History Book – An Aussie outlaw, and a whale of a problem


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, November 9th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book.

EICHER: Today, mortality of an Australian outlaw, a sperm whale, and the 1970 Marshall University football team. 

WORLD senior correspondent Katie Gaultney takes us through it.

MUSIC: [NED KELLY, JOHNNY CASH]

KATIE GAULTNEY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That’s Johnny Cash, one of many in Nashville, Hollywood, and beyond to immortalize Australia’s Ned Kelly as a tragic antihero. This Wednesday marks 140 years since Kelly’s execution. 

The bushranger made a name for himself by taking on the police in the Victoria-New South Wales borderland. He was born to Irish parents in the colony of Victoria, and he considered his violent tactics retaliation for unfair treatment of Australia’s working class. Actor Heath Ledger expressed that sentiment when he portrayed Kelly in a 2003 movie.

LEDGER: My Irish brethren have been unlawfully imprisoned and blacklisted from their selections. How do you expect me to behave other than to stand up against this treatment? 

He and his gang also orchestrated a series of daring robberies, capturing the public imagination—particularly because of Kelly’s suit of armor made from farming equipment. A scene from a 1970 Ned Kelly film starring Mick Jagger shows the bandit forging his first suit of armor. 

JAGGER: For months now, we’ve had to run. Because the traps have had all the power and all the steel. Now we can attack! With these, we can be invincible! (gun shot)

But, of course, no one is invincible. In June 1880, police got the better of the Kelly gang, taking Ned into custody. He was hanged at a Melbourne jail later that year, putting an end to the robberies and skirmishes with police, but not to the legend of Australia’s most famous outlaw. 

MUSIC: [NED KELLY, JOHNNY CASH]

From the Australian bush to the Oregon shore. 

MUSIC: [SEA SHANTY]

Fifty years ago this Thursday, a sperm whale created quite a conundrum for state beach patrols near Florence, Oregon. 

Fifty years ago this Thursday, a sperm whale created quite a conundrum for state beach patrols near Florence, Oregon. 

NEWSREEL: The Oregon State Highway Division not only had a whale of a problem on its hands, it had a stinking whale of a problem. What to do with one 45-foot, eight-ton whale, dead on arrival…

If crew members buried the dead whale, the tide would soon uncover it. No one wanted to cut it up. And burning it wasn’t feasible. So they went to the next logical solution—explode it? 

AUDIO: [EXPLOSION]

The unsavory sushi rained down on the beach and…

NEWSREEL: … the humor of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere.

Remarkably, no one was injured—just completely grossed out. Even the seagulls that officials had expected to scavenge the remains steered clear. 

NEWSREEL: As darkness began to set in, the highway crews were back on the beach, burying the remains, including a large piece of the carcass that never left the blast site. 

Moving now to a tragic milestone: 

CBS NEWSCAST: Good evening, a chartered jet carrying the Marshall University football team home to West Virginia crashed last night as it tried to land at the Huntington airport…

This Saturday marks 50 years since the accident that claimed the lives of all 75 aboard Southern Airways flight 932. The doomed flight included 37 members of the Marshall University “Thundering Herd” football team. 

It remains the deadliest air disaster for any single sports team in U.S. history. The community of Huntington, West Virginia was so stunned by the tragedy that Marshall almost disbanded its football program altogether.

Jack Lengyel took over as coach after the tragedy, cobbling together a football team of junior varsity players and other college athletes. Many had never played football before. But Lengyel said recovering from difficulties is a crucial part of sports. 

LENGYEL: We have an opportunity to exemplify what I think is one of the greatest lessons in athletics and that is to face adversity, get back up off the ground, and to continue to success.

The rebuilding effort became the subject of a 2006 movie, We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConnaughey as Coach Lengyel. He leads his team in their signature chant. 

CLIP: We are… Marshall! We are… Marshall! We are… Marshall! Funerals end today. (cheers)

MUSIC: [“WE ARE MARSHALL” SOUNDTRACK]

That’s this week’s History Book. I’m Katie Gaultney.


(Photo/Jared Anderson, Siuslaw News) 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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