September 24, 1966 – Hurricane Inez batters Caribbean
Hurricane Inez slams into the islands of the Caribbean, killing hundreds of people, on this day in 1966.
The storm left death and destruction in its wake from Guadeloupe to Mexico over the course of its nearly three-week run. Inez was the most destructive hurricane of the 1966 storm season.
On September 24, Inez was a Category 2 hurricane when it crashed into the island of Guadeloupe. The torrential rains accompanying the storm caused mudslides and floods all over the island. Twenty-three people lost their lives, and the survivors were faced with the near-total loss of the island’s banana crop.
By September 28, Inez had strengthened and hit the island of Hispaniola with 140-mile-per-hour sustained winds. In the Dominican Republic, the towns of Duverge and Oriedo were totally destroyed; only the town halls in each village were spared. In Haiti, many people lost their lives in flash floods in the mountains that literally washed away the victims. Two days later, Inez spawned a series of tornadoes in the Bahamas. Fortunately, only one person died from the twisters.
The hurricane was still a Category 3 storm when it struck the Florida Keys. Highway 1, running from the Florida mainland to Key West, was completely submerged at several points. Five people died in Florida, including one surfer who did not heed warnings to stay away from the beach. Inez moved through the Gulf of Mexico over the next week, hitting Tampico on October 10. It finally dissipated the next day.
Overall, the storm caused 293 deaths and $40 million in damages.
In Rome, the Society of Jesus–a Roman Catholic missionary organization–receives its formal charter from Pope Paul III.
Ignatius De Loyola, a Spanish soldier turned priest, founded the Society in 1534. Important in the Counter Reformation in the 16th century, Jesuit missionaries began fanning out from Europe in the 17th century. The highly educated Black Robes, as they were known in native America, often preceded European nations in their infiltration of foreign lands and societies. The life of a Jesuit missionary was one of immense risk, though, and foreign authorities hostile to their task of conversion persecuted thousands of Jesuit priests. In other nations, such as India and China, the Jesuits were revered as men of wisdom and science.
On this day in 1939, 140,000 Polish troops are taken prisoner by the German invaders as Warsaw surrenders to the superior mechanized forces of Hitler’s army.
The Poles fought bravely, but were able to hold on for only 26 days. On the heels of its victory, the Germans began a systematic program of terror, murder, and cruelty, executing members of Poland’s middle and upper classes: Doctors, teachers, priests, landowners, and businessmen were rounded up and killed. The Nazis had given this operation the benign-sounding name “Extraordinary Pacification Action.” The Roman Catholic Church, too, was targeted, because it was a possible source of dissent and counterinsurgency.
In one west Poland church diocese alone, 214 priests were shot. And hundreds of thousands more Poles were driven from their homes and relocated east, as Germans settled in the vacated areas. This was all part of a Hitler master plan. Back in August, Hitler warned his own officers that he was preparing Poland for that “which would not be to the taste of German generals”-including the rounding up of Polish Jews into ghettos, a prelude to their liquidation. All roads were pointing to Auschwitz.
September 30, 1955 – James Dean dies in car accident
At 5:45 PM on this day in 1955, 24-year-old actor James Dean is killed in Cholame, California, when the Porsche he is driving hits a Ford Tudor sedan at an intersection. The driver of the other car, 23-year-old California Polytechnic State University student Donald Turnupseed, was dazed but mostly uninjured; Dean’s passenger, German Porsche mechanic Rolf Wütherich was badly injured but survived. Only one of Dean’s movies, “East of Eden,” had been released at the time of his death (“Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant” opened shortly afterward), but he was already on his way to superstardom–and the crash made him a legend.
James Dean loved racing cars, and in fact he and his brand-new, $7000 Porsche Spyder convertible were on their way to a race in Salinas, 90 miles south of San Francisco. Witnesses maintained that Dean hadn’t been speeding at the time of the accident–in fact, Turnupseed had made a left turn right into the Spyder’s path–but some people point out that he must have been driving awfully fast: He’d gotten a speeding ticket in Bakersfield, 150 miles from the crash site, at 3:30 p.m. and then had stopped at a diner for a Coke, which meant that he’d covered quite a distance in a relatively short period of time. Still, the gathering twilight and the glare from the setting sun would have made it impossible for Turnupseed to see the Porsche coming no matter how fast it was going.
Rumor has it that Dean’s car, which he’d nicknamed the Little Bastard, was cursed. After the accident, the car rolled off the back of a truck and crushed the legs of a mechanic standing nearby. Later, after a used-car dealer sold its parts to buyers all over the country, the strange incidents multiplied: The car’s engine, transmission and tires were all transplanted into cars that were subsequently involved in deadly crashes, and a truck carrying the Spyder’s chassis to a highway-safety exhibition skidded off the road, killing its driver. The remains of the car vanished from the scene of that accident and haven’t been seen since. Wütherich, whose feelings of guilt after the car accident never abated, tried to commit suicide twice during the 1960s–and in 1967, he stabbed his wife 14 times with a kitchen knife in a failed murder/suicide–and he died in a drunk-driving accident in 1981. Turnupseed died of lung cancer in 1981.
October 7, 1975 – A New York judge reverses John Lennon’s deportation order
On this day in 1975, a New York State Supreme Court judge reverses a deportation order for John Lennon, allowing him to remain legally in his adoptive home of New York City.
Protests against the Vietnam War had escalated significantly following the announcement of the Cambodia invasion on April 30, 1970, and the shooting deaths of four student protestors at Kent State just four days later. Many such gatherings would feature peaceful demonstrators singing Lennon’s 1969 anthem “Give Peace A Chance,” but others were more threatening.
Newly relocated to New York City, John Lennon began to associate publicly with such radical figures as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Bobby Seale, and the White House reportedly grew concerned, according to the 2006 documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon, over his potentially powerful influence with a generation of 18-to-20-year-olds who would be allowed, for the very first time, to vote in the 1972 presidential election.
“I suppose if you were going to list your enemies and decide who is most dangerous,” Walter Cronkite would later say, “if I were Nixon, I would put Lennon up near the top.” South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond was of the same opinion, and it was a letter he wrote to the White House in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Internal Security Committee that prompted the White House to action. An FBI investigation of Lennon turned up no evidence of involvement in illegal activities, but the matter was referred nonetheless to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which began deportation proceedings against Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, on the basis of a 1968 marijuana conviction in England.
Leon Wildes, the immigration attorney who would handle Lennon’s case over the next four-plus years, would say of his client’s reaction to the case, “He understood that what was being done to him was wrong. It was an abuse of the law, and he was willing to stand up and try to show it—to shine the big light on it.” Lennon’s persistence in fighting the case finally paid off on October 7, 1975, with a court decision that left no question as to the real motives behind the deportation: “The courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds,” wrote Judge Irving Kaufman, who also went on to say, “Lennon’s four-year battle to remain in our country is testimony to his faith in this American dream.”
Less than one year later, in June 1976, John Lennon got his green card.
September 27, 1940 – Germany, Italy, and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact
On this day in 1940, the Axis powers are formed as Germany, Italy, and Japan become allies with the signing of the Tripartite Pact in Berlin. The Pact provided for mutual assistance should any of the signatories suffer attack by any nation not already involved in the war. This formalizing of the alliance was aimed directly at “neutral” America–designed to force the United States to think twice before venturing in on the side of the Allies.
The Pact also recognized the two spheres of influence. Japan acknowledged “the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new order in Europe,” while Japan was granted lordship over “Greater East Asia.” A footnote: There was a fourth signatory to the Pact-Hungary, which was dragged into the Axis alliance by Germany in November 1940.
September 30, 1999 – Radiation released at Japanese plant
Large doses of radiation are released at Japan’s Tokaimura nuclear plant on this day in 1999. It was Japan’s worst nuclear accident, caused by a serious error made by workers at the plant. One person was killed, 49 were injured and thousands of others were forcibly confined to their homes for several days.
The Tokaimura nuclear plant is located 87 miles northwest of Tokyo and supplies power to much of the surrounding region. On September 30, workers were mixing liquid uranium when they made a serious, and inexplicable, mistake. Instead of pouring five pounds of powdered uranium into nitric acid, the workers poured 35 pounds, seven times too much. The resulting chain reaction caused gamma rays and stray neutrons to flood the purification chamber, where the radioactive water was treated. One employee immediately collapsed and the others fled the scene. The emergency team at the plant were forced to seek outside assistance, as they could not contain the reaction themselves. As a precaution, trains and roads leading to and from the area were blocked. However, the plant workers forgot to turn off the plant’s ventilation system and radiation was inadvertently sent into the air, reaching nearby towns. The Tokyo Electric Power Company brought in 900 pounds of sodium borate to absorb the radiation, but they could not safely get close enough to the source to deploy it properly. Eventually, many hours later, they figured out how to get the sodium borate into hoses so that it could be sprayed onto the source of the radiation. By that time, it was too late to save everyone.
Hisashi Ouchi, a plant worker, died after spending two weeks in a coma. Forty-nine others were exposed to enough radiation to make them seriously ill. Further, 33,000 people living near the plant had to be quarantined for several days. Tomi Oshiro, an area resident, said “I am furious. It took place right next to people’s houses, and it still took a long time before people were warned or any emergency measures were taken.” Radioactive iodine-131 lingered in the air for a week.
October 8, 1970 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wins the Nobel Prize in literature
The best-known living Russian writer at the time, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, wins the Nobel Prize for literature. Born in 1918 in the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn was a leading writer and critic of Soviet internal oppression. Arrested in 1945 for criticizing the Stalin regime, he served eight years in Russian prisons and labor camps. Upon his release in 1953 he was sent into “internal exile” in Asiatic Russia. After Stalin’s death, Solzhenitsyn was released from his exile and began writing in earnest. His first publication, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963), appeared in the somewhat less repressive atmosphere of Nikita Khrushchev’s regime (1955-1964).
The book was widely read in both Russia and the West, and its harsh criticisms of Stalinist repression provided a dramatic insight into the Soviet system. Eventually, however, Soviet officials clamped down on Solzhenitsyn and other Russian artists, and henceforth his works had to be secreted out of Russia in order to be published. These works included Cancer Ward (1968) and the massive three-volume The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 (1973-1978). The Soviet government further demonstrated its displeasure over Solzhenitsyn’s writings by preventing him from personally accepting his Nobel Prize in 1970.
In 1974, he was expelled from the Soviet Union for treason, and he moved to the United States. Although celebrated as a symbol of anticommunist resistance, Solzhenitsyn was also extremely critical of many aspects of American society; particularly what he termed its incessant materialism. After his citizenship was restored, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia with his wife in 1994, where he remained until his death in 2008. During this time he served as a television talk show host and published short stories on his years in the West. He died in Moscow at the age of 89.
Ontario native Kris Holden-Ried has been cast as Eyvind (AY-vind) in season 5 of the award-winning series Vikings. Season 5 is currently in production in Ireland and Canada and will air in Canada on HISTORY in 2017.
Holden-Ried will appear throughout the season as the character Eyvind, an important warrior in Kattegat who decides to travel and settle his family in a new land.
Hailed for his starring role in Showcase’s award-winning original series Lost Girl, Holden-Ried most recently moved behind the camera with his directorial debut, The Epitaph, and is developing a TV series based on an internationally-acclaimed trilogy.
Holden-Ried was a champion competitor in riding and fencing. He is a former member of the Canadian National Pentathlon Team and has a silver medal from both the Pan American and Pan Pacific Pentathlon Championships.
Season 4 of Vikings returns with all-new episodes Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning November 30 on HISTORY.