Today in History: May 24

I can’t say when it occurred to me to write my own songs. I couldn’t have come up with anything comparable or halfway close to the folk song lyrics I was singing to define the way I felt about the world. I guess it happens to you by degrees. You just don’t wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs, especially if you’re a singer who has plenty of them and you’re learning more every day. Opportunities may come along for you to convert something — something that exists into something that didn’t yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It’s not like you see songs approaching and invite them in.—Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One

Bob Dylan is 75 today. He will be on tour through the U.S. this summer. “Not Dark Yet,” from 1997 (below the fold):

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“Mary Had a Little Lamb” was published on this date in 1840. It is one of those poems so famous, so ubiquitous, that it is surprising to learn that a human being wrote it. Sarah Josepha Hale was its author.

In most of her portraits, Sarah Hale looks stern. Gentle, but stern. She was an editor, but befitting a woman of her era, she employed the term, “editress.” From age 33 until her death at the age of 90, she wore black, which designated her as a widow in mourning from the day her husband died when she was still young until the day she was to join him, a lifetime later. Hale was the editor (“editress”) of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a monthly that sometimes topped 100,000 in circulation.

Hale is also one of the chief reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving in America. Her persistence paid off in it being proclaimed a national holiday.

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The first telegraph message—”What hath God wrought?”—was sent on this date in 1844 by Samuel Morse.

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The Brooklyn Bridge was opened on this date in 1883.

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Duke Ellington died on this date in 1974. Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker died 20 years ago today.

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Queen Victoria was born on this date in 1819. Mikhail Sholokhov was born on this date in 1905. Joseph Brodsky was born on this date in 1940.

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Michael Lonsdale is 85 today. Tommy Chong is 78 today. Gary Burghoff is 73. Patti LaBelle is 72. Priscilla Presley is 71. Jim Broadbent is 67. Nell Campbell is 63. Alfred Molina is 63 today. Rosanne Cash is 61. Michael Chabon is 53. John C. Reilly is 51. Ricky Craven is 50. Ruslana is 43. Tracy McGrady is 37.

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One comment

  1. susieshy45 · May 24, 2016

    Just heard about the ” Mary Had a Little Lamb” story this morning on radio, while driving to work. Strange coincidence that you should mention it in your post as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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