Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 350 Centennial Dinner 10-13-2006
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[[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, historical items appear courtesy of longtime Nevada reporter Dennis Myers' Poor Denny's Almanac. Items highlighted in blue are of particular interest to labor. Copyright © 2006 Dennis Myers.]]
Update: Thursday, May 11, 2006, 1:38 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1973, charges against Daniel Ellsberg for his role in the Pentagon Papers case [which revealed wholesale government lying to escalate the Vietnam War] were dismissed by Judge William M. Byrne, who cited government misconduct. [New York Times e-headlines]
On May 11, 1854, Paiute Chief Walkara and Brigham Young met in Juab County, U.S. Territory of Utah, and negotiated a cease fire in the Walker War; in 1903, the reported death of poet Joaquin Miller devastated his family, but he turned up alive; in 1903, a small reservoir on Nevada State University grounds at Ninth and Center streets in Reno came apart, water rushing down the hill into nearby homes; in 1907, the St. Francis Hotel in Wonder, Nevada, burned down (guests escaped in their nightclothes); in 1907, plans were being made for a casino hotel in Bijou at Lake Tahoe that would straddle the state border with the hotel in California and the casino in Nevada; in 1908, the Truckee River General Electric Company was running a power line to the Jumbo mining camp between Washoe Lake and Virginia City; in 1921, what was reportedly the first auto made the trip on the new Walker Lake Highway from Hawthorne to Yerington; in 1923, in London, Earl Russell denied a rumor that his brother Bertrand had died; in 1923, in a legal opinion addressed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Cantwell, Nevada Attorney General Michael Diskin said that the poll tax applied to Native Americans in the state; in 1928, the Nevada Democratic Convention meeting in Reno elected S.M. Pickett over Patrick McCarran for Democratic national committeeman from Nevada and chose to support Al Smith for president, sending a delegation pledged to Smith and bound by the unit rule to the national convention in Houston (the delegation of twelve each with half a vote included H.R. Cooke, William Woodburn, and Charles Henderson); in 1931, new figures indicated that, of Nevada's 12 incorporated communities, Elko had the highest tax rate; in 1947, the townsite of Gabbs, including its wartime magnesium oxide plant, was put up for sale by the U.S. War Assets Administration; in 1961, President Kennedy ordered 500 military "advisors" (including 400 Special Forces soldiers) sent to Vietnam, substantially upping the ante in Indochina; in 1964, Capitol released an extended play 45 of four Beatles songs (Please Mr. Postman, This Boy, Roll Over Beethoven and All My Loving) that scarcely made a blip on the record charts and then sank without a trace; in 1970, the Woodstock album was released and quickly went gold, a remarkable achievement for a three-disc album; in 1973, in the Pentagon Papers trial, Judge William Byrne dismissed all charges against Anthony Russo and Daniel Ellsberg on the grounds of "improper government conduct shielded so long from public view" by the Nixon administration that made a fair trial impossible and "offended a sense of justice"; in 1981, Bob Marley died in Miami.
Update: Wednesday, May 10, 2006, 1:56 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1869, a golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. [New York Times e-headlines]
Heinrich Heine/1830: Where books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.
On May 10, 1877, President Hayes signed an executive order reserving Carlin Farms in Nevada for the Northwestern Shoshone tribe (Hayes revoked the order on January 16 1879); in 1904, the survey for a railroad between Fallon and Massie was completed (Massie was between Hazen and Falais); in 1907, there were predictions of a rush to White Pine County after oil was struck fifty miles south of Ely near the Utah border; in 1920, Mexican President Venustiano Carranza was captured by forces backing General Alvaro Obregon; in 1920, Clarence Burton, office manager for Nevada political boss George Wingfield and director of Reno National Bank, resigned to leave the state and join the New England Guaranty Corporation; in 1928, California Democratic leader Fairfax Cosby said a major southern Democrat had consented to run on a third party line if New York Governor Al Smith won the Democratic presidential nomination; in 1928, Nevada Democrats gathered for their state convention in Reno and Al Smith was believed to be leading among the delegates; in 1933, one of the ugliest benchmarks of the 20th century occurred in Berlin the Nazi book burning of 25,000 "un-German" books; in 1936, the renowned documentary film The Plow That Broke The Plains, filmed by Pare Lorentz about Depression-era Oklahoma farmers, debuted at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. (the University of Nevada Press has published Pare Lorentz and the Documentary Film); in 1945, a two day meeting of the target committee of the Manhattan Project began in Robert Oppenheimer's office at Los Alamos and ultimately recommended, in this order, these proposed targets for the first use of the atom bomb: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Kokura arsenal; in 1954, Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets was released but went nowhere (it became a hit a year later when it was used in the soundtrack of The Blackboard Jungle); in 1956, Clark County fair and recreation board chair George Albright said the planned Las Vegas Convention Center should be completed and hosting its first convention by March 1958; in 1956, several months after announcing he would retire at the January 1957 end of his senate term, Democratic U.S. Senator Alan Bible of Nevada (under pressure from Senate Democratic floor leader Lyndon Johnson) changed his mind and jumped back into the race , fouling up the announced candidates Republican Cliff Young, who gave up a seat in the House after Bible "retired", and Democrats Harvey Dickerson, Julien Sourwine, and Mahlon Brown; in 1969, The Turtles performed at a Tricia Nixon masked ball at the White House and frontman Mark Volman (vocals, percussion, guitar) kept falling off the stage (reportedly five times); in 1969, the great Get Back by the Beatles debuted; in 1973, Elvis appeared at Lake Tahoe as part of a run at a Nevada casino, and his midnight show appearance on this date ended up on bootlegs.
On May 10, 1988, the second season of the NBC series Crime Story, set in Las Vegas, ended on this date with a cliffhanger that was never resolved because the series was cancelled before the start of the next season.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, then a lawyer publicly denying the existence of the mob, joked that producer Michael Mann should pay royalties to Goodman's client Tony "The Ant" Spilotro for doing the story of his life. Crime Story was spawned by a killer 10-part 1982 Los Angeles Times series entitled "The Mob Moves West." Years later, Nicholas Pileggi gathered the well-reported facts of Gomorrah South's Spilotro days and compiled them in the book Casino, which became the Martin Scorsese-directed movie of the same name starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. With all due respect to the great Scorsese et al., Crime Story was far better. From Al Kooper's rock 'n' roll soundtrack to the outstanding cast comprised of some of today's stars and superstars: the cop and the crook, Dennis Farina (Law and Order, Saving Private Ryan) Anthony Denison (Melrose Place. The Closer), David Caruso (NYPD Blue, CSI Miami) and Stephen Lang (The Babe). Even the supporting cast continues to entertain us today: Bill Campbell (The Rocketeer, Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs, Monk), James Gammon (Major League), frequently appearing character actors Bill Smitrovich (Nero Wolf, Independence Day), Steve Ryan (Law and Order) and Paul Butler (State and Main, The Insider) and nowadays Reno resident and theater producer Darlanne Pfluegel.
Oh, yeah don't forget a teenaged Julia Roberts and a grown-up Melanie Griffith.
Dennison and John Santucci (who may have foreshadowed The Sopranos with a well-publicized pre-acting resume purporting mob activity), were called "the two best villains on television" by a critic. Producer-director Mann reportedly let his mega-hit Miami Vice slide because of his enthusiasm for Crime Story.
All in the Family stands as the greatest TV series. Crime Story ranks in the top 10. Barbwire
Update: Tuesday, May 9, 2006, 5:36 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1994, South Africa's newly elected parliament chose Nelson Mandela to be the country's first black president. [New York Times e-headlines]
On May 9, 1859, James Simpson, leader of an exploring party in Nevada, wrote in his journal of the Goshute Tribe: "Children at the breast are perfectly naked and this at a time when overcoasts were required by us. The men wear their hair cut square in front, just above the eyes..."; in 1875, a Nevada news report said that the twenty cent piece (created by legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator John P. Jones of Nevada) would be minted exclusively in the west at the San Francisco mint because the Carson City mint had its hands full with production of trade dollars (actually, 133,290 pieces in 1875 and 10,000 in 1876 were struck at the Carson mint); in 1879, after the Reno town trustees enacted a dog license ordinance ($3 for males, $5 for females), the Nevada State Journal recommended "Kill your dogs."; in 1880, U.S. Representative Rollin Daggett of Nevada was preparing legislation to have all railroad lands surveyed as a step toward making them pay their property taxes; in 1907, the Sells-Floto Circus began two days of performances in Reno; in 1927, Nevada Treasurer Ed Malley, former controller George Cole, and former Carson Valley Bank cashier H.P. Clapp were in the Ormsby County jail recanting confessions and $516,000 was missing from the state treasury; in 1927, a single company mailed 100,000 letters at the Reno post office, the first of an expected two million, the largest load in the Reno post office's history; in 1928, the White Pine county commissioners authorized an air field at East Ely, the Winnemucca chamber of commerce endorsed construction of an airfield there, and Eureka County was being lobbied to join an Elko/Eureka/Ely air route; in 1942, the University of Nevada Regents adopted a regulation that "no further matriculation be permitted of persons of Japanese birth or ancestry, unless born in the State of Nevada"; in 1960, The Food and Drug Administration approved use of The Pill; in 1965, Donovan and the Beatles were in the audience when Bob Dylan performed at the Royal Albert Hall; in 1970, ten days after Nixon attacked Cambodia, six days after the killings at Kent State, one day after antiwar protesters were beaten by construction workers on Wall Street, 100,000 antiwar protesters demonstrated in Washington, D.C.; in 1970, H. James Shea, Jr., a Massachusetts state legislator who sponsored the state law that said no citizen of the state could be forced to fight in an undeclared war and sent the Massachusetts attorney general into court to defend any soldier who refused to serve in Vietnam, killed himself in despair over the widening of the war into Cambodia and the resulting tumult across the U.S.; in 1970, Canadian antiwar activists vandalized the Peace Bridge between Canada and the U.S. in protest against the U.S. attack on Cambodia; in 1974, nine months after the Nixon administration engineered the September 11 overthrow of the democratic government of Chile, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Melanie, Larry Estridge, Bob Dylan, and Dave Van Ronk performed in concert in New York to raise money for victims of the Chilean junta; in 1994, Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa; in 2001, a photograph was taken at a White House gathering that included George Bush and lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the same frame, and in February 2006 it became the first photo of the two men made public (by Kickapoo tribal leader Raul Garza in the New York Times) after the White House spent weeks trying to suppress all such photos.
Nevada State Journal/May 9, 1880: A painful rumor was extant yesterday that a Reno man had $50 in his pocket. Crowds flocked to try and find him. Success indifferent.
Update: Monday, May 8, 2006, 1:55 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1973, militant American Indians who had held the South Dakota hamlet of Wounded Knee for 10 weeks surrendered. [New York Times e-headlines]
On May 8, 1786, Saint John Vianney, patron saint of draft dodgers, was born near Lyon (in 1808 he hid in the mountain community to avoid service with the French Army on the Spanish lines and was able to return to his home town after Napoleon granted amnesty to deserters and others in 1810); in 1885, President Cleveland nominated Dr. John E.W. Thompson to be minister (ambassador) to Hayti and what most newspapers found most newsworthy was that he was an African American; in 1885, Washoe County was preparing to go to court to overturn a new state law regulating the salaries of county officials; in 1897, the abolition of the whipping post in Delaware prompted the Reno Evening Gazette to point out that Nevada still had an old law on the books providing for the use of a whipping post against men "who shall willingly and violently strike, beat, or torture the body of any maiden or woman who is more than sixteen years of age"; in 1929, the bodies of Chicago mobsters Joe Giunta, Albert Anselmi and John Scalisi were found and newspapers called it retribution against Al Capone for the St. Valentine's massacre (actually, Capone ordered the hits); in 1940, Eric Nelson, better known as Ricky, was born; in 1950, President Truman's secretary of state, Dean Acheson, was meeting with the French in Paris about his plans to get the U.S. involved in the Indochina war; in 1950, in Washington D.C., police committed a man to a hospital for observation after they entered his kitchen and found him biting a dog (news reports contained no explanation of what the police were doing in the man's kitchen in the first place); in 1970, more than 250 State Department and foreign service employees signed a letter objecting to the U.S. attack on Cambodia; in 1970, the Let It Be album was released; in 1971, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said two sites in Nevada (the Fallon Naval Auxiliary Air Station and the Indian Springs Air Base) were among more than 70 locations in 19 states that were under consideration to be the site of a facility where the planned space shuttle would be assembled, tested and launched; in 1973, the Native American occupation of Wounded Knee ended after 71 days; in 1979, Supertramp's Breakfast In America album went platinum; in 2000, Germany removed the name of Wehrmacht Chief of Air Defence Gunther Rudel, a veteran of both world wars, from a military base and renamed it for Sgt. Anton Schmid, who saved more than 250 Jews in the Vilnius ghetto from the Nazis; in 2002, Nevada agriculture Director Paul Iverson died at age 55.
Update: Sunday, May 7, 2006, 4:31 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, to take effect the following day, ending the European conflict of World War II. [New York Times e-headlines]
On May 7, 1634, in star chamber, Puritan William Prynne was convicted of libeling the Queen (his ears were amputated).; in 1860, white men at Williams Station on the Carson River kidnapped Native American girls, provoking an attack by tribal members who burned the station to the ground, whereupon a white force attacked the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (they were probably attacking the wrong tribe, since the attack on Williams Station was likely made by the Bannocks); in 1896, Reno's Tribune ran a front page picture of H.H. Hughes, the Chicago hotel owner whose establishment was outfitted with secret torture rooms, gas chambers, and cremation facilities and whose activities accounted for the disappearance of dozens of young women in Chicago during the Columbian Exposition; in 1896, jurors decided in favor of the State of Nevada in a tax lawsuit against the Virginia and Truckee Railroad; in 1907, banker Richard Kirman defeated incumbent Reno mayor N.E. Wilson, 704 to 562; in 1915, two years before U.S. entry into World War One, the British passenger ship Lusitania was sunk by the German submarine U-20 (historians now suspect it was carrying 3-inch shells and millions of rounds of ammunition); in 1928, U.S. Representative Burton French of Idaho, who chaired the House Naval Appropriations Subcommittee, urged quick action to fund an ammunition depot in the west, which the Navy Department had recommended be established at Hawthorne, Nevada; in 1930, the United States Senate voted 41 to 39 to reject President Hoover's nomination of racist John Parker to be a justice of the Supreme Court (Nevada's Tasker Oddie voted for Parker, Key Pittman voted against him); in 1945, German Chancellor Karl Doenitz ordered an unconditional surrender to Allied forces, ending the European war.; in 1954, the 55-day empire-versus-colony battle of Dien Bien Phu that captured the attention of the world ended with the Vietnamese victorious over the French (soldiers from another French colony, Algeria, who had been forced to fight for the French, when captured by Vietnam volunteered to fight against the French; their offer was refused and they were told to return home and free their own nation, which they did); in 1959, George Burns began a ten day run at a Lake Tahoe casino, with Bobby Darin as the opening act; in 1966, Del Shannon's The Big Hurt and Simon and Garfunkel's I Am A Rock entered Billboard's top 100; in 1968, ten thousand French students and workers were in possession of the Arc de Triomphe as the police agreed to return protest leader Daniel Cohn Bendit's resident permit; in 1973, George Harrison's Give Me Love was released; in 1975, the victory of the Vietnamese over the United States was celebrated in Ho Chi Minh City; in 1984, seven manufacturers of the Agent Orange defoliant used in Vietnam agreed to pay $180 million to its victims and their families to avoid trial; in 1985, returned Vietnam veterans were given a tardy ticker tape parade in New York City; in 1999, NATO jets bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three people, with President Clinton calling it a "mistake" though later evidence suggested it was deliberate; in 1999, the University of Nevada held opening ceremonies for its fire academy in Carlin (design flaws and groundwater contamination associated with the facility later came to light, prompting the university to default on payments for the construction).
Update: Saturday, May 6, 2006, 3:51 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1937, the hydrogen-filled German dirigible Hindenburg burned and crashed in Lakehurst, N.J., killing 36 of the 97 people on board. [New York Times e-headlines]
On May 6, 1880, Storey County's Virginia Evening Chronicle offered Democrats a subscription through the November election for $5, and the newspaper's ad assured prospective subscribers that it "advocates Democratic principles because it believes that the fundamental doctrines of that party for the life and essence of the American system of government, while those of the Republic party aim to the overthrow of popular government"; in 1886, the Central Pacific Railroad was selling off 10,820 acres it owned in the area of the big bend of the Carson River near abandoned Fort Churchill at an asking price of $13,000; in 1889, Reno was digging out from 36 straight hours of snow and rain and sleigh riding was the order of the day in Virginia City; in 1903, searchlights were being removed from a U.S. battleship at Mare Island for use in illuminating the Yosemite Valley during President Roosevelt's visit there; in 1927, a week after levees were dynamited (in the 1926-27 Mississippi River flood that lasted more than a year) to divert flood waters from New Orleans, other parishes were devastated and newspapers reported an astounding 323,837 victims.; in 1933, a Continental Congress for Economic Construction was held in Washington, with delegates cheering speakers U.S. Senator Lynn Frazier of North Dakota ("I have occasional opportunities to speak to what is called the higher branch of Congress, but I am sorry to say they do not represent the people as you do.") and Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas ("There must be no government aid for banks except the government own the banks; no government coordinators to save the railroads save as the workers own the railroads."); in 1933, five gangs of Nazi students went around Berlin gathering books from local libraries for the May 10 book burning; in 1933, Clark County District Attorney Harley Harmon, who was suing Six Companies (the conglomerate formed to build Hoover Dam) to make them pay their state and county taxes, was seriously ill, leading to speculation about whether he could continue his campaign for appointment by the new Roosevelt administration to be a U.S. attorney; in 1940, John Steinbeck received the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath; in 1943, Frank "Pappy" Neal won the Pulitzer Prize for a photograph he took while drifting at sea in a lifeboat after the freighter in which he was fleeing Singapore for Burma was torpedoed (another lifeboat came close to his and he snapped a photo of an Indian pleading for water); in 1943, Congress revived the naval rank of commodore, previously used only from 1862 to 1899, the equivalent of a brigadier general, rating one star; in 1943, a law that could never be repealed in peacetime because of objections from morals cops was finally repealed as a wartime measure when California Governor Earl Warren signed a measure revoking the three day waiting period between application for a marriage license and its issuance after military commanders and chaplains requested the change for soldiers and sailors whose short leaves often did not allow marriages (the change meant a loss of revenue for Nevada counties, most of whose marriage licenses were issued to California couples); in 1952, Reno bookies sued the Nevada Tax Commission to halt proposed state regulation of bookmaking; in 1967, Pope Paul VI was reported to be unlikely to reveal the third message of Fatima; in 1967, U.S. Rep. Walter Baring, D-Nev., announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration had allocated $40,000 to the Pyramid Lake Indian Tribe for an inventory of potable water sources and a land use plan for the reservation; in 1969, Attorney General John Mitchell met secretly with Chief Justice Earl Warren, offered to drop an investigation of Justice Abe Fortas' relationship with a foundation started by Las Vegas casino figure Louis Wolfson if Fortas would resign, and Warren agreed to help force Fortas off the court (Fortas resigned on May 14); in 1970, reaction to the invasion of Cambodia continued to build, fueled by the killings at Kent State, and classes were boycotted at 300 campuses, another 536 campuses shut down altogether, and faculties, staffs and administrators made common cause with students; in 1971, Tina and Ike Turner received a gold record for Proud Mary; in 1992, Mikhail Gorbachev spoke at Fulton College (where Winston Churchill had made his iron curtain speech in 1946) and faulted both east and west for their pointless adversarial postures and failing to use common sense to end the cold war.
Update: Friday, May 5, 2006, 4:13 a.m. PDT ON THIS DATE in 1961, astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., became America's first space traveler as he made a 15-minute suborbital flight in a capsule launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. [New York Times e-headlines]
On May 5, 1821, Napolean Bonaparte died (probably by poisoning) in exile on the Atlantic island named St. Helena; in 1925, John Scopes was arrested in Tennessee for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. He would probably get busted again today; in 1985, President Reagan laid a wreath at the Bitburg, Germany, military cemetery, resting place of Hitler-era soldiers. And this guy belongs on Mt. Rushmore? (In its almanac, the Associated Press eliminated the Nazi furor, the only reason the item is worth any historical remembrance.) [Barbwire and Associated Press]
On May 5, 1866, the second of three enlargements of Nevada's original territory occurred when 18,325 square miles were detached from the Territory of Utah and added to the State of Nevada; in 1867, reporter Nellie Bly was born; in 1893, a panic on Wall Street set off a crippling depression (three weeks later, operations at the Carson City Mint were halted) that lasted four years; in 1899, the 160 subscribers of the telephone company in the Truckee Meadows necessitated a new switchboard that accommodated 300; in 1905, the African-American newspaper the Chicago Defender began publication, which continues today;