By Mariano Vidal
Today, July 26th is a significant day for me.
For instance, Hoyt Wilhelm was born on this day. Not too many people know that the arm of this knuckleballing pitcher was actually deformed from throwing the weird pitch that relies on no spin and no wind.
Two favorite poets were born on this day. Although not that far away from each other, their native languages could not have been more different. This is where being bi-lingual is a joy. One was the Irish George Bernard Shaw, and the other was Antonio Machado, who although born in Andalusia, did most of his work in Soria, one of my favorite Spanish cities, where black truffles grow. He wrote:
¡Chopos del camino blanco, álamos de la ribera,
espuma de la montaña
ante la azul lejanía;
sol del día, claro día!
¡Hermosa tierra de España!
(Poplars upon the white path, riverbank elms
Before the blue beyond;
Sun of the day, clear day!
Beautiful Spanish land!)
Jean Shepherd, the American writer, was born on July 26th. His radio show in the early 70s, kept me both amused and awake while I was doing my architectural school homework. I learned how to play the kazoo by listening to his rendition of “The bear missed the train” (a variation of “Bei mir bist du shoen”). You may be familiar with “A Christmas Story,” a movie based on one of his books. It’s about the kid who wants a Red Ryder BB gun and the mom who worries that he is “going to shoot his eye out.” I had a BB gun just like that when I turned nine years old. The movie narrator is Jean Shepherd himself.
Vivian Vance was born on this day. She played Ethel in the “I love Lucy” TV program. She came from a wealthy family and didn’t have to do the show and battle Fred, who was an ornery alcoholic. They hated each other passionately, but managed to make me laugh, perhaps even more than Lucy and Ricky.
Sandra Bullock was also born on this day. If she alone does not make you forget Castro’s 26th of July Movement, nothing will.
Photo: Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Fred and Ethel Mertz in “I Love Lucy.”