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Published June 26, 2009, 01:22 AM

Woodworking: A rendering I call ‘Poor David’s Almanac’

Philosopher Jean Paul Sartre was born 104 years ago this week and the world has never been the same.

By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal

Philosopher Jean Paul Sartre was born 104 years ago this week and the world has never been the same.

Ninety-six years ago this week author Mary McCarthy was born in Seattle. A few years later, her parents took her and her brother Kevin, who would become an actor, to visit an uncle and aunt in Minneapolis.

The elder McCarthy’s both died there in the flu epidemic which meant Mary and Kevin had to live with the aunt and uncle, two sour old goofs, who lived on Blasdell Ave.

Mary came home one afternoon and proudly displayed the award she had won for being the best Latin student in the state of Minnesota, whereupon her uncle beat her because “she showed the sin of pride.” And thus began a tradition in the state that nothing is to be allowed.

McCarthy also complained that her aunt fed her too many rutabagas.

One hundred ten years ago this week, Erich Maria Remarque, author of “All Quiet on the Western Front” and other depressing tomes, was born in Westphalia, Germany.

Remarque is not his real name. He changed it from Kramer to Remarque, which sounds French because he was ashamed to be a German after World War I.

Remarque, you see, is Kramer spelled backwards.

Ninety-six years ago, poet Amy Lowell threw a dinner party, which novelist Ford Maddox Ford (“The Enormous Room”) attended.

Ford, who wrote 82 books in his life, loved to eat and mortgaged all his furniture so he could have one great dinner of French baked beans when he toured a town in France renowned for the dish.

Years later, Ford, a Britisher, agreed to teach at Olivet Nazarene College, a tiny obscure college in Michigan. Asked why he would go to such a place, he replied that he had been there once to deliver a lecture and the food in the cafeteria was “very good.”

In 1842, Ambrose Bierce was born in Ohio. Bierce went on to write “The Devil’s Dictionary.” His definitions are pretty wacky. Here’s how he defined

SAINT: A dead sinner, revised and edited.

EDIBLE: Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man and a man to a worm.

PREJUDICE: A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.

MARRIAGE: A community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.

LAWSUIT: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out a sausage.

HABIT: A shackle for the free.

In the left-handed compliment department we have a meeting held 96 years ago, when British author Arnold Bennett met French novelist Andre Gide whom he pronounced “intellectually more than ever like an orchid.”

Ninety-four years ago, American author Henry James asks to be made a British citizen. George Bernard Shaw has James’s number, when he says, “James felt buried in America, but he came here to be embalmed.”

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 426-9554.

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