“And so I say to you on this occasion, as we leave, we leave proud of the people who have stood by us and worked for us and served this country … Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
White House Farewell Aug. 9, 1974
1854 – Walden (first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods), by Henry David Thoreau, was published by Ticknor and Fields in Boston.
The book was a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. It detailed Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts.
The book compressed the time into a single calendar year and used passages of four seasons to symbolize human development.
1936 – At the Berlin Olympics, African American track star Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal of the Games in the 4×100-meter relay.
His relay team (including Owens, Ralph Metcalfe, Foy Draper, Frank Wykoff … L-R in photo above) set a new world record of 39.8 seconds, which held for 20 years.
With their strong showing in track-and-field events, Owens and other African American athletes struck a propaganda blow against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who planned to use the Berlin Games as a showcase of supposed Aryan superiority.
But there was controversy, nonetheless.
It involved the benching of two American Jewish runners, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller. Both had trained for the 4×100-meter relay, but on the day before the event, they were replaced by Owens and Metcalfe.
Glickman said that Coach Dean Cromwell was motivated by antisemitism and the desire to spare Hitler the embarrassing sight of two American Jews on the winning podium.
“We were shocked. Sam was completely stunned. He didn’t say a word in the meeting. Jesse spoke up and said ‘Coach, I’ve won my 3 gold medals [the 100, the 200, and the long jump]. I’m tired. I’ve had it. Let Marty and Sam run, they deserve it.’
“And Cromwell pointed his finger at him and said ‘You’ll do as you’re told.’
“In those days, black athletes did as they were told, and Jesse was quiet after that.”
Postscript: When Owens returned to the United States, he was greeted in New York City with a ticker-tape parade. After the parade, Owens was not permitted to enter through the main doors of the Waldorf Astoria New York and instead forced to travel up to the reception honoring him in a freight elevator.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt never invited Owens to the White House following his triumphs at the Olympic Games.
1944 – The creation of Smokey Bear was authorized by the U.S. Forest Service.
Background: President Franklin Roosevelt started a national forest prevention campaign in 1937. The goal to reduce fires caused by people (40 million acres were lost to fire each year).
When Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and Japanese submarines later fired shells exploding a Santa Barbara, California oil field, the war was brought to American soil.
With young men and experienced firefighters enlisted in the war and stationed away from the home front, fear grew that these attacks would continue to destroy lives, property and National Forests. Citizens were encouraged to take a personal interest in fire prevention and organize community prevention efforts.
Walt Disney loaned his Bambi characters for one year for a fire prevention campaign, but the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters recognized the need for an animal mascot of their own.
After much discussion, a bear was chosen to be the designated spokesman. His name was inspired by “Smokey” Joe Martin, a New York City Fire Department hero who suffered burns and blindness during a bold 1922 rescue.
The first poster (shown above) was delivered on October 10, 1944 by artist Albert Staehle.
Bear Factoid: Smokey is often called Smokey “the Bear, but “the” isn’t really part of his name. It was added to a 1952 song by Eddy Arnold. The extra “the” was added to maintain rhythm.
1945 – The devastation wrought at Hiroshima three days earlier was not sufficient to convince the Japanese War Council to accept the Potsdam Conference demand for unconditional surrender.
On this date, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan – this time in Nagasaki – by the United States, resulting finally in Japan’s surrender.
The explosion unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. The number killed is estimated at anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000.
Exact figures are impossible because the blast obliterated bodies and disintegrated records.
1960 – Johnny Horton recorded North To Alaska at Quonset Hut Studio in Nashville.
The song – recorded for a John Wayne film of the same name – topped the Billboard Country Singles chart and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart.
Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
Horton died in an automobile accident shortly after the song was released.
1969 – Shortly after midnight, members of Charles Manson’s cult killed five people at movie director Roman Polanski’s Beverly Hills home.
The victims were Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, noted hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and 18-year-old Steven Parent, who had been visiting the property’s caretaker.
The following evening, the group killed again, murdering supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home.
The savage crimes shocked the nation and, strangely, turned Charles Manson into a criminal icon.
1974 – Richard M. Nixon stepped down from the presidency of the United States and was succeeded by Vice President Gerald R. Ford.
Nixon resigned rather than face almost certain impeachment because of the Watergate scandal, in which he was charged with misuse of presidential powers to violate the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, obstruction of justice, and failure to respond to House Judiciary Committee subpoenas.
After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address.
1976 – Hurricane Belle, a Category 3 storm, approached the North American mainland, with winds reaching 111 miles per hour.
It seemed headed for a direct hit on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but skirted the region as it weakened to a Category 2. Still, even this glancing blow caused severe flooding and erosion in the resort communities on the Outer Banks.
Belle then moved northeast along the coastline. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the world-famous boardwalk suffered $1 million in damages. Hundreds of thousands of people lost electrical power in New Jersey.
As Belle weakened to a tropical storm on August 10, it hit Long Island. Again, hundreds of thousands lost power and the region was later declared a federal disaster area. The following day, Belle struck Connecticut, wiping out a large apple harvest. The storm then moved north to Vermont. There, torrential rains caused by Belle caused flash flooding and the deaths of two more people.
By the time Belle had run its course, the storm had killed 12 people and caused $24 million in damages.
1995 – Jerry Garcia’s long, strange trip came to an end when he died of a heart attack in a residential drug-treatment facility in Forest Knolls, CA.
Like his band, the Grateful Dead, which was still going strong three decades after its formation, Garcia defied his life-expectancy not merely by surviving, but by thriving creatively and commercially into the 1990s – far longer than most of his peers.
A legendary guitarist and true cultural icon, Jerry Garcia was 53 years old.
2014 – Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson, MO police officer.
The disputed circumstances of the shooting of the unarmed man sparked existing tensions in the predominantly black city, where protests and civil unrest erupted.
The events received considerable attention in the U.S. and elsewhere, generating a national debate about the relationship between law enforcement and African Americans, and about police use of force doctrine in Missouri and nationwide.
Postscript: On November 24, 2014, Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County Prosecutor, announced the St. Louis County grand jury had decided not to indict Wilson.
On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice reported the conclusion of its own investigation and cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting. It found forensic evidence supported the officer’s account, that witnesses who corroborated the officer’s account were credible, and that witnesses who had incriminated him were not credible, with some admitting they had not directly seen the events.
The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Wilson shot Brown in self-defense.
2015 – Frank Gifford died from natural causes at the age of 84.
Gifford spent 12 seasons with the New York Giants, making eight pro Bowl appearances and winning the MVP award in 1956. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
After his playing days ended, Gifford became a commentator, mainly for NFL games on CBS. His big break came in 1971 when he replaced Keith Jackson as play-by-play announcer on ABC’s Monday Night Football, joining Howard Cosell and Don Meredith.
He would continue in that role until 1997.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2005-2021 RayLemire.com. All Rights Reserved.