December 10th

Melvil Dewey was born on December 10th in 1851. You know — Dewey, as in Dewey decimal system.

Dr. Dewey had a passion for efficiency, for time and labor saving methods. He was born at Adams Centre, Jefferson County, N.Y. on Dec. 10, 1851. He was graduated from Amherst College in 1874 and received a Master’s degree there in 1877. While in college he was honorary assistant in the library, desiring to learn its technique. He decided that much could be done in education by building up the library systems and set about to apply his ideas. The college library drifted into his management, and at the end of his junior year he was asked by the trustees to become acting librarian.

It was here that he developed the system of classifying and cataloguing books by decimal numbers, a system now known by his name and used in practically all libraries in this country.

New York Times obituary, 1931

Emily Dickinson was born on this date in 1830.

Emily Dickinson selected her own society, and it was rarely that of other people. She preferred the solitude of her white-washed poet’s room, or the birds, bees, and flowers of her garden to the visitations of family and friends. But for three occasions in her life she never left her native Amherst, MA; for the last twenty of her fifty-six years, she rarely left her house. And yet her reclusive existence in no way restricted her abundant life of the imagination. Her letters and poems, all except seven published posthumously, revealed her to be an inspired visionary and true original of American literature.

PBS: I Hear America Singing

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

Emily Dickinson Museum

Dick Bavetta is 73 today. He is a referee in the NBA. Still.

Tommy Kirk is 71 today. Kirk was in Disney films Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson and The Absent-Minded Professor. Kirk was fired by Walt Disney personally in 1963 when it was learned he was gay.

Susan Dey of “The Partridge Family” is 60.

Four-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh is 52. Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards — for adapted screenplay, best short film, best actor and best director.

Summer Phoenix (born Summer Joy Bottom) is 33 today. Her siblings are River (died 1993), Rain, Joaquin and Liberty. Her husband is Casey Affleck.

“Hoss” Cartwright was born 84 years ago today. That’s the actor Dan Blocker. Blocker was a west Texas boy, a teacher and coach at Carlsbad, New Mexico’s Eddy School among other places, before getting into acting. Hoss’s given name on Bonanza was Eric. Blocker, who weighed around 300 pounds, died in 1972 at age 43.

Philip Hart was born 100 years ago today. Hart was United States Senator from Michigan 1959-1976. The third of the three Senate office buildings is named for him — the vote to do so was 99-0. He died shortly after.

Chet Huntley was born 101 years ago today. After proving a popular success at the 1956 political conventions, the team of Huntley (from New York) and David Brinkley (from Washington) anchored the NBC evening news program. Huntley left the show in 1970. He died in 1974. “Good night, Chet” — “Good night, David — “and good night for NBC News.”

And happy round-year birthday to my brother-in-law Ken (KenB on these pages). That’s a book he wrote below. Best wishes, Bro.

1 thought on “December 10th”

  1. I’ll take the day, December 10th, and as it of note for MR. Melvil Dewey fans, it offers me a chance to complain about the misuse of the word, loosely tied to Mr. Dewey. The word is “Decimate” which ,by definition. means to reduce by :one in ten, a 10% reduction, I would think the beginning of the word itself, “Deci” which means, one-tenth would tip people off. But NO, the new misuse of this word is more akin to devastate or obliterate, than any reduction of 10%. The word is misused by the likes of David Ploffe , Sen.Sanders, Thom Hartman, and almost hourly on FOX.Interestingly until this weekend I’d never seen it misused in the NYTimes, until this weekend in a blog, where the writer a Ms Caravalll, I think,mentioned it in a piece about the secret Jews of earlier time, mixing with the Spanish settlers of the west. So even my last hope of proper use is now gone. Please out of respect for N.M. scientists, if not language, let’s stop saying “Decimate” if we really mean “Devastate” it makes one’s speech sound, ignorant. Thank You and Melvil Dewey, for this opportunity.

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