Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Vital City


Chrysler advertisement, 1940
Eighty-three-year old Philip Levine has been named Poet Laureate of the United States, the latest of many honors. A native of Detroit, Levine worked in various industrial jobs, including the night shift at an auto factory, an early experience that became one of the major topics of his poems. Levine’s remembers Detroit as a “vital city,” as illustrated by five menus from the spring of 1940, showing a prosperous Midwestern city hard at work and play. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Unexpected Guests

New York City, 

Henry Irving
Henry Irving, one of the most celebrated actors of the Victorian period, completed his highly-acclaimed American tour in April 1885 and was preparing to return to England, when a group of prominent men in New York hosted a farewell banquet in his honor at Delmonico’s. Those who subscribed for this dinner received an admission ticket, a menu card, and a seating chart, showing where everyone would be seated. Perusing the seating arrangement in advance, some of the attendees may have been surprised to find two names—the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the aging Congregationalist minister who was opposed to the theater, and twenty-six-year-old Theodore Roosevelt who left the city the previous year after experiencing a personal tragedy.