Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:
Play some songs from Bonnie Raitt ...
Answer a question about Father’s Day ...
And report about a new memorial to a famous writer of children’s books.
Doctor Seuss Memorial
The writer Theodor Seuss Geisel has been honored with a new memorial in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel was better known as Doctor Seuss. He became famous because of the books he wrote for children. Mary Tillotson has more.
Theodor Geisel was born in Springfield in nineteen-oh-four. He spent his early years there, before attending college. Geisel hoped to become a writer of serious literature. However, in the nineteen-thirties the American economy entered a period known as the Great Depression. This forced him to delay his dreams of becoming a serious writer. Instead, he found work as a creator of advertising campaigns designed to sell products. He also drew pictures for popular magazines.
Geisel began to write books for children in nineteen-thirty-seven. He called himself Doctor Seuss. His first book is called “And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” A number of publishers rejected it. They said it was too different. A friend finally published it.
Geisel wrote more than forty books for children. Doctor Seuss books are fun to read. Yet they deal with serious subjects including equality, responsibility and protecting the environment. The books contain pictures of funny creatures and plants. Geisel was not trained in art. Yet he drew the pictures for most of his books.
Doctor Seuss books are popular with young readers and their parents. Children enjoy the invented words. They also like to look at the pictures of unusual creatures such as the Cat in the Hat and Sam-I-Am.
The new Doctor Seuss National Memorial opened earlier this month, eleven years after Theodor Geisel died. The opening celebrations included public readings of his books and a parade down Springfield’s own Mulberry Street.
The memorial park has several metal statues of Doctor Seuss creations. There is even one of the writer himself. It shows him busy at work, with the Cat in the Hat at his side.
Children can climb on the statues. For example, visitors can explore a statue of Horton the Elephant that is almost five meters tall. Horton and other creatures appear to be spilling out of an open book. There also is a large chair and a book that is more than three meters tall. The book has all the words of Doctor Seuss’s last book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”
Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Fei Zhang asks about Father’s Day in America.
The idea for Father’s Day started in nineteen-oh-nine. A woman named Sonora Dodd was living in the northwestern state of Washington. She thought about starting a Father’s Day holiday while listening to a Mother’s Day speech at church.
Misses Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. He had fought in the American Civil War. Later, his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. Mister Smart raised the baby and his other five children on a farm in Washington state.
When Sonora Dodd became an adult, she recognized how kind and loving her father had been while raising his six children alone. She believed her father had worked very hard to make sure his children grew up healthy and strong. Sonora’s father was born in June. So she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on June nineteenth, nineteen-ten.
In nineteen-twenty-four, President Calvin Coolidge gave his support to the idea of a national Father’s Day. Then, in nineteen-sixty-six, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential statement declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
In early times, wearing flowers was a traditional way to celebrate Father’s Day. People wore red roses to honor fathers who were still living. White flowers were worn to honor fathers who had died.
Today, Americans celebrate Father’s Day in many different ways. Some families take their fathers out to a restaurant for a meal. Others give their fathers gifts or cards with special messages of thanks. Children living far away call their fathers on the telephone to wish them a happy Father’s Day.
However the holiday is celebrated, the idea is for children to let their father know that he is valued and loved. As one historian in America has said, “Lucky is the man who hears many small voices call him father.”
Bonnie Raitt has released a new album called “Silver Lining.” It is her sixteenth record album since nineteen-seventy-one.
Mizz Raitt says making the album was a good experience. She says she worked on the quality of her music, instead of being worried about earning money or becoming more famous. Now, the fifty-two-year-old musician feels she has reached the best part of her life. Shep O’Neal tells us more.
Bonnie Raitt says she loves to make records so that she can travel and perform in public. Her age has not slowed her down. Mizz Raitt believes she is more creative and has more energy today than when she was younger. Bonnie Raitt says one song on her new album best describes where she is in her life. That song is “Time of Our Lives.”
((CUT 1: TIME OF OUR LIVES))
Bonnie Raitt is known for mixing country and blues music with rock and roll and folk music. However, this album also has an international sound. Her trips to Africa and Cuba helped influence some of the music.
Habib Koite (ha-BEEB ko-EE-tay) from Mali helped write the song “Back Around.” Traditional blues music from America mixes with African beats to create a new sound for Bonnie Raitt.
((CUT 2: BACK AROUND))
“Silver Lining” also includes music written by new and mostly unknown songwriters. For example, British musician David Gray wrote the title song on the album. Bonnie Raitt says she spent the last few years searching the world for excellent new songwriters. We leave you with the title song from her latest album, “Silver Lining.”
((CUT 3: SILVER LINING))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC—VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by George Grow and Jill Moss. Our studio engineer was Tom O’Brien. And our producer was Paul Thompson.