John Schrank was born in Bavaria on March 5, 1876, and emigrated to the United States when he was 9. Things didn’t go all that well for John. His parents died soon after their arrival. He was taken in by an aunt and uncle, working for them in their New York tavern. They also died, and when his only girlfriends died as well, he sold off his inheritance properties and set to rambling around the east coast. Just as this was beginning to sound like the plot of an opera, he got religion and became a bit of a biblical authority (at least in his own eyes), lecturing other folks on their sins in various barrooms and public places. Although he annoyed a lot of people, he did no real harm.
During the 1912 presidential contests, the Republican party suffered a schism, each side wanting the Republican tent to be a little smaller, excluding the other side. Conservatives were led by William Howard Taft and moderates (known today as RINOs) were led by ex-President Theodore Roosevelt. When Taft won the nomination, Roosevelt bolted and formed the Bull Moose Party. Roosevelt was campaigning in Wisconsin when he was shot by our biblical scholar John Schrank. The bullet hit the text of Roosevelt’s speech, eliminating several dozen useless adjectives and other excess verbiage.
The speech was much improved and Roosevelt himself was unhurt. Schrank explained to authorities that he had nothing against Roosevelt as an individual; in fact he rather liked him. His quarrel was with ‘Roosevelt, the third-termer’ and was meant as a warning to any other politician who might seek a third term (take heed, Franklin). And not only that, shooting Roosevelt was not his own idea. The ghost of William McKinley made him do it. The ghost rose up right out of a coffin, pointed at a picture of Roosevelt and said: “Do it.”
Even with this quite splendid explanation, the authorities nonetheless sent Schrank away to a Wisconsin mental hospital where he remained until his death in 1943.
Sweet Dreams, Kemosabe
A legend (well, sort of a legend) of the west – the Old West – died on March 5, 1980. A man of few words, many of them needing translation, he gave new meaning to the term sidekick. A few of his more memorable lines:
“Me think so.”
“Um, that right, Kemosabe.”
“Come, we go now.”
Tonto, of course, was portrayed by Jay Silverheels, a lacrosse player turned faithful companion. The son of a Canadian Mohawk chief, he had parts in a passel of movies along with the stint atop Scout and alongside the masked man for which he’s most known.
Patsy Cline had much better material to work with and a better singing voice. Her string of major hits began in 1957 with “Walkin’ After Midnight”, “I Fall to Pieces”, “She’s Got You”, “Crazy” and “Sweet Dreams”. She died in a plane crash on March 5, 1963.