Jesse Owens wins at the Olympics shaming Hitler. The ship, the Queen Mary, begins trans-Atlantic crossings. The Spanish civil war begins, Franco becomes the head of state and Germany tries out weapons in that war. Edward, king of England abdicates so he can marry Wallis Simpson, a divorcee. One of the biggest construction jobs in the world, the Hoover Dam, is completed. The BBC begins broadcasting. Unemployment in the United States was rampant. William Lyon Mackenzie King was prime minister of Canada and Benito Mussolini was the PM for Italy and announces the official foundation of the New Roman Empire following the capture of Addis Ababa, while at home Franklin D. Roosevelt was President. The ubiquitous Zippo lighter was invented, as was magnetic recording tapes and a practical helicopter flew, as did the Hindenburg zeppelin Errol Flynn starred in The Charge of the Light Brigade. The RAF, seeing the handwriting on the wall, orders 310 Spitfire aircraft. Japanese Marines take control of the Shanghai district of China and Chiang Kai-Shek declares war on Japan which, to many, was the beginning of the United States getting into the war, as a supplier of materials only. On January 25, Juan Trippe and George Woods-Humphrey, Managing … Pan Am began construction of flying boat bases Baltimore, New York City, and on the northern route across the Atlantic, carrying 17 passengers to England. In the comics The Phantom appeared and Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel Gone with the Wind is published.
I was two years old and remember hearing a couple of refrains…one was about Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian-American men convicted of robbery and murder. They were sentenced to die on April 9, 1927, but people were still upset in 1936! The other phrase that was often-repeated in my house was “There are starving Armenians”, which was the reason I had to eat all the food given to me. The Turkey-Armenian war, which wasn’t really a war at all, more like a continuing massacre, beginning sometime around 1920. Turkey, which was (and is) an Islamic state, was trying to rid itself of all the infidels within its borders. What was disturbing to me, when I researched it, was that Armenia was a sovereign nation, but the existing Ottoman Empire didn’t want them…and so began the systematic extermination of Armenians. Back then, the news didn’t travel around the world instantly, as it does now, so there was always what I now call “lingering news”, which simply means that folks heard things that might have taken place years, sometimes decades before. One might grow up hearing about “news” that was over and done before they were born!
1936 saw the rise of the German nationalists. In March, the German army occupied “the Rhineland” and here’s where I show my ignorance…what exactly is/was “the Rhineland”? Was it the nation of Germany, or was it the neighboring states? It’s never been clear to me. The invasion was significant because it violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties, marking the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in this region. One can define “the Rhineland” as a loosely-defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine River, chiefly its middle section. We have a river that divides east and west…sort of, and we call it the Mississippi. Using the logic of Germany then, would we consider the land along that river to belong to just one of our states? Probably not, but then we’re not operating under the same expansionist principles of Germany.
In that year, according to The People’s History, you could buy a modest home for $3925, you would have an average wage of $1713 a year, the staples, like bread, was eight cents a loaf, a pound of hamburger was 12 cents and a gallon of gasoline was ten cents. That sounds good to us when we think back, not too long ago, gasoline was just over five DOLLARS a gallon. Then you could buy a nice car, a Studebaker for just under $670 and if you could find that car today it would be worth about twenty times that much! Much of the United States didn’t have electricity in their homes, so in 1936 Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law and electricity was pretty much all over the place now. A British-born aviatrix (that’s what they called women flyers back then) Beryl Markham, flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean, the reverse of Lindbergh’s flight. She had to land in Cape Breton, Canada because headwinds depleted her fuel and she couldn’t make it to New York City.
Parting shot: The Tasmanian Tiger went extinct in 1936…and the world took little notice. They were too busy watching Benito Mussolini and his proclamation of the New Roman Empire. Our soon-to-be enemies, the Japanese marched into the Shanghai province and elicited a declaration of war from Chiang-Kai-Shek, who was the President of China at the time. The Royal Air Force orders 310 Spitfire airplanes from the Supermarine Company, in anticipation of war with Germany, never knowing that it would be that airplane and the Hawker Hurricane that would defend England “in this, their finest hour” …and it never ceases to amaze me how prophetic these world leaders were and how they planned their moves a decade in advance. Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20.
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