This Day in History – August 13th – 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.




1521 – Fall of Aztec Empire.

After a three month siege the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan fell to conquistador Hernan Cortez. The Aztecs had ruled all of central Mexico, reaching as far south as modern day Central America. The tribes they conquered were resentful, having to pay taxes and supply victims for religious sacrifices. Cortez had only 600 men but also 16 horses. Horses had never been seen in North America and greatly frightened the local population. Some saw Cortez as an envoy of God. Cortez had burned the ships that brought him to Mexico so there was no possibility of retreat. In his march across Mexico, Cortez was aided by a woman, Malinche, who was his slave, interpreter, and mistress. She later bore him a son. Because of their repressive rule, many other tribes joined Cortez in his fight against the Aztecs. After the capture of Tenochtitlan, Cortez took the emperor, Cuauhtemoc, prisoner and later had him executed. Despite his success in Mexico, when Cortez returned to Spain he was largely ignored by the royal court due to political feuds.

Kind of hard to find the good guys in this conflict. Later in life Malinche married a Spanish nobleman. Her son was raised by Cortez’ family.


1892 – First issue of Afro-American published.

The weekly newspaper was founded by John Murphy, a former slave who had served as a sergeant in the United States Colored Troop in the Civil War. First published in Baltimore, the paper promoted unity in the black community, fought against racial discrimination, and urged education for African-American children. Murphy’s son Carl took over the paper in 1922 and served as its editor for forty-five years. At its peak the paper was published in thirteen U.S. cities. Still crusading for racial equality, the newspaper currently publishes in Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

Slaves were forbidden to learn to read and write, and after emancipation education opportunities were limited for African-American children, for this very reason. Protective first of slavery and later Jim Crow laws, a segment of the population didn’t want to have to contend with “fake” news.


1914 – Greyhound bus line begins in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Carl Wickman, a Swedish immigrant began this enterprise after he was laid off from his job as an iron ore miner on the Mesabi Iron Range. He began transporting miners from Hibbing to a mine in Alice, Minnesota in a seven-passenger car. He partnered with others and was soon transporting passengers between Hibbing and Duluth. The company kept growing and acquired its name when a driver saw the reflection of his bus in a store window that reminded him of a greyhound. In the 1930s bus companies transported around 400 million passengers in the U.S, and Greyhound was the largest carrier. Bus travel became ever more popular after the 1934 film “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Now owned by a British transportation company, Greyhound still operates 127 routes in the U.S. with 2,700 destinations.

Not bad for an unemployed iron miner. And of course there’s something about the town of Hibbing. It is the hometown of Bob Dylan, as well as basketball star Kevin McHale, former Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich, and Jeno Palucci, who developed the Chung King brand of canned and frozen Chinese food. Also, baseball star Roger Maris and rocker Gary Puckett were born there, but moved away young. In addition, the prosecutor of the Charlie Manson gang and writer of the book Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi, hailed from Hibbing. Must be something in the water.



1913 – Anna Mae Winburn.

Band leader, vocalist. As a female and African-American, Winburn was a rarity being a band leader. She led the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female and also integrated jazz band that included Latina, Asian, Caucasian, Black, Native American, and Puerto Rican women. When they played in the South, the white members would blacken their faces so whole band wouldn’t get arrested on the bandstand. The band was admired by their peers and Louis Armstrong even tried to hire away their trumpet player. Winburn continued as leader until the band folded in 1949. She continued with other all-female bands for another decade. Winburn passed away in 1999.

International Sweethearts of Rhythm, what a wonderful name.


1926 – Fidel Castro.

Prime Minister and President of Cuba. Fighting from the Sierra Maestra mountains, Castro led a first small, and then growing, army of revolutionaries. Utilizing hit-and-run tactics they fought against the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship. On December 31st, 1958, Batista capitulated and, along with $300 million U.S. dollars, fled to Portugal. On January 8th, 1959, Castro, his brother Raul, Che Guevara, and the bearded army of rebels triumphantly marched into Havana. Castro almost immediately disappointed the U.S. by setting up a Marxist rule that continues well into the 21st century. Castro ruled over Cuba for almost 50 years until turning over power to his brother Raul in July 2008. Castro died in 2008.

Love him or hate him, it is one heck of a story. Especially the beginning when that small band of believers brought down a corrupt dictatorship. I was a teenager back then and thrilled by the romantic notion of what they were doing, and then duly disappointed when instead of a democracy a communist rule was instituted.


1940 – Tony Cloninger.

Baseball pitcher. Cloninger won 113 games and lost 97 in an eleven-year career. His most remarkable feat was as a light hitting pitcher, when he hit two grand slam home runs in one game. He achieved this feat while playing for Atlanta against the San Francisco Giants on July 3rd, 1966. It was the second time that year he hit two home runs in one game. This was in a career that included only eleven home runs total.

With baseball now universally adopting the designated hitter run, the game has seen the last of this kind of potential fun.



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.



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

*  Lead-In Image (Teotihuacan, Méx., México) – Photo by Camilo Pinaud on Unsplash  – “La pirámide de la Luna desde el camino central de Teotihuacán, México.”

* Anna Mae Winburn (video) – JUSTASITTINANDAROCK /

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



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