It was always linguini between us.
Linguini with white sauce, or
red sauce, sauce with basil snatched from
the garden, oregano rubbed between
our palms, a single bay leaf adrift amidst
plum tomatoes. Linguini with meatballs,
sausage, a side of brascioli. Like lovers
trying positions, we enjoyed it every way
we could-artichokes, mushrooms, little
neck clams, mussels, and calamari-linguini
twining and braiding us each to each.
Linguini knew of the kisses, the smooches,
the molti baci. It was never spaghetti
between us, not cappellini, nor farfalle,
vermicelli, pappardelle, fettucini, perciatelli,
or even tagliarini. Linguini we stabbed, pitched,
and twirled on forks, spun round and round
on silver spoons. Long, smooth, and always
al dente. In dark trattorias, we broke crusty panera,
toasted each other—La dolce vita!—and sipped
Amarone, wrapped ourselves in linguini,
briskly boiled, lightly oiled, salted, and lavished
with sauce. Bellissimo, paradisio, belle gente!
Linguini witnessed our slurping, pulling, and
sucking, our unraveling and raveling, chins
glistening, napkins tucked like bibs in collars,
linguini stuck to lips, hips, and bellies, cheeks
flecked with formaggio—parmesan, romano,
and shaved pecorino—strands of linguini flung
around our necks like two fine silk scarves.
“Linguini” by Diane Lockward from What Feeds Us. © Wind Publications, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
On this this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights.
Economists in the ’40s were predicting a postwar depression, and politicians were terrified of the idea of 9 million unemployed veterans wandering the country. So they wrote the GI Bill to guarantee unemployment benefits for a year. A congressional committee threw in the idea that veterans should get money to go to college, although even the supporters of the bill didn’t think that many GIs would really want to go — but about a million veterans applied for the money within the first year after the war. Professors at the time said the veterans were the most serious students they’d ever seen.
Prior to World War II, only 530,000 Americans held college degrees. By 1947, veterans accounted for half of the nation’s college enrollment, which swelled to 500,000 by 1950.
It’s the birthday of German novelist Erich Maria Remarque (books by this author), whose first novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, was published in 1929 to international acclaim. He had been drafted into the army at 18. He suffered severe injuries while fighting on the Western Front, which inspired him to begin a novel about the horrors of trench warfare. Remarque said: “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession [...] It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.”
All Quiet on the Western Front was translated into 22 languages, banned and burned by the Nazi regime, and made into a popular Hollywood film. Remarque went on to write nine more novels, including the best-sellers Arch of Triumph (1945) and The Night in Lisbon (1961).
It’s the birthday of Billy Wilder, born in Austria (1906). He came to the United States in the 1930s and got a job writing scripts for Fox Film Corporation. He worked his way up the ladder and ended up producing and directing many classics of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Double Indemnity (1944), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Apartment (1960).
Billy Wilder said: “An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation.”
It’s the birthday of the woman Time magazine called “The Sheriff of Wall Street,” Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (books by this author), born in Oklahoma City (1949). Her mother worked in the catalog-order department at Sears, and her father was a janitor. When she was 12, he suffered a massive heart attack. The family lost their car and Warren had to wait tables at her aunt’s Mexican restaurant to make ends meet. She graduated high school at 16, winning a full debate scholarship to George Washington University, but left after two years to marry her high school sweetheart, a NASA engineer. They moved to Texas, where she finished her degree in speech pathology, becoming the first member of her family to graduate college. The day her second child turned two, she enrolled in law school at Rutgers, practicing law from her living room after passing the bar in 1976. She became interested in the economic pressures facing the American middle class, specifically focusing on bankruptcy laws and how they disproportionately targeted women, the elderly, and the working poor. Warren became the advisor for the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, testifying against congressional efforts to limit consumer’s ability to file for bankruptcy. Under her leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created.