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DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to American Mosaic in VOA Special English.
I’m Doug Johnson.
Today, we listen to music by John Prine.
And we answer a question about aircraft pioneer Igor Sikorsky.
But first we tell about some congresswomen who share friendship and a home in Washington, D.C.
Congresswomen at Home
DOUG JOHNSON: The United States House of Representatives has four hundred thirty-five members. Only seventy-three are women. Shirley Griffith tells us about three of these congresswomen who have a special relationship at work and at home.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Carolyn Maloney, Melissa Bean and Debbie Wasserman Schultz work together in Congress each day. They are all members of the Democratic Party. They represent people in the states of New York, Illinois and Florida. After the work day is over, they all go home -- to the same place. They share a house in Washington, D.C., near the Capitol building, that belongs to Ms. Maloney. They have lived together for five years.
Carolyn Maloney says she thought of the Founding Fathers of the United States when she bought the home. The first political leaders of the country often lived in rooming houses. They ate dinner together and shared their ideas.
Since the three congresswomen are all mothers, they have a lot in common. They work in Washington during the week. On weekends, they travel to their home states to see their families. Ms. Wasserman Shultz says the best thing about living together is the friendship they share each evening. They share the good times as well as the difficult times.
For Ms. Wasserman Shultz the bad times started in two thousand seven. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is cancer free today, but she remembers how important it was to have her roommates for support. Ms. Maloney says she needed the help of her two friends when her husband died last September. He was on a trip to the Himalayas and died on a mountain trail.
The three Congresswomen will be returning to Washington this month after their summer vacation. They spent time with their families and prepared for the November election. All three women are up for re-election this fall.
No matter what happens, Melissa Bean says their friendship will continue. She says: “You don’t come to Congress to make friends, because if you do, you’re not coming to be independent and have your own mind. What a great surprise it has been to make such good friends.”
DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week comes from Vladimir in Moscow, Russia. He wants to know about the life of Igor Sikorsky, a pioneer in the world of aviation.
In nineteen-oh-three, in the American state of North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright took off, flew through the air, and landed a powered airplane. When a fourteen-year-old boy from Kiev, Russia, heard the news, his life changed. Igor Sikorsky decided he would study aviation.
The young man began his studies at the Saint Petersburg Naval Academy. Then he studied engineering in Kiev at the Polytechnic Institute. When he was only twenty years old, Igor Sikorsky designed and built his first helicopter.
When it failed, he decided he would try to make airplanes. Success came quickly. In nineteen thirteen Igor Sikorsky built the world’s first four-engine airplane. He called it “The Grand.” After that he built a larger plane that was used as a bomber in World War One.
Igor Sikorsky moved to the United States in nineteen nineteen. Four years later, he opened the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation in New York. For the next fifteen years he built many new kinds of airplanes. His S-38 amphibian flew through the air and then landed on water. His Flying Clipper was the first airplane to fly forty passengers across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
In nineteen thirty-eight, Igor Sikorsky began work once again on his “vertical lift machine” -- the helicopter. He built nineteen different models before he found success. Soon his helicopter, the R-4, was being manufactured in great numbers. It was the world’s first mass produced helicopter.
The R-4 did not need an airport. It could take off and land almost anywhere. In wartime, it was used to carry troops into battle and to fly injured soldiers to hospitals quickly. Many lives were saved because of this.
Sikorsky spent the rest of his life designing and building aircraft. He was awarded many prizes for his work. Igor Sikorsky often said: “The work of the individual still remains the spark which moves mankind ahead.”
(MUSIC: “Glory of True Love”)
DOUG JOHNSON: Singer songwriter John Prine has always seemed to fly a little "under the radar." His folksy, country and soft rock songs are more famous than he is. They have been recorded by artists including Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, Bette Midler, Johnny Cash, the Seldom Scene and many others. But some fans would argue that no one sings John Prine like John Prine.
The musician has a new album out. And several other musicians have released a separate album celebrating John Prine. Mario Ritter plays music from both new recordings.
MARIO RITTER: John Prine’s new album is called “In Person and On Stage.” It is a collection of songs recorded live. Prine also tells a little about himself or the songs. This song tells what coal mining does to the environment and the economic disaster that results when the industry leaves an area. John Prine first recorded “Paradise” in nineteen seventy-one.
The album honoring John Prine is called “Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows.” It includes performances by Josh Ritter, Sara Watkins and the band Drive-By Truckers. The group My Morning Jacket performs a John Prine song from his nineteen ninety-one Grammy-winning album, “The Missing Years.” Here is “All the Best.”
In two thousand five John Prine released “Fair and Square.” It also won a Grammy for best contemporary folk album. “Long Monday” is one of the songs on the record. He included it in “In Person and On Stage.”
We leave you with one of John Prine’s best-known songs, “Angel from Montgomery.” Bonnie Raitt recorded its most famous version. The band Old Crow Medicine Show recorded it for “Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows.”
DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Jim Tedder, with reporting by Ana Ward, and Caty Weaver, who also was the producer.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.