This Day in History – September 23 – 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.




1779 – Bonhomme Richard defeats HMS Serapis.

The U.S. ship, under the command of John Paul Jones, fought a naval battle with the Serapis off the coast of England. The Bonhomme Richard was badly damaged and the English ship asked if they wanted to surrender. It was then John Paul Jones uttered his famous “I have not yet begun to fight” retort. Three hours later, it was the Serapis that capitulated. Jones then transferred his crew and command to the British ship because the Bonhomme Richard could not be saved from sinking. Jones was not recognized as a hero in America until decades later. He later went on to serve in the Russian navy and died in obscurity in France during their revolution.

There was a USS Bon Homme Richard when I was in the Navy. It was a bird farm (aircraft carrier) and we referred to it as the “Bonnie Dick.” I wonder if sailors during the Revolutionary War were so irreverent. Probably so.


1939 – Time capsule buried at World’s Fair in New York.

It is to be opened in 6939, five thousand years later. It contained modern literature and art as well as news events, all recorded on microfilm. According to Wikipedia: “Also included in the capsule were copies of Life magazine, a kewpie doll, one dollar in change, a pack of Camel cigarettes, a 15-minute RKO Pathe Pictures RKO newsreel, a Lily Dache hat, and millions of words of text put on microfilm rolls which included a Sears Roebuck catalog, a dictionary, and an almanac. A variety of seeds were placed in the time capsule including wheat, corn, oats, tobacco, cotton, flax, rice, soy beans, alfalfa, sugar beets, carrots, and barley.”

I don’t have a lot of confidence said time capsule will ever be found and opened. Or there will even be anybody around to find it. Global warming, nuclear winter, there are all kinds of cheery possibilities increasing the odds against it.


1957 – A lot happened on this day in 1957 and I remember it all.

“That’ll Be The Day” by Buddy Holly reached #1. The Milwaukee Braves clinched the National League pennant, and a white mob forced nine African-American students from a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I was a fan of both Buddy Holly and the Milwaukee Braves. I was not a fan of the white mob.



1819 – Hippolyte Fizeau.

French physicist.

I don’t know anything about the man. I just included him because it is such a wonderful name.


1869 – Typhoid Mary.

Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant who worked as a cook in New York City and on Long Island. Wherever she worked people fell ill from typhoid fever. At least fifty-one people were infected by her and three died. The toll may be higher because her whereabouts weren’t always known. She changed jobs often, usually after an outbreak of the disease. Mary never got typhoid herself, but was a carrier and infected those around her. There is a high degree of certainty that she did not engage in any kind of hand washing routine while cooking, believing it not necessary because she was healthy. Once identified as the possible carrier, Mallon was resistant to cooperating with authorities investigating her, refusing to give stool or urine samples. She also refused to give up being a cook. Because she was healthy, she believed she was being persecuted. Finally she was arrested, forced to give specimens, and found to be the culprit. Mallon then refused to have her gall bladder (where it was suspected the typhoid bacteria resided) removed. She was placed in quarantine at Riverside Hospital in New York and remained there for the last three decades of her life. After she died an autopsy revealed that her gall bladder had indeed housed the typhoid bacteria.

Just a wee bit of Irish stubbornness seems to be at play in this story.


1930 – Ray Charles.

Musician, singer, songwriter.

No need for me to elaborate on his greatness. Near, if not at the top, of American musical icons.



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 image:

* Lead-In Image  (Buddy Holly stamp) – neftali / – “A stamp printed in USA shows Buddy Holly, circa 1993.”

buddy holly stamp shutterstock feature'

* Bonhomme Richard (video) – Mark Huffman /

* 1939 World’s Fair (video) – thehistoricalarchive /

* Buddy Holly (video) – The Ed Sullivan Show / – “Buddy Holly & The Crickets performing “That’ll Be The Day” on the Ed Sullivan Show on December 1, 1957.”

* Typhoid Mary (video) – SciShow /

* Ray Charles (video) – Ray Charles /

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