This Day in History – April 8 – Hijinx, Humor and Insight


NewsWhistle is pleased to present Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original on Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog – or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at the comings and goings of life.




1904 – Longacre Square is renamed Times Square.

The famous New York tourist destination was originally named Long Acre Square in London. The change came about due to competition between daily newspapers. The New York Herald constructed a large new building on 34th Street and convinced the city to rename the area Herald Square. The New York Times, not to be outdone, constructed a new building between 42nd and 43rd. They then lobbied Mayor George McClellan, Jr. for the name change. McClellan was the son of General George McClellan who was fired by President Lincoln during the Civil War. Their effort was successful and New York now has a place for its New Year’s Eve ball drop.

I never thought about why Times Square is Times Square. Good shot because I just don’t see people flocking to a Longacre Square.


1935 – WPA approved by Congress.

The administration of works projects was a New Deal program under President Franklin Roosevelt. The underlying idea was to get the unemployed off welfare and back to work. Millions of people had lost their jobs in America because of the Great Depression. Infrastructure needs were met and projects included roads, schools, parks and over 10,000 bridges were built. The largest single project was the Tennessee Valley Authority which built dams to provide electricity. The WPA also employed artists and there were musical, dramatic and literary projects. The troubadour Woody Guthrie as well as the director and director Orson Welles were among them. It had its detractors who complained about its far-left elements and the fact that it was a hotbed of communists. Another criticism was that Roosevelt had more WPA projects in swing states than in states where he was assured of victory, thus politicizing this New Deal agenda. Another was that it instilled bad work habits because workers had no incentive to complete their projects. Nevertheless, during its lifetime, the WPA employed approximately 8.5 million people. The project was halted during World War II because there was no longer a shortage of jobs.

I think the gymnasium in my hometown was built by the WPA. If there are any Lester Prairie readers, please feel free to correct me or verify this information.


1966 – Time Magazine issue “Is God Dead”.

With its black background and bold red lettering, the cover upset devotees. Although inside the magazine a serious theological discussion was presented, most people were not offended by the cover. This prompted the most letters to the editor in the magazine’s history. Clergy and congregations across the country were offended. The question “Is God dead” was referring to Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement that “God is dead”. Nietzsche had expressed the idea that the Enlightenment had eliminated the possibility of the existence of God. The “Is God Dead” issue was named one of twelve magazine covers that shook the world.

I was a young man, a student, at the time and I remember the fury. I got caught up in a number of controversies and had my opinions, but this one… I just shrugged and it passed.



1905 – Helene Joseph.

Anti-apartheid activist. Born in Britain, Joseph earned a degree in English and moved to India to teach for three years. South Africa was her next stop where she also taught and got married. She served in the Air Force during World War II and after the war she was divorced. Appalled by the treatment of black South Africans and the conditions in which they are forced to live, she becomes an anti-apartheid organizer. In 1956, she helped lead a march of 20,000 women in Pretoria to protest “pass laws”. These were laws designed to separate the population and limit the movement of black people. Her activities came to the attention of the government and she was one of 156 people, including Nelson Mandela, charged with treason. Prohibited from speaking in public or demonstrating, the trial lasted four years. Although she was acquitted, her continued activities resulted in a new arrest and new charges. In 1962, she was placed under house arrest. While there, she was constantly harassed with rocks thrown through windows, a bomb wired to the front door, and even gunshots fired through the house. The people who visited him had poured paint stripper on their cars. Years later, the police admitted that they were responsible for these actions. She was 80 and had spent 23 years in detention before the ban was lifted in 1985. She continued her fight for justice until her death in 1992 at the age of 87. can be such a threat to state security? »

Repressive governments always fear simple things like truth, equality and those who fight for a just cause.


1912 – Sonje Henie.

Olympic champion and movie star. Representing Norway, Henie won gold medals in ice figure skating at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics. The 1936 games were held in Germany and she courted controversy when, after winning the gold medal, she gave the Nazi salute to Adolph Hitler who was present. She then had lunch with him and received an autographed photo. When Germany occupied Norway, this photo, displayed in a prominent place, saved his house from being ransacked. Many in Norway considered her a renegade for these actions. After retiring from competitive skating, she went to Hollywood where she starred in films, mostly ice skating themed. Dramatic films revealed her limits as an actress. She made up for her obedience to Hitler with an anti-Nazi film in 1939 which was banned in Germany. She further saved her reputation by engaging in USO tours and troop support efforts. Henie retired from the film world in 1956 and died of leukemia in 1969 at the age of 57.

As a kid, I heard his name a lot but never watched any of his movies. As for her interaction with Hitler, well, she belonged to that class of people endowed with extraordinary athletic talent and that class sometimes showed a propensity to see the world in terms of themselves rather than considering a greater good. A generalization but still, take a look at the 2021 NFL season and the top players who were anti-vaxxers.


1937 – Seymour Hersh.

Journalist. Pulitzer Prize winner for his work on the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and its subsequent cover-up. Hersh started out as press secretary for Eugene McCarthy’s presidential bid before turning to journalism. He covered Watergate for The New York Times and also exposed the covert US bombing in Cambodia. The mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison by American soldiers was another of his stories. Hersh sparked controversy by accusing the Obama administration of lying about Osama bin Laden and also questioning whether the Assad regime had used chemical weapons in Syria. His claims were criticized by other journalists and government officials who said he offered little to those who might have wanted to verify his claims.

On those last two stories, was he onto something or did Hersh go from a respected journalist to an eccentric?



At various times in his life, Gary has been an indifferent elementary school student, a poor high school student, a good Navy radioman, a former hippie, a passable student, an inveterate traveler, a devoted writer, an erroneous accountant (at the exception of an interesting stint at a communist cafe), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, failed retiree, and new blogger.

You can reach him at [email protected]



The above information comes from the following sites and newspapers:


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

* Intro image (Times Square) – Photo by todd kent on Unsplash

* Seymour Hersh (video) – CBS Sunday Morning /

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