This Day in History

July 16th

1951 — “The Catcher in the Rye” published. J.D. Salinger’s novel about sixteen year old Holden Caulfield has been at the center of controversy ever since. On one hand it is considered an important contribution to American literature, on another front it has been banned by school boards throughout the nation. It’s profanity and sexual theme were the reasons that drew the ire of school boards and administrators. Teachers were even dismissed for refusing to remove the book from their curriculum. To this day “The Catcher in the Rye” commands center stage whenever the banning of books is discussed.

I doubt there’s a better way of getting kids to read a book then tell them it’s off limits to them. The First Amendment protecting freedom of speech is a poor cousin to the Second Amendment.

1969 — Rod Carew steals home for the 7th time. It would be his last steal of home that year and he fell short of Ty Cobb’s record eight steals of home in one season. Presumably for the second half of the season pitchers started paying more attention to Carew when he was on third base. He had 17 steals of home in his career compared to Cobb’s 54.

The Twins have had some great players, Hall of Famers like Killebrew, Oliva, Puckett and Carew. Carew played on good teams in 1969 & 70, after that the Twins were dismal. One time in the 70s a friend and I were going to a Twins game and were listening to the pregame on the car radio. It was announced that Carew was not going to be in the starting lineup. We turned around and did something else. Carew was worth the price of admission, the Twins of that era were not. I was greatly disappointed when he was traded to the Angels.

1999 — John Kennedy Jr. dies in plane crash. Piloting a Piper Saratoga, Kennedy, his wife Carolyn Bessette, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, went missing off Martha’s Vineyard over the Atlantic Ocean. Flying at night and not having an instrument rating, it is believed Kennedy suffered from spatial disorientation, an inability to determine altitude or speed, and crashed nose first into the Atlantic. At 2am the morning of the 17th the Kennedy family notified the Coast Guard the plane had not arrived. Debris from the plane was found and on the 19th the three bodies were recovered. Autopsies revealed they had died upon impact. President Clinton ordered U.S. Navy ships to assist in the search, for which he was criticized for wasting taxpayers dollars because ordinary citizens would not receive such treatment.

I remember the media coverage of the tragedy, which became excessive because it consisted mostly of long camera shots of the vast, empty Atlantic.

Birthdays:

1821 — Mary Baker Eddy. Religious leader. Eddy was the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. She also founded the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor. Eddy grew up in New Hampshire, the daughter of a tyrannically religious man. Her harsh upbringing caused negative physical reactions in her, such as an eating disorder and fits that involved her falling to the floor screaming and becoming unconscious for hours. She was also very good-looking and was known as the village beauty. Eddy did not attend regular school because her father believed her brain was too big for her body so living life as a near invalid, she read a lot. She was also devoted to an older brother, Albert, and he passed on his education to her. As a young woman death began to tear apart Eddy’s life. First Albert died, then Eddy’s first husband succumbed to Yellow Fever leaving her a young widow six months pregnant. She was forced to move back home and then her mother died, followed by the death of her new fiancee. Her father’s new wife refused to allow Eddy’s son to be raised in her house and she had to give him to another family. Eddy married again with the hope of regaining custody of her son but her new husband refused to raise a stepchild and the family moved away and she lost contact with her son. Her health continued to deteriorate and she sought cures and took notes on the cures. She separated from her husband, dabbled in Spiritualism and wrote a book that became the textbook for Christian Science and the basis for a new religion. One of the tenets of the religion was the power of physical healing through the belief in God. Her health improved dramatically and she lived to be 89 years old. She divorced her husband, married again to Asa Eddy, and devoted the rest of her life to building her church.

Her son, George, had moved with his new family to Minnesota. He was 16 when the Civil War broke out and he tried to enlist, but all the Minnesota regiments, due to enthusiasm for the war effort, were already filled. So he went to Wisconsin, enlisted, and despite being wounded at the Battle of Corinth, served to the end of the war. He reconnected with his mother when he was 35.

Eddy had, and continues to have, her detractors. Some say her health improvement had more to do with morphine than God, and she was a morphine addict. Others claim she had been a hypochondriac her whole life and simply got over that. Others charge she “borrowed” some of her ideas from Hindu philosophy. Despite all that she did create an ongoing religion.

She also left behind a heck of a life story, not to mention an award winning newspaper that sadly was forced to abandon its print version and try to survive online.

1952 — Robert David Steele. Conspiracy theorist. Steele, a former CIA officer put forth a number of theories, starting with NASA had a colony on Mars consisting of slaves who were kidnaped as children. He stated there was a secret society of Jews controlling the financial sector and called for their imprisonment if they weren’t loyal to the republic. He went on a tour with an extreme right wing member of the Oath Keepers and among other theories he espoused is that the 2020 election was rigged and COVID-19 was a hoax. Since it was a hoax, Steele refused to be vaccinated. Steele died in August of 2021 of COVID-19.

Oh well.

1956 — Tony Kushner. Writer. Kushner is best known for “Angels in America”, a play later adapted into a miniseries. For this work he won both a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award. Jewish, Kushner has received criticism for his criticism over how Israel has treated Palestinians. He was due to receive an honorary degree from the City University of New York but because of this political view the board of trustees of the college withdrew the offer. Then previous honorees threatened to return their degrees. After some back and forth the college finally granted him the honorary degree. Kushner continues to write, sometimes collaborating with film director Steven Spielberg. In 2008 Kushner and his partner, Mark Harris, were legally married.

Tony Kushner and Jared Kushner are not related, and quite obviously there is no other connection between the two of them either.

Sources:

onthisday.com

miscbaseball.wordpress.com

mtsu.edu

en.wikipedia.org

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Gary Jenneke

Writer, traveler, veteran, miscast accountant except for one interesting stint at a Communist cafe, retiree and blogger.