This Day in History – June 4th – 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.




1943 – Zoot suit riots.

The Zoot suit was a loose-fitting, baggy suit, with the pants tapered at the ankles and the coat extra long with shoulder pads. A long watch chain was an accessory, along with some type of stylish wide-brimmed fedora. It originated in Harlem and moved to Los Angeles where it was popular with Mexican-American youths. Due to wartime wool rationing, those seen wearing the suit were viewed with resentment, thought to be flaunting the rules. There was already tension, because the large number of white servicemen in the L.A. area viewed the Zoot-suiters as draft dodgers, although many of them were too young for the draft. On May 31st a white sailor was beaten up by someone wearing a Zoot suit. On June 3rd, in retaliation, a group of 50 sailors carrying clubs marched through downtown Los Angeles and beat up anyone wearing a Zoot suit. The riot escalated on June 4th as now thousands of club-carrying white sailors, soldiers, and marines roamed about beating Zoot-suiters. From there it widened with the targets being any male with non-white skin as hordes of servicemen invaded Watts and East Los Angeles. The riots continued until June 8th when the military finally restricted all personnel to their quarters.

Patriotism in the form of racism, an easy sell.


1968 – Don Drysdale pitches 6th straight shutout.

The right-handed pitcher threw 58 consecutive innings without allowing a run scored. That was a Major League record that stood until 1988 when another Dodger right-hander, Orel Hershiser, pitched 59 straight scoreless innings.

In today’s game it is amazing if a pitcher has two straight complete games. Six straight shutouts would probably be viewed as player abuse.


2008 – Wilmer “Buck” Jenneke died on this day.

My Uncle Buck was a gentle, gregarious man who lived to be 93 years old. For most of his working life he was a lineman for Northern States Power Company. At one point he was up on a pole and accidentally came in contact with a live wire and was badly injured, but survived. During the Depression he was in the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corp that planted millions of trees and did other civic conservation projects. Uncle Buck was in the Army during WWII and served in Alaska and the South Pacific. My father and uncle were stationed in Hawaii at the same time, preparing for invasion of Japan. They managed to get together one night, probably had too much to drink, and their last words to one another were “See you in Tokyo.” Here is a picture of them home on furlough, before they left for Hawaii. Dad is on the right, uncle Buck on the left.

They were on different ships sailing across the Pacific when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The ship my dad was on returned to Hawaii, and Uncle Buck’s kept going. His unit was the first to enter Nagasaki. I asked him about it and he said the destruction was unimaginable, nothing was left standing. I also asked him about the long term effects of radiation. The Army had done a study and many, if not most, of the men in his unit eventually came down with cancer. Buck remained robust and hearty his whole life. He always joked it was because he was electrocuted. “It shocked all the radiation out of me.” Buck lived in Montevideo, Minnesota, was active in the American Legion and his church, and took up woodcarving in his retirement.

I knew about the Hawaii story and it’s too late but in writing this I only now learned he had served in Alaska, same as me. I wished we could have compared notes.   



1887 – Tom Longboat.

Runner. A member of the Onondago Indian tribe, Longboat grew up on the Six Nations reserve in Canada. As a child he was sent to an Indian school, one of those where they were forbidden to speak their own language. He hated it and escaped twice, the second time successfully, when relatives hid him from authorities. Adopting his own training methods, he annoyed his coaches. Longboat was the first to alternate intense training with days of rest. For this he earned the reputation of being a “lazy Indian.” The methods worked though, and he became the dominant runner of his time, winning the Boston Marathon in 1907 in then-record time. Because of his success, the school he had been sent to as a boy invited him back to speak. He refused, saying “I wouldn’t send a dog to that school.” (Good for him.) Longboat was enjoying financial success because of his running when in 1916 he abandoned his career to join the Canadian Army. He served as a dispatch runner, delivering messages between units under combat in France. Wounded twice, at one point he was declared dead. After the war he lived and worked in Canada until he died in 1949 at age 62. There are now road races in Canada named after him and he is in Ontario’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Lazy Indian indeed.


1908 – Angela Maria “Geli” Raubal.

Born in Linz, Austria, she was the daughter of Adolph Hitler’s half sister. In 1925, Raubal’s mother became a housekeeper for Hitler and she accompanied her mother to live with him. Nineteen years older, Hitller fell in love with her. He later stated that “Geli” was the only woman he had ever really loved. (Wonder how that made Eva Braun feel.) Although some reports have him following her around devotedly, he was also domineering and possessive. Whether they had a sexual relationship or not is uncertain, but doubtful, because of his reputed impotence. In 1927 she had a relationship with Hitler’s chauffeur who was dismissed from his position when Hitler found out. She was forced to live as a virtual prisoner in Hitler’s residence. She wanted to marry a man from Linz, but Hitler forbid it. Raubal died of a shotgun blast to her chest in 1931. The official cause of death was listed as a suicide. Raubal had also suffered a fractured nose shortly before her death.

I wonder if that was self-inflicted also.


1922 – Samuel Lee Gravely.

Officer in U.S. Navy. Gravely was the first African-American officer to serve aboard a fighting ship, the first African-American captain of a ship, and the first African-American to command a fleet. In WWII, Gravely commanded a submarine chaser that consisted almost entirely of a black crew. He joined the Navy at the beginning of WWII as an enlisted man and eventually rose to rank of admiral. Gravely retired in 1980 after a thirty-eight year career in the Navy.

An amazing accomplishment for a black man at the time, given the prejudice and restrictions he faced. Although, given recent events, things haven’t really changed all that much. 



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 like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image (Wilmer “Buck” Jenneke, left)  Courtesy of Gary Jenneke

* Tom Longboat (video) – National Post /

* Vice Adm. Samuel Gravely (video) – U.S. Navy /

* VADM Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., USN, Retirement Ceremony (video) –  Naval History and Heritage /

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