This Day in History – February 19 – 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… FEBRUARY 19

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1600 – Huaynaputina erupts.

The eruption of this South American volcano began on February 19th and continued until March 6th. It buried entire villages in ash and killed 1,500 people. The eruption also caused worldwide weather changes. Wine harvests were delayed in France and Italy, and Russia experienced one of its coldest winters on record. The eruption was the most powerful in South American history, as it cooled the entire planet.

Sad to think that, barring common sense, a volcanic explosion might be the only way to combat global warming.

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1942 – President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066.

This order forced the relocation of 120,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast into internment camps. Although no evidence existed, fears over possible wartime sabotage prevailed. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt opposed the internment and lobbied her husband not to issue it to no avail. Eleanor’s lone voice was drowned out by the combined wartime hysteria of those such as military leaders, the American Legion, the governor of California and even future Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. It is believed racism played no small part in this action. An official of a California vegetable growers association used offensive language in making this quote. “We’re charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish reasons. We do. It’s a question of whether the White man lives on the Pacific Coast or the brown men. They came into this valley to work, and they stayed to take over… If all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we’d never miss them in two weeks because the White farmers can take over and produce everything the Jap grows. And we do not want them back when the war ends, either.” A columnist for a Hearst newspaper wrote this: “I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don’t mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd ’em up, pack ’em off, and give ’em the inside room in the badlands… Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them.”

Businesses and houses were lost or forced to be sold for less than the true value. Twice the Supreme Court upheld the order. Oddly, Hawaii, not yet a state, and much more militarily vulnerable, did not intern its 150,000 citizens of Japanese descent. They were deemed too important to the economic stability of the territory. Eleanor continued to pressure FDR and in 1943 he began to release some with work permits. By the end of the year one-third of the internees had been released. In January, 1945 the order was rescinded. Despite their treatment, thousands of Japanese-American young men volunteered to serve in the armed forces of America.

People make mistakes, FDR made a doozy here.

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1968 – Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuts nationally in the United States.

Created and hosted by Fred Rogers the TV show originated as “Misterogers” in Canada in 1962. It went through a couple of name changes before debuting in the U.S. The show ran from 1968 until August 31st, 2001. In 1997 the show, aimed at 2-5 year olds, surpassed “Captain Kangaroo” as the longest running children’s TV series. It has since been passed by “Sesame Street.”

I’ve never seen even the show once so I don’t know how Mr. Rogers dealt with the reality of the world. However, I noticed that the last episode, luckily, was just a little over a week before 9/11.

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Birthdays:

1473 – Nicolaus Copernicus.

Astronomer, mathematician, physician, economist, church administrator. Copernicus was born in a Prussian region of Poland and studied in Italy. Based on naked eye observations, no telescope, he concluded the sun was stationary and the planets, earth included, revolved around it. He also theorized the earth rotated on its axis, causing the seasons to change. His theories were being published about the time of his death and it took years for them to take hold, thus sparing him the wrath of the Catholic Church. A century later Galileo reached the same conclusions and was deemed a heretic.

Then, science could be viewed as dangerous when it challenged known “facts.” Now it’s considered dangerous merely for being inconvenient.

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1902 – Kay Boyle.

Writer. Her works include 14 novels, 11 books of short stories, poetry, essays and children books. Boyle was part of the Lost Generation of artists in Paris in the 1920s, although she detested that term. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, but unlike contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald, she was not a child of the Midwest. Her family left when she was two and traveled extensively. She never had any formal education, schooled by her mother instead. As a young woman she married a Frenchman studying in the U.S., and moved to live in Le Havre. She fell in love with another man, became pregnant, but he died of TB before her daughter was born. She moved to Paris as a single mom and focused on the writing she had begun years before. She at first lived in a commune headed by the brother of Isadore Duncan. More of a cult, actually, where the members wore togas and subsisted on goat cheese and yogurt. She had to kidnap her own child when she made her escape. In Paris she had more success writing, twice winning the O. Henry award for Best Short Story. Poet William Carlos Williams regarded her as the next Emily Dickinson. Boyle married again, to the ex-husband of socialite and art collector, Peggy Guggenheim, and had three more daughters. Living first in Austria and then France, she witnessed the rise of fascism. She later wrote a book about the French Resistance. Fleeing the Nazis, Boyle and her family came to America, on the same ship as a man who would become her third husband, Joseph von Franckenstein.

In the U.S. she wrote and lectured about the reality of Nazi-occupied Europe. Franckenstein joined the OSS, forerunner of the CIA, went back to Europe disguised as a sergeant in the German army and served as a spy. After the war the two of them lived in Europe, he as a member of the State Department and she as a foreign correspondent for the New Yorker. They would have two children, her fifth daughter and finally a son. They both lost their jobs during the purges of Senator Joseph McCarthy in his search of supposed communists. It took them ten years to clear their names, during which time she was blacklisted. Shortly thereafter, Franckenstein died from cancer, and Boyle took a job as a creative writing teacher at San Francisco State University. She remained there until she retired in 1979. While there she lived two blocks from the intersection of Haight and Ashbury and witnessed another culture revolution. She joined the Vietnam anti-war protests and was arrested blocking the Oakland Induction Center, alongside singer Joan Baez. At the end of her life, living in a retirement community, she created controversy by inviting friends of color to the otherwise all white community.

Her friend, writer Studs Terkel, said of her: “When I think of Kay Boyle, I think of someone who has borne witness to the most traumatic and shattering events of our century: not simply this particular era, but of the whole twentieth century.” He then added: “Why is Kay Boyle not better known? Things are out of joint when someone like Kay Boyle is not as celebrated as she should be.” Boyle died in 1992 at age 90.

I had never heard of her myself and may have gotten a bit carried away but I find her a fascinating story. She did seem to experience it all, wealth, poverty, bohemianism, fascism, McCarthyism, political activism, hippies, plus being married to a spy. From the Lost Generation of Paris to the Summer of Love, from Hemingway of the 1920s to Baez of the 1960s  Who knows, maybe I even passed her by in Golden Gate Park or on the streets of San Francisco during that enchanted summer of 1967. Going to have to try find her books, that’s for sure.

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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:

OnThisDay.com

Wikipedia.org

FDRLibrary.org

NEH.gov

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

* Lead-In Image – Photo by Edoardo Frezet on Unsplash – Manzanar National Historical Site, California – From Wikipedia: “Manzanar is the site of one of ten American concentration camps, where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II from March 1942 to November 1945. It is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine to the south and Independence to the north, approximately 230 miles (370 km) north of Los Angeles. Manzanar means “apple orchard” in Spanish. The Manzanar National Historic Site, which preserves and interprets the legacy of Japanese American incarceration in the United States, was identified by the United States National Park Service as the best-preserved of the ten former camp sites.”

* Mr Rogers Neighborhood (1968 video) LogoBro / YouTube.com

* Kay Boyle (video) – Kelley Baker / 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 5

January 6

January 7

January 8

January 11

January 12

January 13

January 14

January 15

January 19

January 20

January 22

January 24

January 26

January 29

January 31

February 1

February 3

* February 5

February 7

* February 9

February 10

February 13

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 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 27

November 28

November 29

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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