This Day in History – April 10 – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight


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.




1865 – Robert E. Lee issues General Order #9.

The surrender at the Appomattox Court House had taken place the previous day and this was Lee’s farewell address to the 28,000 soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia. In it he briefly explained the need to yield to superior numbers and resources and praised the men for their courage. Part of one sentence in the address stated: “With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country.”

Your Country? Rings a bit hollow from a man who at one time had raised his right hand and stated “I, Robert E. Lee, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I guess a solemn oath didn’t mean much to this guy. 


1953 – Minneapolis Lakers win the NBA championship.

The Lakers won the NBA title for the 5th time in six years. They beat the New York Knicks four games to one. They won the final game by a score of 91-84. Jim Pollard led the team in scoring with 17 points and Vern Mikkelsen had 6 assists.

A friend told me a good Minneapolis Lakers story. Dennis, about ten years older than me, was stationed in Kentucky in the Army. Kentucky has always been a hotbed for basketball. The Lakers were in Kentucky on a barnstorming tour and playing a team of college all-stars. This is when the Lakers were winning all their championships. Dennis and a fellow soldier, another Minnesotan, went to watch them play. The whole arena was cheering for the all-stars so Dennis and his friend would stand and yell whenever the Lakers scored. They were the only two doing so. The Lakers noticed, smiling and pointing up at them. After the game Dennis and his friend met a couple of girls and to impress them, said they had played with the Lakers before they went into the Army. The story worked enough for the girls to go with them. They drove to a local diner but the place was too crowded to go in and eat. From the parking lot, through the big windows, they could see a group of tall guys inside, the Lakers. One of the girls, skeptical of the story, challenged Dennis. “If those are your teammates they’ll want to see you. Go in and talk to them.” Faced with no other option, Dennis and his friend, with trepidation, entered the diner. They got lucky for the Lakers remembered the soldiers as the only two people in the arena cheering for them. They stood up, shook their hands, slapped them on the back and were quite welcoming. Watching from outside, unable to hear what was being said, the girls were duly impressed.


1963 – USS Thresher sinks.

Commissioned on August 3rd, 1961, the Thresher was the first of its class of nuclear submarines. It had just spent nine months in a shipyard undergoing repairs and examinations of its systems before going to sea for a training cruise on the 9th of April. Accompanied by an escort ship the Skylark, the Thresher went on a test dive 220 miles east of Cape Cod. She was cruising at a depth of 1,000 feet when, at 9:13am, the Skylark received a garbled message reporting some minor problems. Two more garbled messages were received in the next several minutes, one reporting, “exceeding test depth.” At 9:18am the Skylark recorded a noise indicating an underwater implosion had taken place. Out of control the Thresher had sunk to a depth of 2,400 feet where its hull collapsed from outside water pressure. The crew of 129 men perished. Naval inquiries failed to determine the exact cause of the disaster although the latest one suggested an electrical fire.

There was a guy in my boot camp company from South Dakota who had enlisted for six years. He was going into the Navy’s nuclear program which required a six year commitment. I thought he was nuts both for the extra years and his willingness to be on a sub. When the Thresher went down I checked the list of names of those lost and fortunately his was not on it. 



1583 – Hugo Grotius.

Dutch philosopher, writer, lawyer and theologian. Grotius is known as the father of international law. Grotius contributed to the idea that rights were something that should be applied to all people. Also that the sovereignty of nations should originate with the people and not kings or gods. He also advanced the theory of a society of states governed according to international laws rather than by force or warfare.

Good ideas to this day although continuously tested by dictators and narcissistic politicians. 


1880 – Frances Perkins.

Secretary of Labor. Perkins was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Cabinet. She held that position from 1933 to 1945. As a young woman she earned a Master’s degree in Economics and was working as a teacher when she witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in which 146 young woman lost their lives. The experience changed the course of her life. She began fighting for the safety of workers. Perkins was married with one daughter but she chose not to take her husband’s name, branding her as a radical by some. Her work gained her the attention of Franklin Roosevelt and when he became president he asked her to be on his Cabinet. She presented him with a list of things she wanted including minimum wage and Social Security. Involved in many New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, her most significant contribution was in the implementation of the Social Security Act. After leaving the Cabinet she became a commissioner on the Civil Service Committee where she ensured Federal government workers would be selected based on merit rather than relationships. After that she returned to teaching. Perkins died in 1965 at age 85, still branded as a radical.  

Any American drawing Social Security, or anticipating doing so some day, should be grateful to radicals such as Frances Perkins.


1934 –  David Halberstam.

Journalist, writer. Halberstam wrote about the war in South Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, and later in is career turned to writing about sports. He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1964. Halberstam wrote numerous books and among the most well known are “The Best and the Brightest,” about America’s involvement in Vietnam, “The Powers That Be,” covering the media’s role in America, and “The Breaks of the Game” about the Portland Trailblazers basketball team. Halberstam was researching another book when he was killed in a car accident at age 73.

Halberstam had a way of regressing from the main topic and in the process tell a fascinating backstory. To me his books were always a rewarding reading experience.



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



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


Dennis Abbott – R.I.P. Dennis

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

* Lead-In Image (David Halberstam books) –  Penguin Random House

* Minneapolis Lakers (video) – Andrew van Buuren /

* The Legacy Of The Thresher (video) – PeriscopeFilm /

* Frances Perkins (video) – MSNBC /

* David Halberstam (video clip) – The Film Archives /

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



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* Stay tuned for more!