This Day in History – January 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.




1861 – Florida secedes from the Union.

I think the Union would have been better off if we had never let them back in.


1870 – Standard Oil incorporated.

The Standard Oil Trust was formed in 1863 by John D. Rockefeller and by 1870 was the largest oil company in the world. It then incorporated and began buying up all the competition. By 1880 it was in control of over 90% of the oil refineries in the U.S. The company then proceeded to use the legal system to protect itself. From “By design the Standard Oil Trust embraced a maze of legal structures, which made its workings virtually impervious to public investigation and understanding.”

In 1906 the government attacked citing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the battle has been ongoing since. There has also been a succession of name changes throughout the years from Standard to Mobil to Amoco to Chevron to Exxon.

Laws and environment be damned when greed is the motivation. And until our thirst for oil is abated, the industry will continue to befoul both our legal system and nature.


1980 – Last episode of the “Rockford Files.”

The popular private eye TV series ran from 1974 to 1980. It starred James Garner as Rockford, Noah Beery as his father, Rocky, and Stuart Margolin as Angel, Rockford’s wonderfully slimy, lying, scheming con man friend.

I was sad to see the series end. It was among my favorite shows. Mostly because almost anything with Garner in it was fun.



1834 – John Dalberg-Acton.

An Englishman, Dalberg-Acton was an historian, writer, member of the House of Commons, and a Baronet. (Whatever that is.) He is most famous for the oft-repeated quote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He added onto that with: “Great men are almost always bad men…”

A couple more notable quotes of his:

“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.” “Universal History is … not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”

Lest we herald him too enthusiastically, he was also a supporter of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. He advocated for states’ rights over a centralized national government, believing the latter would inevitably become tyrannical.

Perhaps. But I’ve never bought into the theory the Civil War was about states’ rights rather than slavery. Or more accurately one could say it was about a state’s right to preserve the institution of slavery.


1880 – Manuel Azaña.

President of the Republic of Spain from 1936 to 1939. Azaña presided during the Spanish Civil war, and when the Loyalist cause was defeated, he resigned and moved in exile to France. He had tried to resign earlier, when the generals first started the coup against the Republic, stating he did not want to preside over Spaniards fighting Spaniards, but was persuaded to stay in power. Azaña died of a heart attack in 1940, shortly after the Nazis invaded France.

The Catholic Church viewed Azaña as an enemy. He supported land reform, argued for the elimination of special religious privileges, and stated that the Church was the reason Spain was such a backward country. During a period of civil unrest in 1931 when churches were being burned, he remarked “all the convents in Madrid are not worth the life of a single Republican.”

Not exactly the way to win friends and influence people.


1945 – Rod Stewart.

Musician. English rocker most well known for his song “Maggie May” which rose to the top of the rock and roll charts in the fall of 1971 and catapulted him to fame. That song evoked one of the more remarkable bar scenes I’ve witnessed. I was back for homecoming at St. Cloud State, downtown, where there was a proliferation of bars. There was a din of noise in the Red Carpet where students and recent graduates were in the full swing of drinking and hustling. Then “Maggie Mae” came on the jukebox, all action stopped, and everybody in the bar spontaneously began singing “Maggie Mae” with Rod. I’d never seen a song capture a whole bar before.

Stewart was a good soccer player and considered a professional career before turning toward music. He said, “A musician’s life is a lot easier and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can’t do that and play football. I plumped for music … They’re the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing.”

I taught screenwriting for a time. One of my students was an aging, and fading, rock and roll musician looking for a new career. As he put it, he was basically unemployable, as he had no other skills.


Tough choice today as far as birthdays. People I passed over include Ethan Allen, Frank James, Sal Mineo, Jim Croce and Jared Kushner. Maybe I’ll have to revisit January 10th at some point.



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 websites: 

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

Lead-In Art –  Paul Briden / – “Paradise cove at Malibu in California.”

paradise cove - malibu - Paul Briden - shutterstock - embed

From Wikipedia: “In early episodes of the first season [of The Rockfold Files], Rockford’s trailer is located in a parking lot alongside the highway at 2354 Beach Boulevard (Pacific Coast Highway), Malibu and near the ocean; for the rest of the series, the trailer is at Paradise Cove (address 29 Cove Road), adjacent to a pier and a restaurant (‘The Sand Castle’, now known as the ‘Paradise Cove Beach Cafe’).”

* The Rockford Files’ Intro (video) – NBC Universal & Toan5985 /

* Rod Stewart (audio) – Rod Stewart /

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