This Day in History – October 19 – 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.




202 BC – Battle of Sama.

This was a battle between the armies of Rome and Carthage that took place in what is now Tunisia. The defeat of Carthage signaled the end of the 2nd Punic War. Carthage, led by Hannibal, had 36,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry along with 80 war elephants, while the Romans countered with 29,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry. The elephants led the first charge, proved ineffective, and were driven off. The infantry forces clashed and in savage fighting were evenly matched. However, the Roman cavalry drove Hannibal’s cavalry from the field and then attacked his infantry from the rear. 20,000 to 25,000 Carthaginians were killed and the Romans lost 4,000 to 5,000. This battle ended the 17-year war and marked the finish of Carthage as a force in the region.

I have a fascination with this time period and want to read more if I could find something other than dry history books.


1960 – Martin Luther King, Jr. arrested in Atlanta.

King had joined a group of African-American students staging a sit-in at a lunch counter in Read’s department store. This was in violation of the segregation laws in effect at the time, and 52 participants were arrested. Charges were dropped against 16, and 35 more were released on bond; only King was kept in jail. The reason was violation of probation. Earlier that summer he had received a traffic ticket for driving with a invalid license. He had moved to Georgia and still had his Alabama license. His lawyer handled it, and King paid a small fine but was unaware he was also placed on twelve months’ probation. Due to the probationary violation he was sentenced to four months of hard labor in a Georgia work camp. Presidential candidate John Kennedy and his brother Robert intervened, calling the Georgia governor and other officials. They were successful and King was released on October 27th. At the time there was no Georgia statute for how long a person had before changing their license from another state, nor was there any record of anybody else having received probation for this infraction.

Equal application of the law, never has happened, probably never will.  


1971 – Final issue of Look magazine.

Published in Des Moines, Iowa, Look was a biweekly magazine devoted to photographs rather than articles. Long captions or sometimes short narratives would accompany the photos. Co-founded by brothers Gardner and John Cowles, the magazine began publishing in 1937. Rising postal rates and losing advertisers to television contributed to its demise. Look’s highlights included presenting college football’s All-American team each year. One of its photographers, before he became an acclaimed film director, was Stanley Kubrick. Norman Rockwell also drew illustrations for the magazine.

My parents subscribed to a number of magazines when I was a kid. A constant steam of Look, Life, Saturday Evening Post, American Legion, Boy’s Life, and others arrived at our house. I devoured them all, except for the women’s magazines my mother received. Look and Life were my favorites, with Life narrowly edging out Look. Their photographs expanded my horizons, propelling me quite willingly beyond the confines of life in a small town. I was sad when economic realities brought an end to these magazines.



1810 – Cassius Clay.

Abolitionist. Clay, from Kentucky, became an abolitionist as a young man, despite his family having had owned slaves. At age 25 he was elected to the Kentucky House and served four terms despite not being very popular in his home state. Once, while giving an anti-slavery speech he was attacked by a man hired to kill him. Shot in the chest, Clay nevertheless pulled out his Bowie knife and cut off the assailant’s nose and one ear. Another time a group of pro-slavery brothers attacked, beat, and stabbed him. He fought back, again with his Bowie knife, drove the brothers off, and stabbed one to death. During the Civil War President Lincoln appointed him Ambassador to Russia. Through his negotiations, Russia became an ally and stationed naval ships in the harbors of New York and San Francisco, serving as a deterrent against England and France siding with the South. He was also involved in the talks resulting in Russia selling Alaska to America. Clay remained politically active his whole life and died in 1903. A former slave of the family named his son Cassius Clay. He in turn would name his son Cassius Clay Jr., who would go on to become heavyweight champion of the world and change his name to Muhammad Ali.

The politician and the boxer shared at least one quality, both held their places at center stage.


1922 – Jack Anderson.

Journalist. Anderson wrote a syndicated column, Washington Merry-Go-Round, that was carried in over 1,000 newspapers in the U.S. He was known as one of the last great muckrakers. Here is an except from Wikipedia that partially lists some of his investigations: “Among his exposés was reporting the Nixon administration’s investigation and harassment of John Lennon during its fight to deport Lennon, the continuing activities of fugitive Nazi officials in South America, and the savings and loan crisis. He revealed the history of a CIA plot to assassinate Fidel Castro and was credited for breaking the story of the Iran–Contra affair under President Reagan.”

Anderson questioned the Warren Commission report, believing there was a conspiracy behind the killing of JFK. Power brokers in Washington hated him and he was at the top of the enemy list for both President Nixon and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover said he was “lower than the regurgitated filth of vultures.” There was even a plot discussed, involving G. Gordon Liddy, to assassinate him. Besides writing about others, Anderson was himself an interesting story. He would do anything to get a story, including digging through trash, including Hoover’s. At one point he was a close friend of Senator Joseph McCarthy before turning on him. He invited Adolph Eichmann’s son to live in his house to learn more about the family. And when the FBI staked out his house, he sent his children out to let the air out of their car tires. In 1984 he co-founded Citizens Against Government Waste and was involved with that organization the rest of his life. Anderson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1986 and died from its effects in 2004.

Citizens against government waste – good luck with that one.


1931 – David Cornwell AKA John le Carre.

Writer. And one time British spy. Le Carre has written 25 books centered on the spy trade and espionage. Such books as “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” “The Little Drummer Girl,” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” In an interview in The Guardian, he had this quote. “I’ve had the good fortune in life to be born with a subject, the extraordinary, the insatiable criminality of my father and the people he had around him.”

Politically le Carre was against the U.S.invasion of Iraq. He wrote an essay titled “The United States Has Gone Mad” predicting the invasion would have a long term negative impact. At age 87, le Carre has just released a new book, “Agent Running in the Field”, which he claims will be his last.

An interesting man and great writer. If you want a fascinating read, check out his autobiography, “The Pigeon Tunnel.” It covers his conman father, and also le Carre’s time in the spy service.  



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 (book covers) – Penguin Books Limited (UK) – “Recommendations: Where to Start Reading John le Carré”

* Martin Luther King Jr. arrest (video) – Voices of the Civil Rights Movement /

* Jack Anderson (videos) – jmy450/ (Johnny Carson Interview); jserio 2335 / (Larry King Interview); and Reagan Library / (Interview with Ronald Reagan)

* John le Carré (video) – CBS Sunday Morning /

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



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* Stay tuned for more!