Welcome to Thursday, April 12, 2018. Children’s author Beverly Cleary turns 102 today. It’s also the birthday of novelist Tom Clancy and artist Henry Darger. William Carlos Williams’s “Spring Storm” is our poem for today. Thank you for continuing to support Bidwell Hollow. Have a fine day.

Beverly Cleary

As a child in Yamhill, OR, Beverly Cleary (affiliate link), and her family lived in a house her pioneer ancestors built in 1860. The home included what at the time was only the second indoor bathtub in Yamhill County.Photo of Beverly Cleary in 1971.

But what Yamhill didn’t have was a library. And so Cleary’s mother started a lending library. She arranged for the state to send books to Yamhill. Then she ran the library out of a room above a bank.

Cleary was born in McMinnville, OR, today in 1916.

Cleary published her first book, “Henry Huggins,” in 1950. Henry lives on Klickitat Street in Portland, OR.

In all, Cleary produced six Huggins books. And she created another young adult novel series based on Ramona Quimby, one of the characters in “Henry Huggins.” The Ramona books feature names such as “Beezus and Ramona” and “Ramona Forever.”

Some of Cleary’s other books include “Runaway Ralph,” “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” and “Dear Mr. Henshaw.”

Among Cleary’s many recognitions are three Newbery Medals, a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and a National Book Award. She’s sold more than 91 million books.

An interviewer asked Cleary in 2011 if she planned to write more books. She said no, adding, “I hope children will be happy with the books I’ve written, and go on to be readers all of their lives.”

Tom Clancy

Photo of Tom Clancy.
TOM CLANCY (12/04/1947 — 02/10/2013)” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by inmemoriamday

Tom Clancy (affiliate link) wasn’t able to join the U.S. military because of his nearsightedness. He instead became an insurance agent with a wife, kids, and a mortgage.

Clancy, though, always wanted to be a writer. He started writing in his spare time. By 1979, he was jotting down stories about a character named Jack Ryan.

And in 1976, Clancy read about some Soviet sailors who tried to defect to Sweden. That gave Clancy an idea. He researched for six years before writing his first novel.

That novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” published in 1984. Clancy hoped it would sell 5,000 copies. Instead, 45,000 copies of the books sold within the first six months.

The New York Times reported in March 1985 that President Ronald Reagan called the book “the perfect yarn.” From there, the novel topped bestseller lists across the country.

A 1990 film based on the book starred Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. The character Baldwin played is Jack Ryan.

Clancy went on to write many novels featuring Ryan. These include “Patriot Games,” “The Sum of All Fears,” and “Clear and Present Danger.” Many praised his books for their technical precision and accurate portrayal of the U.S. military.

Clancy was born today in 1947 in Baltimore, MD. By the time he died in 2013, he’d sold more than 50 million books.

Henry Darger

Cover of "Henry Darger: Throwaway Boy"
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After Henry Darger (affiliate link) moved into a nursing home, his landlord went through Darger’s Chicago apartment. There he discovered a lot of junk, but also a collection of art and writing that Darger created over the years.

This included a 15,000-page fantasy epic about seven girls in a make-believe nation who rescue kidnapped children. Darger provided his illustrations for the book.

Darger, born in Chicago today in 1892, lived as a recluse until he died in 1973.

Today, places such as the American Folk Art Museum in New York City exhibit some of Darger’s art.

Darger’s the subject of a 2002 biography and a 2004 documentary. His work inspired John Ashbery’s book-length poem, “Girls on the Run.”

And a reconstructed version of Darger’s former apartment is on display at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago.


“Spring Storm”

The sky has given over

its bitterness.

Out of the dark change

all day long

rain falls and falls

as if it would never end.

Still the snow keeps

its hold on the ground.

But water, water

from a thousand runnels!

It collects swiftly,

dappled with black

cuts a way for itself

through green ice in the gutters.

Drop after drop it falls

from the withered grass-stems

of the overhanging embankment.

– William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), Public Domain

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