the justices were personally opposed to segregation, but only four of them openly supported overturning such a long-established precedent. The tide shifted in September of 1953 when Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson died of a sudden heart attack, and President Eisenhower chose Earl Warren as the new chief justice. As governor of California, Earl Warren had overseen the internment of many Japanese Americans during World War II, and regretted it. Since the war, he had devoted himself to the cause of civil rights.
Warren’s vote alone made the decision 5 to 4 in favor of overturning segregation, but Warren wanted a unanimous decision for such a controversial case. Once he had all the votes, Warren announced the decision to a crowd at the court on this day in 1954. Justice Stanley Reed, a justice from Kentucky who had been the final holdout, wept as the decision was read.
Even though the nation’s highest court had weighed in, it took many more years and several more Supreme Court cases before most Southern schools were fully integrated, and de facto segregation still exists in many places in this country.