This Day in History – November 2 – 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.




1932 – Great Emu War.

Marauding hordes of Emus, large flightless birds resembling ostriches, were terrorizing western Australia. Their crops being destroyed by this merciless enemy, farmers pleaded with the government for help. So war was declared. The 7th Heavy Battery of the Australian Army, armed with Lewis machine guns, marched into the field. On their side the Emus mobilized 20,000 birds. The army proved to be overmatched. Attempts to surround the birds were a failure. Their speed and elusiveness made them difficult to hit with machine gun fire, and when hit, they seemed to shrug off the effects of a bullet. A major with the artillery stated: “If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world. They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks.” The Lewis guns were mounted on trucks but the Emus could outrun the trucks. Admitting defeat, the army retreated from the field of battle. Perhaps to save face, it was announced that the Australian Army had suffered no casualties in the war.

This kind of reminds me of those old “Roadrunner” cartoons.


1962 – “Rhythm of the Rain” released.

This song, released by the Cascades, rose to #1 on the charts by March of the next year. Billboard listed the song as the #4 hit for 1963. In 1999 it was ranked as the 9th most played song on radio in the 20th century. The Cascades, originally calling themselves the Silver Strands, were U.S. Navy sailors who first practiced together on the fantail of the USS Jason. Discharged from the Navy, they changed their name to the The Thundernotes, and later, inspired by a box of laundry detergent, became the Cascades. They played clubs and recorded together for years but never again achieved the success of “Rhythm of the Rain.”

I served aboard the USS Jason also. I wasn’t there until fall of 1963, so our times didn’t overlap. The song was still popular and someone said it had originated aboard the Jason. I thought they were putting me on and didn’t believe it.


1963 – Thomas Arthur Vallee arrested.

An unknown source revealed that Vallee was going to make an assassination attempt on President Kennedy in Chicago. This was twenty days before the assassination in Dallas. Vallee was a right-wing extremist who had a large cache of guns and ammunition. This arrest is notable because of some similarities between Vallee and Lee Harvey Oswald. Both were ex-Marines, both had served at U-2 spy plane bases in Japan, and both had recently started new jobs in a building overlooking the president’s parade route. That could all be nothing more than mere coincidence. Enough so, it appears, that the Warren Commission never investigated any connection. But when a Secret Service agent, Abraham Bolden, contacted the Warren Commission to tell them about Vallee, he was arrested. Charged with accepting a bribe, Bolden was sentenced to six years in prison. One of his accusers, a convicted counterfeiter, later admitted he had lied while testifying against Bolden.

Now it becomes a bit more strange. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a conspiracy theorist, at least when it comes to the JFK assassination. Why did the Warren Commission not even bother to check out this possible connection, even if it was purely coincidental? It also appears Bolden was railroaded for trying to pursue this avenue. But then again Bolden was the first African-American to be a Secret Service agent. JFK called him the Jackie Robinson of that agency. I guess that alone would be justifiable cause to set him up.



1734 – Daniel Boone.

Frontiersman. Perhaps the most famous one in American history. His story is well known but here are a few less widely-known things about him. In the French and Indian War Boone was in the same unit as George Washington as they marched to defeat at Fort Duquesne. Boone had ten children and lost two sons killed in encounters with Indians. He’d be gone long periods of time leaving his wife and children alone. At one point he was gone so long his wife assumed he was dead. She had a child with his brother, Ned. When he returned Boone accepted the situation and raised the child as his own. Ned was later killed by Indians who celebrated, thinking it was the more famous Boone. He had a daughter who was kidnapped by Indians, and he tracked them for two days before rescuing her. This account was fictionalized in James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans.” At one point during the Revolutionary War he was captured by the British, but later released. Later in life, he left the United States to go to Missouri which was then Spanish territory. He made verbal deals with the Spanish and then lost most of his land after the Louisiana Purchase. Boone died in 1820.

Despite reading about his exploits, I’ve never got a sense of the man. Other than the story about his brother and his wife.


1913 – Burt Lancaster.

Actor. Lancaster was a one time circus acrobat turned Hollywood film star. He starred in such movies as “From Here to Eternity,” “Run Silent, Run Deep,” and late in his career, “Atlantic City.” He was also a political activist, speaking out for racial equality, which landed him on Nixon’s “Enemies List” and also targeted him for FBI investigation. He opposed the Vietnam War and supported Eugene McCarthy’s run for president. One of his last film roles was as Moonlight Graham in “Field of Dreams.” Lancaster died in 1994.

One of my favorite actors. In researching him I learned his first wife’s maiden name was Ernst. My mother’s maiden name was Ernst. Kind of a common name but hey, maybe I had some remote family connection to him.


1955 – Ricardo Eichmann.

Archaeologist. Eichmann is the youngest son of Adolf Eichmann, the architect behind Hitler’s Final Solution. Unlike his three older brothers, Eichmann has denounced his father. He was five years old when his father was kidnapped in Argentina and brought to Israel, and seven when he was executed, so he has only sparse, confused memories of him. He said that he thinks of Adolf Eichmann more as a historical figure than his father. His mother never talked about Adolf, so as he got older he did research on his own. He has been vocal in condemning what his father stood for and his crimes against humanity. Some don’t hear him. He receives calls from Neo-Nazis thinking they have reached a kindred spirit and is hated by others, believing because of his name he has evil in his blood. Asked why he hadn’t changed his name, he replied that he didn’t want to try run away from history. For years he refused interviews, wanting to be judged on his work in archaeology, rather than his father’s past. Finally he relented, mostly for his children’s sake, thinking if he talked freely maybe someday they wouldn’t be hounded about a grandfather they never knew.

He sounds like a good and decent man, unlike two of his brothers who had espoused their father’s Nazi philosophy.



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

* Lead-In Image (Emu ) – Photo by Sharon Co Images on Unsplash

* Rhythm Of The Rain (video) – ksabond /

* Daniel Boone (video) – Mr. Beat /

* Burt Lancaster (video) – The Hollywood Collection /

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



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