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The Daily Goodbye

Patricia Sullivan

Good morning, readers. It's high summer in the sultry, humid portion of the Northern Hemisphere but instead of languishing by a pool with a cool drink and uncounted millions, we (and you) soldier on.

Reverend Ike, who preached the blessings of material prosperity to nationwide television and radio audiences, has died at age 74. One of the first evangelists to take to television, he ordered his congregants to "Close your eyes and see green. Money up to your armpits, a roomful of money and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool."

How's your heart? Dr. Margaret Billingham could tell you if your transplanted heart was thriving or being rejected. She then persuaded the international community to adopt a similar scale. She's now died, of kidney cancer.

John Dickson traded grain by day and wrote poetry by -- well, by day, too. Hundreds of poems were published in national periodicals like Harper's and Poetry, and his work was collected in books that included "Lake Michigan Scrolls" and "Waving at Trains." In his poem "Beware of Learning Basic Truths," for example, he tells of boarding a "melancholy subway/full of commuters you'd rather not know." But the poem's subject later sees a photograph of his fellow passengers, which makes him "realize what a dull clod you've been/needing a camera to tell you what you've been looking at."

There's a local tradition in Philadelphia called the Mummers parades, in which costumed men sing and dance in the streets. They needed good instruments, and Emery "Jim" Ivan built such a good banjo for their needs (which he called a "jany") that a celebrant said "Comparing a Jany to any other banjo is like comparing a Cadillac Coupe de Ville to a Model-T Ford."

In New England, where people make their own work, Frank Wilson turned a small basket company selling handmade baskets made from Vermont ash and oak into an international phenomenon. At the height of its success, Basketville had nine stores, stretching up and down the East Coast from Vermont to Florida. The company was also one of the first to feature exotic handcrafts from all over the world and he was one of the first American businessmen to trade with China after President Nixon ended the U.S. trade embargo in 1971.

Finally, don't forget to keep an eye on what my colleagues and I are up to at the Washington Post's own obits page. If you're not listed there, you're having a good day.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  July 30, 2009; 8:12 AM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan , The Daily Goodbye  
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