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In 2013 Lynne Olson authored
“Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II,
(Econ, 9/14/13, p.39)(http://lynneolson.com/those-angry-days/)
Jan 1, In Palo Alto, Ca., the Hewlett-Packard partnership was formed
and a coin toss determined the order of the company name.
(SFC, 3/3/99, p.A11)
1939 Jan 3, Bobby Hull ‘The
Golden Jet’: Hockey Hall of Famer, was born: Chicago Blackhawks left
wing: Hart Memorial Trophy, NHL’s MVP award [1965, 1966]; Lady Byng
Trophy for good sportsmanship ; 1st pro hockey player to score
more than 50 goals in one season [54: 1965].
(440 Int'l. 1/3/99)
1939 Jan 3, Tennis legend Don
Budge played a pro tennis match, his first in Madison Square Garden,
NY, before 6,000 spectators. Budge was touring the country as the
top U.S. tennis player, having won the grand slam of tennis
(Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon) the year before.
(440 Int'l. 1/3/99)
1939 Jan 4, Hermann Goering
appointed Reinhard Heydrich as head of Jewish Emigration.
1939 Jan 6, Alfred Lion
recorded his first Blue Note session with boogie-woogie and blues
pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. He had just founded the
jazz label in New York. He was later joined by his Berlin friend and
photographer Francis Wolff.
(WSJ, 10/3/97, p.A8)(WSJ, 1/15/98, p.W10)
1939 Jan 6, Joe Arridy (23), a
mentally disabled man, was executed in Colorado after being
convicted of killing a Pueblo girl with a hatchet. Arridy appeared
to have given a coerced confession and was likely not in Pueblo when
Dorothy Drain (15) was killed on Aug 15, 1936. In 2011 outgoing Gov.
Bill Ritter issued a posthumous pardon.
1939 Jan 7, Tom Mooney
(1882-1942), California imprisoned labor leader, was pardoned by
newly elected Democratic Governor Culbert Olson (1876-1962). Mooney
had been convicted and imprisoned for over 22 years for the SF
Preparedness Day Bombing of 1916.
1939 Jan 13, Five men attempted
to escape the US federal prison on Alcatraz island. Kidnapper Arthur
“Doc” Barker was killed by guards. He was one of the four sons of Ma
Barker (b.1873), killed behind a machine gun by federal agents in
Florida in 1935.
(SSFC, 1/12/14, DB p.42)
1939 Jan 13, Jacob Ruppert, CEO
of the NY Yankees (1915-39), died.
1939 Jan 15, In the 1st NFL pro
bowl the NY Giants beat the All Stars 13-10 in Wrigley Field.
1939 Jan 16, The comic strip
1939 Jan 16, Franklin D.
Roosevelt asked for an extension of the Social Security Act to more
women and children.
1939 Jan 16, Albert Fish, mass
murderer, was executed.
1939 Jan 17, The Reich issued
an order forbidding Jews to practice as dentists, veterinarians and
1939 Jan 19, Ernest Hausen of
Wisconsin set a chicken-plucking record of 4.4 sec.
1939 Jan 20, Hitler proclaimed
to German parliament his intention to exterminate all European Jews.
1939 Jan 21, Wolfman Jack, DJ
(Midnight Special), was born in Brooklyn, NY as Bob Smith.
1939 Jan 21, Picasso painted
two pictures, both titled "Reclining Woman with Book." In one
Marie-Theresa Walter is pictured in a smooth S-curve, in the other
Dora Maar (born as Theodora Markovitch d.1997 at 89) is broken into
jagged forms. Maar was a painter and photographer and struggled to
develop her own ambitions, but failed and spent much of her life as
(WSJ, 4/26/96, p.A-13)(SFC, 7/26/97, p.A24)
1939 Jan 22, A Nazi order
erased the old officer caste, tying the army directly to the Party.
1939 Jan 24, Some 28-30,000
were killed by magnitude 8.3 earthquake in Chillan, Chile.
(MC, 1/24/02)(AP, 6/22/02)
1939 Jan 25, The cyclotron of
Nebraska-born nuclear physicist John R. (Ray) Dunning (31) produced
nuclear fission for the first time in America in Room 128 of
Columbia University's Pupin Physics Laboratory. Eugene T. Booth was
a member of the experimental team which conducted the first nuclear
fission experiment in the US; the other members of the team were
Herbert L. Anderson, John R. Dunning, Enrico Fermi, G. Norris
Glasoe, and Francis G. Slack.
1939 Jan 26, Franco conquered
1939 Jan 27, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt approved the sale of U.S. war planes to France.
1939 Jan 29, Germaine Greer,
feminist, author (Female Eunuch), was born in Melbourne, Australia.
1939 Jan 30, Felix Frankfurter
(1882-1965), Harvard law professor, was sworn in as the 80th US
Supreme Court Justice (1939-62). He retired in 1962. "There is no
inevitability in history except as men make it."
1939 Feb 1, Benny Goodman and
his Orchestra recorded "And the Angels Sing", on Victor Records, on
this day. The vocalist on that number, who went on to find
considerable fame at Capitol Records, was Martha Tilton.
(440 Int'l, 2/1/1999)
1939 Feb 1, Contralto Marian
Anderson was denied a performance at Constitution Hall by the
Daughters of the American Revolution, who owned the place. She
performed instead on Easter Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial at the
invitation of the Dept. Of the Interior.
(WSJ, 2/28/97, p.A14)(WSJ, 7/24/98, p.W11)
1939 Feb 1, Some 4,00 prisoners
at California’s San Quentin Prison, went on a hunger strike in
protest against the monotony of prison menus.
(SSFC, 2/2/14, p.42)
1939 Feb 2, Hungary broke
relations with the Soviet Union.
1939 Feb 6, Spanish government
fled to France.
1939 Feb 10, Pope Pius XI died
in Rome. He was born in Desio, Italy, as Ambrogio Damiano Achille
Ratti. In 2014 David I. Kertzer authored The Pope and Mussolini: The
Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe.”
1939 Feb 10, Japan occupied the
Chinese island of Hainan located off the coast of French Indochina
(modern day Vietnam).
1939 Feb 11, The Negrin
government returned to Madrid, Spain.
1939 Feb 11, Franz Schmidt
(64), Austrian composer, died.
1939 Feb 14, The Reich launched
the battleship Bismarck.
1939 Feb 15, Lillian Hellman's
"Little Foxes," premiered in NYC.
1939 Feb 15, SF officials
attended IBM’s preview of an electric typewriter and a punch card
method of electric accounting at the Palace of Electricity and
Communications on Treasure Island.
(SSFC, 2/9/14, DB p.42)
1939 Feb 18, The Golden Gate
International Exposition opened on Treasure Island in the SF Bay.
(HN, 2/18/98)(SFC, 2/18/99, p.D10)
1939 Feb 24, Hungary signed an
anti-Communist pact with Italy, Germany and Japan.
1939 Feb 27, The US Supreme
Court, in Leser v. Garnett, unanimously upheld the 19th Amendment to
the Constitution that guaranteed the right of women to vote.
(HN, 2/27/98)(AP, 2/27/08)
1939 Feb 27, Nadezjda K.
Krupskaja (70), Russian revolutionary, wife of Lenin, died.
1939 Feb 28, Tommy Tune,
dancer, choreographer (Boyfriend), was born in Wichita Falls, Tx.
1939 Feb 28, Great Britain
recognized the Franco regime in Spain.
1939 Feb, In Washington DC
Cissy Patterson combined the afternoon Times and the morning Herald
(SFEM, 3/2/97, p.22)
1939 Mar 2, The Massachusetts
legislature voted to ratify the Bill of Rights, 147 years after the
first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution had gone into effect.
1939 Mar 2, Roman Catholic
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope; he took the name Pius
(WSJ, 4/25/97, p.A18)(WSJ, 5/8/97, p.A23)(AP,
1939 Mar 2, Howard Carter,
archeologist, died in London at age 62. He led the discovery of the
Tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.
(ON, 5/00, p.8)
1939 Mar 3, The new Goldfish
swallowing craze began to sweep college campuses getting a start at
the Ivy League’s Harvard University.
(HC, Internet, 3/3/98)
1939 Mar 3, Eleanor Roosevelt
christened Pan Am's new Boeing built Yankee Clipper.
(SFEM, 2/13/00, p.38)
1939 Mar 3, In Bombay, Ghandi
began a fast to protest the state's autocratic rule.
1939 Mar 4, Laurence Steinhardt
was named as the U.S. ambassador to the USSR
1939 Mar 6, Miron Cristea, PM
of Romania (1938-1939), died. Cristea was also the first Patriarch
of the Romanian Orthodox Church (1925-1939).
1939 Mar 6, Jose Miaja took
over the Madrid government after a military coup and vowed to seek
"peace with honor."
1939 Mar 7, Guy Lombardo and
Royal Canadians made the 1st recording of "Auld Lang Syne."
1939 Mar 8, Robert Tear, tenor
(Welsh Nat’l Opera 1970), was born in Barry, Wales.
1939 Mar 9, Czech President
Emil Hacha ousted pro-German Joseph Tiso as the Premier of Slovakia
in order to preserve Czech unity.
1939 Mar 12, Pope Pius XII was
formally crowned in ceremonies at the Vatican.
(HN, 3/12/98)(AP, 3/12/98)
1939 Mar 14, Nash Kelvinator
and IBM were removed from the DJIA. AT&T was again added to the
DJIA along with United Aircraft.
(WSJ, 5/28/96, p. R-42)(WSJ, 4/2/04, p.C4)
1939 Mar 14, In Czechoslovakia
the first 20 Jewish children bound for London left Prague on a train
as part of a program organized by Nicholas Winton (1909-2015), a
London stockbroker. By September he managed to get out seven of
eight train loads carrying 669 children. The 8th train, carrying 250
children, disappeared on September 1 as Hitler invaded Poland and
all borders were closed.
(SFC, 7/2/15, p.A6)
1939 Mar 14, The republic of
Czechoslovakia was dissolved, opening the way for Nazi occupation of
Czech areas and the separation of Slovakia.
1939 Mar 15, Germany occupied
Bohemia and Moravia, Czechoslovakia. Slovakia became
(Voruta #27-28, Jul 1996, p.2)(WSJ, 12/12/96,
p.A13)(HN, 3/15/98)(MC, 3/15/02)
1939 Mar 15, The Republic of
Carpatho-Ukraine, led by Avhustyn Voloshyn (d.1945), declared
independence amid the Nazi dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.
Independence ending that same evening by an invasion from Hungary.
In 1946 the area became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist
Republic, as the Zakarpattia Oblast ('Transcarpathian Oblast').
After the break-up of the Soviet Union, it became part of
independent Ukraine as Zakarpattia Oblast.
1939 Mar 16, Germany occupied
the rest Czechoslovakia.
1939 Mar 18, The U.S. raised
the duties on German imports by 25 percent.
1939 Mar 18, Georgia finally
ratified the Bill of Rights, 150 years after the birth of the
federal government. Connecticut and Massachusetts, the only other
states to hold out, also accepted the Bill of Rights in this year.
1939 Mar 20, Franklin D.
Roosevelt named William O. Douglas to the Supreme Court. He replaced
Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), appointed in 1916, who retired.
Douglas left the court in 1975, holding the record as the longest
serving Supreme Court justice.
1939 Mar 21, Singer Kate Smith
recorded "God Bless America" for Victor Records. She introduced the
song on her radio program in 1938.
(HN, 3/21/98)(SFC, 12/28/99, p.C5)
1939 Mar 21, In Egypt King
Farouk arrived at Tanis for the opening of the coffin of the 21st
Dynasty King Psusennes I, recently discovered by French archeologist
Pierre Montet. It turned out that this coffin actually belonged to
Sheshonq II of the 22nd Dynasty.
(Arch, 5/05, p.21)
1939 Mar 21, Nazi Germany
demanded Gdansk (Danzig) from Poland.
1939 Mar 21, Ghandi called on
the world to disarm, thinking that Hitler would follow.
1939 Mar 22, Germany marched
into Klaipeda (Memel), Lithuania. The Lithuanian warship Prezidentas
Smetona was left without a harbor. The ship soon settled at Latvia’s
port of Liepaja. In December Ltn. P. Labanauskas was named captain.
In 1940 Soviet occupiers called for the ship to raise the Soviet
flag, but Captain Labanauskas sailed the ship out of Soviet
territory. The ship was later handed over to the Soviet Baltic
fleet. On Jan 11, 1945, it hit a mine and sank off the coast of
(Voruta #27-28, Jul 1996,
1939 Mar 23, At San Quentin
prison in northern California 41 prisoners were tortured and beaten
by guards. On Nov 10 guard boss William G. Lewis testified that he
had loaded a rubber hose used to beat convicts with BB shot and
detailed his regiment of punishments.
(SSFC, 10/12/14, p.42)(SSFC, 11/9/14, p.42)
1939 Mar 25, Billboard Magazine
introduced the hillbilly (country) music chart.
1939 Mar 27, The Borley
Rectory, reputedly the most haunted house in England, was severely
damaged by a fire. It was demolished in 1944.
1939 Mar 28, Philip Barry's
"Philadelphia Story," premiered in NYC.
1939 Mar 28, Clark Gable
(d.1960) and Carol Lombard (d.1942) stayed at the Arizona Oatman
Hotel for their honeymoon. [see Mar 29]
(SSFC, 6/17/01, p.T8)
1939 Mar 28, The Spanish Civil
War ended as Madrid fell to Francisco Franco. He emerged victorious
and became head of Fascist Spain ending the Spanish Civil War.
France executed more than 100,000 people who had opposed him. In
1982 Dan Richardson wrote "Comintern Army," a historical work on the
Spanish Civil War. "The Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Civil
War" was published in 1982. In 1991 Burnett Bolloten wrote "The
Spanish Civil War." In 2006 Antony Beevor authored “The Battle for
Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1936.” This was an update of his
(SFC, 11/12/96, p.A12)(AP, 3/28/97)(HN,
3/28/98)(WSJ, 11/19/96, p.A22)(Econ, 6/24/06, p.97)
1939 Mar 29, Clark Gable (38)
married Carole Lombard (29) in Arizona while filming "Gone With the
Wind." [see Mar 28]
(SFEM, 1/25/98, p.47)
1939 Mar 31, Britain and France
agreed to support Poland if Germany threatened to invade. Seven
French islands were annexed by Japan.
1939 Mar, Mussolini of Italy
delivered an ultimatum to Albania.
(www, Albania, 1998)
1939 Mar, In Slovakia Germany
set up a puppet regime. The Jewish community was estimated to number
70,000 at the start of the war. Fewer than 10,000 survived the war.
(SFC, 6/28/97, p.A11)
1939 Apr 1, The United States
recognized the Franco government in Spain following the end of the
Spanish civil war. A Spanish official later said that without
American petroleum and American trucks and American credit we could
never have won the civil war.
(AP, 4/1/98)(Econ, 6/24/06, p.97)
1939 Apr 2, Marvin P. Gaye Jr,
singer (Sexual Healing), was born in Wash, DC.
1939 Apr 5, Membership in
Hitler Youth became obligatory.
1939 Apr 6, Great Britain and
Poland signed a military pact.
1939 Apr 7, Francis Ford
Coppola, director (Godfather, Apocalypse Now), was born in Detroit.
1939 Apr 7, Italy invaded
Albania, which offered only token resistance. Less than a week
later, Italy annexed Albania. [see Apr 8]
1939 Apr 8, Italy, under
Fascist dictatorship led by Benito Mussolini seized the country of
Albania. The Albanian parliament voted to unite Albania with Italy;
King Zog fled to Greece. Under Mussolini’s totalitarian rule Italy
embarked on expansion and military conquest. Ethiopia fell victim,
conquered by Italy in 1936. Italy’s foreign policy cooperation with
Germany began in 1936 and both joined forces to intervene in the
Spanish Civil War on the side of Francisco Franco’s rebel forces.
Italy’s military alliance with Germany was struck in 1939. [see Apr
(HN, 4/8/98)(www, Albania, 1998)
1939 Apr 9, On Easter Sunday
Marion Anderson, at the invitation of Secretary of the Interior
Harold L. Ickes, sang a triumphant outdoor concert at the Lincoln
Memorial before a crowd of 75,000 and a radio audience of millions.
In early 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution denied the
internationally famed contralto the opportunity to sing at
Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., because of her race. First
Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was so dismayed by the injustice that she
resigned her own D.A.R. membership in protest.
(AP, 4/9/97)(WSJ, 7/24/98, p.W11) (HNPD, 4/9/99)
1939 Apr 11, SS Van Dine (50),
[William Huntingdon Wright], detective writer, died.
1939 Apr 12, Alan Ayckbourn,
playwright, was born in London.
1939 Apr 13, Seamus Heaney,
Irish poet, Nobel laureate, was born.
1939 Apr 13, Paul Sorvino,
actor, was born.
1939 Apr 13, W. Saroyan's "My
Heart's in the Highlands," premiered in NYC.
1939 Apr 14, The John Steinbeck
novel "The Grapes of Wrath" was first published.
(SFEC, 11/3/96, DB p.71)(AP, 4/14/97)
1939 Apr 14, The motion picture
"Wuthering Heights," starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier,
premiered in New York.
1939 Apr 16, Toni Matt on Mt.
Washington in New Hampshire’s White Mountains raced down the
headwall on wooden skis in a record 6 min. and 29.4 sec.
(WSJ, 4/17/97, p.A1,10)
1939 Apr 16, Stalin requested a
British, French and Russian anti-Nazi pact.
1939 Apr 17, S.N. Behrman's "No
Time for Comedy," premiered in NYC.
1939 Apr 18, Franz von Papen
became German ambassador in Turkey.
1939 Apr 19, Connecticut
finally approved Bill of Rights.
1939 Apr 20, The Kehlsteinhous,
aka the Eagle’s Nest, a mountaintop teahouse located in the
Kehlstein mountains near Berchtesgaden, was given to Adolf Hitler as
a 50th birthday present.
(SSFC, 8/6/06, p.G4)
1939 Apr 21, In Texas the new
San Jacinto Monument was dedicated following 3 years of
construction. It stood over 14 feet taller than the Washington
Monument. The monument is topped with a 220-ton star that
commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive
battle of the Texas Revolution.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Jacinto_Monument)(AH, 2/03, p.24)
1939 Apr 26, Following a period
during which the Country Party leader, Sir Earle Page, was caretaker
Prime Minister, Robert Gordon Menzies (1894-1978) was elected Leader
of the UAP and was sworn in as PM.
1939 Apr 28, Hitler claimed the
German-Polish non-attack treaty to be still in effect.
1939 Apr 29, Whitestone Bridge,
connecting Bronx and Queens, opened.
1939 Apr 30, The New York
World’s Fair, billed as a look at "the world of tomorrow,"
officially opened. NY Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia mandated that the
city's nude dancers cover up during the fair. The cover-up evolved
into the G-string and later the thong. The General Motors exhibit
was titled Futurama. Philo T. Farnsworth premiered his television at
the fair. AT&T presented its first Picture Phone at the World's
Fair. Salvador Dali created a pavilion that was called “Dream of
Venus” and described as the “funny house of tomorrow.” In 2000 Miles
Beller authored "Dream of Venus (Or Living Pictures): A Novel of the
1939 New York world’s Fair." National Presto Industries introduced
the home pressure cooker at the fair.
(AP, 4/30/97)(WSJ, 6/7/99, p.A8)(SFEC, 4/16/00,
BR p.7)(NYTBR, 2/2/03, p.20)
(www.imdb.com/title/tt0149460/trivia)(WSJ, 12/27/08, p.A7)
1939 Apr, In Czechoslovakia
Alois Elias, an army general, became prime minister more than a
month after the occupation of his country by Nazi Germany began. He
maintained ties with the exiled Czechoslovak government in London
and supported underground resistance at home throughout his term. He
was sentenced to death in October 1941 for high treason and
espionage and was executed on June 19, 1942.
1939 May 1, Judy Collins,
singer (Send in the Clowns, Clouds), was born in Seattle, Wash.
1939 May 1, Batman comics hit
the street in Detective Comics No. 27. Bob Kane (d.1998 at 83)
created Batman for DC Comics. The cartoon hero was based on Zorro,
da Vinci’s sketch of a flying man, and a silent mystery movie titled
(SFC, 11/6/98, p.D5)(SFC, 12/14/00, p.C9)(WSJ,
10/25/02, p.A1)(AP, 8/2/10)
1939 May 2, Baseball player
Henry Louis Gehrig, "the Iron Horse," asked to be taken out of the
NY Yankees starting lineup in a game where the Yanks beat Tigers
22-2. He had played 2,130 consecutive games. A few weeks later he
was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral schlerosis, a fatal
(SFEC, 3/30/97, Par. p.2)(SFEC, 3/30/97, BR.
1939 May 3, Soviet leader
Joseph Stalin replaced Maxim Litvinov, the People's Commissar for
Foreign Affairs, with Vyacheslav Molotov.
1939 May 4, Amos Oz, Israeli
novelist (The Black Box, The Third State), was born.
1939 May 6, 1st performance of
Honegger and Claudel's "Jeanne d'Arc at the Stake."
1939 May 7, Germany and Italy
announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin
1939 May 11, In San Francisco
the Top of the Mark Nightclub opened at the top of the Mark Hopkins
(SFEM, 11/24/96, p.13)(SSFC, 5/11/14, DB p.50)
1939 May 12, Ronald Ziegler,
press secretary to Pres. Nixon, was born.
1939 May 13, Harvey Keitel,
actor (Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs), was born.
1939 May 13, The SS St Louis
departed Hamburg with some 937 passengers including over 900 Jewish
refugees. They sought refuge in Cuba, but only 22 were allowed to
disembark there. No country in the Americas would take them. It
returned to Germany where a number of the Jews were later murdered.
[see May 27, June 4 and June 16]
1939 May 15, US Supreme
Court Justice James McReynolds in the US vs. Miller case said that
the 2nd Amendment did not bar restrictions on the ownership of
sawed-off shotguns, because the regulations did not have a
"reasonable relationship" to militias. A District Court had held
that section eleven of the National firearms Act violates the Second
Amendment. It accordingly sustained the demurrer and quashed the
indictment. The Supreme Court rejected the decision of the lower
1939 May 16, US food stamps
were 1st issued.
1939 May 19, In San Francisco a
new Safeway grocery store opened at Bush and Larkin at a site once
occupied by Lurline baths.
(SSFC, 5/18/14, DB p.50)
1939 May 20, Regular
trans-Atlantic air mail service began as a Pan American Airways
plane, the Yankee Clipper, took off from Port Washington, N.Y.,
bound for Marseilles, France.
1939 May 22, The foreign
ministers of Germany and Italy, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Galeazzo
Ciano, signed a "Pact of Steel" committing Germany and Italy to a
military alliance forming the Axis powers.
(HN, 5/22/99)(AP, 5/22/07)
1939 May 23, The US submarine
Squalus sank off the coast of New Hampshire. A diving bell designed
by Charles "Swede" Momsen (d.1967) brought 33 survivors (26
perished) safely to the surface. In 1999 Peter Maas authored "The
Terrible Hours," an account of the sinking and rescue. This was the
first successful undersea rescue operation to retrieve a sunken
(SFEC, 9/26/99, Par p.4,5)(WSJ, 8/17/00,
1939 May 23, British parliament
planned to make Palestine independent by 1949.
1939 May 23, Hitler proclaimed
he wants to move into Poland.
1939 May 23, Dmitri
Shostakovitch was appointed professor at conservatory of Leningrad.
1939 May 25, Dixie [Virginia]
Carter, actress (Designing Women, Edge of Night), was born in
1939 May 25, Ian McKellen,
actor (Keep, Plenty, Scarlet Pimpernel), was born in England.
1939 May 25, Joseph Duveen
(b.1869), Dutch-Jewish art collector, died in London. In 2004 Meryle
Secrest authored “Duveen: A Life in Art.”
1939 May 26, Charles H. Mayo
(74), US surgeon, co-founder (Mayo Clinic), died.
1939 May 27, The ship St. Louis
sailed into Havana Bay with 937 Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazis.
The ship was turned away and headed for the Florida coast. The 1976
film "Voyage of the Damned" was based on this. [see June 4]
(SFC, 10/4/99, p.D1)
1939 May 27, Joseph Roth,
Austrian-born Jewish writer, died in Paris. His books included
“Radetzkymarsch” (The Radetzky March) (1932), a novel of the
Habsburg empire from 1859-1916 and “The Auto-da-Fe of the Mind.”
1939 May 29, Nanette Newman,
writer, actress (Endless Game, Of Human Bondage), was born.
1939 May 29, Joseph Grinnell,
founding director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC
1939 May 31, Terry Waite,
Anglican Church envoy, Lebanese hostage, was born.
1939 May, John Hench (d.2004)
joined Disney as a sketch artist on "Fantasia." He was the official
portrait painter of Mickey Mouse.
(SFC, 2/7/04, p.A21)
1939 May, The Ravensbruck
concentration camp opened in northern Germany. It was primarily set
up for women. Between 1939 and 1945, over 130,000 female prisoners
passed through the Ravensbrück camp system; only 40,000 survived.
1939 May, In Manchuria a
Japanese punitive attack failed and combined Soviet and Mongolian
forces wiped out a 200-man Japanese unit. This marked the beginning
of the conflict called the Nomonhan Incident by Japanese, the Battle
of Khalkhin Gol by Russians.
1939 Jun 1, The Douglas DC-4
made its first passenger flight from Chicago to New York.
1939 Jun 1, Submarine Thetis:
sank in Liverpool Bay, England; 99 perished.
1939 Jun 4, During what became
known as the "Voyage of the Damned," the SS St. Louis, carrying 907
Jewish refugees from Germany, was turned away from the Florida
coast. Also denied permission to dock in Canada and Cuba, the ship
eventually returned to Europe. The passengers were divided among
England, France, Belgium and Holland and a number of the refugees
later died in Nazi concentration camps. By 2003 efforts to track
their fates identified 935 out of the 937 passengers. Some 260 ended
in Nazi killing centers.
(AP, 6/4/99)(SFC, 10/4/99, p.D3)(SSFC, 12/7/03,
Par p.5)(Econ, 6/24/06, p.44)
1939 Jun 5, Margaret Drabble,
English novelist (The Millstone, The Realms of Gold), was born.
1939 Jun 6, Marian Wright
Edelman, first African-American woman to be admitted to the
Mississippi Bar, was born. She was the founder of the Children's
1939 Jun 6, In Pennsylvania the
first Little League baseball game was played. The league was founded
by Carl Stotz in Williamsport. The Little League World Series began
in 1947. Girls were banned from 1951-1974.
(SSFC, 6/1/14, Par. p.8)
1939 Jun 7, King George VI and
his wife, Queen Elizabeth, arrived at Niagara Falls, N.Y., from
Canada on the first visit to the United States by a reigning British
1939 Jun 8, Herb Adderley, Hall
of Famer and defensive back for the Green Bay Packers.
1939 Jun 11, King & Queen
of England tasted their 1st "hot dogs" at FDR's party.
1939 Jun 12, The National
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated in Cooperstown, NY,
on the 100th anniversary of the day Abner Doubleday supposedly
invented the sport.
1939 Jun 16-1939 Jun 20, Jewish
refugees, whose quest for freedom in the Americas was denied, began
to disembark the SS St. Louis back in Europe. Holland took 181,
France received 224, 228 went to Great Britain, and 214 went to
Belgium. [see May 13 and June 4]
1939 Jun 17, Eugene Weldman
became the last person guillotined in France.
1939 Jun 21, Baseball legend
Lou Gehrig was forced to quit baseball because of amyotrophic
1939 Jun 28, Pan American
Airways began regular trans-Atlantic passenger air service as the
"Dixie Clipper" left Port Washington, N.Y., for Portugal.
(AP, 6/28/99)(NPub, 2002, p.13)
1939 Jun 28, Richard
Meinertzhagen (1877-1967, a British army colonel, met with Adolf
Hitler to plead on behalf of the Jews in Germany. He later claimed
to have smuggled a pistol into the chancellery but lost his nerve
and failed to shoot Hitler. In 2007 Brian Garfield authored “The
(WSJ, 2/10/07, p.P9)
1939 Jun 30, Frank Sinatra made
his first appearance with the Harry James' band.
1939 Jun, In Britain 50 letter
bombs exploded in postboxes and post offices in London, Birmingham
and Manchester. The IRA claimed responsibility as part of their
(Econ, 11/6/10, p.74)
1939 Jul 1, The US "Bureau of
Lighthouses" was transferred to the US Coast Guard, which then took
charge of America’s more than 1,000 lighthouses.
1939 Jul 2, John Sununu, US
Secretary of State (1989-91), was born.
1939 Jul 3, Ernst Heinkel
demonstrated an 800-kph rocket plane to Hitler.
1939 Jul 4, Baseball's "Iron
Horse," Lou Gehrig (1904-1941), said farewell to 61,808 fans
honoring him with a special day at New York City's Yankee Stadium.
He was suffering from A.L.S. (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a
neurodegenerative disorder that destroys the body's neuromuscular
system. Many now call it Lou Gehrig's disease. He did less than two
years later at the age of 37.
(SFEC, 3/30/97, Par. p.2)(AP, 7/4/97)(IB,
1939 Jul 6, Nazis closed the
last Jewish enterprises.
1939 Jul 8, Henry Havelock
Ellis (80), English sexologist (Man & Woman), died.
1939 Jul 11, Yanks hosted the
7th All Star Game. McCarthy started 6 Yanks, AL won 3-1.
1939 Jul 13, Frank Sinatra
recorded his first song, "From the Bottom of my Heart," with the
Harry James Band.
1939 Jul 13, Howard Long was
hanged at the New Hampshire State Prison for the sex-killing of
10-year-old Mark Neville Jensen of Alton.
1939 Jul 17, Spencer Davis,
vocalist (Spencer Davis Group-Gimme Some Lovin), was born in Wales.
1939 Jul 18, Edwin H. Armstrong
(1890-1954), US radio engineer, started the 1st FM (frequency
modulation) radio station in Alpine, NJ.
(SSFC, 10/24/04, Par p.5)
1939 Jul 20, Judy Chicago,
artist, was born.
1939 Jul 20, Joseph Mendes da
Costa, sculptor, died.
1939 Jul 21, Ambroise Vollard
(b.1866), French art patron, author and publisher, died in a car
crash. He wrote biographies on Cézanne, Degas, and Renoir. Many of
his works, including pantings by Derain, Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso
and Matisse, ended up in the hands of Erich Slomovic, a young
Croatian Jew who had come to Paris in the mid-1930s and befriended
the aging dealer. Slomovic was killed by the nazis in 1942. The art
remained locked up in a Paris bank vault until it was found in 1979.
In 2010 it was put up for auction.
1939 Jul 23, Nicholas Gage,
journalist and author (Eleni), was born.
1939 Jul 26, The London Times
reported the discovery of a buried ship and other artifacts at
Sutton Hoo. Archeologist later suspected that it was an empty grave
and memorial for a 7th century Anglo-Saxon chief.
(ON, 4/03, p.10)
1939 Jul 27, Michael Longley,
Irish poet, was born.
1939 Jul, The sci-fi story
"Black Destroyer" by A.E. van Vogt (1912-2000) appeared in
Astounding Science Fiction magazine
(SFC, 2/5/00, p.A19)
1939 Aug 2, US Congress passed
the Hatch Act. Its main provision is to prohibit federal employees
from engaging in partisan political activity. Named after Senator
Carl Hatch of New Mexico, the law was officially known as An Act to
Prevent Pernicious Political Activities.
1939 Aug 2, Albert Einstein
signed a letter to President Roosevelt urging creation of an atomic
weapons research program.
(HFA, ‘96, p.36)(AP, 8/2/97)
1939 Aug 11, Moses Annenberg,
owner of the Philadelphia Enquirer, was indicted by a federal jury
in Chicago for evading some $3.2 million in income taxes.
(SFC, 10/2/02, p.A2)
1939 Aug 11, Sergei Rachmaninov
had his last appearance in Europe.
1939 Aug 12, George Hamilton,
actor (Love at 1st Bite, Where the Boys Are), was born in Memphis,
1939 Aug 13, Saul Steinberg,
American artist (The Art of Living, New Yorker Magazine), was born
1939 Aug 15, The MGM musical
"The Wizard of Oz" premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in
1939 Aug 17, Luther Allison,
guitarist (Bad News is Coming), was born in Arkansas.
1939 Aug 17, The film "Wizard
of Oz" opened at Loew's Capitol Theater in NYC.
1939 Aug 19, Vyacheslav Molotov
outlined the Soviet requirements to the German Ambassador, Friedrich
von Schulenburg. He insisted that trade agreements be signed and
that a special protocol be made defining the German and Soviet
spheres of interest.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Aug 20, Russian offensive
under Gen. Zhukov against Jap invasion in Mongolia.
1939 Aug 20, Soviet and German
trade agreements were signed.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Aug 21, Clarence Williams
III, actor (Mod Squad, 52 Pick Up, Purple Rain), was born in NYC.
1939 Aug 23, Zane Grey
(b.1872), American novelist, died. He best known for his popular
adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of
the rugged Old West. He authored over 90 books, some published
posthumously and/or based on serials originally published in
magazines. Grey was one of the first millionaire authors.
1939 Aug 23, Sidney Coe Howard
(b.1891), US playwright and short story writer, died. He adapted
“Gone With the Wind” into the 1939 film. "Half of knowing what you
want is knowing what you have to give up to get it."
(SFEC, 2/6/00, Z1 p.2)(SFC, 1/27/05, p.E1)
1939 Aug 23, German Foreign
Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Commissar for Foreign
Affairs Vyacheslav M. Molotov signed a Treaty of Non-Aggression, the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact freeing Hitler to invade Poland and Stalin
to invade Finland. Secret protocols, made public years later, were
added that assigned Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Bessarabia to be
within the Soviet sphere of influence. Poland was partitioned along
the rivers Narev, Vistula and San. Germany retained Lithuania
enlarged by the inclusion of Vilnius. Just days after the signing,
Germany invaded Poland, and by the end of September, both powers had
claimed sections of Poland.
(WP, 6/29/96, p.A16)(AP, 8/23/97) (HNPD,
1939 Aug 25, Britain and France
signed a treaty with Poland promising military assistance should the
(ON, 11/05, p.3)
1939 Aug 26, The first
televised major league baseball games were shown on experimental
station W2XBS, a double-header between the Cincinnati Reds and the
Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. The Reds won first, 5-2; the
Dodgers, second, 6-1.
1939 Aug 27, Nazi Germany
demanded Danzig and Polish corridor.
1939 Aug 27, The world's first
jet-propelled plane, the Heinkel He-178, made its first flight at
Marienehe, north Germany. Hans von Ohain’s aircraft became the first
jet-powered airplane to fly. It remained airborne for 7 minutes.
Erich Warsitz made the 1st jet-propelled flight.
(SFC, 8/10/96, p.A20)(Reuters, 8/28/01)(MC,
1939 Aug 29, William
Friedkin, director (Exorcist, Cruising, French Connection), was born
1939 Aug 29, Chaim Weizmann
informed England that Palestine Jews would fight in WW II.
1939 Aug 30, Isoroku Yamamoto
was appointed supreme commander of the Japanese fleet.
1939 Aug 31, Japanese invasion
army was driven out of Mongolia.
1939 Aug 31, There was a staged
"Polish" assault on radio station in Gleiwitz by Nazis dressed as
Poles to "provoke" war, an excuse for Germany to invade Poland the
next day to start World War II.
1939 Aug, The Soviet Union and
Japan fought a massive tank battle at Khalkhin-Gol on the Mongolian
border. It was the largest armored battle in the world until that
point. By the end of the month the Soviets claimed victory over the
Japanese army at the Khalkhyn Gol river. This helped fend off a
possible Japanese invasion of Russia with Nazi Germany in 1941.
1939 Sep 1, Lily Tomlin,
comedienne, actress (9 to 5, Laugh-in, All of Me), was born in
1939 Sep, 1, At 4:40 a.m.,
World War II began. The Germans attacked Poland with their strategy
of Blitzkrieg, or lightning war. The war started at dawn with salvos
from the cruiser Schleswig-Holstein at the Polish garrison in
Gdansk. In 1989 Donald Cameron Watt authored “How War Came.”
(WSJ, 4/26/95, p.A-16)(AP, 9/1/97)(WSJ, 1/14/07,
1939 Sep 1, A transport train
carrying 250 children from Czechoslovakia disappeared as Germany
invaded Poland. It was the last transport organized by English
stockbroker Nicholas Winton (1909-2015).
(Econ, 7/11/15, p.82)
1939 Sep 1, US Sen. William
Borah of Idaho said 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler,
all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call
this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been
repeatedly discredited by history." In 2008 Pres. Bush quoted these
words in a speech to the Israeli Knesset.
1939 Sep 1, Physical Review
published the 1st paper to deal with "black holes."
1939 Sep 1, Hitler ordered the
extermination of mentally ill.
1939 Sep 1, Switzerland
1939 Sep 1-1945 Sep 2, From
Germany 's invasion of Poland until Japan 's surrender, America lost
an average of 170 planes a day. On average 6600 American service men
died per month (about 220 a day).
1939 Sep 2, Ireland’s Taoiseach
de Valera told the lower house of parliament that neutrality was the
best policy for the country. The Irish constitution was amended to
allow the Government to take emergency powers, and then the
Emergency Powers Act 1939 was passed that included censorship of the
press and mail correspondence. In 2007 Clair Wills authored “The
neutral Island: A cultural History of Ireland during the Second
1939 Sep 3, British envoy Sir
Neville Henderson delivered Britain’s final ultimatum to the Reich’s
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Sep 3, Britain and France
declared war on Germany, two days after the Nazi invasion of Poland.
After Germany ignored Great Britain's ultimatum to stop the invasion
of Poland, Great Britain declares war on Germany, marking the
beginning of World War II in Europe. France follows 6 hours later
quickly joined by Australia, NZ, South Africa & Canada.
(AP, 9/3/97)(HN, 9/3/98)(MC, 9/3/01)
1939 Sep 3-May 10, 1940, This
period is know as the Sitzkreig (the Sitting War) or "Phony War."
There was very little action on the Western Front.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Sep 4, German troops
stormed into Danzig (Gdansk).
1939 Sep 4, The Nazis marched
into Czestochowa, Poland, two days after they invaded Poland.
1939 Sep 4, The Polish ghetto
of Mir was exterminated.
1939 Sep 5, The United States
under FDR proclaimed its neutrality in World War II.
1939 Sep 5, In Czestochowa,
Poland, approximately 150 Jews were shot dead by the Germans. The
day was remembered as “Bloody Monday.”
1939 Sep 6, Arthur Rackham,
English artist and illustrator (Grimm's Fairy Tales), died at 71.
1939 Sep 6, The 1st WW II
German air attack on Great Britain took place.
1939 Sep 6, The Union of South
Africa declared war on Germany.
1939 Sep 7, In response to the
German invasion of Poland a week earlier, France invaded its
neighbor Germany. In Operation Saar, French forces marched into the
Cadenbronn and Wendt Forest near Saarrucken. The French met little
or no opposition as they drove five miles into Germany. The sluggish
advance was hindered by low troop morale and lack of support. The
Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland from the east on September 17
prompted the French withdrawal to the Maginot Line in anticipation
of a German counterattack. The only French offensive of WWII lasted
1939 Sep 8, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt declared a "limited national emergency" in response to
the outbreak of war in Europe.
1939 Sep 8, Gen. Von
Reichenau's panzer division reached the suburbs of Warsaw.
1939 Sep 9, Nazi army reached
1939 Sep 10, Canada declared
war on Nazi Germany.
1939 Sep 11, British submarine
Triton torpedoed British submarine Oxley.
1939 Sep 12, In response to the
invasion of Poland, the French Army advanced into Germany and on
this day made their furthest penetration-five miles.
1939 Sep 13, Joyce Arleen
Auger, US soprano (Songs of the Auvergne), was born.
1939 Sep 13, Igor Sikorsky
invented the 1st helicopter. [see Sep 14]
1939 Sep 14, British fleet sank
the German U-39 U-boat.
1939 Sep 14, In the 1930s Igor
Sikorsky (d.1972) turned his attention again to helicopter design
and on this day flew the VS-300 on its first test flight. Sikorsky,
scientist, engineer, pilot and businessman, was a pioneer in
aircraft design who is best known for his successful development of
the helicopter. He was fascinated with flight even as a child in
Russia, and a 1908 meeting with the Wright brothers determined the
course of his life in aviation. After two early helicopter designs
failed, Sikorsky turned his attention to fixed-wing aircraft. By
1913 he had developed the Il’ya Muromets, four-engine passenger
aircraft that were converted to bombers for use in WWI. The
Bolshevik Revolution forced Sikorsky and his family to emigrate to
America in 1919 where he established the Sikorsky Aero Engineering
Corporation in New York. Over the next 20 years, Sikorsky’s company
built passenger planes and flying boats, including the S-40 American
Clipper that was used to open new air routes across the Pacific.
1939 Sep 15, The Polish
submarine Orzel arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, after escaping the
German invasion of Poland.
1939 Sep 15, The Soviet Union
and Japan agreed to a cease-fire in Manchuria (later Mongolia),
which took effect the following day.
1939 Sep 17, The Harry James
Orchestra and Frank Sinatra recorded "All or Nothing at All" for
1939 Sep 17, David H Souter,
107th Supreme Court Justice (1990- ), was born in Weir, NH.
1939 Sep 17, The German U-29
sank the British aircraft carrier Courageous, 519 died.
1939 Sep 17, The Soviet Union
attacked Poland, more than two weeks after Nazi Germany launched its
assault. They took 217,000 Poles prisoner and occupied eastern
Poland within a week with losses of 737 dead and 2,000 wounded. The
Polish submarine Orzel escaped from internment and went on to fight
the Germans against long odds.
(AP, 9/17/97)(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)(HN,
1939 Sep 19, The British
Expeditionary Force reached France.
1939 Sep 19, Lord Haw-Haw
became the radio host of Reichsrundfunk Berlin.
1939 Sep 19, Wehrmacht (German
regular army) murdered 100 Jews in Lukov, Poland.
1939 Sep 20, After sinking
trawlers off the northern Hebrides, German U-27 was located and sunk
by destroyers "Fortune" and "Forester."
1939 Sep 21, In the SF Bay Area
temperatures reached an all time high of 99 degrees on Treasure
Island as a week of high temperatures left 13 people in the Bay
(SSFC, 9/21/14, p.42)
1939 Sep 21, Reinhard Heydrich
met in Berlin to discuss final solution of Jews.
1939 Sep 22, Junko Tabei,
Japan, the 1st woman to climb Mount Everest, was born.
1939 Sep 23, Sigmund Freud
(b.1856), founder of psychoanalysis, died in London. He had escaped
from Vienna in 1938. His work “Moses and Monotheism” was published
this year. In 1986 Frederick Crews, a skeptic on Freud's work,
published "Skeptical Engagements." Crews also published "The memory
wars: Freud's Legacy in dispute" and "Unauthorized Freud: Doubters
Confront a Legend." Freud's last days were dramatized in 1999 by
Terry Johnson in the play "Hysteria."
(SFEM, 1/10/99, p.4)(AP, 9/23/99)(WSJ, 12/23/99,
1939 Sep 25, German Luftwaffe
struck Warsaw with fire bombs.
1939 Sep 25, Andorra and
Germany finally signed an official treaty ending WW I. The 1919
Versailles Peace Treaty failed to include Andorra.
1939 Sep 27, Germany occupied
Warsaw. Poland surrendered after 19 days of resistance to invading
forces from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Poland had endured a
brutal 3 day bombing campaign by the German Luftwaffe.
(AP, 9/27/97)(HN, 9/27/98)
1939 Sep 28, The Boundary and
Friendship Treaty between the USSR and Germany was supplemented by
secret protocols to amend the secret protocols of Aug 23. Among
other things Lithuania was reassigned to the Soviet sphere of
influence. Poland’s partition line was moved eastwards from the
Vistula line to the line of the Bug. Germany kept a small part of
south-west Lithuania, the Uznemune region. A separate Soviet mutual
defense pact was signed with Estonia that allowed 25,000 Soviet
troops to be stationed there.
(DrEE, 9/28/96, p.3)(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)(DrEE,
10/26/96, p.4)(AP, 9/28/97)
1939 Sep 29, Germany and the
Soviet Union reached an agreement on the division of Poland. [see
1939 Sep 30, The first college
football game to be televised was shown on experimental station
W2XBS in New York as Fordham University defeated Waynesburg College,
34-7 in Triboro Stadium on Randalls Island.
(AP, 9/30/98)(SFEC, 6/13/99, p.C18)
1939 Sep 30, The French Army
was called back into France from it's invasion of Germany. The
attack, code named Operation Saar, only penetrated five miles.
1939 Sep 30, Germany and Russia
agreed to partition Poland. [see Sep 28,29]
1939 Sep, 41 U-boats were sunk
1939 Sep, The Pepsi jingle:
Pepsi-Cola hits the spot. / Two full glasses, that‘s a lot. / Twice
as much for a nickel too. / Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you!
(Nickel nickel nickel nickel, trickle trickle trickle trickle) made
its debut. The jingle, created by the Lord & Thomas agency, was
based on the old English tune "John Peel." Most soft drinks were
sold in 6-ounce units, but starting in 1934, 12-ounce Pepsi bottles
appeared in stores. Pepsi was constantly trying to gain on Coca-Cola
and quickly capitalized on the jingle. It debuted in multiple
15-second slots while radio listeners were updated about Hitler‘s
invasion of Poland. Soon people across the country were humming it.
When the United States entered World War II, the jingle went out
into the world with the troops via radio. It was even altered to
sell war bonds (Uncle Sam is calling you/to fight this war and see
it through/ By buying bonds and stamps today/ you can help protect
the U.S.A). After about a decade, the jingle was eventually phased
out, as the "twice as much for a nickel" line seemed too
thrift-minded for postwar prosperity.
1939 Sep, Paul Hermann Muller,
a Geigy pesticide researcher in Switzerland, first synthesized DDT.
He combined chloral hydrate with chlorobenzene and a catalyst to
make dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. The discovery was reported 2
(SFC, 9/1/96, z1 p.2)(ON, 11/01, p.6)
1939 Fall, The Univ. of
Michigan played the Univ. of Chicago at Stagg Field in Chicago and
won by a score of 85-0. Football under UC Pres. Robert Hutchins (29)
was very much discouraged. The day after the game Hutchins banned
football and turned the stadium over to scientists and the first
atomic pile was later created there.
(LSA, Spg/97, p.25)
1939 Oct 1, Churchill called
the Soviets a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
1939 Oct 2, The Benny Goodman
Sextet recorded "Flying Home."
1939 Oct 4, Pamela Churchill
Harriman married Randolph Churchill, son of Winston. She was later
appointed by Pres. Clinton as ambassador to France. In 1996 Sally
Bedell Smith wrote her biography: "Reflected Glory: The Life of
Pamela Churchill Harriman."
(SFC, 10/23/96, p.E6)(SFC, 2/6/97, p.A14)
1939 Oct 4, Last Polish troops
surrendered to German Wehrmacht.
1939 Oct 5, The Soviets signed
a mutual defense pact with Latvia that allowed 30,000 troops to be
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Oct 5, Soviet Foreign
Minister Molotov invited the Finnish Foreign Minister, Elias Erkko,
to come to Moscow for political discussions. The Finns delayed the
meeting until Oct 12. Field Marshall Gustaf Mannerheim prepared
Finland for war.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Oct 6, In an address to
the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler denied having any intention of war
against France and Britain.
1939 Oct 6, Hitler announced
plans to resolve "The Jewish problem."
1939 Oct 7, Harvey (William)
Cushing, US neurologist, died at 70.
1939 Oct 8, Germany annexed
1939 Oct 9, Finland called for
full scale mobilization for war.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Oct 10, Lithuania signed a
treaty that allowed a soviet garrison of 20,000 troops to be
stationed in the country in return for Vilnius and other regions
with a population of 600,000.
(DrEE, 10/12/96, p.3)(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Oct 11, Albert Einstein
wrote his famous letter to FDR about the potential of the atomic
bomb. Einstein, a long time pacifist, was concerned that the Nazis
would get the bomb first. In the letter, Einstein argued the
scientific feasibility of atomic weapons, and urged the need for
development of a US atomic program. The physicists Leo Szilard,
Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller, who were profoundly disturbed by
the lack of American atomic action, had enlisted the aid of the
Nobel prize-winner Einstein in the summer of 1939, hoping that a
letter from such a renowned scientist would persuade Roosevelt into
1939 Oct 12-Nov 8, Finnish
special envoy, Juho Paasikivi, began negotiations in Moscow. The
Finns refused to allow the establishment of Soviet military bases.
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Oct 14, Ralph Lauren,
fashion designer (Chaps), was born.
1939 Oct 14, The German U-47,
commanded by Kapitan Gunther Prien, sank the British battleship HMS
Royal Oak at Scapa Flow, Scotland, and 833 people were killed. This
prompted Churchill to order the creation of concrete barriers at the
eastern entrance of Scapa Flow.
1939 Oct 15, The New York
Municipal Airport was dedicated. It was the largest, most advanced
commercial airport in the world. Its new terminal featured
innovative design that kept arriving and departing passengers
separated on two levels for greater efficiency. It was also
terminals adorned with Art Deco details and fine restaurants and a
rooftop viewing promenade as well as many technological details that
made flying safer and less expensive. On Mar 31, 1940, the new
airport was rechristened LaGuardia Airport after the mayor, who had
been a bomber pilot in World War I and whose interest in aviation
lasted throughout his lifetime, barely a month after it opened.
1939 Oct 16, The comedy "The
Man Who Came to Dinner," by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, opened
(AP, 10/16/99)(WSJ, 8/2/00, p.A20)
1939 Oct 17, Frank Capra's
comedy-drama "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" premiered in the
1939 Oct 18, Mike Ditka, coach
and tight end (Bears, Cowboys, NFL rookie year 1961), was born.
1939 Oct 18, R. Rodger's &
Lorenz Hart's "Too Many Girls," premiered in NYC.
1939 Oct 18, Lee Harvey Oswald,
the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was born.
1939 Oct 18, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt banned war submarines from U.S. ports and waters.
1939 Oct 18, Labor activist
Warren K. Billings, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for
the 1916 Preparedness Day Bombing in San Francisco was released from
Folsom Prison after being pardoned by Democratic Governor Culbert
(SSFC, 10/19/14, p.42)
1939 Oct 19, Benita Valente,
soprano (Pamina-Die Zauberflote), was born in Delano Calif.
1939 Oct 19, Reichsmarshal
Hermann Goering began plundering art treasures throughout Nazi
1939 Oct 21, As war heated up
with Germany, the British war cabinet held its first meeting in the
underground war room in London.
1939 Oct 23, Zane Grey (67), US
western writer (Spirit of the Border), died. He authored 89 books,
mostly Westerns. He books on fishing included: "Tales of fishes" and
"An American Angler in Australia."
(SFEC, 9/24/00, p.T10)(MC, 10/23/01)(WSJ, 1/8/02,
1939 Oct 24, Benny Goodman and
his orchestra recorded their signature theme, "Let’s Dance," for
Columbia Records in New York.
1939 Oct 24, Nylon stockings,
made from nylon developed by DuPont Chemical, were sold publicly for
the first time, in Wilmington, Del.
(AP, 10/24/97)(SSFC, 1/26/14, DB p.42)
1939 Oct 24, Nazis required
Jews to wear star of David.
1939 Oct 25, George Kaufman and
Moss Hart's "Man Who Came to Dinner," premiered in NYC.
1939 Oct 25, The drama "The
Time of Your Life," by William Saroyan, opened in New York.
1939 Oct 26, Polish Jews were
forced into obligatory work service.
1939 Oct 27, John Cleese,
actor-writer, was born. He is best known for comedy productions
"Monty Python" and "Fawlty Towers."
1939 Oct 28, Anti-German
demonstrations and strikes took place in Czechoslovakia.
1939 Oct 28, A Spitfire shot
down a German Heinkel-111 over Scotland.
1939 Oct 30, German U boat
failed in an attack of English battleship Nelson with Winston
Churchill, Dudley Pound and Charles Forbes aboard.
1939 Oct 30, USSR and Germany
agreed on partitioning Poland. Hitler deported Jews.
1939 Oct 31, 27 U boats were
sunk this month (135,000 ton).
1939 Oct 31, Otto Rank,
[Rosenfeld], Austria psychoanalyst (Trauma of Geburt), died.
1939 Oct, The Federal Hourly
Minimum Wage was set at $0.30 an hour.
1939 Nov 1, The 1st animal, a
rabbit, conceived by artificial insemination was displayed.
1939 Nov 1, 1st jet plane, a
Heinkel He 178, was demonstrated to German Air Ministry.
1939 Nov 3, Terrence McNally,
playwright (Bad Habits, Master Class), was born in St. Petersburg,
1939 Nov 4, The United States
modified its neutrality stance in World War II, allowing "cash and
carry" purchases of arms by belligerents, a policy favoring Britain
1939 Nov 4, The 1st air
conditioned automobile, the Packard, was exhibited, Chicago, Ill.
1939 Nov 8, The H. Lindsay and
R. Crouse play "Life With Father," based on the book by Clarence
Day, opened on Broadway.
(AP, 11/8/99)(MC, 11/8/01)
1939 Nov 8, There was a failed
assassination attempt on Hitler in Burgerbraukeller, Munich.
1939 Nov 9, "Ninotchka," with
Greta Garbo premiered.
1939 Nov 9, Nobel for physics
was awarded to Ernest O. Lawrence for his work on the cyclotron.
1939 Nov 9, In the
Venlo-incident, German Abwehr killed 2 English agents.
1939 Nov 10, Bob Marshall,
founder of the Wilderness Society, first recreation chief of the US
Forest Service, died at the age of 38.
(NG, May 1985, M. Edwards, p.667)
1939 Nov 10-Mar 13,1940,
Finland began to wage a defensive war against the Soviet Union for
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)
1939 Nov 12, Lucia Popp,
soprano (Die Zauberflote), was born in Uhorsk Ves, Czechoslovakia.
1939 Nov 12, Jews in Lodz
Poland were ordered to wear yellow star of David.
1939 Nov 14, Wendy (Walter)
Carlos, composer (Switched on Bach), was born in Pawtucket, RI.
1939 Nov 15, President
Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial in
1939 Nov 15, Nazis began their
mass murder of Warsaw Jews.
1939 Nov 16, Al Capone was
freed from Alcatraz.
1939 Nov 16, German U-boat
torpedoed the tanker Sliedrecht near Ireland.
1939 Nov 17, Jerome Kern's and
Oscar Hammerstein's "Very Warm for May," premiered in NYC.
1939 Nov 17, German U-boat
torpedoed a passenger ship.
1939 Nov 18, Margaret Atwood,
Canadian writer, was born. Her books included "The Edible Woman" and
"The Handmaid's Tale."
1939 Nov 18, The Irish
Republican Army exploded three bombs in Picadilly Circus.
1939 Nov 18, The Netherland
KNSM passenger ship Simon Bolivar hit a German mine and 86 died.
1939 Nov 23, Thanksgiving.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a week
earlier--on the fourth, not the last, Thursday of November--in an
effort to encourage more holiday shopping.
1939 Nov 23, Hans Frank, the
Nazi Gov. of Poland, required Jews to wear a blue star.
1939 Nov 24, In Czechoslovakia,
the Gestapo executed 120 students who were accused of anti-Nazi
1939 Nov 25, Shelagh Delaney,
playwright whose work included "A Taste of Honey," was born.
1939 Nov 25, Nazis reported
four British ships sunk in the North Sea, but London denied the
1939 Nov 26, Tina Turner, U.S.
pop singer, was born.
1939 Nov 26, Soviets charged
Finland with an artillery attack on border leading to a 105-day
Winter War. Soviet Foreign Minister V.M. Molotov accused Finnish
troops of firing at the Russians across the 800-mile (1,300km)
border near the southeastern village of Mainila.
(AP, 11/26/02)(AP, 11/30/09)
1939 Nov 27, The play "Key
Largo," by Maxwell Anderson, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater
in New York. James Gregory made his Broadway debut.
(AP, 11/27/97)(SFC, 9/19/02, p.A24)
1939 Nov 28, Nazi Gov-Gen of
Poland, Hans Frank organized Judenrat.
1939 Nov 28, USSR scraped its
non-aggression pact with Finland.
1939 Nov 28, James A. Naismith
(78), creator of basketball, died.
1939 Nov 29, Soviet planes
bombed an airfield at Helsinki, Finland.
1939 Nov 30, The Russo-Finnish
war began when Stalin attacked Finland with 4 armies, 540,000 men,
2485 tanks, and 2000 guns. Finnish troops were led by Field Marshall
Gustaf Mannerheim. Over the next two weeks, a greatly outnumbered
Finnish army resisted the invasion of nearly fifty Red Army
divisions--over one million men. The Finnish used forest combat to
inflict heavy damage on the Russian invaders. The British and French
came to the Finnish defense in mid-December but by March, the "Peace
of Moscow" treaty was signed, and Finland ceded 16,000-square miles
of land to the Soviet Union, including the city of Vyborg and the
(DrEE, 10/26/96, p.4)(AP, 11/30/99)(MC, 12/30/01)
1939 Nov 30, Bela Kun (53),
[Balazs Kolozsvary], Hungarian revolutionary, died.
1939 Nov, In Birmingham,
England, John Randall invented the cavity magnetron. It was a
microwave transmitter 1000 times more powerful than any other at the
(Wired, 2/98, p.134)
1939 Dec 1, Reichsfuhrer-SS
Heinrich Himmler ordered the deportation of Polish Jews.
1939 Dec 2, New York's
Municipal Airport began operations as an airliner from Chicago
landed at one minute after midnight. The North Beach Airport opened
in Queens, NYC, with 2 levels for passenger circulation. It was
renamed LaGuardia on March 31, 1940.
(Hem., 5/97, p.70)(AP, 12/2/98)
1939 Dec 2, British Imperial
Airways and British Airways merged to form BOAC.
1939 Dec 6, The Cole Porter
musical comedy "Du Barry Was a Lady" opened on Broadway.
1939 Dec 6, Britain agreed to
send arms to Finland.
1939 Dec 7, Lou Gehrig, 36, was
elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame.
1939 Dec 8, James Galway,
flutist (18k gold flute, Royal Phil), was born in Belfast, Ireland.
1939 Dec 11, Tom McGuane,
novelist and screenwriter, was born. His work includes "The Sporting
Club" and "Bushwacked Piano."
1939 Dec 11, New anti Jewish
measurements in Poland were proclaimed.
1939 Dec 12, Douglas Fairbanks
(56), actor (Zorro, 3 Musketeers, Robin Hood), died.
1939 Dec 13, In the Battle at
La Plata 3 British cruisers fought the German "pocket battleship,"
Graf Spee, which took refuge in Montevideo, Uruguay. The following
day, the badly damaged ship left port, deliberately ran aground in
the bay, where the officers led the crew in scuttling and exploding
the Graf Spee. Two days later, the commander of the German warship
committed suicide in his Buenos Aires hotel room. Today, at low
tide, water commuters between Buenos Aires and Montevideo can see
part of the superstructure breaking the surface.
1939 Dec 14, The Soviet Union
was dropped from the League of Nations. [see Nov 30 attack on
(AP, 12/14/97)(HN, 12/14/98)
1939 Dec 15, The motion picture
"Gone With the Wind" had its world premiere in Atlanta. [WSJ later
claimed Dec 19 as the opening date in NYC]
(AP, 12/15/97)(WSJ, 3/18/98, p.B1)
1939 Dec 16, National Women’s
Party urged immediate congressional action on equal rights.
1939 Dec 17, In the Battle of
River Plate near Montevideo, Uruguay, the British trapped the German
pocket battleship Graf Spee. German Captain Langsdorf sank his ship
believing that resistance was hopeless.
(AP, 12/17/97)(HN, 12/17/98)
1939 Dec 18, The Graf Spee was
scuttled. A ferocious sea battle off the coast of South America
between the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee and the British
ships Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles, preceded the scuttling. The German
captain Hans Langsdorf, later killed himself. On the 13th, heavily
the armed German ship held off the three vessels for three hours,
sustaining some damage, and then fled into the harbor of Montevideo,
Uruguay. Over the next few days the British tricked the Germans into
believing that a large British fleet had them trapped.
1939 Dec 19, The British
destroyer HMS Hyperion sighted the German liner Columbus about 400
miles off the coast of Virginia. The still neutral American heavy
cruiser Tuscaloosa was also in the area, and silently observed the
two ships. Rather than surrender the ship, her crew scuttled her,
and she burned and sank. Her passengers and crew, 567 men and nine
women, were taken aboard Tuscaloosa as rescued seamen, not as
prisoners of war as they would have been had the British picked them
up. Tuscaloosa took all personnel to New York City. A year later 512
members of the crew were settled on Angel Island in SF Bay. After
the end of war many returned to Germany.
(SSFC, 1/18/15, DB p.46)
1939 Dec 20, Dianne Arndt,
artist, photographer, was born.
1939 Dec 20, Hans Langsdorff,
German captain of the Graf Spee, committed suicide.
1939 Dec 21, Heinrich Himmler
and Reinhard Heydrich named Adolf Eichmann leader of "Referat IV B,"
the group in charge of transport of Jews for Final Solution.
1939 Dec 22, Ma Rainey (53),
"Mother of the Blues", US blues singer and composer, died.
1939 Dec 22, 125 died in train
wreck at Magdeburg, Germany.
1939 Dec 22, 99 died in 2nd
train wreck at Friedrichshafen, Germany.
1939 Dec 23, The first Canadian
troops arrived in Britain.
1939 Dec 23, Anthony H.G.
Fokker (49), Dutch airplane builder (Spider), died in America.
1939 Dec 24, John Hammond
produced a 2nd Carnegie Hall Jazz concert that was a panorama of
black heritage. Selections from the 1938 & 1939 concerts were
issued in 1959, 1987 and a CD set in 1999.
(WSJ, 11/5/99, p.W11)
1939 Dec 25, Finnish troops
entered Soviet territory.
1939 Dec 26-27, In Turkey a
series of vicious earthquakes in Erzincan province, magnitude 7.9,
took some 33,000 lives in Turkey.
(HN, 12/27/98)(MC, 12/27/01)(SFEC, 8/22/99,
1939 Dec 31, The DJIA closed
the decade at 150.24.
(WSJ, 4/8/04, p.C4)
1939 Henry Moore (1898-1985)
created his sculpture "Three Points."
(WSJ, 5/1/01, p.A24)
1939 In France Pierre Bonnard
painted "The Garden."
(WSJ, 6/24/98, p.A16)
1939 Edward Hopper painted his
"New York Movie."
(WSJ, 6/28/95, p.A-16)
1939 Sargent Johnson
(1888-1967), African-American artist in SF, made his glazed ceramic
(SFEC, 4/12/98, DB p.43)
1939 Picasso painted "The
Yellow Sweater." It later became the trademark of the Berggruen
collection. He also painted "Night Fishing at Antibes."
(WSJ, 9/13/96, p.A8)(SFC, 10/10/98, p.E8)
1939 Ben Shahn painted his
"Myself Among the Churchgoers."
(WSJ, 12/1/98, p.A20)
1939 Chaim Soutine painted
"Return From School After the Storm."
(WSJ, 5/14/98, p.A20)
1939 Hale Woodruff painted a
mural on the 1839 Amistad mutiny.
(SFEM, 3/8/98, p.8)
1939 The Salon des Realites
Nouvelles was held in France and featured abstract painters.
(Calg. Glen., 1996)
1939 Eric Ambler wrote his spy
thriller "A Coffin for Dimitrios."
(SFC, 10/24/98, p.A22)
1939 W.H. Auden (1907-1973),
Anglo-American poet, authored his poem “Epitaph on a Tyrant.”
(Econ, 9/4/10, p.91)
1939 Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)
wrote a book on Karl Marx.
1939 E.H. Carr, British
scholar, authored “The Twenty Years’ Crises: 1919-1939.” It became a
seminal work on the realism that instructed US and British Cold War
(WSJ, 12/29/07, p.W8)
1939 Raymond Chandler
introduced detective Philip Marlowe in his mystery fiction "The Big
(SFC, 7/9/97, p.D5)(WSJ, 8/26/06, p.P14)
1939 Peter Drucker (1909-2005),
Austria-born management visionary, authored his 1st book “The End of
(Econ, 11/19/05, p.72)
1939 W.E.B. Du Bois published
his work: "Black Folk, Then and Now: An Essay in the History and
Sociology of the Negro Race."
(Civilization, July-Aug, 1995, p. 36)
1939 Caryl Haskins (d.2001 at
93), ant expert, authored "Of Ants and Men."
(SFC, 10/26/01, p.D7)
1939 Earnest A. Hooton, Harvard
Prof., authored "Apes, Men and Morons."
(WSJ, 1/31/00, p.A19)
1939 Edward MacCurdy published
a compilation of "Leonardo de Vinci’s notebooks."
(NH, 5/97, p.19)
1939 Dennis Pulestin (d.2001 at
95) authored "Blue Water Vagabond," an account of his adventures in
China as the Sino-Japanese War was beginning. Pulestin later helped
design the DUKW amphibian lander in 1942 and the Environmental
Defense Fund in 1967.
(SSFC, 6/17/01, p.A27)
1939 John Steinbeck wrote his
short story "Johnny Bear."
1939 Monroe Boston Strause, the
Pie King, wrote his book "Pie Marches On."
(SFC,1/22/97, zz-1 p.2)
1939 Nathanael West (1902-1940)
wrote his last novel "The Day of the Locust." It was made into a
film in 1975.
(WSJ, 8/11/97, p.A12)(SFEC,12/21/97, DB p.58)
1939 Ernest Vincent Wright
wrote his novel "Gadsby" as a lipogram. The 50,000 words had no
(SFEC, 10/22/00, Z1 p.2)
1939 Noel Coward wrote his play
(WSJ, 11/21/96, p.B12)
1939 Lillian Hellman wrote her
melodrama "The Little Foxes." It was about a "wicked Alabama family
(WSJ, 4/30/97, p.A12)
1939 Paul Osborne wrote his
bittersweet comedy "Morning’s at Seven."
(WSJ, 4/24/02, p.D9)
1939 Christopher Isherwood
wrote "Goodbye to Berlin." It included a story about a singer called
Sally Bowles that became the basis for the 1951 play "I Am a
Camera," the 1955 film "I Am a Camera," the 1966 musical play
"Caberet" and the 1972 musical film "Cabaret." His Berlin books also
included "The Last of Mr. Norris," and "I Am a Camera." In 1998
Norman Page published "Auden and Isherwood: The Berlin Years."
(WSJ, 3/23/98, p.A20)(SFEC, 9/27/98, BR p.8)
1939 James Joyce had his book
"Finnegan's Wake" published by Viking.
(TMC, 1994, p.1939)(SFC, 12/9/99, p.B1)
1939 Olive Schreiner wrote her
novel: "The Story of an African Farm."
(SFEC, 11/3/96, BR p.5)
1939 The 1999 novel "The Summer
of '39" by Miranda Seymour was based on a visit by poet Laura Riding
and Robert Graves to Kit and Schuyler Jackson.
(SFEC, 10/3/99, BR p.5)
1939 Charles Edward Smith
(WSJ, 5/17/06, p.D14)
1939 Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976),
US writer, authored “Johnny Got His Gun.” It was made into a film in
1939 Ernest V. Wright wrote the
novel "Gadsby." It was a 50,000 word work with no letter "e."
(SFC, 12/21/96, p.E4)
1939 The Philip Barry play "The
Philadelphia Story" was staged in new York.
(WSJ, 12/6/95, p.A-18)
1939 Philip Barry wrote his
play "The Philadelphia Story."
(SFEC, 5/30/99, DB p.37)
1939 Berthold Brecht wrote his
play "Mother Courage and Her Children." It was set during the Thirty
Years War (1618-1648) between the German Catholics and Swedish
(WSJ, 1/24/97, p.A13)(WSJ, 10/23/01, p.A24)
1939 Lillian Hellman wrote her
play "The Little Foxes."
(SFEC, 5/30/99, DB p.37)
1939 Eugene O'Neill wrote his
play "The Iceman Cometh."
(SFEC, 5/30/99, DB p.37)
1939 The Kenyon Review was
founded to advance the ideas of the New Critics who favored a close
reading of literary texts over the previous biographical or
(WSJ, 10/30/03, p.W9)
1939 The Cole Porter musical
"Du Barry Was a Lady" was produced.
(WSJ, 2/23/96, p.A-10)
1939 George Bernard Shaw wrote
his play "In Good King Charles’s Golden Days." It depicted an
imaginary visit in 1680 by Charles II to Isaac Newton.
(WSJ, 8/29/97, p.A9)
1939 "Meet the People" was
staged in Hollywood and New York.
(SFC, 12/2/96, p.D2)
1939 Hector Berlioz
(1803-1869), composed "Romeo and Juliet," and conducted its first
(T&L, 10/80, p. 58)(SFC, 10/5/96, p.E1)
1939 Lena Horne (1917-2010)
performed in the Broadway revue “Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1939.”
The revue ran for 9 performances.
(SFC, 5/10/10, p.C4)
1939 The Carter Family left
Virginia and went to Texas to pioneer border radio broadcasts.
(SSFC, 8/4/02, p.M3)
1939 Billie Holiday 1st sang
"Strange Fruit," a ballad about lynching in the south, at
Manhattan’s Café Society. The song had been written by Abel
Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher. In 2001 David Margolick authored
"Strange Fruit: Biography of a Song."
(SFC, 3/8/02, p.D18)
1939 Prokofiev arranged the
"Alexander Nevsky Cantata" from music he wrote for Sergei
1939 Arnold Schoenberg finished
his "Chamber Symphony No. 2" in LA.
(SFC, 3/5/99, p.C5)
1939 Trumpeter Legh Knowles
(d.1997) joined the Glenn Miller Band. He went on to record 123
records with the band including tunes such as: "In the Mood,"
"Moonlight Serenade," and "Tuxedo Junction."
(SFEC, 8/17/97, p.D8)
1939 Ruth Lowe, pianist and
band leader, wrote the song "I’ll Never Smile Again" in memory of
her late husband.
(SFC, 9/1/96, z1 p.2)
1939 Robert M. Crawford,
Princeton voice teacher, wrote "The Army Air Corps Song" (aka "off
we go into the wild blue yonder") for a Liberty Magazine contest and
won a $1,000 first prize.
(SFC, 4/12/97, p.E3)
1939 Jimmie Davis made a hit
with "You Are My Sunshine." He became governor of Louisiana in 1944
and again in 1960.
(SFC, 11/6/00, p.A23)
1939 The song "Rudolph the
Red-Nosed Reindeer" began life as a poem handed to shoppers at the
Montgomery Ward department store chain. It was recorded in 1949 by
Gene Autrey after Perry Como turned it down.
(SFC, 12/24/99, p.C8)
c1939 Alfred Lion founded the
Blue Note jazz label in New York. He was later joined by his Berlin
friend and photographer Francis Wolff.
(WSJ, 10/3/97, p.A8)
1938 In Hawaii the $1.4 million
Shangri La estate of tobacco heiress Doris Duke (d.1993) was
completed on 4.9 acres east of Diamond Head. Duke collected Islamic
art and in 2002 the estate was opened for limited public tours and
(SSFC, 11/10/02, p.C9)
1939 George Whittel Jr.
(1881-1969), heir to a SF family wealthy from the gold rush,
completed his Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe. He had acquired some
30,000 acres along the Nevada shore since 1936. It was begun in 1937
and designed Nevada architect Frederick De Longchamps. He deeded
most of the land to the US Forest Service.
(SSFC, 4/6/03, p.C8)(SFC, 7/21/07,
1939 Frank Lloyd Wright
designed the Johnson Wax Administration Building.
(SFEM, 4/19/98, p.23)
1939 The San Francisco to
Oakland Bay Bridge was completed.
(SFC, 5/19/96,Mag, p.11)
1939 Treasure Island on San
Francisco Bay was created with 29.5 million cubic yards of sand and
gravel. The 403-acre island was built to host the Golden Gate Int’l.
Exposition. Jacques Schnier, sculptor, designed art works for the
world’s fair on Treasure Island. Pacifica, the 80-foot-tall theme
statue of the Int'l. Expo, was created by Ralph Stackpole (d.1973 at
(SFC, 5/7/97, p.A15)(SFC, 5/9/97, p.E2)(SFC,
10/17/98, p.C2)(Ind, 1/23/99, p.5A)
1939 San Francisco FM radio
station KALW began broadcasting at the World Fair on Treasure
Island. In 1941 it was donated to the SF Unified school district to
train students in radio broadcasting.
(SFC, 1/15/11, p.C1)
1939 In Berkeley, Ca., the UC
Printing Plant on Oxford Street was built with New Deal stimulus
funds. In 2010 it was selected as the new home for the Berkeley Art
Museum and Pacific Film Archives.
(SFC, 3/8/10, p.C2)
1939 The new SF Transbay
Terminal, designed by Timothy Pflueger, opened. It served as the
port of entry for electric-powered trains that went back and forth
from the East Bay on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge.
(SFC, 8/7/07, p.A6)
1939 The Federal style annex of
the San Mateo County Courthouse was built. The original Corinthian
pillars in front were removed.
1939 In SF a new bathhouse and
public space was built at Aquatic Park as part of a WPA project.
35-foot speaker towers were included in the park. The Streamline
Moderne design resembled a ship in its dock. It included a mural by
Hilaire Hiler depicting the underwater world of Atlantis. In 1951 it
was converted into the SF Maritime Museum. Renovation of the
structure was completed in 2008.
(SFC, 6/21/06, p.B3)(SFC, 10/3/08, p.B7)(SSFC,
1939 In San Francisco Benjamin
Kaplan opened the eclectic Kaplan’s retail outlet on Third St. In
1969 the business moved to Market St. between 6th and 7th to a
building that cost $240,000. In 2013 Zane Kaplan (88) sold the
building for $4.5 million to make way for a small hotel.
(SFC, 12/26/13, p.D1)
1939 In Berkeley, Ca., the UC
Printing Plant on Oxford Street was built with New Deal stimulus
funds. In 2010 it was selected as the new home for the Berkeley Art
Museum and Pacific Film Archives.
(SFC, 3/8/10, p.C2)
1939 Harry Hind (1915-2012) and
a classmate, seniors at the UC School of Pharmacy, developed the
first device to read the pH of chemical solutions. Hind and Clifford
Barnes went on the found Barnes-Hind Prescription Pharmacy and
Barnes-Hind Pharmaceutical Laboratories, which was acquired by
Revlon in 1976.
(SFC, 5/2/12, p.C5)
1939 In Texas Buchanan Dam was
completed. Lake Buchanon was formed by the construction of the dam
by the Lower Colorado River Authority to provide a water supply for
the region and to provide hydroelectric power. The lake covered the
tiny town of Bluffton.
1939 Willis & Geiger
outfitted the "Flying Tigers" volunteer group fighting in China.
(NH, 9/96, p.17)
1939 The Guggenheim Museum
began as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting and initially occupied
a building on East 54th St. in New York City.
(WSJ, 2/14/96, p.A-12)
1939 Harry Max Foster
(1906-1996) founded Foster Farms with a $1000 down payment on a
re-possessed 80-acre farm near Empire, Ca.
(SFC, 9/26/96, p.C2)
1939 Jim Rex founded the Ranger
Joe Breakfast Food Co. in Philadelphia. It was sold in the 1940s to
Philadelphia businessman Moses Berger and sold again in 1954 to
Nabisco and renamed "Wheat and Rice Honeys."
(SFC,11/19/97, Z1 p.7)
1939 Latrobe Brewing of
Latrobe, Pa., began making Rolling Rock, a pale lager. It was later
acquired by InBev SA. In 2006 Rolling Rock was acquired by
Anheuser-Busch, which moved operations to Newark NJ. In 2008
Anheuser-Busch was acquired by InBev SA.
1939 In Jackson, Miss., the
weekly Advocate newspaper, a news source for black residents, was
(SFC, 1/27/98, p.A4)
1939 The United Jewish Appeal
was founded. William Rosenwald (1903-1996) was one three signatories
to the agreement for founding the organization. His father, Julius,
was a chairman and builder of Sears, Roebuck & Co.
(SFC, 11/2/96, p.A21)
1939 Arthur Davis Shores became
the first black attorney licensed in Alabama.
(SFEC, 3/1/98, Z1 p.4)
1939 Jules Lederer married
Esther Friedman. Lederer later founded Budget Rent A Car and
Friedman began an advice column as Ann Landers.
(SFC, 1/25/99, p.A20)
1939 Edwin Sutherland,
sociology prof. at Indiana Univ., coined the term white-collar
(WSJ, 10/15/03, p.B1)
1939 David McConnell renamed
his California Perfume Company, founded in 1886, to Avon in tribute
(WSJ, 1/11/99, p.R25)(WSJ, 9/18/00, p.B1)
1939 Edward Teller and Leo
Szilard, newly immigrated Hungarian physicists, drove to Princeton,
New Jersey, to visit Albert Einstein to persuade him to help develop
the atomic bomb. They feared that Germany would acquire one first.
(SFEM, 8/28/98, p.14)
1939 At Angels Camp in
California Zip the frog jumped a record setting 15 ft 10 inches.
(SFC, 4/28/96, p.T-3)
1939 Thomas C. Rice (1914-1996)
graduated from USF. He went on to become a professional wrestler
known as "The Masked Marvel."
(SFC, 8/28/96, C2)
1939 This year’s NY Yankee
baseball season was covered by Richard J. Tofel in his 2002 book
""The Legend in the Making." The season culminated with a 4th
consecutive World Series championship.
(WSJ, 3/14/02, p.A16)
1939 Ernest O. Lawrence
(1901-1958) of UC Berkeley won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his
invention of the cyclotron.
(SFC, 10/10/96, p.A1)(LHS, 2/12/1998)
1939 Government Aid to
Dependent Children began to serve primarily divorced, deserted and
unwed mothers, and widows became eligible for Social Security.
(SFEC, 1/5/97, Z1 p.5)
1939 Augie Hiebert went to
Alaska to help build the first radio station in Fairbanks.
(WSJ, 9/22/07, p.A8)
1939 Los Angeles banned
pinball machines after they became considered devices for gambling.
The ban was overturned by the Supreme Court of California in 1974.
Pinball was banned beginning in the early 1940s until 1976 in NYC.
1939 The last person fluent in
the Chochenyo, one of eight languages used by the Ohlone people of
the San Francisco Bay Area, died.
(SFC, 11/24/12, p.C4)
1939 Tom Pendergast, boss of
Kansas City’s political machine, went to prison for failing to
report a large part of $620,000 in bribe and business income.
(SFC, 12/2/96, p.A10)
1939 John Atanasoff created the
Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) in the basement of the physics
building at Iowa State College, which did not file patents. Physics
Prof. John Mauchly took many of his ideas and filed a patent on over
100 ideas revolving around the computer in 1947. The patent, granted
in 1964, claimed the Mauchly had invented the computer. This was
disproved in 1973, following a 2-year court battle. In 2010 Jane
Smiley authored “”The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography
of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer.”
(SSFC, 10/24/10, p.F3)
1939 Paul Dorfman and Jack Ruby
ran the Waste Handlers Union in Chicago.
(SFC, 11/18/96, p.B7)
1939 Dorothy Schiff (1903-1989)
bought the New York Post at the urging of her husband, George
Backer. He resigned in 1942 and she took over the paper.
1939 Philo T. Farnsworth sold
his television patents to RCA Victor for $1 million.
(SFC, 9/7/02, p.D4)
1939 Ford debuted the Lincoln
Continental created under the design team led by Bob Gregorie
(d.2002 at 94).
(SFC, 12/3/02, p.A21)
1939 GM’s Buick introduced
electrical, directional indicator signals.
(WSJ, 6/19/96, Adv. Supl)
1939 Oldsmobile was the first
car to offer an automatic transmission. [see 1937]
(WSJ, 6/19/96, Adv. Supl)
1939 Packard introduced the
first auto air-conditioning system.
(F, 10/7/96, p.69)
1939 The Del Orleans, a
passenger-cargo liner, was completed and plied the waters between
north and south America. The US Navy acquired it in 1941 and turned
it into a troop transport named Crescent City. From 1970-1995 it
served as a training ship for the California Maritime Academy. In
1995 Oakland artist Slobodan Dan Paich had it towed to Oakland and
rechristened as the Artship. The project failed to get funding and
in 2004 it was sold for scrap.
(SFC, 6/14/04, p.B5)(SFC, 9/16/05, p.B5)
1939 The first fluorescent
lights and FM radio receivers came out.
(SFC, 9/1/96, z1 p.2)
1939 Little Lulu dolls began to
be made by the Knocker-Bocker Toy Co. and were offered as premiums
to subscribers of the Saturday Evening Post.
(SFC, 2/4/98, Z1 p.6)
1939 William Gruber and Harold
Graves produced the 1st View-Master in Portland. 2 cameras were used
to create stereo images. They were introduced at the New York
World’s Fair and became an overnight sensation. In 2009 Fisher-Price
eliminated almost all of its View Master titles, except for a
handful of children’s titles.
(SFC, 8/31/00, p.C8)(Econ, 3/14/09, p.34)
1939 Financier William R.
Lovett bought the Piggly Wiggly business and later moved the
headquarters to Jacksonville, Fla.
(WSJ, 11/16/98, p.A12)
1939 Sir John Templeton
purchased shares in 104 almost worthless NY stockbrokers in
anticipation of a strong recovery due to impending war. Within 3
years he turned a profit on 100 of the 104 purchases.
(Econ, 12/18/04, p.110)
1939 The Toastolator Co., a
subsidiary of Crocker-Wheeler, began making the conveyer belt
Toast-o-Lator toasters. Production continued to 1952.
(SFC, 5/14/08, p.G6)
1939 Earl Tupper (d.1983), a
Massachusetts tree surgeon and inventor, founded Tupperware. In 1942
he introduced a polyethylene container with a fitted cap. The
containers took off in 1951 when he hired Brownie Wise (d.1992), a
secretary from Detroit, who developed a sales network based on patio
parties. Tupper forced Wise out in 1958 and sold the company to
Rexall Drugs. [see 1938]
(WSJ, 2/18/04, p.A9)
1939 Bra makers first started
using cup sizes.
(SFC, 9/1/96, Z1 p.2)
1939 Erno Laszlo (1891-1973),
Hungary immigrant, opened the Laszlo Institute on Fifth Ave in NYC.
In 1927 he had opened the Laszlo Institute for Scientific
Cosmetology in Budapest.
(Econ, 11/29/03, p.18)
1939 Scientist Walter Elsasser
proposed that the Earth‘s core might contain a large deposit of
uranium. The idea was later supported by scientist J. Marvin Herndon
and in 2004 researchers planned tests for the hypothesis.
(SFC, 11/29/04, p.A4)
1939 Godfrey Thompson, a
British researcher, proposed that intelligence (as measured in IQ
tests) involved the interworking of multiple mental "bonds" in the
(SFC, 7/21/00, p.B3)
1939 The California state
Division of Fish and Game, concerned about dead fish in the north,
launched a study and found a creek downstream from Iron Mountain
getting 2,876 pounds of copper a day. The state told mine operators
to reduce metals and acid drainage.
1939 At this time about 90% of
Americans lived on no more than $800 per year.
(Econ, 7/3/10, p.81)
1939 Harvey Cushing, Yale
professor known as the godfather of neurosurgery, died and left a
collection of some 600 brains known as the Cushing Tumor Registry.
(WSJ, 2/15/96, p.A-1)
1939 Heinrich Hoffman (b.1875),
Paris glass artist, died.
(SFC, 4/12/06, p.G4)
1939 William Butler Yeats,
Irish-born poet, died in Southern France at age 73. He was taken
home to Ireland in 1949. In 1999 Brenda Maddux published "Yeats's
Ghosts: The Secret Life of W.B. Yeats."
(SFEC, 8/8/99, p.T6)
1939 In Afghanistan the
state-run Karkar coal mine began production in Baghlan province.
(Econ, 11/25/06, p.64)
1939 Australia set up a wheat
board for growers to market their crops collectively and get better
prices. The AWB was privatized in 1999 and later quoted on the stock
(Econ, 7/30/05, p.59)
1939 The first Catholic church
in the Gulf was opened in Bahrain's capital, Manama.
c1939 Belgium feared a Nazi invasion and shipped
$2.5 billion of gold to France, which in turn shipped it to the port
city of Dakar, its West African colony now known as Senegal. The
Nazis discovered the shipment after their occupation of France and
had the gold transferred to their account in Switzerland.
(WSJ, 4/28/97, p.A17)
1939 Britain’s Ministry of
Information crafted a poster with the injunction “Keep Calm and
Carry On” to raise the morale of the British public in the case of
1939 In China Mao Zedong (Mao
Tse-tung), in response to the Nazi-Soviet pact, mounted a close
collaboration with Japanese intelligence to undermine Chiang
Kai-shek, head of the KMT.
(Econ, 5/28/05, p.83)
1939 In Colombia the Museo de
Oro (Museum of Gold) opened in Bogota.
(SSFC, 3/4/07, p.G4)
1939 Nicholas Winton (b.1909),
English stockbroker, saved 669 Jewish children by organizing train
transport from Prague to London at the outbreak of World War II. In
2007 the Czech Rep. awarded Sir Nicholas Winton (98) the Cross of
Merit of the 1st class for saving the children. In 2001 the
biography, “Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation,” by Muriel
Emmanuel and Vera Gissing was published. The documentary film
“Nicholas J Winton - the Power of Good,” was shown in September 2001
in Prague, where Sir Nicholas met 250 of those he saved.
1939 Nazis seized the
Koh-i-noor snap button factory in Prague, owned by Zikmund Waldes,
during their occupation of Czechoslovakia. In 2014 the Czech Rep.
Constitutional Court confirmed a 2010 verdict, which overturned a
2009 Supreme Court ruling and all previous rulings of lower courts
that found in favor of three relatives of Waldes. Heirs will also
not get back a collection of some 20 paintings that were housed in
1939 The Dominican Rep. and
Haiti in their “Agreement on Migration” said that all Haitian
descendants in the Dominican Rep. are Haitians as provided in the
(Econ, 1/4/14, p.11)
1939 German scientists split
the uranium atom with a slight loss of total mass that is converted
1939 By this time Heinrich
Himmler’s Ahnenerbe, an organization dedicated to studying the Aryan
roots for purposes of propaganda, included 137 scholars and
scientists plus 82 members of support staff. In 2006 Heather Pringle
authored “The Master Plan,” an account of the Ahnenerbe.
(WSJ, 2/9/06, p.D8)
1939 Two Germany scholars
unearthed a cache of mammoth ivory fragments in a cave. The pieces
were fitted together after 3 decades and were found to form a 30 cm.
high figure with human legs, an arm and the head of a lion. The Der
Lowenmensch figure had been carved some 40 thousand years earlier.
(Econ, 2/2/13, p.71)
1939 A rationing system which
was created in Bombay by India's British colonial rulers and quickly
spread nationwide as a weapon against famine.
1939 In Iraq ruler Ghazi I died
mysteriously. The official explanation was that he drove his car
into a lamppost.
(NW, 9/8/03, p.32)
1939 Italy passed a law for the
Protection of Artistic Patrimony. It required that art over 50 years
old be offered to the government for acquisition before export.
(AM, May/Jun 97 p.64)
1939 In Mexico the National
Action Party (PAN) was founded in the state of Chihuahua.
(WSJ, 7/1/98, p.A1)
1939 Siam became Thailand. [see
(Hem., 3/97, p.27)
1939 In South Africa Solomon
Linda’s Original Evening Birds made recordings that included the
piece "Mbube" (The Lion). In 1951 the Zulu song was recorded by Pete
Seeger with "Uyimbube" (You’re the lion) mistranslated to "Wimoweh."
The song became a big hit in 1961 recorded by the Tokens as "The
Lion Sleeps Tonight." Linda died in poverty.
(NH, 6/97, p.66)(SFC, 7/9/01, p.A10)
1939 Dan West, a relief worker
from Indiana, concluded during the Spanish Civil War that there must
be a better way to help the needy than simply handing out free milk.
In 1944, the first shipment of 17 heifers left York, Pennsylvania,
for Puerto Rico, going to families whose malnourished children had
never even tasted milk.
(SSFC, 11/26/06, p.E3)(www.heifer.org)
1939 In Erzincan, Turkey, an
earthquake killed 30,000 people.
(SFEC, 8/22/99, p.A17)
1939 In the USSR Yuli Khariton
and Yakow Zeldovich made the first Soviet calculations for nuclear
(SFC, 12/20/96, p.B6)
1939 The USSR census of this
year classified the results and reported 170 million to Stalin.
Census officials responsible for the 1937 census had been shot for
their count of 162 million.
(Econ, 12/22/07, p.99)
1939 A Communist uprising took
place and failed in French Indochina (Vietnam).
(SFC, 5/3/00, p.A24)
1939 Reinhold Niebuhr presented
his Gifford Lectures at the Univ. of St. Andrews in Scotland. The
purpose of religion for him shifted from salvation to economic and
scientific progress on earth.
(WSJ, 12/24/01, p.A9)
1939 A handful of Spanish
artists, including Eugenio Granell and Jose Vela Zanetti, immigrated
to Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic and introduced the modern
1939-1940 The Golden Gate Int’l. Exposition was
held on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. It featured the
Tower of the Sun, the height of a 40-story building, and the immense
statue of Pacifica.
(SFC, 5/7/97, p.A15)
1939-1941 This period is covered in Lynne Olson’s
2013 book: “Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s
Fight Over World War II.” Hundreds of British agents flooded neutral
America with Roosevelt’s tacit approval.
(Econ, 4/27/13, p.78)
1939-1944 In the United States, the percentage of
total national output that was in military production rose from 2
percent in 1939 to 40 percent in 1944. The dramatic shift from
civilian to military production was driven by American involvement
in World War II.
1939-1945 Norman Davies covered this period in his
2006 book “Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory.” His central
theme was the Western alliance with Stalin and its consequences. In
2012 Max Hastings authored “All Hell Let Loose: The World At War:
1939-1945.” On average nearly 30,000 people were killed every day.
(Econ, 11/11/06, p.94)(Econ, 6/9/12, p.87)
1939-1945 Richard Overy covered this period in his
2013 book “The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945.”
(Econ, 9/21/13, p.91)
1939-1945 During WW II Elizabeth W. Schickele
(1908-1996) and a team of researchers in the US Army Quartermasters
Corp. originated the concept of the wind-chill factor.
(SFC, 9/7/96, p.A19)
1939-1945 During WW II the US set up spider farms
to produce silk for optical and gun sight cross-hairs. 405,399
Americans were killed in the war.
(SFEC, 9/15/96, Z1 p.5)(SFEM, 11/10/96,
p.12)(SFEC, 9/28/97, Z1 p.2)
1939-1945 US Intelligence revealed in 1997 that
during WW II the Swiss National Bank sent 280 truckloads of Nazi
gold to Spain and Portugal.
(USAT, 1/13/97, p.3A)
c1939-1945 Some 119,000 people died at the
Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.
(SFC, 2/25/00, p.A16)
1939-1945 Winston Churchill authorized bribes of
some $100 million to Spanish military leaders to keep Spain out of
(SFC, 8/5/97, p.A10)
1939-1945 Johnnie Johnson (d.2001 at 85), British
fighter pilot and leading Allied air ace in Europe, shot down 38
German planes. In 1956 he authored the autobiography "Wing Leader."
Richard Bong of the US Army Air Forces shot down 40 Japanese planes.
(SFC, 2/2/01, p.D7)
1939-1945 Heinrich Mohn and his associates used
the war to transform Bertelsmann from a German provincial publisher
of religious texts into the largest supplier of war literature to
(WSJ, 12/23/02, p.A6)
1939-1945 In Germany during WW II some 5-15,000
homosexual men were sent to prison camps and marked for special
treatment with a pink triangle on their uniforms. The majority died
in the camps.
(SFEC, 6/29/97, p.A18)
1939-1945 During WW II the Germans and Ukrainians
used Transdniestria as a killing field to purge Europe of some
(SSFC, 2/12/06, p.E2)
1939-1945 The German U-boat casualty rate during
the war was 80% of the 28,000 men who served.
1939-1945 The Hungarian Gendarmerie carried out
orders to round up Jews for Nazi death camps where some 550,000
(SFC, 2/25/00, p.A16)
1939-1945 Ireland stayed neutral during WWII. It
barred the Allies’ Atlantic convoys from sheltering in Irish ports,
refused to accept Jewish refugees from continental Europe, and
maintained cordial diplomatic relations with both Germany and Japan.
Nearly 5,000 men deserted its armed forces to fight for Britain.
(SFC, 5/8/13, p.A2)
1939-1945 A 1997 report said that Sweden received
some 38 tons of gold from the Nazis in payment for exports.
1939-1945 Switzerland took in nearly 30,000 Jews
fleeing Nazi terror and turned away at least 24,500. Refugees were
forced to work in labor camps.
(SFC, 1/15/98, p.A12)(SFC, 12/11/99, p.C1)
1939-1953 In 2007 Geoffrey Roberts authored
“Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953.”
(Econ, 1/6/07, p.68)
1939-1960 Ernest Hemingway (d.1961), American
writer, lived in Cuba.
(SSFC, 6/5/05, p.F8)
1939-1962 A drinking club called "The Inklings"
gathered every Tuesday at "The Eagle and Child" public house in
Oxford, England. Members included CS Lewis, Charles Williams, JRR
Tolkien and others.
(SSFC, 1/26/03, p.B12)
1939-1971 California maintained a Senate
Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities. Files on some
20,000 Californians were declared still closed to the public in
(SFC, 4/14/98, p.A20)
1935-1976 In Sweden an involuntary sterilization
program was conducted over this period during which some 60,000
people were deemed genetically inferior and involuntarily
sterilized. In 1999 a commission recommended that victims be paid
(SFC, 8/26/97, p.C3)(SFC, 1/27/99, p.C10)
1939-1996 John Register, California realist
painter. His work included: "Waiting Room" (1982), "Desert
Restaurant" (1986), and "Mojave Bus Station" (1978).
(SFC, 1/21/99, p.D1)
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