This Day in History – February 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.




1535 – Nude Anabaptists.

Twelve Anabaptists, both men and women, ran naked through the streets of Amsterdam. They were protesting the dominance of the Catholic Church and its support of the wealthy while ignoring the plight of the poor. They were all rounded up and executed, and their heads were stuck on pikes at the city gates.

To the dismay of some, the penalty for streaking in the 20th century was far less severe.


1837 – Russian poet Alexander Pushkin shot in a duel.

At issue was Pushkin’s wife, who had been described as beautiful but without a brain, soul, or heart. He suspected a dalliance between her and Nicholas the 1st but he could not challenge the Tsar.

Impulsive, Pushkin had been in other duels, so when he received a letter ridiculing him as a cuckold, he had to take action. He believed the originator of the letter to be his brother-in-law, Georges d’Anthes, and the duel was on.

Instead of the usual 30 paces, the men took only ten. D’Anthes shot first, fatally wounding Pushkin, and the man who some call the Russian Shakespeare, died two days later. Slightly wounded himself, d’Anthes was exiled to France, where he prospered.

While dueling can accurately described as “barbaric,” it almost seems civilized when compared to what the NRA has spawned and supports.


1846 – Battle of Sobraon.

The Sikh empire ruled Punjab in northern India, the East India Company the rest of the country. The Sikh army, trained and influenced by foreign mercenaries, became a political power, due to a succession of weak rulers. The army became too large, and there weren’t enough resources to pay its soldiers. The British eyed Punjab for economic reasons.

From Wikipedia: “After mutual demands and accusations between the Sikh Durbar and the East India Company, diplomatic relations were broken.” The Sikhs marched on the British forces and were defeated, and the battle ended the first Anglo-Sikh War. This led to a second Anglo-Sikh war several years later where the British were victorious again, and the Punjab region was annexed by the East India Company.

Imperialism does not relinquish its hold easily.



1890 – Boris Pasternak.

Russian poet and novelist, writer of Doctor Zhivago, which earned him the Nobel Prize. Due to its criticism of socialism, the book also earned him the ire of the Soviet government. It was widely read throughout the world, except in Russia where Doctor Zhivago was banned. Although he declined the prize, Pasternak lost his ability to earn a living after he was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers. His name suffering under a totalitarian cloud, Pasternak died of cancer in 1960. He was posthumously reinstated to the Union of Soviet Writers in 1987.

The movie “Dr. Zhivago” was released in the mid 1960s. A buddy told me this story. He and a friend were driving down the main street in St. Cloud, Minnesota. They drove past a movie marquee emblazoning Dr. Zhivago and underneath Omar Sharif. His friend said in all sincerity, “Hey, Doctor Zhivago and Omar Sheriff, sounds like a pretty good double feature.”


1899 – Harold Macmillan.

Prime Minister of England from 1957 to 1963. By most accounts he was quite effective. Among his achievements were contributing toward a robust economy, decolonization, anti-apartheid efforts, and improvement of relations with the U.S. due to his friendship with Eisenhower. Perhaps most importantly, he was the last British PM to wear a mustache. Besides their conservative values, he shared another common thread with Churchill in that both had an American-born mother. The last PM born during the Victorian Age, he was severely wounded during WWI. He supported a role for England in a new European Economic Community, and was crushed when it didn’t happen. Macmillan’s ruling party lost favor partly due to the Profumo sex scandal, and he resigned in October 1963.

If alive now, I imagine Macmillan being distressed by England’s Brexit vote.


1937 or 1939 – Roberta Flack.

American singer. Flack won a Grammy in two consecutive years, 1973 and 1974, for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Despite the awards, her records were not selling until Clint Eastwood chose “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for the soundtrack for his movie Play Misty For Me. The song zoomed to #1, and her career took off. Eastwood and Flack have remained friends ever since.

There is no record, however, of her singing to a chair at a national convention.



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:

Richard Nierengarten

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

* Lead-In Image (Alexander Pushkin Stamp) – Hayk_Shalunts /

pushkin stamp shutterstock embed

* The Anabaptist Vision (video) – /

* Pushkin Reading (audio) – PoetryZone /

* Anglo Sikh Wars Battles (video) – Sikh Museum Initiative /

* Why ‘Dr. Zhivago’ Was Dangerous (video) – PBS NewsHour /

* Harold Macmillan (video) – Firing Line & Gato /

* Roberta Flack (video) – Duda Senna /

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



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