This Day in History – October 21 – 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.

***

THIS DAY IN HISTORY… OCTOBER 21

***

1096 – Battle of Civetot.

This battle totally destroyed the army of the People’s Crusade. Fought in Turkey during the 1st Crusade, the army was mostly composed of peasants who were not trained in warfare. They had been recruited and led by the French priest Peter the Hermit, but he was not present, having gone back to Constantinople to procure supplies. Turkish spies had falsely spread a rumor the city of Nicaea had fallen and the Crusaders were anxious to get there to partake in the looting. An army of 20,000 marched toward Nicaea. A Turkish army was waiting in ambush. Panic ensued among the Crusaders and the battle was no contest. 17,000 of the 20,000 were killed. Unlike many of the battles during the Crusades, this time the victors spared the women and children and those who surrendered. 

The People’s Army was driven forward by the prospect of looting? My goodness, have I been confused over what the Crusades were about? 

***

1797 – USS Constitution launched.

A frigate, the ship carried 44 guns and a crew of 450. The ship became known as “Old Ironsides” after a furious battle with a British warship during the War of 1812 in which it emerged victorious. It was said cannonballs seemed to bounce off her wooden hull as if it was made of iron. She went on to capture or defeat seven more British ships during the course of the war. In doing so she greatly raised the morale of the American public. The adoration she had received kept her from being scraped after the days of wind driven sailing ships were over. “Old Ironsides” did publicity tours and is now a museum ship in Boston, the oldest warship still actively commissioned in the world. 

I was about to finish radio school when we were given “dream sheets” to fill out in which we could list our top three choices for our next duty station. I’m not sure why the Navy did that, I highly doubt it had any bearing on where we would be sent. So I put down the USS Constitution, thinking I was funny, serving as a radioman on an old wooden ship that had no radio room. I sometimes wonder if that dream sheet was indeed read, and as retaliation for being a smart-ass I was sent to Kodiak Island.

***

1986 – Edward Tracy kidnapped.

Tracy, a door to door encyclopedia salesman in Beirut, was abducted by an unknown faction supporting an Islamic revolution. This took place during the Lebanon Hostage Crisis when, between 1982 and 1992, over 100 Westerners were kidnapped. The kidnappers claimed Tracy was an American CIA spy, which he denied. His family described him as an adventurer who had worked in West Germany, France, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia, Australia, Italy and the Canary Islands. His ex-wife lived in the Canary Islands. Tracy was released after almost five years in captivity. 

CIA? I don’t think so. They would have had to have come up with a better cover than an encyclopedia salesman. That alone could get someone kidnapped.

***

Birthdays:

1905 – Carleton Young.

Actor. Young was a character actor who appeared in some of the more notable and respected films of the 20th century, including “From Here to Eternity,” “The Man Who Killed Liberty Valance,” and most importantly, “Reefer Madness.” In addition to acting, Young helped form the Los Angeles Smog Corporation. They “manufactured” can of Genuine Los Angeles Smog so tourists could take home some of the city’s famous polluted air. 

Canned smog. An example of American exceptionalism at its best. 

***

1929 – George Stinney.

Murderer… ? African-American Stinney, at age fourteen, is the youngest person to be sentenced to death and executed in America. He was accused of murdering two white girls, ages eleven and seven, in the small town of Alculo, South Carolina. There were no witnesses to the murders or evidence presented against him at his trial. Stinney confessed but there was no written confession, just the word of three policemen, the only witnesses called at the trial. Stinney later said they had starved him and he confessed to get food. He had been interrogated without his parents or counsel present. His siblings said he was with them at the time of the murders but they were not called to testify. His attorney was a court appointed tax commissioner who did little to challenge the testimony of the policemen. Jury selection, (an all white jury) the trial and deliberation was all completed in one day. At his execution Stinney had to sit on a bible because he was too small to fit in the electric chair. The execution took place on June 16th, 1944. Seventy years later his conviction was overturned when a court ruled he had not received a fair trial. 

I’ve been accused of sometimes being too depressing in this blog and it appears I did it again. Whether Stinney was guilty or innocent, this is nevertheless an ugly piece of American history. I’m going to try lighten the load with a bit of frivolity in my next entry.

***

1980 – Kim Kardashian.

Somebody who is known for something. Her most notable claim to fame should be her father, Robert, who was a close friend of O.J. Simpson and a part of his defense team in his murder trial. But for reasons unknown her celebrity reaches beyond that. 

Okay, here’s something I’m not proud to admit. For 72 wretched days I was part of Kim Kardashian’s extended family. That’s how long she was married to basketball player, Chris Humphries. Through the Kuhlmann clan of Minnesota, from which both Humphries and I descend, we are distant cousins. Therein lies my connection to Kardashian. Oh, the horror.

***

ABOUT GARY JENNEKE

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 gary@newswhistle.com.

***

CREDITS

The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers.

Sources:

OnThisDay.com

Wikipedia.org

History.com

NYTimes.com

***

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

* Lead-In Image (Hollywood sign photo) – Photo by Cameron Venti on Unsplash

* Kim Kardashian (video) – Saturday Night Live / YouTube.com

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

***

this-day-in-history-outro