1975 – The Whitlam government is dismissed by the Governor-General

On November 11, 1975, then Governor-General John Kerr dismissed the ALP government of Gough Whitlam and installed Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Fraser (of the Liberal Party) as a caretaker Prime Minister until a double dissolution election could be held.

The precipitate cause was the inability of the ALP government to pass Supply (Budget) bills in the face of a hostile Senate. However, Whitlam, unaware of Kerr’s decision when they arranged to meet that morning, had planned to call a half-Senate election, which would likely have solved that particular problem. Kerr, however, had already made his decision. While, under the Australian Constitution, he had the legal power to take this action, he was widely seen as lacking the moral authority.

The double dissolution election was held on December 13, 1975, and delivered a massive victory to Fraser, allowing him to govern in earnest. (Under the terms of his caretakership, he had not been permitted to introduce any legislation other than passing Supply bills and calling the election.) Ironically, December 13 is also when Whitlam’s planned half-Senate election would have taken place.

Referenced in:

Gough — The Whitlams
The Power and the Passion — Midnight Oil
Do It In Style — Keating! The Musical original cast

1988 – Dorothea Puente is arrested for murder

Over the course of seven years, from 1982 to 1988, Dorothea Puente killed 9 people. All of them were residents of her boarding house, which catered to the aged and the mentally retarded. Dorothea would cash her tenants’ social service checks, and keep the money from them. The nine she killed (although she was only convicted of three of the killings) were those who objected to this practice – Puente continued to collect and cash their checks long after their deaths.

A career criminal, this was hardly the first time that Puente had pulled off this scam, although it was the first time that it involved murder. She had also been convicted of owning and running a brothel in 1960, and was well-known to law enforcement in her area. Her increasing carelessness in concealing her crimes led to her arrest, and she remains in prison as of this writing.

Referenced in:

Dorothea’s Dead Folks Home — Macabre

1926 – U.S. Route 66 formally proclaimed

Although the signs proclaiming its existence were not installed until the following year, Route 66 was signed into law by Congress on this day in 1926. One of the most important arteries connecting US cities, it ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, and along the way passed through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, before terminating in California.

It was later decomissioned, but in its day it was one of the most important highways in the country, earning the nicknames “The Mother Road” and “The Main Street of America”. And considering that it ran through many different types of terrain and god only knows how many population centres along its nearly 2500 mile length, if you couldn’t get your kicks on Route 66, there was something terribly wrong with you 🙂

Referenced in:

(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 – Nat King Cole

“Route 66” is one of the most frequently covered songs in existence, and as such, I’ve listed only the very first version above, although the cds linked to contain numerous versions. A reasonably complete list of versions can be found here.