Category Archives: World War Two

Harry S. Truman 5.8.13 Thought of the Day

“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”” Harry Truman

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), 1945 – 1953 the...

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), 1945 – 1953 the thirty-third President of the United States Deutsch: Harry S. Truman (1884–1972), 1945 bis 1953 33. Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harry S. Truman was born on this day in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884. today is the 129th anniversary of his birth.

He was the eldest of three children born to John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. Father was a farmer and his family was of modest means. The family moved to Independence Missouri when Harry was six.

When he was eight he began his formal schooling. He liked music and took piano lessons. He also loved to read and enjoyed history. Truman was always interested in politics, and was a page for the Democratic National Convention in 1900. He graduated from Independence High School in 1901.

The Trumans didn’t have the money to send their children to College — Harry Truman is the only US President in the 20th Century with out a college degree — so Harry worked after graduating from high school.

“He worked a variety of jobs after high school, first as a timekeeper for a railroad construction company, and then as a clerk and a bookkeeper at two separate banks in Kansas City. After five years, he returned to farming and joined the National Guard.” [Biography.com]

In 1905 he joined the Missouri Army National Guard. He served in the Guard until 1911. After a few years break he rejoined the Guard to fight in World War One. He served as an Captain in the 129th Field Artillery.

At the end of the War Truman came home to Independence, and married Elizabeth (Bess) Virginia Wallace and opened a haberdashery with his fellow soldier, Edward Jacobson. Although the clothing shop failed his relationship with Jacobson lasted for decades.

“Active in the Democratic Party, Truman was elected a judge of the Jackson County Court (an administrative position) in 1922. He became a Senator in 1934. During World War II he headed the Senate war investigating committee, checking into waste and corruption and saving perhaps as much as 15 billion dollars.” [White House.org]

Franklin Roosevelt choose Truman as his running mate in 1944. Truman served as Vice President less than 12 weeks before Roosevelt died of a massive stroke. Roosevelt had kept him largely in the dark. He didn’t even know about the Manhattan Project.

Presidential portrait of Harry Truman. Officia...

Presidential portrait of Harry Truman. Official Presidential Portrait painted by Greta Kempton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He said when he assumed office “I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me.”

While the war in Europe was winding down — he proclaimed “V-E Day” on his 61st birthday — there seemed no end in sight with the war with Japan.

“An urgent plea to Japan to surrender was rejected. Truman… ordered atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to war work. Two were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japanese surrender quickly followed.” [White House.org]

Post war accomplishments included:

  • Witnessing the signing of the charter of the United Nations
  • Expanding the Social Security system (the Fair Deal),
  • The Truman Doctrine  (aimed at thwarting Soviet aggression)
  • The Marshall Plan (helping to rebuild the European economy)
  • The Berlin Airlift
  • NATO
  • Recognition of Israel
  • Integration of the Armed Forces

Challenges included:

  • Demobilizing the military while maintaining a healthy economy
  • The cold War
  • Labor disputes, especially with the Steel industry
  • Korean War
  • McCarthyism

Truman survived an assassination attempt on November 1, 1950. The first family was staying in Blair House — the White House was undergoing major renovations — when two Puerto Rican nationals attempted to enter the house and shoot him. There was gun battle outside Blair House, resulting in the death of a White House police man and one of the conspirators.

In 1952 he decided not to run for a second term (He has served most of Roosevelt’s’ final term and one full term of his own.) He supported Democrat Adlai Stevenson against Dwight Eisenhower.

He wrote his memoirs back in Independence. He worked to establish a presidential library. He toured the country with Bess in his Chrysler New Yorker.

Harry Truman died at the age of 88 the day after Christmas, 1972.

“My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

English: US Postage stamp: Harry. S. Truman, I...

English: US Postage stamp: Harry. S. Truman, Issue of 1973, 8c (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Queen Juliana 4.30.13 Thought of the Day

“It must be wonderful sport to contradict each other.” — Queen Juliana

Juliana in 1933. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Juliana in 1933. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina was born on this day in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1909. Today is the 104th anniversary of her birth.

She is the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and Duke Henry of the House of Orange-Nassau. As a child she lived at the HetLoo, Noordeine and the Huis ten Bosch Palaces. A class room was built in the palace, and Juliana and three other royal children were educated there.

Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana

Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At 18 she was named Council of State.

She attended the University of Leiden where she studied international law. She graduated three years later in 1930.

She met her husband to be, a German, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld at the 1936 Winter Olympics. Bernhard became a Dutch citizen, changed his name to Bernard, and the couple were married on January 7, 1937.

Princess Juliana on her wedding day (January 7...

Princess Juliana on her wedding day (January 7, 1937) (Photo credit: Empoor)

They had two daughters with in two years, Princess Beatrix in January of 1938 and Princess Irene in 1939.

As World War II loomed and Germany invaded the Netherlands (on May 12, 1940) the Royal family left the country for England. Bernard and Queen Wilhelmina stayed in Great Britain — the official Dutch Government in exile, Juliana and the children went to Ottawa,Canada. There she had her third daughter Margriet in 1943.

She returned to the Netherlands in August of 1945. As president of the Dutch Red Cross she worked tirelessly to help with post-war relief.

English: Standard of the Princesses of the Net...

English: Standard of the Princesses of the Netherlands – Daughters of Queen Juliana. Nederlands: Prinses Margiet, Prinses Irene, Prinses Christina vlag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She had her last child, Marijke Christina in 1947. Juliana had contracted German measles during the pregnancy and the baby was partially blind when born.

Queen Wilhelmina abdicated the throne to Juliana on September 6, 1948.  One of Juliana’s first acts as queen was to recognise Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, as a sovereign country.

Queen Juliana related to the every day Dutch people on many levels. She dressed  like an ordinary Dutch woman, rode a bicycle (a Dutch obsession) and prefered to be addressed as Mrs as opposed to Majesty.

Juliana showed her metal  in 1953 when a 100 year storm ravished the country. It flooded towns, killedtwo thousand and stranded thousands more. She pulled on her boots and an old coat and toured the effected area, comforting the victims of the disaster.

On her 71st birthday, Queen Juliana abdicated the throne to her eldest daughter Beatrix.  For a decade and a half after her abdication she was active throughout the country in charitable activities, but by 1995 her health began to fail. Juliana had Alzheimer’s and became more and more reclusive.  She died in her sleep  on Marcy 20, 2004. She had been suffering from pneumonia.

English: Statue of Juliana of the Netherlands ...

English: Statue of Juliana of the Netherlands and het husband Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld in the garden of Soestdijk Palace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, April 30, 2013, Queen’s Day,  her daughter Queen Beatrix abdicated to her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

King of the Netherlands

King of the Netherlands (Photo credit: HereIsTom)


Daffy Duck 4.17.13 Thought of the Day b

“Relax sister. I don’t know the meaning of the word fear!” — Daffy Duck

Daffy Duck, as he appears in The Looney Tunes ...

Daffy Duck, as he appears in The Looney Tunes Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daffy Dumas Horacio Tiberius Armando Sheldon Duck was “born” on this day in Warner Brothers Studio, Burbank, California, USA in 1937. He is 76 years old.

He was first brought to life by animator Bob Clampett and voiced by Mel Blanc in director Tex Avery‘s Porky’s Duck Hunt.  Warner Brothers was looking to carve a niche out the cartoon market (and take market share away from Disney). They had had some success with Porky Pig, but  Tex Avery “wanted a character so incongruous, so nuts, so out-of place that it would put Walt Disney’s cute “Silly Symphonies” to shame.” [The Complete History of Daffy Duck]  With Daffy he had just the duck for the mission.

Daffy Duck as he first appeared in Porky's Duc...

Daffy Duck as he first appeared in Porky’s Duck Hunt (1937). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daffy’s personality changed as the years went on. He became a slightly different duck for each of his directors. For Tex Avery he was wacky. He put the Loon in Looney Tunes. He literally bounced all over the place like a lunatic shouting “Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!”

By 1940 he’d grown more focused and ambitious. He wanted to be a movie star.

He was still crazy, but he had purpose and had control over the scenes he was in. During World War II Daffy reflected the times, first he was a draft dodging duck, then he collects scrap metal for a scrap drive (Scrap Happy Daffy). He even confronts Adolf Hitler in Daffy the Commando.

Director Robert McKimson made Daffy dapper, instilling the cartoon fowl with a bit of brains to go with his bonkers.

When Chuck Jones took the helm Daffy changed again.  Where Daffy had been “a hyperactive, carefree, if not patriotic, duck ” [The Complete History of Daffy Duck] Jones gave us “a more power-hungry and greed-driven loser. … Jones made him taller, skinnier, beakier and scruffier-looking…While he had been a winner before, and happier, Jones made him him a loser who was never satisfied. [Ibid] Jones also did a run of movie spoofs starring Daffy and Porky that were enormously popular.

By the 1950s Daffy was struggling to reclaim the spotlight from Bugs Bunny, who had become the leading Warner Brothers character. Led by Chuck Jones, the directors of this era brought out a darker side of Daffy’s personality, showing him as desperately self-glorifying and consumed by jealousy—though also more introspective. [Encyclopedia Britannica.com]

By the mid 1960s movie studios had soured on making cartoon shorts. Television, not movies theaters were the entertainment venues of choice, and the theaters couldn’t afford cartoon shorts. “the post-1964… Warner Bros…. cartoons,  are quite cheaply produced compared to the cartoons of the 40’s and 50’s.” [The Complete History of Daffy Duck]

So Daffy, along with Bugs and Porky were relegated to Television. Mostly the Warner Bros. favorites appeared as reruns on Saturday mornings, but occasionally they were given fresh material for TV specials  like Daffy’s “Duck Dodgers In the 24 1/2 Century.”  He found a home on the Cartoon Network’s The Looney Tunes Show (now voiced by Jeff Bergman and Bill Farmer)

Most recently DD’s most recent appearances have been in Robot Chicken: Immortal  and Spread Those Wings and Fly  (both came out in February of this year)

Daffy Duck

Daffy Duck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This one goes out to my friend Angie and my sister Joan.


Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day Part two

[Continued from Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part One]

 

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush (1925) (Photo credit: quicheisinsane)

Having fulfilled his contract with National, Chaplin  was free to work on independent projects for United Artists, a group he formed with  Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith in 1919. With the Gold Rush in 1925 he made the movie he wanted to be remembered by.

 

Through his work, Chaplin came to be known as a grueling perfectionist. His love for experimentation often meant countless retakes and it was not uncommon for him to order the rebuilding of an entire set. It also wasn’t rare for him to begin with one leading actor, realize he’d made a mistake in his casting, and start again with someone new…But the results were hard to refute. [Biography]

 

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the ...

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the film’s most famous scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Modern times

His later films include City Lights, 1931, Modern Times, 1936 and The Great Dictator, 1940. He made a half dozen more films (most noteably Lime Light co starring Buster Keaton) but they paled  in comparison to his earlier work. No one, it seemed, was interested in Chaplin sans bowler hat and mustache.

 

Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictat...

Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictator (with “double cross” emblem in background and on cap). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chaplin’s personal life was always in the spot light. He was married 4 times to women decades his junior. He had numerous affairs with his leading ladies. He didn’t join the British Army in WWI (which caused a lot of controversy back home in England. –Chaplin had registered for the draft, but had not been called up. He also worked for the War effort raising money through Liberty Bonds and producing propaganda films — but it wasn’t enough to satiate the flag waving mania sweeping his home country.) He was never afraid to voice his political views and after The Great Dictator (with it’s brilliant, but preachy six-minute closing speech) he was branded a radical. In the 1950’s he was a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee who “saw him as a nonconformist and therefore a communist.” [About.com] When he tried to return to the States after a trip  abroad he was denied entry. (He went to live in Switzerland.)

 

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Switzerland - Project ...

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Switzerland – Project 1/365 (Photo credit: Airflore)

He stayed away… until 1972 when he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award. He was given a 12 minuted standing ovation at the ceremony.

 

Chaplin also composed music. He wrote the songs “Smile” and “This is My Song” along with 500 other melodies.

 

After finishing his last film A Countess from Hong Kong … he composed the music to many of his silent movies, among them The Circus,… The Kidand A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate [IMDb]

Charlie Chaplin died of a stroke on Christmas morning 1977.

 

Awards:

 

  • 1929 WON Special Academy Award “for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus
  • 1941 Nominated for Best Actor Oscar  for his dual role in The Great Dictator.
  • 1941 Nominated for Best Writing Oscar for The Great Dictator..
  • 1948 Nominated for Best Screenplay Oscar for Monsieur Verdoux.
  • 1972 WON Special Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he  has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”.
  • 1973 WON The Academy Award for Best Original Score for Limelight. (The film had not been released in the US until 1972).

CLICK HERE for Charlie Chaplin Part One

 


Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part ONE

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” — Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 -- p...

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 — pre-1923 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on this day in 1889 in London, England. Today is the 124th anniversary of his birth.

He was practically born to the stage. Both his parents were musical hall entertainers. His father, Charles Chaplin, Sr.  was a singer and actor, his mother, Hannah Chaplin — her stage name was Lily Harley — sang light opera. The marriage didn’t last long, and Chaplin, Sr. abandoned the family when Charlie was an infant. He had two half brothers. Sydney Hill Chaplin was four years older than Charlie and was born to Hannah a year before she married Chaplin, Sr. (who was not his father.) Hannah had another baby, George Wheeler Dryden in 1892, by entertainer Leo Dryden. Sydney and Charlie hardly knew this brother, however, because Leo took the boy away when he was 6 months old. George didn’t resurface until his mid thirties.

Hannah continued her stage career for a few years, but…

in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her…[Biography]

The audience loved little Charlie, but it was a disaster for Hannah…

Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses. [Ibid]

Hannah was in and out of mental institutions until 1905 when she was committed permanently. With the exception of one disastrous stint with their alcoholic father, the boys were left to fend for themselves,  and, eventually, thrown into the workhouse. Sydney was trained as a seaman, but both boys wanted to act. Charlie charmed his way into a clog dancing group called the Eight Lancashire Lads in 1897.

It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could…”I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.” [Ibid]

His first play was  Jim, a Romance of Cockayne by H.A. Saintsbury in 1903.  Although the show closed after two weeks Chaplin’s comedic performance  as the newsboy received good reviews. Real stage experience came later that year with a 2.5 year run with  Sherlock Holmes in which Chaplin played the Page-boy.

He toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall. [Ibid]

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charle...

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charles Spencer Chaplin tomada en Estados Unidos, durante su juventud, en un momento en el que, como se aprecia, se encontraba al natural, tal como era, sin los clasicos caracteres que usaba para protagonizar a su recordado personaje de cine mudo Charlot. Français : Charles Chaplin, acteur américain, célèbre pour son personnage Charlot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He twice came to America on tour with the Karno troupe and film producer Mack Sennett promptly signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week with Keystone Pictures. Chaplin didn’t like his first film, Making a Living, and it wasn’t a hit, but he was singled out for his comic timing and presence.

He wanted to create a persona that made him stand out from the crowd of comedic actors at Keystone, so he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s pants, Ford Sterling’s size 14 shoes and Arbuckle’s father-in-law’s bowler to invent the Little Tramp. The Tramp made his debut in  Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (...

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (1917) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlie yearned for more creative input in his film and finally got a chance to direct in 1914. With the caveat that Chaplin would return $1,500 to producer Sennett should the film fail, he helmed Caught in the Rain . (He did not have to return the money. )

When Keystone wouldn’t give him a raise (he wanted $1,000 a week)  he went to Essanay Film Manufacturing Company  (they gave him $1,250 a week.) He made 14 films with Essanay.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond(1916), and Easy Street (1917). [Biography]

He got a million dollar deal with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit to make 8 films. (His brother Sydney was his financial manager by then, and he was instrumental in making the deal.) Two of the eight movies broke the old show business rule about not working with children and animals, and those films — The Kid and A Dog’s Life were two of Chaplin’s best.

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click HERE for Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part TWO


Leslie Howard 4.3.13 Thought of the Day

“I hate the damn part. I’m not nearly beautiful or young enough for Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.”–Leslie Howard

[Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

[Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

Leslie Howard Steiner was born on this day in Forest Hill, London, England in 1893. Today is the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Both his parents, Lilian and Ferdinand “Frank” Steiner, were of Jewish descent. Leslie’s father was from Hungary. His mother’s grandfather immigrated from East Prussia and married into well to do English society. She wanted the family to assimilate into English society as seamlessly as possible. She raised Leslie as a Christian, and when World War One broke out the family Anglicized their name from Steiner to Stainer. Leslie changed his name legally to Leslie Howard on February 24, 1920.

Although clearly bright, Howard’s sheltered upbringing and severe near-sightedness made him extremely self-conscious. Never a good student, the young Howard loathed his time at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, London, preferring to lose himself in the comfort of books. Fiercely protective of her son, Lilian encouraged her boy’s participation in the arts, particularly theatre, as a means of improving his social and academic skills. [TMC.com]

The stage was good fit. By 14 he had written his first play and it wasn’t long before Lilian established the Upper Norwood Dramatic Club to showcase Leslie and his friends. His father, however, thought a more down to earth career was in Leslie’s future. At Frank’s insistence he took a job as a clerk at a London bank — which he hated. “When war finally did break out, Howard saw his chance to escape the monotony of his life and promptly enlisted with the British Cavalry.” [Ibid] He served on the front lines for a while before returning home in 1916 with a severe case of shell shock.

He returned to the theatre again as a kind of a therapy.

In a few years, his name was famous on the stages of London and New York. He made his first movie in 1914 (The Heroine of Mons (1914)). He became known as the perfect Englishman (slim, tall, intellectual and sensitive), a part that he played in many movies, and a part women would dream about. [IMDb]

He had a long career on stage and screen, with his top movies being:

Oh, Ashley! [Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

Oh, Ashley! [Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

  • Gone with the Wind, as Ashley Wilkes (a role he thought he was too old for — he was 46 at the time. He didn’t want to play another soft-spoken, dreamer. But the producer promised Leslie if he did the role he could co-produce Intermezzo  — a movie he’d been longing to make.)
  • Intermezzo, a Love Story , as Holger Brandt
Giving a smouldering look with Igrid Berman in Intermezzo [Image courtesy: DoctoreMacro.com]

Sharing a smouldering look with Igrid Berman in Intermezzo [Image courtesy: DoctorMacro.com]

  • Pygmalion, as Professor Henry Higgins
In Pygmalion [Image couresty: DoctorMarco.com]

In Pygmalion [Image couresty: DoctorMacro.com]

Howard in Scarlet Pimpernel. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. [Image courtesy The Telegraph]

Howard in Scarlet Pimpernel. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. [Image courtesy The Telegraph]

He returned to England at the onset of WWII to help with the war effort. Leslie Howard died in 1943 when the plane he was flying in from Lisbon to England was shot down over the Bay of Biscay.


John Steinbeck 2.27.13 Thought of the Day

“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” — John Steinbeck

English: John Steinbeck

English: John Steinbeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was born on this day in Salinas, California in 1902. Today is the 111st anniversary of his birth.

John Steinbeck home

John Steinbeck home (Photo credit: sjb4photos)

His father was the treasurer for Monterey County, California. His mother, who had been a school teacher, instilled a love a reading and writing in he young Steinbeck. He graduated from high school in 1919 and went to Stanford University.
He worked his way through college at Stanford University but never graduated. In 1925 he went to New York, where he tried for a few years to establish himself as a free-lance writer, but he failed and returned to California. [Nobel Prize.org]
Back on California he met and married his first wife,Carol Henning, but he struggled to find work as a writer. For the first few years of the Great Depression his parents supported the junior Steinbecks and gave them a cottage to live in.  “Steinbeck first became widely known with Tortilla Flat (1935), a series of humorous stories about Monterey paisanos.” [Ibid]
Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 1930s was …
his most productive decade, he wrote several novels about his native California, including Tortilla Flat (1935), set in Monterey; In Dubious Battle (1936), about fruit-pickers on strike in a California valley; and Of Mice and Men (1937), set on a ranch in Soledad, southeast of Steinbeck’s birth town. [Writer’s Almanac]
He had worked on local farms and ranches during the summers when he was growing up and he wrote from that first hand observation of the  struggles of migrants and farm workers in his novels.
Cover of "The Grapes of Wrath"

Cover of The Grapes of Wrath

In 1939 he published what is considered his best work, The Grapes of Wrath, the story of Oklahoma tenant farmers who, unable to earn a living from the land, moved to California where they became migratory workers. [Nobel Prize.org]
He won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel.
Steinbeck became a war correspondent for the  New York Herald Tribune during World War II. He wrote from the Mediterranean and North Africa. He collected some of those stories in There Was a War.
Cover of "Viva Zapata! [Region 2]"

Cover of Viva Zapata! [Region 2]

After the war he wrote Cannery Row and  the screenplay for Lifeboat for Alfred Hitchcock. He recycled his characters from Tortilla Flat for the film A Medal for Benny. And he wrote The Pearl, which also was turned quickly into a movie. Followed by the screenplay for  Viva Zapata!
East of Eden (novel)

East of Eden (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He considered his next novel, East of Eden, his masterpiece. Other late works include …
The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), and Travels with Charley (1962), a travelogue in which Steinbeck wrote about his impressions during a three-month tour in a truck that led him through forty American states. He died in New York City in 1968. [Nobel Prize.org]
Steinbeck won “Nobel Prize in literature for his “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception.” [Writer’s Almanac] in 1962.
He died six years later, in 1968,  of congestive heart failure in New York City.

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1.30.13 Thought of the Day

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

 

“The truth is found when men are free to pursue it.”

 

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth”

 

“Today is a day that will live in infamy.”

 

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced strong o...

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on this day in Hyde Park, New York, USA in 1882. It is the 131st anniversary of his birth.

 

FDR was born into wealth and luxury. The only child of James Roosevelt and Sara Anne Delano Roosevelt, Franklin was fifth cousins with Teddy Roosevelt.

 

An athletic child, Franklin enjoyed horseback riding, shooting, rowing, tennis, polo, golf and sailing.  He went to an Episcopal boarding school, the Groton School for boys with other privileged, connected students.  At Groton, under the influence of headmaster Endicott Peabody,  he learned the values of serving his fellow-man, of public service and helping the less fortunate. From Groton he went on to Harvard College where he served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Crimson.

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt wi...

 

He also began to date his fifth cousin Eleanor Roosevelt while he was at Harvard. They married “On St. Patrick’s Day, 1905” [whitehouse.gov] The couple had six children together, Anna Eleanore, James, Franklin Delano, Jr., (who died before he was a year old) Elliot, a second Franklin Delano, Jr. and John  Aspinwall.

 

He attended Columbia Law School but dropped out when he passed the bar. He worked for the law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn  focusing in Corporate Law. In 1910 he ran for New York State Senate and won by a landslide. In 1913 he was appointed Assistant US Secretary of the Navy. And by 1920 had risen in the ranks of the Democratic party to such a degree that he was their nominee for Vice President.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, three-quarter lengt...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing left as Asst. Sect. of the Navy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Roosevelt was struck by Polio in the summer of 1921.

 

At first, he refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed. He tried numerous therapies and even bought the Warm Springs resort in Georgia seeking a cure. Despite his efforts, he never regained the use of his legs. He later established a foundation at Warm Springs to help others, and instituted the March of Dimes program that eventually funded an effective polio vaccine. [Biography]

 

It took almost a decade but determination and Eleanor’s support he managed to take the stage at the 1924 Democratic National Convention “on crutches to nominate Alfred E. Smith” [whitehouse.gov]  Smith in turn convinced Roosevelt to run for NY Governor  in 1928.

 

English: Color photo of U.S. President Frankli...

English: Color photo of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Man of The Year” on the cover of TIME Magazine, January 2, 1933 edition: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/0,9263,7601330102,00.html The file is a cropped, digitally-retouched version of the original large-resolution file at the Google Images/LIFE Magazine archives (see “Original source” link). According to the information posted here, the cover of this edition of the magazine is of public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In 1932, as the country struggled in the throes of the Great Depression, Roosevelt was elected  to the first of his four terms as President of the United States.

 

In his first 100 days, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed sweeping economic reform, calling it the “New Deal.” He ordered the temporary closure on all banks to halt the run on deposits. He formed a “Brain Trust” of economic advisors who designed the alphabet agencies such as the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) to support farm prices, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to employ young men, and the NRA (National Recovery Administration), which regulated wages and prices. Other agencies insured bank deposits, regulated the stock market, subsidized mortgages, and provided relief to the unemployed. [Biography]

 

By mid-decade the country was turning the corner on the depression, Roosevelt’s bold policies had worked. But some wondered if he had gone too far, especially his decision to take the nation off the gold standard.

 

Roosevelt responded with a new program of reform: Social Security, heavier taxes on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed. [whitehouse.gov]

 

As the winds of war blew through Europe and the Pacific he pledged a “good neighbor” policy of mutual action against aggressors. “He also sought through neutrality legislation to keep the United States out of the war in Europe, yet at the same time to strengthen nations threatened or attacked.” [Ibid] After the German’s invaded France and the threat to England became omnipresent Roosevelt “send Great Britain all possible aid short of actual military involvement.” [Ibid]

 

But after December 7, 1941 there was no hedging America’s involvement in the War.

 

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt directed organization of the Nation’s manpower and resources for global war. [Ibid]

 

By 1944 as World War II was beginning wind down, Roosevelt’s health was starting to deteriorate. “hospital tests indicated he had atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.” [Biography] Regardless of the test results Roosevelt ran for a fourth term. this time he choose Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman as his running mate.

 

He attended the Yalta Conference to discuss post-war Europe with Churchill and Joseph Stalin.

 

He then returned to the United States and the sanctuary of Warm Springs, Georgia. On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Roosevelt suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died. [Ibid]

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's funeral procession...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s funeral procession with horse-drawn casket, Pennsylvania Ave. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


A.A. Milne 1.18.13 Thought of the Day

“One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries.”
–A.A. Milne

 A.A. Milne; Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear  by: Howard Coster


A.A. Milne; Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear by: Howard Coster

A. A. Milne was born  on this day in Kilburn, London, England in 1882. Today is the 131st anniversary of his birth.

Alan Alexander Milne  was the youngest of three boys born to John Vine and Sarah Maria Milne. John Milne ran a school, Henley House, and it was here that the boys took their first steps in the world of learning. One of the teachers at the school was H.G. Wells and he and Alan would remain friends for the rest of their lives. After Henley House Alan went on to Westminster School before attending Cambridge on a mathematics scholarship.

A.A. Milne’s first literary efforts came during his Cambridge days. He edited the college’s humorist publication, The Granta. Alan and his brother Ken worked together, by mail, on light verse that was published in The Granta under a mash-up of their initials A.K.M.

After graduation Alan moved to London and worked as a freelance writer. He had articles published in both newspapers, like the St. James Gazette, and in humor magazines, such as Punch.

In February of 1906 he became an assistant editor and weekly contributor to Punch magazine. His  contributions included stories on sports (especially cricket and golf), the exploits of the fictional middle class Rabbit Family, and children stories that he wrote with his niece Marjorie in mind.

In 1913 he married Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt. When World War I broke out he volunteered as a signalling officer. He saw action in France until returning to England in November 1916 with a fever. Once recovered he was

…put in charge of a company at a new formed signalling school at Fort Southwick. He stayed there until he was released from the army on February 14, 1919. [Pooh-Corner.org — The Author]

A.A. Milne on the Western Front 1916. [Image courtesy Spartacus.Schoolnet.co.uk]

A.A. Milne on the Western Front 1916. [Image courtesy Spartacus.Schoolnet.co.uk]

While in the Army he wrote his first play Wurzel-Flummery. Alan didn’t go back to Punch after the war — his job had been given to some one else — and he preferred the freedom of not having a weekly deadline. He also liked writing plays and collaborating with the actors.

…he had several successes, both in London and in New York. Mr Pim Passes By… opened in London on January 5, 1920, and ran for 246 performances in London. It also had a successful run in New York…. Within the next year, Milne had another four plays running in London. Other notable plays include Belinda, The Lucky One, The Romantic Age, The Dover Road, and The Truth About Bladys. … At one time, A. A. Milne was England’s most successful, prolific, and best-known playwright. [Pooh-Corner.org — The Author]

Ironically his biggest flop was called Success.

He wrote an adaptation of Mr. Pim Passes By and a mystery, The Red House Mystery. When he proposed writing Red House his agent bulked, suggesting the public wanted more humor stories. But Milne stuck to his guns, and The Red House Mystery was “his most successful book other than his four children’s books.” [Ibid]

The Red House Mystery

The Red House Mystery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alan and Daphne Milne had a son Christopher Robin in 1920. They called the little boy “Billy Moon”  at home and among friends (the first name was a nickname, the “Moon” came from Christopher’s mispronunciation of his last name). Alan wrote the first Billy Moon poem “Vespers” after watching the little boy say his prayers before going to bed. It proved so popular that Milne was

asked to provide another children’s verse for a new children’s magazine entitled The Merry-Go-Round. That poem was “The Dormouse and the Doctor“, and also became quickly famous. Alan toyed with the idea of writing a whole book of children’s verse, and the result was When We Were Very Young, published in 1924. To illustrate the book, Milne enlisted the aid of Punch illustrator, Ernest Shepard. The combination of Milne’s poetry and Shepard’s drawings proved to be a winner, as the book sold over 50.000 copies within eight weeks of its first publication. [Ibid]

The family moved to Cotchford Farm, in Hartfield, East Sussex, in 1925 and Alan used the bucolic setting as his backdrop for his next book,Winnie-the-Pooh. Shepard was on board again as illustrator. Milne thought so highly of Shepard’s role in the success of the first children’s books that he insisted Shepard get an 80/20 share of the royalties of Winnie-the-Pooh instead of a flat rate. Winnie-the -Pooh was enormously well received.

Cover of Winnie-the-Pooh

Cover of Winnie-the-Pooh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second Pooh book, The House at Pooh Corner was equally loved. (Except by Dorothy Parker who famously quipped in her Constant Reader column in the New Yorker that by page 5 of the book the “tonstant Weader fwowed up”. Milne was unfazed by Parker’s quip, noting that “no writer of children’s books says gaily to his publisher, “Don’t bother about the children, Mrs Parker will love it.””[Ibid])

Milne House at Pooh Corner1000

Alan wrote more plays. His Toad of Toad Hall, based on Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, got it’s stage debut in 1929. The play was hailed as a “family classic” and Milne was quickly getting painted into a corner. Especially in London, his works for adults were being ignored as the public clamored for more Pooh, or at least more children’s fiction. New York was more forgiving and his plays had longer runs on Broadway, including The Ivory Door and Michael and Mary. In 1933 his adult novel Four Days of Wonder sold moderately well, but he didn’t publish another novel for another 13 years.

At the dawn of World War II Milne, the pacifist, wrote Peace With Honour in which he outlined that nothing was

“worth repeating the Somme for. He would later change his mind and would write a pamphlet called War With Honour, in which he explained his changed views. ‘If anyone reads Peace With Honour now, he must read it with that one word HITLER scrawled across every page. One man’s fanaticism has cancelled rational argument.’ [Ibid]

The Milnes had moved away from the ‘Hundred Acre Woods’ and Cotchford Farm for London and New York, but with the War they moved back to East Sussex. Alan was Captain of the Home Guard for the area. His relationship with Daphne, which had waned, rekindled, but his ties with Christopher, which had always been strong, weakened. Christopher joined the Royal Engineers as a Sapper.

In 1946 Milne’s Chloe Marr, his last novel, came out to good reviews. It sold well. He continued to see success with his plays, which were now running in repertory.

[Image courtesy pdxretro.com]

[Image courtesy pdxretro.com]

But his relationship with Christopher — who ” had begun to resent his father and hated the books that made his name famous” [Ibid] — was crumbling. By the early 1950’s Christopher was married and living 200 miles away.

In October 1952, Milne had a stroke which left him an invalid for his remaining years. … A. A. Milne died on January 31, 1956. [Ibid]


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