Today is Wednesday, March 14, 2018. It’s the birthday of cartoonist Hank Ketcham, architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, and dramatist Horton Foote. Carl Sandburg’s “Black Horizons” is our poem for today. I appreciate your support of Bidwell Hollow. Thank you for reading. May today be a good day for you and yours.

Hank Ketcham

Hank Ketcham (affiliate link) was a freelance cartoonist in Carmel, CA, in 1950. One day, his first wife complained to him that their 4-year-old son had destroyed his bedroom instead of taking a nap.

Photo of Hank Ketcham.
Photo by Alan Light.

“Your son is a menace,” she said.

Ketcham created a comic strip based on his son, “Dennis the Menace.” The cartoon first appeared on March 12, 1951. Two years later, 193 U.S. newspapers and 52 international newspapers ran the strip.

The comic focuses on a lovable but trouble-causing small boy named Dennis Mitchell. His parents, Henry and Alice, and dog Ruff make regular appearances. As does his cantankerous neighbor, George Wilson, whom Dennis can’t help but annoy.

“Dennis the Menace” first transitioned from a newspaper cartoon to TV in 1959. The show aired for four seasons. An animated TV series ran from 1986-1988. And a live-action film starring Walter Matthau and Lea Thompson released in 1993.

Ketcham was born today in 1920 in Seattle, WA. A team of artists took over the comic strip when he retired in 1994. New panels of “Dennis the Menace” continue to publish today.

Ada Louise Huxtable

In 1970, the Pulitzer Prize Board added an award for commentary and criticism. Ada Louise Huxtable (affiliate link), along with Marquis W. Childs, won the first-ever Pulitzer Award in Criticism and Commentary.

Photo of Ada Louise Huxtable.
Photo by Lynn Gilbert.

Huxtable became architecture critic for The New York Times in 1963. She often wrote about preserving historic buildings, while ensuring they met the needs of present day.

Though she tried, Huxtable wasn’t able to keep New York City’s Penn Station from demolition. In “Farewell to Penn Station,” published in The New York Times’ Oct. 30, 1963, issue, Huxtable wrote, “We will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”

And in an essay in her book, “Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?,” she trashed the Madison Square Garden complex that replaced Penn Station.

Huxtable wrote for the Times until 1982, when she received a MacArthur Fellowship. She wrote many books on architecture, including “Kicked a Building Lately?,” “Architecture, Anyone? Cautionary Tales of the Building Art,” and a biography of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Huxtable returned to newspapers in 1997, joining The Wall Street Journal as architecture critic. She filled that role until 2012.

Horton Foote

It’s the birthday of the man who turned Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” into a Hollywood classic. That’s Horton Foote (affiliate link), born today in 191 in Wharton, TX.

Photo of Horton Foote.
horton-foote” (CC BY 2.0) by Huntington Theatre Company

Foote’s screenplay for “To Kill a Mockingbird” earned him his first Oscar. He received a second Oscar for 1983’s “Tender Mercies.”

Foote started out as an actor. He studied at actress Tamara Daykarhanova’s Theatre School in New York.

But he decided writing plays, instead of acting in them, was a more reliable way to earn a living. His first Broadway play, “Only the Heart,” opened April 4, 1944.

Foote transitioned from the stage to writing for TV in the 1950s. He wrote television shows and a couple of made-for-TV movies. His first feature film screenplay was “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

After a four-decade absence, Foote returned to theater in 1995 with “The Young Man from Atlanta.” It’s about a family trying to deal with the death of their son. The play earned Foote a Pulitzer Prize.

“The Young Man from Atlanta” opened on Broadway in 1997. It received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play. Foote earned a second Tony nomination in 2009 for “Dividing the Estate.”

Foote received many honors, including the Writer’s Guild of America’s Lifetime Achievement award in 1999.


“Black Horizons”

Black horizons, come up.

Black horizons, kiss me.

That is all; so many lies; killing so cheap;

babies so cheap; blood, people so cheap; and

land high, land dear; a speck of the earth

costs; a suck at the tit of Mother Dirt so

clean and strong, it costs; fences, papers,

sheriffs; fences, laws, guns; and so many

stars and so few hours to dream; such a big

song and so little a footing to stand and

sing; take a look; wars to come; red rivers

to cross.

Black horizons, come up.

Black horizons, kiss me.

– Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), Public Domain

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