willie gault feature

This Day in History – September 5th – 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… SEPTEMBER 5

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1925 – Temperature reaches 112 degrees in Centerville, Alabama. A state record that has stood for 92 years.

So, there you go, proof that global warming is nothing more than a liberal media inspired hoax. Well, I wish it were a hoax. I predict (and sincerely hope I’m wrong) the record will be broken within the next decade.

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1937 – City of Llanes, Spain falls to Franco’s fascist forces.

The Asturias Offensive pitted 90,000 men of the Nationalist side (Franco) against the 45,000-man Republican Army. In addition, the Nationalists had air support from Hitler’s Condor Legion. The Republican-held Asturias region was isolated from the rest of Republican Spain. Much of the Republican Army was made up of Anarchists and members of the CNT union. The CNT membership requirement:  “We make no distinction at the time of admission, we require only that you are a worker, student or unemployed. The only people who cannot join are those belonging to repressive organisations (police, military, security guards), employers or other exploiters.”

The superior firepower of the Fascists finally forced all of the Asturias region to capitulate.

The Spanish Civil war has been called “the Last Great Lost Cause.” A romantic, idealistic war with the passionate forces of democracy arraigned against the dark evil of fascism. Of course it wasn’t as simple as that. Not with anarchists, socialists, and especially communists on the democracy side. And unlike the Civil War in America, which was geographical in nature, the division in Spain was in every city and town. A bloodbath erupted across Spain. There was indiscriminate killing by whichever side emerged victorious. The fascists murdered elected public officials and union leaders while the Republicans killed priests and nuns. The Catholic Church in Spain, historically siding with the rich landowners and aiding in the suppression of the peasants, was vilified as a systemic problem. These killings didn’t exactly gain the Loyalists any public relation points.

There were exceptions, where the Catholic clergy sided with the Republicans. I was in Zaragoza Spain about six years ago. Through a friend I met a number of Spaniards who aided me in my quest for more knowledge about the war. I was taken to a small village where I met a man who had fought against Franco. Antonio was in his nineties when I met him and had been a teenager when the war started. He described how the local priest was with them and was the best shot in town. The priest stationed himself in the bell tower of the church and would pick off fascists as they attacked the town.

I was more interested in Antonio, who truly was an amazing man. Over ninety he was still working as a carpenter, volunteering at the local church. After the war was lost he escaped over the Pyrenees into France. Once WWII began, he joined and fought with the French Underground. He lived most of his life in France and married a French woman. Antonio was in his eighties before he felt it was safe for him to return to Spain. Antonio had a constant twinkle in his eye and although we had to communicate through a translator, he still revealed a sly sense of humor. He was one of the more remarkable men I have met in my life.

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1944 – Mad Tuesday.

Many Dutch people took to dancing in the street upon hearing the news that Holland was to be liberated. The rumors were premature, but still had a positive effect. 60,000 Dutch Nazi collaborators panicked and fled the country.

Those fleeing were the kind of people Antonio spent his life fighting.

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Birthdays:

1905 – Arthur Koestler. Hungarian-born writer and journalist.

He fled Hungary as a youth, began his career in Palestine, and over the years became a journalistic nomad. He had the distinction of being imprisoned in three different countries, Spain, France, and England. He wrote biographies, essays, novels, “Darkness at Noon” and memoirs, “Scum of the Earth.” (Two of my favorite books.)

Koestler favored the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and was captured by the fascists in Malaga. A death sentence hung over his head, but eventually he was exchanged for some Nationalist prisoners. Due to his wide range of activities, he attracted the attention of the Gestapo, the M.I.5, the NKVD, and the CIA.

Koestler was very political and was a secret member of the Communist Party. There is some suspicion he was acting as an agent for the party rather than a journalist in Spain. His views and interests were wide and varied and included some that were a bit different, such as the belief in the cosmic significance of coincidence. (One that I share). Koestler, stricken with both Parkinson and leukemia, committed joint suicide with his third wife in 1983.

Another writer I’ll have to go back and re-read.

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1912 – John Cage. Avant-garde music composer.

Cage, along with Merce Cunningham, with whom he was romantically involved, was instrumental in the development of modern dance. An innovator, always pushing the boundaries, he once had a piece that included 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence.

According to Britannica.com: Cage “concluded that all the activities that make up music must be seen as part of a single natural process. He came to regard all kinds of sounds as potentially musical, and he encouraged audiences to take note of all sonic phenomena, rather than only those elements selected by a composer.”

I was never musically sophisticated enough to appreciate his art. Although I do agree that all sounds are potentially musical.

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1960 – Willie Gault (lead-in image above). Wide receiver in the National Football League.

Gault was also a sprinter on the 1980 Olympic team. The U.S. boycotted that Olympics, held in Moscow, because of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. (A decision by President Carter that I did not support.) Gault was also an alternate on the 1988 Olympic bobsled team.

So close to competing in both the summer and winter Olympics. Not many have done that.

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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:

John Cage – Britannica.com

OnThisDay.com

AlabamaWX.com

Wikipedia.org

WarHistoryOnline.com

NewYorker.com/magazine

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

* Lead-In Image – Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com – “LOS ANGELES – FEB 21: Willie Gault at the Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Race Training at the Willow Springs International Raceway on March 21, 2015 in Rosamond, CA.”

* Franco Documentary (video) – 20th Century Time Machine / Youtube.com

* John Cage (video) – jdavidm / YouTube.com

* Michael Scammell Interview (video) – C-SPAN / YouTube.com

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

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 5

* December 11

* December 16

December 18 

* December 22

December 28

January 3

* January 4

January 7

January 11

* January 14

* January 15

January 19

January 22

January 24

January 29

February 1

February 3

February 5

February 9

* February 10

* February 14

February 15

February 20

February 21

February 25

February 28

March 2

March 6

March 9

March 12

March 14

March 17

March 19

March 21

March 23

March 27

March 29

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 11

September 16

September 21

September 25

September 30

October 7

October 12

October 16

October 25

October 30

November 4

* November 5

November 8

November 9

November 14

* November 19

November 23

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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