This Day in History – September 3rd – 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.




301 – San Marino founded.

Based on population, San Marion is the fifth smallest nation in the world. Completely surrounded by Italy it came into existence when a Christian stonemason, trying to escape the persecution of the Roman Empire, built a church there. It then became a refuge for others fleeing persecution. When Garibaldi united Italy he accepted their wish not to be part of the new national state. San Marino declared its neutrality during WWII but that was violated when German forces retreated across the country and was pursued by the Allies. The climate is Mediterranean and the small country’s main exports are wine and cheese. There is a general election every five years when the country chooses its leaders by popular vote. (No Electoral College! What in the world are they thinking?) San Marino is the oldest surviving republic in the world.

Over 1,700 years, think the U.S. should study how they’ve done it? Nah, let’s just go on with voting restrictions, whining about election results, and insurrectionists storming the Capitol, I’m sure that’ll turn out just fine. 


1783 – Treaty of Paris.

This treaty officially ended the American Revolutionary War. The treaty set boundaries in North America, established fishing rights, and returned property and prisoners of war. The terms were viewed to be very generous to the new nation. Britain did this because despite losing a colony, it realized if successful America could be a valuable trading partner. 

With foresight they took the economic high road. 


1838 – Frederick Douglass escapes slavery.

He had tried to escape once before, was betrayed by a fellow slave, and jailed. Then he was sent to Baltimore to work on the shipyard docks. He dressed as a sailor and borrowed a “sailor’s protection pass” from a free African-American friend who was a seaman. The pass could be used in lieu of “free papers”. The only problem was Douglass did not resemble the physical description on the pass. A close inspection would expose him. Douglass boarded a train bound for New York and had to pass through the slave states of Maryland and Delaware. The protection pass worked for the conductor only gave it a cursory examination. At one point a white blacksmith who knew Douglass spotted him. The man stared but never called out to authorities. Douglass later wrote, “I really believe he knew me, but had not heart to betray me.” In New York Douglass was sheltered by anti-slavery activists and them moved to Massachusetts where it was safer. He and his supporters eventually raised enough money to buy his freedom. Douglass did not know his birth date so each year on September 3rd he celebrated the anniversary of the day his free life began.

What caught my attention in this remarkable story is that he still had to buy his freedom. The evil of slavery was so pervasive that even in the free states, and most disgustedly, even in the law, it still held sway. 



1913 – Alan Ladd.

Actor. Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Ladd had a rocky start in life. His father died when he was four and a year later Ladd burned down the family house while playing with matches. His mother remarried and they made a slow migration to Southern California that took four months. Once there they lived in a migrant camp. In high school he was an excellent swimmer which led him to appear in an aquatic show. Universal Studious signed him but soon released him because they said he was too blond and too short. Ladd failed as a cash register salesman and owner of a hamburger shop before he went back into acting and voice work on the radio. An agent discovered and signed him and got him some movie roles. A supporting role in “This Gun for Hire”, along with Veronica Lake, was his breakthrough. He and Lake were a hit and they starred together in a number of film noir movies. Ladd’s most famous role was as a tough, silent gunslinger in “Shane.” Ladd died in 1964 from an accidental overdose of alcohol, barbiturates and tranquilizers. 

Shane, come back. 


1921 – Marguerite Higgins.

Journalist. Higgins was a bold, aggressive reporter who forced her way into domains usually only occupied by men. Born in Hong Kong to an American father and French mother, she grew up in California. She edited the college newspaper at the University of California Berkeley and then enrolled at the school of journalism at Columbia in New York while looking for work at a newspaper. She excelled at Columbia and was hired as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune. At the age of twenty-three she became a war correspondent and was sent to Europe. She was present when the concentration camp at Dachau was liberated. Her next war assignment was in Korea during that conflict and her presence was not appreciated by male correspondents. Carl Mydans, a photographer for Life said: “That a woman would invade the war area — their most sacred domain — and then turn out to be equally talented and sometimes more courageous was something that couldn’t be accepted gracefully.” An American general ordered her out of Korea but she got General Douglas MacArthur to rescind that order. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting in Korea. Next up was Vietnam where she engaged in a feud with another American journalist, David Halberstam. (Halberstam was a subject in my April 10th post.) Higgins was fervently anti-communist and supportive of America’s involvement while Halberstam viewed it as a lost cause. Reporting from Vietnam, Higgins was bitten by an insect and contacted a tropical disease that killed her at age 45 in 1966. Higgins was married twice and had two children. 

Throughout her life Higgins was criticized for her aggressive behavior, the same time of behavior that was rewarded and found desirable in a male journalist. There’s an excellent biography about her titled “Witness to War.”   


1942 – Al Jardine.

Musician. Jardine played guitar and was a vocalist with the world famous band, the Beach Boys. Jardine and band leader, Brian Wilson, knew each other in high school in Hawthorne, California and when they met again in college decided to pursue a mutual interest in music. They formed a group consisting of Wilson, his two brothers Carl and Dennis, and their cousin Mike Love. Jardine was the only unrelated member of the Beach Boys. Just as the group was gaining some traction in 1962 he quit but Brian eventually convinced him to come back. Specializing in surfing music the Beach Boys went on to become one of the more famous bands in rock and roll history. He remained with the Beach Boys until 1998 when he was forced out by the only original member left from the original band, Mike Love. Since them Jardine has pursued a solo career with some critical success. 

My two favorite Beach Boys songs are “Sloop John B” and “Barbara Ann”. 



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 (San Marino) – Photo by Sara Groblechner on Unsplash

* Alan Ladd (video) – The Hollywood Collection /

* Marguerite Higgins (video) – What’s My Line? /

* Al Jardine (video) – VOAMusic /

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