Today in History: March 8

Shad vary, right enough. I thought of my own Olympic fish—two and half hours on the line at Lambertville. Had I not interfered, she would have gone up to the Little Beaver Kill, jumped that waterfall, jumped the Catskill divide, swum up the Hudson to Lake Champlain and down the Richelieu River to Montreal, gone up the Ottawa to Lake Nipissing and down the French River into Lake Huron and on across Superior and up the Pigeon River and on to the Lake of the Woods and Lake Winnipeg and Reindeer Lake and Lake Athabasca and the Great Slave Lake (doing the Methye Portage in a heavy rain) and down the Mackenzie to the Rat, and up the Rat to the Porcupine, and down the Porcupine to the Yukon River, and down the Yukon River to the Bering Sea. It’s a shame I ate her.John McPhee, “The Founding Fish”

John McPhee is 85 today. As far as I am concerned, a single paragraph by John McPhee selected at random carries more lessons about and examples of graceful writing than almost every other journalist’s Complete Works. He still teaches his course, “Creative Non-Fiction,” at Princeton University.

* * * *
Today is International Women’s Day, an official holiday in many countries, mostly in Asia and Eastern Europe, but also in several African nations and in South America. It has been celebrated each year since 1909. “Pledge for Parity,” or #PledgeforParity, is the slogan for 2016’s celebration.

* * * *
“The Fight of the Century,” in which champion Joe Frazier (26–0, 23 KOs) defeated challenger Muhammad Ali (31–0, 25 KOs) in 15 rounds, was fought 45 years ago tonight at Madison Square Garden.

* * * *
“The Incredible Jewel Robbery,” an episode of General Electric Theater on CBS, aired on this date in 1959. Harpo Marx and Chico Marx starred, and Groucho Marx made an appearance at the conclusion, seen below. It was the final time the three Marx Brothers would appear on camera in an entertainment production.

* * * *
Sherwood Anderson died 75 years ago today. Joe DiMaggio died on this date in 1999.

* * * *
Jim Bouton is 77 today. Susan Clark is 76 today. Dick Allen is 74 today. Micky Dolenz is 71 today. Carole Bayer Sager is 69 today. Jim Rice is 63 today. Aidan Quinn is 57 today. Camryn Manheim is 55 today.

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5 comments

  1. Martha Kennedy · March 8, 2016

    I love John McPhee’s writing. I just bought Coming into the Country for the second time. International Woman’s day is a crock; on that day my year teaching in China, we were supposed to go downtown to have a meeting. My Irish colleague and I did not go, believing women had fought for the right to work, not to go to a meeting in downtown Guangzhou by slow bus or bike. We taught. That evening our Chinese colleagues brought us our presents from the Provincial Government. These presents were dish towels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · March 10, 2016

      That’s a funny story.

      The reason I picked the McPhee passage that I opened with is one of poverty: The Founding Fish is one of the only two McPhee titles I own at present. (I used to own first editions and things like that, but storage places and landlords prefer it when one pays rent.)

      McPhee used to subscribe to my newspaper, as he has a second home in eastern Pennsylvania on the Delaware River, which was our territory. Many place names in his books are local road signs around here. One of my extra jobs at the newspaper was affixing address tags to copies of the paper when they arrived from the printer. If I told you that I sometimes underlined my byline on the copy of the paper that I would then attach the “John McPhee” address label, I would be understating matters. It was a completely not silent plea: “Please notice me!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Martha Kennedy · March 10, 2016

        That is a wonderful story. I really liked the Alaska book best, but I read many more. I would want McPhee to notice me, too, if there were even the remotest possibility.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. camparigirl · March 8, 2016

    I like this Today in History feature – the NYT does it too but whenever I get it, it’s always too daunting to read (by the way, you and my husband, the John McPhee fans..)

    Liked by 1 person

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