This Day in History – August 6th – 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… AUGUST 6

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1930 – Judge Crater disappears.

New York Supreme Court Justice John Crater was last seen on this date. Tammany Hall, a corrupt political machine, ran New York City. President Roosevelt bypassed their preferred candidates and appointed Crater to the bench. Crater had been on vacation with his wife in Maine when he got called back to the city on August 3rd. He did not tell his wife the nature of the emergency. On August 6th he destroyed some papers in his office, then had his clerk withdraw over $5,000 ($78,000 in 2020’s money) from his bank account. He purchased a ticket to a Broadway show, went to dinner with his mistress and a friend, bid them goodbye afterwards, and was never seen again. Did he withdraw the money for blackmail reasons and something went wrong? Did he go on the run? Did Tammany Hall do him in? The mystery has never been solved. Although in 2005 a letter found in the belongings of a deceased woman stated that her husband and several others, including a police officer, had killed and buried him beneath a Coney Island boardwalk.

I can think of a few high level judges I wouldn’t mind see disappearing.

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1945 – Hiroshima bombed.

The Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, on the Japanese city of 300,000 people. The nuclear explosion instantly killed 70,000 people, mostly civilians. Over the years the toll eventually rose to 200,000 due to other injuries and the effects of radiation. The U.S. rationalized that the bomb would end the war quickly and avoid the mass casualties, on both sides, of an invasion. The deadly impact of Little Boy was anticipated. There was a committee meeting to discuss which city should be targeted. Here is an analysis from that meeting. “The bomb should be dropped on a large urban center, the psychological impact of which should be ‘spectacular’ to ensure ‘international recognition’ of the new weapon.”

They got what they wanted. Here is a perverse course of thought. Sooner or later some leader would have had justified the use of the bomb. Given that current nuclear weapons are hundreds of times more powerful than Little Boy, maybe sooner was better in that it now acts as a deterrent. A cold-hearted one, but one based on reality and awful statistics and not mere scientific warnings.

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1966 – Muhammad Ali versus Brian London.

Ali fought London in London, England for the heavyweight championship of the world. In financial trouble, partly due to his controversial conversion to Islam, Ali was trying to get in as many fights as possible before his expected draft notice. London hated boxing and was in it professionally only because of the money he could make. In the third round Ali unleashed a twelve punch combination that rendered London unconscious. When asked if he wanted a return match, London said, “I’d like a return, but only if you put a fifty pound weight on each ankle.”

After being the recipient of that lethal twelve punch combination, I wonder if he still felt the money was worth it.

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Birthdays:

1881 – Alexander Fleming.

Bacteriologist. Fleming discovered penicillin in September, 1928. He had accidentally left out an experiment he was working on when he went on vacation. After he returned he noticed a culture growing and also noticed the bacteria that had been surrounding it were destroyed. He was quoted as saying, “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.” Fleming’s discovery revolutionized the treatment of infections. He shared the 1946 Nobel Prize for medicine with two colleagues who helped with the study and development of the drug.

Reader advisory. The following is intended for mature audiences only. And certainly not the squeamish. Early in Navy boot camp we noticed other companies consisting of 100 young men all marching with the same pronounced limp. Scuttlebutt (rumors) swirled around what had happened to them, and as was the case with most of our worries in boot camp, the reality was worse. One day we marched into a building and were ordered to strip. Being naked was not an unusual occurrence. Along with shaving our heads it was just part of the process of breaking down, pouring into a mold and reshaping us to fit the Navy’s need. That day as we stood there I heard sounds of distress at the front of our long naked line. Followed by the rough authoritative growl of “shaddup!” Fear and discipline always kept order but that day the sounds of distress continued, as did the “shaddup” command.

I could only see the back of the guy in front of me, Jankowski. But I was moving closer to the sounds of distress and knew I’d soon be confronting whatever it was. Then I was at the front, watching. The Navy offered no curtain or shield for our sensitivities. Jankowski was ordered forward. A single chair stood there, its back facing him. He followed orders by bending over the chair and placing his hands on the seat, then raised his left leg so his foot was behind his right knee. The corpsman held up a needle that resembled, to me, more a harpoon than a needle. Continuing with the harpoon theme, he threw more than pushed it into Jankowski’s left buttocks. With the heel of his hand he pushed in the serum. Jankowski groaned, I gasped and the “shaddup” command was again issued. We later learned we received a double dose of penicillin. When the corpsman pulled the needle out a tube Jankowski’s skin clung to it before the needle finally popped loose. As I bent over the chair I knew exactly what was taking place behind me, the Navy had made sure of that. There was a sharp stab and then a searing pain. I heard a growling “shaddup” so I must’ve groaned.

We were told it wouldn’t stiffen up if we exercised. We weren’t given that opportunity; instead, we sat on a concrete floor, still naked, for an hour. When I finally stood up I felt like I had a ball of concrete in my left buttocks. For the next several days we marched with a uniform limp as newer recruits looked at us with curiosity and horror. Later in boot camp I got an infection in several fingers of my left hand, too much mess duty, and received two more, single-dose, penicillin shots. Perhaps that was too much in a short period of time for I am now allergic to the wonder drug. So while Alexander Fleming performed a great service for the world, he didn’t really do all that much for me.

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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:

OnThisDay.com

History.com

BoxingNewsOnline.net

NobelPrize.org

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

* Lead-In Image (photo) – Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, AKA Atomic Bomb Dome

* Hiroshima (video) – The New York Times / YouTube.com

* Ali – London Fight (video) – Elusive Blue / YouTube.com

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

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

December 3

December 5

December 8

December 9

December 11

December 12

December 13

* December 15

December 16

December 18

December 19

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 25

December 28

January 1

January 3

* January 4

January 6

January 7

January 8

January 11

January 12

January 14

January 15

January 17

January 19

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 28

January 29

February 1

February 2

February 3

February 5

February 9

February 10

February 12

February 14

February 15

February 20

February 21

February 22

February 25

February 28

February 29

March 2

March 4

March 6

March 9

March 11

March 12

March 14

March 15

March 17

March 19

March 21

March 22

March 23

March 27

March 28

March 29

April 2

April 3

April 4

April 6

April 9

April 11

April 13

April 16

April 18

April 21

April 22

April 23

April 26

April 28

April 29

May 1

May 2

* May 3

May 5

May 6

May 9

May 10

May 11

* May 13

May 16

May 17

May 22

May 24

May 26

May 27

* May 28

May 29

May 31

June 1

June 3

June 4

June 8

June 10

June 11

June 13

June 16

June 17

June 18

June 21

June 22

June 24

June 27

June 28

June 29

July 2

July 3

July 4

July 9

July 10

July 13

July 14

July 15

July 19

July 20

July 23

July 24

July 25

July 29

July 30

July 31

August 2

* 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 25

September 26

September 27

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 4

October 5

October 7

October 10

October 11

* October 12

October 14

October 15

October 16

October 18

October 20

October 24

October 25

October 26

October 27

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 3

*November 4

November 5

November 6

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 13

November 14

November 15

November 16

*November 17

November 18

* November 19

November 20

November 23

November 24

November 26

November 28

November 29

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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