towton

This Day in History – March 29 – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight

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NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY… MARCH 29

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1461 – Battle of Towton. A bloody, epic battle during the War of the Roses, which basically was a civil war over who should be king.

Henry VI was king and his cousin, Edward IV, wanted that title. Henry VI was reportedly a bit unhinged and the running of the kingdom was left to his wife. The battle, fought on Palm Sunday in a blizzard, included such weaponry as swords, shields, poleaxes, clubs, archery, and cavalry. Estimates range from 50,000 to 100,000 men engaged with 28,000 combatants left dead on the battlefield. The king’s forces were defeated and many of his noblemen fled the field. The king himself was found sitting under a tree, laughing and singing.

The War of the Roses was an inspiration of a number of Shakespeare’s plays and I suspect George Martin might have researched it for his “Game of Thrones.”

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1959 – “Some Like It Hot” is released.

Directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon, it is high on the list of funny movies. Curtis and Lemmon dress up as women and join an all-women’s band as they try to escape the mob after witnessing the Valentine’s Day Massacre. The movie ended with one of the funniest lines of dialogue of all time. The comedian Joe E. Brown had fallen in love with the “woman” played by Jack Lemmon. When Lemmon informs him they can’t get married because, well, Lemmon is a man, Brown pauses momentarily, then brightens and says, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Hail to Billy Wilder, if there is a better film director, I don’t know who it is.

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1974 – Army of Terracotta soldiers found.

terra cotta warriors

The first clay figure of a soldier was discovered by farmers digging a well in the Lintong District, not far from the city of Xi’an. The archeological dig continues with thousands of soldiers standing in rows in addition to chariots and horses already uncovered. From Wikipedia.org: “The construction of the tomb was described by historian Sima Qian (145–90 BCE) in his most noted work Shiji, written a century after the mausoleum’s completion. Work on the mausoleum began in 246 BCE soon after Emperor Qin (then aged 13) ascended the throne, and the project eventually involved 700,000 workers.”

I spent two weeks in Xi’an, China and while there visited the site of the Terracotta Army. Housed in a hangar-like structure, covering an area that seemed to be several football fields in size, the rows of soldiers could be viewed from elevated walkways. The spectacle left me in awe. There was a list of statistics involving artists, craftsmen, workers, kilns that while impressive, were just interesting. The how and why was less awe-inspiring than the mere fact of its existence. Quite obviously, I’m a history buff. For me, history is not only fun-filled facts and knowledge, it can also be textural. Even without physically touching, one can still touch and become part of a period past. People who had lived centuries before me had created this army, and it now connected me to them. Time became compressed and a dimension removed as I existed for a moment in a world not my current one. To me that’s the fascination of history. And for those who don’t share that fascination, it seems to me they are missing out on part of life.

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Birthdays:

1819 – Edwin Drake. First person to drill a successful oil well in the United States at Titusville, Pennsylvania.

It was his idea to drill for oil but unfortunately for him, he did not patent his design for the oil well. Ironically, he died in poverty after helping to launch the most profitable industry in the world.

Indirectly responsible for curtailing the whaling industry, his invention possibly saved those magnificent creatures from being hunted into extinction.

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1917 – Man ‘o War. American thoroughbred racehorse.

Until Secretariat’s Triple Crown run, considered to be the greatest racehorse ever. (I would put Seabiscuit in the running also.) Man ‘o War won 20 of 21 races and its loss, oddly enough, was to a horse named Upset. It once won a race by 100 lengths. In 1920 Man ‘o War and Babe Ruth shared the title of Athlete of the Year.

While the Babe was okay with this, Man ‘o War was reported to have been displeased at having to share the award. An anonymous source from the stable area leaked this information.

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1937 – Billy Carter. Younger brother of President Jimmy Carter. Founder of “Billy Beer,” his antics, alcoholism, and colorful one-liners kept him in the spotlight.

One example, from PBS.org: “My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.”

It can’t be easy being the sibling of a President. Billy made the best, and worst, of it.

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ABOUT GARY JENNEKE

At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at gary@newswhistle.com.

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CREDITS

The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers:

Sources:

Terra Cotta Soldiers – Wikipedia.org

Billy Carter – PBS.org

Wikipedia.org

On-This-Day.com

Brittanica.com

NeatORama.com

Telegraph.co

We’d also like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image – Phil MacD Photography / Shutterstock.com – “Distant silhuoette of a lone tree in a ploughed field at the site of the Battle of Towton (fought during the English Wars of the Roses on 29 March 1461).”

* “Some Like It Hot” Trailer (video clip) – Movieclips Trailers / YouTube.com

* Terra Cotta Warriors (photo) – toiletroom / Shutterstock.com

* Man O’ War footage (video clip) – James Wood / YouTube.com 

* Billy Carter (video clip) – BillBoggsTV / YouTube.com

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio / Shutterstock.com

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

* December 5

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 15

December 16

December 18 

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 28

* December 30

* January 3

January 4

January 6

January 7

January 10

* January 11

* January 14

January 15

January 16

January 19

January 21

January 22

January 24

January 25

January 29

January 30

February 1

February 3 

February 5

February 6

* February 9

* February 10

* February 11

February 14

February 15

February 18

February 20

February 21

February 24

February 25

February 28

March 2

March 3

March 6

March 9

March 10

March 12

* March 14

March 16

March 17

March 19

March 20

March 21

March 23

March 26

March 27

April 2

April 3

April 6

April 11

* April 13

April 18

April 22

April 23

April 28

April 29

May 2

May 3

May 6

May 9

May 10

May 13

May 17

* May 24

May 26

May 29

June 1

June 3

June 8

June 10

June 13

June 17

June 18

June 21

June 24

June 28

June 29

July 2

July 3

* July 9

July 13

July 15

July 19

July 23

July 25

July 30

July 31

* August 3

August 7

August 10

August 11

August 16

August 17

August 21

August 24

August 25

* August 28

August 31

September 2

September 5

September 6

September 8

September 11

September 12

September 15

September 16 

September 17

September 21

September 23

September 24

September 25

September 28

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 7

October 10

October 12

October 14

* October 16

October 18

October 24

October 25

October 27

October 28

October 30

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 13

November 14

November 16

* November 17

November 19

November 20

November 23

November 28

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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