Otago Daily Times : 2020-10-24

OPINION : 29 : 29

OPINION

29 Otago Daily Times Saturday, October 24, 2020 @ OPINION MONDAY TODAY is Saturday, October 24, the 298th day of 2020. There are 68 days left in the year. Highlights in history on this date: — A huge fire in Lyttelton causes more than £100,000 worth of damage. It destroyed the entire block of buildings bounded by Norwich Quay, and London, Oxford and Canterbury Sts. — Violent clashes between unionised waterside workers and non­union labour erupted two days after Wellington’s ‘‘wharfies’’ held a stopwork meeting in support of striking shipwright­s. The collapse of the strike, involving some 16,000 unionists, two months later, dealt the militant labour movement a severe blow, although many of its leaders later rose to prominence in the Labour Party. The train was late and didn’t get into Wellington until after dark. Noone was at the station when the Collins Gang hobbled on to the platform. Their clothes smelled of gunsmoke and blood. Many were on crutches and Big Bad Gerry had an arrow lodged in his black hat. ‘‘Well,’’ said Whitey Collins, ‘‘we’re here.’’ A cold wind blew off the prairie. Vultures flapped in the tree tops. ‘‘OK,’’ she said. ‘‘We lost a few good men and women, but — ’’ ‘‘More’n a few,’’ someone interrupte­d. ‘‘Ain’t my fault,’’ she said. ‘‘Weren’t for me, none of ya would of made it out alive! Ya hear?’’ Nobody spoke. ‘‘Let’s ride into town,’’ she said. ‘‘Freshen up a little. Get some sleep. Tomorrow’s a new day.’’ But there weren’t any horses. ‘‘Ain’t my fault,’’ grumbled Whitey. She had lost her sight in a hunting accident in Ponsonby a week earlier and led her gang into town on foot. Many of them were blind, too. It was going to be a long night. 1870 1913 — On a day that becomes known as ‘‘Black Thursday’’, the New York Stock Exchange loses 12.8% of its value in one day. — Nylon stockings are sold to the public for the first time, in Wilmington, Delaware; Nazis require Jews to wear the Star of David in Germany. — The 40­hour work week goes into effect in the United States. — The United Nations officially comes into existence as its charter takes effect; Vidkun Quisling, prime minister of Norway during the German occupation, is executed by firing squad in Oslo after being convicted of high treason. — US television evangelist Jim Bakker is jailed for 45 years for swindling his followers. — Fifteen years of fundraisin­g is rewarded when the Wanaka community swimming pool officially opens; the Toronto Blue Jays become the first team from outside the US to claim the US Major League Baseball championsh­ip. 1929 1939 1940 1945 TUESDAY Nobody heard the Collins Gang walk into the saloon. There was a party going on. A fiddler played hoedown music, a man danced naked, a woman fought a bear, and there was a lot of doors opening and closing in the upstairs bedrooms. Whitey Collins had to shout to make herself heard. ‘‘We need rooms,’’ she said to the barkeep, ‘‘and whisky.’’ ‘‘Only room I got is the broom closet.’’ ‘‘We’ll take it.’’ The barkeep poured out shots for the gang. They hunched over the bar and stared into their glasses. Big Bad Gerry turned around and looked with mean, bitter eyes at the wild celebratio­ns of the Ardern Gang, the Shaw Gang and the Seymour Gang. 1989 1992 Talofa Wong Tung put Whitey on a stagecoach back to their ranch. She immediatel­y went upstairs to the attic, and collapsed in tears in front of her porcelain dolly, Miss Judith. She stroked its hair and crooned, ‘‘Hush, li’l child. Don’t you cry none. It’s gonna be all right. It’s all gonna be all right. Everybody loves you. Everybody! Ya hear?’’ The doll looked at her with its big blue eyes. A cold wind blew off the prairie. Vultures flapped in the lower branches of the trees. ‘‘Her fault.’’ She went around the closet. ‘‘His fault . . . Her fault . . . His fault,’’ until she had pointed at everyone. ‘‘Well,’’ she said, ‘‘that was a fun game!’’ Nobody laughed. ‘‘Seymour, put some clothes on,’’ he tried to shout, but it came out as a faint wheeze. He touched the arrow in his hat. It had gone straight through his head. WEDNESDAY — British troops are absent from the streets of Londonderr­y, Northern Ireland, for the first time in 25 years. — The last three Concorde supersonic passenger­jet flights land at Heathrow Airport outside London, ending the luxury plane’s 27 years of commercial service. The British Airways planes departed from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Internatio­nal Airport. — Embarking on an ambitious 10­year moon­exploratio­n programme, China launches its first lunar probe. It is a leap forward in the Asian space race, which gives a boost to national pride, and the promise of scientific and military payoffs. — On a day which became known as ‘‘Bloody Friday’’, many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops of about 10% in most indices. — Prime Minister cuts ribbon at the Roxburgh end of the Clutha Gold Trail for its official opening along with the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Clutha­Southland Bill English cuts a rippon to open the Lawrence end of the Clutha Gold Trail. 1994 ‘‘We’re here to play the blame game,’’ said Whitey, as they squeezed into the broom closet, ‘‘and the first thing y’all should know is that it ain’t my fault.’’ Nobody spoke. ‘‘Muller,’’ she said, and pointed at a man with a thousand­yard stare. ‘‘It’s his fault.’’ The she pointed at Bridges. ‘‘His fault.’’ Then at Lee. THURSDAY Whitey sent a note to Seymour that she wanted to see him to discuss his junior role in their alliance and he sent a note back that he was a bit busy, but if she wanted to book an appointmen­t then he might be able to see her sometime after Christmas. 2003 2007 FRIDAY Within living memory . . . 2008 2013 John Key Today’s birthdays: John Barr, poet and founder of the New Zealand Robert Burns Society (1809­89); Robert Maunsell, New Zealand missionary/linguist/translator (1810­94); Robert Gilmour, New Zealand farmer/ journalist/newspaper proprietor/editor (1831­1902); Alfred Ernest Cousins, New Zealand engraver/stamp designer (1852­1935); Frances May Don, New Zealand political activist (1898­1965); Ian Monro, New Zealand naval officer (1927­2014); Bill Wyman, British musician (1936­); Martin Campbell, New Zealand film director (1943­); Ray AhipeneMer­cer, New Zealand musician/guitar­maker/ environmen­talist/politician (1948­); Kevin Kline, US actor (1947­); Tu Wyllie, New Zealand politician/ All Black (1954­); Olivia Ihimaera­Smiler, New Zealand actress (1977­); Zac Posen, American fashion designer (1980­); (Aubrey Drake Graham), Canadian rapper/singer/songwriter (1986­). Waitepeka School in South Otago is to close at the end of the year after serving the community for more than 100 years. The school which once had a roll of nearly 100, now has one teacher and 11 pupils. Looking over the first enrolment book and seeing many familiar names are (from left, front row), Matthew Pierre, Ian Forbes, Justin Reeves and Daniel Wilson. Behind are Karla Reeves, Joanne Craig, Paul Reeves, Christophe­r Pierre, Vivian Wilson and Katrina Waters. At left is the headmaster, Mr Ross Leach. [The caption is run as originally printed in 1980. One child was not named.] Quote of the day: ‘‘This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.’’ — Brenda Ueland, US journalist/editor/freelance writer, who was born on this day in 1891. She died in 1985, aged 93. ODT and agencies µ