This Day in History – October 14 – 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.




1758 – Battle of Hochkirch.

This was a battle during the Seven Years’ War. The Prussian forces under Frederick the Great were surprised and defeated by an Austrian army. Historians have decreed it as Frederick the Great’s biggest military blunder.

Given the passage of time, even that trivial bit of information has been rendered meaningless. Just another battle in just another war. I’m sure to most parties involved it was of great significance. I’m also sure they thought they had very justifiable reasons to fight it. I wonder what it proved. More than likely the same as most wars now. Those at the top, especially the winning side, gained fame and wealth, and those at the bottom, both on the winning and losing sides, got to die.


1912 – Teddy Roosevelt shot.

While campaigning for president in Milwaukee, Roosevelt was shot in the chest at close range by a bartender with mental issues. The bartender, John Schrank, said that former President Wm. McKinley ordered him to do it. At the time, McKinley had been dead for over a decade, himself a victim of assassination.

Roosevelt, a former president, was running as a third party Bull Moose Party candidate at the time of the attack. The bullet was slowed by his glasses’ case and the thick manuscript of that night’s speech before entering his chest. Roosevelt delivered the speech and only afterwards allowed himself to be taken to a hospital. Schrank was declared insane and spent the rest of his life in an institution. Roosevelt survived the attempt on his life but lost the election to Woodrow Wilson.

Teddy prided himself on being a manly man and he certainly got to prove it that day.


1964 – Martin Luther King Jr. wins Nobel Peace Prize.

At the time the 35-year-old King was the youngest recipient of the prize. He won the award for his leadership in the nonviolent struggle for equal civil rights for African-Americans. King was gracious in accepting the award and said the prize money would be used to further the cause of civil rights. “I do not consider this merely an honor to me personally,” Dr. King said, “but a tribute to the disciplined, wise restraint and majestic courage of gallant Negro and white persons of goodwill who have followed a nonviolent course in seeking to establish a reign of justice and a rule of love across this nation of ours.”

A rule of love sounds inspiring, doesn’t it? Especially given how far we’ve fallen away from that now.



1873 – Ray Ewry.

Olympic gold medalist from Lafayette, Indiana. In the early 1900s he won ten gold medals, the most until Michael Phelps came along a century later. Ewry was a jumper, in events that are no longer contested in track and field. The most amazing thing about him is that he had polio as a child and was never expected to even walk, much less compete as an athlete. He devised his own jumping regimen to fight back against the effects of the disease and this led to his success. Ewry went on to a career as an engineer that included designing boilers for US ships in WWI and also helping to build the Catskills to New York City aqueduct.

Inspirational. Although not all might agree. I had a friend who viewed stories such as this from the opposite side. Creating the false dream that with enough effort anything is possible. Mind does not always triumph over matter. Case in point. Despite his valiant efforts FDR never was able to walk unaided. Having failed on multiple levels, I don’t necessarily agree. What the hell, keep shooting for the moon.


1912 – Jack Crapp. 1913 – Ginty Lush. Cricket players.

Don’t know a thing about either of them, nor did I bother looking them up. Their names alone do it. Jack Crapp and Ginty Lush. Damn, that’s almost enough to make me want to watch cricket.


1975 – Floyd Landis.

Professional bicycle racer. Landis won the 2006 Tour de France before being disqualified for doping. After four years of denying the allegations, Landis finally admitted to cheating and in doing so, implicated former teammate and seven-time champion, Lance Armstrong, bringing him down also.

This gives me an excuse to tell one of my biking stories. It’s autumn now, and I’m contemplating another year of riding my bicycle through a Minnesota winter.

I first started biking in winter almost thirty years ago, navigating through snow, ice, and cold on my six-mile commute to work. The coldest day I ever biked was nineteen degrees below zero. That day there was a clear, beautifully bright blue winter sky, and fortunately there was no wind or wind chill factor. Because of the exercise I wasn’t that cold, except for my toes and fingers–they were numb after three miles. Mostly I rode on a bike path, except for one short stretch on a city street. I stopped at a red light and a car pulled up next to me. I wore a stocking cap pulled down low under my helmet and had a scarf wrapped around my neck and up over my nose. If I kept the scarf a few inches from my face, I found my breath would freeze and fashion it into a protective shield.

I looked at the driver of the car, a middle-aged man. He looked back at me, another middle-aged man, although the way I was bundled up it might have been hard to tell. He was sitting inside a warm, comfy car with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I was standing on frozen snow-packed ground with my breath clouding in front of me. The looks we exchanged were equal parts disdain, and oddly enough, envy.

I could almost read his thoughts. “Idiot. But you know, I should really quit smoking and get in shape.” I had quit smoking years earlier, but with fingers and toes crying for mercy, in the midst of what was probably not a very good idea, a warm car, cup of coffee, and a cigarette had never looked so good. That fleeting desire went away however and a feeling of pride came over me. Okay, I was doing this!

And what the hell, even as an old man, maybe I’ll give another year of winter biking a shot.



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 (Ray Ewry stamp) – neftali / – “A stamp printed in USA dedicated to Olympian… Ray Ewry, circa 1990.”

* Teddy Roosevelt (video) – Today I Found Out /

* Martin Luther King Jr. (video) – Nobel Prize /

* Ray Ewry (video) – Matthew Duffy /

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