Thursday, June 14, 2012

Today In History, June 14, 2012

On this day in history...

Today in 1777 the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes to be our American flag, replacing the Grand Union flag.

Today in 1834 Isaac Fischer, Jr. of Springfield, Vermont patented sandpaper. From that day on, if you rubbed someone the wrong way you now had a tool to smooth things out a little.

Today in 1870 the all-pro Cincinnati Red Stockings suffered their first loss in 130 games.

This day in 1881 the player piano was patented by John McTammany, Jr. of Cambridge, Mass. The following evening the Piano Instructors Guild met to decide whether they should organize a nationwide strike lest the new machinery put them out of their jobs.

This day in 1933 Lou Gehrig and Joe McCarthy were thrown out of a game. McCarthy was suspended for 3 games but Gehrig was not, so he could continue his streak at 1,249 games

Today in 1941 Estonia lost 11,000 inhabitants as a consequence of mass deportations into Siberia, a memorably grievous loss.

This day in 1942 Anne Frank began her diary.

And finally, on this day Bernard Baldwin (1942-2005) was born in Berlin. His father, whom he never met, was an officer in the German Reich who lost his life during the siege of Stalingrad. His mother, who had been in theater before the war, instilled in him a love of literature. His grandfather had been a skilled glassblower, and despite the family’s poverty after the war he was surrounded by beauty.

He moved to Paris after attending the university, but chose not to settle there and decided to travel, experiencing countless foreign cultures while writing essays and stories which occasionally found publication in obscure literary journals. In his mid-thirties he was courted by a Danish woman who lived in a castle on the outskirts of Copenhagen where he spent the next eight years of his life writing a novel and learning to play jazz piano before becoming a wanderer once more. As an author Baldwin published three volumes of poetry (he has often compared to Rilke) and four volumes of essays pertaining to his travels, most significantly Flames and Ruins. He would have been 70 years old today.

Here is a poem by Bernard Baldwin from his second collection of poems, An Angel Once Slept Here.

The Whirlwind

I stand within the whirlwind,
The wind within me whirling.
Do I stand outside myself
To experience this tempest swirl
Of dynamism and confabulation
Or am I inside looking out?
I’ve lost my footing, thrust forward,
In flight, airborne on spirit wings
Unfettered by strings
And in amazement my voice has been found…
I can sing.


EdNote: Pictures by ed newman. Bernard Baldwin is a work of fiction. 

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