Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Today in History

Do you read a daily newspaper? In our small town, we get our local newspaper, The Progress, still delivered to our door by a paper girl. After a busy day at the computer or working in the yard and around the house, I enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and the local paper. I even have our newspaper held when we’re on vacation, or sent to us if we plan to be away for a long period of time at one particular place.

I know many people now read all their news online, but I still love the newspaper in its original form—a somewhat flimsy, drab ecru, non-glare news print that allows you to touch, browse, flip from news to sports to comics to Dear Abby in seconds. You can easily lay it aside if you get interrupted, but quickly return to your favorite spot minutes later. And no one cares if you fold, bend, or wrinkle it—or later reuse it to wash your windows or catch the water and mud from your dirty boots!

There is one particular section of the newspaper I particularly like. It’s called, “Today in History;” and for a writer, it has a wealth of information. For example, on Tuesday, August 5th in 1884, the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal was laid on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. In 1914, what is believed to be the first electric traffic light system was installed in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1924, the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” by Harold Gray made its debut. And in 1962, actress Marilyn Monroe, 36, was found dead in her Los Angeles home, her death ruled a probable suicide.

Along with an important event on a selected same date in time, “Today in History,” also includes birthdays of important people and a “Thought for Today.” As a writer, we are always looking for those rare tidbits of information to squeeze into a historical novel or to give us a spurt of creative energy, a springboard leading to other similar ideas. Right now, I’m curious to learn about the behind-the-scenes preparation and work for erecting the Statue of Liberty. But of course, when today’s paper arrives, I may be led astray to yet another topic.

We all have ways to jump start our imaginations as writers, artists, musicians, dreamers, and people who enjoy toying with the creative muse. What are some of your catalysts for creativity?

To be fair to my favorite Progress column, I can’t end without sharing my favorite “Thought for Today,” taken from the August 4, 2014 edition: 

        “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”—Anne Frank (1929-1945).

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