Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Vital City


In 2011, eighty-three-year old Philip Levine was named Poet Laureate of the United States. A native of Detroit, Levine worked in various industrial jobs as a young man. His experiences on the night shift at an auto factory provided him with one of the major topics for his poems. He remembers Detroit as a “vital city,” which is confirmed by five menus from the spring of 1940 that shows a prosperous Midwestern city hard at work and play. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Unexpected Guests

New York City, 

When the English actor Henry Irving completed his highly-acclaimed American tour in April 1885, a group of prominent men hosted a farewell banquet in his honor. Those who paid to attend this subscription dinner received an admission ticket, a menu card, and a seating chart, where some of the prospective attendees may have been surprised to see the names of two of the guests—Henry Ward Beecher, the aging Congregationalist minister once opposed to the theater, and twenty-six-year-old Theodore Roosevelt who left New York the previous year after his wife and mother died on the same day.