Frank Knox

Frank Knox

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William Franklin Knox was born in Boston on 1st January 1874. His parents, who were originally from Canada, moved to Grand Rapids, where his father ran a grocery store. After graduating from Alma College he served during the Spanish-American War under Theodore Roosevelt with the Rough Riders.

After the war, Knox became a newspaper reporter in Michigan. He also changed his name to "Frank Knox". In 1912 he became founding editor of New Hampshire's Manchester Leader (later merged with the New Hampshire Union Leader). Knox supported his old friend, Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party in the 1912 Presidential Election. But in the 1916 Presidential Election he campaigned for Charles Evans Hughes, who represented the Republican Party.

During First World War, Knox was an advocate of intervention in the conflict. In 1917 he joined the United States Army and served on the Western Front as an artillery officer in France. By the end of the war he had reached the rank of Major. After the war he returned to the newspaper business and eventually handled the business administration of newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst.

In 1930, Frank Knox became publisher and part owner of the Chicago Daily News and used his power to oppose President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. Knox was a candidate for the nomination as Republican Party candidate in the 1936 Presidential Election, but was beaten by Alfred Landon. He agreed to be Landon's running-mate but was heavily defeated by Roosevelt and Henry Wallace.

Although Knox disagreed with Roosevelt on domestic policy, he did share his views on the dangerous threat posed by Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. After the outbreak of the Second World War Knox argued that if Britain was defeated, the United States would be Hitler's next target. Knox stated at the time: "In public speeches I have warned the American people that if Britain is defeated, we ought then to be fully prepared to repel attempts by Germany to seize bases on this side of the Atlantic. Germany would use these bases either to attack us directly or else first to establish herself solidly in South America. Many of our people and many of the speakers who have opposed giving ample aid to Great Britain apparently believe it fantastic to think that there is any real danger of invasion. I disagree with such people and believe that a victorious Germany would move over to this hemisphere just as soon as she could accumulate the strength to do so, and certainly very soon unless we now take the steps to check her career of reckless aggression."

As Joseph E. Persico, the author of Roosevelt's Secret War (2001) has pointed out: "What Knox did have in common with Roosevelt was a rejection of isolationism as illusory and an acceptance of interventionism as a necessity. On an afternoon in December 1939, FDR invited Knox to the White House for a free-ranging view of the world situation.... Before he left, FDR tested on him a plan of breathtaking boldness. He wanted the defeated 1936 Republican ticket, Landon and Knox, to come into his cabinet, filling the two military secretaryships, War and Navy.... Landon subsequently made known that he was not interested in the War Department post, fearing Roosevelt intended merely to exploit him."

Knox did accept Roosevelt's proposal and in July, 1940, he became Secretary of the Navy. A fellow Republican, Henry Stimson, became Secretary of War. Jean Edward Smith, the author of FDR (2008) has argued that Roosevelt was determined to get the timing of the decision right: "It was important to stress the bipartisan nature of the defense effort, he told Knox. Even more important, if the GOP nominated an isolationist candidate, Knox and Stimson would be deemed guilty of bad sportsmanship in joining FDR's team afterward." Knox was allowed to bring in James V. Forrestal, an investment banker, as his undersecretary.

Knox worked tirelessly to provide help for the British in their lone fight with Nazi Germany. Lord Lothian, the British ambassador in Washington, informed Knox on 28th July, 1940, that Britain had entered the war with 176 destroyers and that only 70 of these were still afloat. He requested 40 to 100 destroyers and 100 flying boats. Robert Jackson, the Attorney General, pointed out that at the cabinet meeting on the following day: "Knox opened the discussion by relating how Lord Lothian had pleaded with him for the destroyers on the previous evening. Knox had countered with an inquiry whether the British had ever considered selling parts of their Atlantic and Caribbean possessions. Lothian said they had not. This, so far as I know and so far as I can learn, was the first mention of the American need for bases in connection with the British need for destroyers."

Knox also worked closely with William Stephenson, the head of the British Security Coordination. As Stephenson later pointed out: "The procurement of certain supplies for Britain was high on my priority list and it was the burning urgency of this requirement that made me instinctively concentrate on the single individual who could help me. I turned to Bill Donovan." Stephenson was a close friend of William Donovan who had met during the First World War. Donovan arranged a meeting with Knox, Stimson and Cordell Hull (Secretary of State). The main topic was Britain's lack of destroyers and the possibility of finding a formula for transfer of fifty "over-age" destroyers to the Royal Navy without a legal breach of U.S. neutrality legislation.

On 22nd August, 1940, Stephenson reported to London that the destroyer deal was agreed upon. The agreement for transferring 50 aging American destroyers, in return for the rights to air and naval basis in Bermuda, Newfoundland, the Caribbean and British Guiana, was announced 3rd September, 1940. The bases were leased for 99 years and the destroyers were of great value as convey escorts. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the British Chief of Combined Operations, commented: "We were told that the man primarily responsible for the loan of the 50 American destroyers to the Royal Navy at a critical moment was Bill Stephenson; that he had managed to persuade the president that this was in the ultimate interests of America themselves and various other loans of that sort were arranged. These destroyers were very important to us...although they were only old destroyers, the main thing was to have combat ships that could actually guard against and attack U-boats."

In September, 1940, Japan and Germany signed the German-Japanese Pact. Allied secret services soon discovered that Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, had sent a telegram to Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, where he pointed out that the alliance was to be directed towards the United States and not the Soviet Union. "Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America's entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries."

Knox was now convinced that eventually that the United States would be attacked by the Axis powers. He worked closely with William Allen White, the founder of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA). White gave an interview to Knox's newspaper, the Chicago Daily News, where he argued: "Here is a life and death struggle for every principle we cherish in America: For freedom of speech, of religion, of the ballot and of every freedom that upholds the dignity of the human spirit... Here all the rights that common man has fought for during a thousand years are menaced... The time has come when we must throw into the scales the entire moral and economic weight of the United States on the side of the free peoples of Western Europe who are fighting the battle for a civilized way of life."

Members of the CDAAA argued that by advocating American military materiel support of Britain was the best way to keep the United States out of the war in Europe. It played an important role in the proposal of the Lend-Lease Act. The proposed legislation would give President Franklin D. Roosevelt the powers to sell, transfer, exchange, lend equipment to any country to help it defend itself against the Axis powers.

Knox explained in a speech on 27th January, 1941: "To keep our land secure we must prevent the establishment of strong aggressive military power in any part of the New World. We can keep non-American military power out of our hemisphere only through being able to control the seas that surround its shores. Once we lose the power to control even a part of those seas, inevitably the wars of Europe and Asia will be transferred to the Americas. We need time to build ships and to train their crews. We need time to build up our outlying bases so that we can operate our fleets as a screen for our continent. We need time to train our armies, to accumulate war stores, to gear our industry for defense. Only Great Britain and its fleet can give us that time. And they need our help to survive." Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act on 11th March, 1941. A sum of $50 billion was appropriated by Congress for Lend-Lease. The money went to 38 different countries with Britain receiving over $31 billion.

The Commander in Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto began planning for a surprise attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto feared that he did not have the resources to win a long war against the United States. He therefore advocated a surprise attack that would destroy the US Fleet in one crushing blow. Yamamoto's plan was eventually agreed by the Japanese Imperial Staff in the autumn and the strike force under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo sailed from the Kurile Islands on 26th November, 1941.

Richard Sorge, a German journalist working as a Soviet agent in Tokyo, discovered details of the plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, this information does not seem to have been passed onto the United States. US Army intelligence. Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, feared a Japanese attack on the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor but by the end of 1941 became convinced that the initial attack on the US Navy would come in the Far East.

Military intelligence did intercept two cipher messages from Tokyo to Kichisaburo Normura, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, that suggested an imminent attack, but Richmond Turner, in charge of evaluating and dissemination, did not pass on warnings of the proposed attack to Admiral Husband Kimmel.

Nagumo's fleet was positioned 275 miles north of Oahu. On Sunday, 7th December, 1941, 105 high-level bombers, 135 dive-bombers and 81 fighter aircraft attacked the the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor. In their first attack the Japanese sunk the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia and California. The second attack, launched 45 minutes later, hampered by smoke, created less damage. In two hours 18 warships, 188 aircraft and 2,403 servicemen were lost in the attack. Luckily, the navy's three aircraft carriers, Enterprise, Lexington and Saratoga, were all at sea at the time. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a united US Congress declared war on Japan.

Robert Jackson, the Attorney General, has argued that Knox had assured President Roosevelt that after the United States entered the war, the US Navy would "knock Japan out of the water" in no time. "When questions had arisen such as stockpiling rubber, Knox, with great assurance, had said that our naval forces in the Pacific were so superior to those of Japan that we would have a very brief interruption of our rubber supply. Of course at Pearl Harbor the losses were very serious, much more than the public realized. The naval force was very much reduced. But even so, I was surprised that we were faced with such a serious problem in the Pacific."

During the Second World War Knox worked harmoniously with Admiral Ernest King. Along with Admiral Chester Nimitz and Admiral William Halsey, he helped plan Operation Vengeance that resulted in the assassination of Isoruku Yamamoto, the man responsible for Pearl Harbor.

William Franklin Knox died of a heart attack on 23rd April 1944 and was replaced by James Forrestal as Secretary of the Navy.

Frank Knox was a self-made multimillionaire who had risen from grocery clerk to cub reporter, eventually to publisher of the Chicago Daily News. He was a veteran of that legendary band the Rough Riders, who had charged San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt. Knox, a visceral foe of the New Deal, had actually hoped to oppose Roosevelt in 1936 as the Republican presidential candidate. Instead, he had had to settle for the vice presidential nomination, going down to defeat with the head of the ticket, Alf Landon. What Knox did have in common with Roosevelt was a rejection of isolationism as illusory and an acceptance of interventionism as a necessity.

On an afternoon in December 1939, FDR invited Knox to the White House for a free-ranging view of the world situation. Knox was still with the President as six o'clock approached, and FDR suggested that he stay for dinner. Afterward, they could watch the movie Drums Along the Mohawk. Knox declined, though he found himself increasingly seduced by the Roosevelt magnetism. He wanted the defeated 1936 Republican ticket, Landon and Knox, to come into his cabinet, filling the two military secretaryships, War and Navy. Indicative of Roosevelt's sinuous style, the very day before, he had instructed his press secretary, Stephen Early, to tell reporters, "I don't think it is likely the President will put a Republican as a member of his cabinet." Landon subsequently made known that he was not interested in the War Department post, fearing Roosevelt intended merely to exploit him. FDR then turned to a quintessential establishment American.

Henry Stimson was a product of Phillips Academy at Andover, where, in his day tuition was sixty dollars a year and students cut their own firewood. He went on to Yale, joined Skull and Bones, and later graduated from Harvard Law School. His roots in the country were deep. He could recall stories his great-grandmother had told him of her conversations with George Washington. Stimson had previously served as President William Howard Taft's secretary of war, Calvin Coolidge's governor general of the Philippines, and Herbert Hoover's secretary of state, in all serving every president since William McKinley in one key post or another. At seventy-three, lean, tall, with his steel gray hair and erect posture, Stimson was the soul of rectitude and enjoyed as well a reputation as an able administrator. To the grumbling of disappointed Democratic office seekers and the cries of betrayal from fellow Republicans, Stimson and Knox were enlisted in FDR's coalition cabinet just before the Republican convention, the former as secretary of war, the latter as secretary of the Navy.

Before coming here, your chairman advised me that he would permit me to develop further some of the points which I made in my statement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Bill 1776, Lend-Lease Bill. In Europe the military situation is far from stable, and I believe that there are few British who would care to accept German peace commitments at their face value...

I reiterate here my belief that the chief question that confronts us is whether we shall now take steps to keep Europe's wars in Europe, or shall drift along and permit those wars to be transferred to the Americas. We need time to get ready to meet out at sea a strong, aggressive Germany if we are to keep the fighting away from the lands of this hemisphere. You may remember that in my statement before the House committee I gave a comparative table of naval tonnage which might oppose us, both in the immediate future and over the next several years, if Britain does not survive Germany's attack. I would not have you draw the implication from my statement and from those figures that I fear that the United States will not fully realize in time the danger that confronts them. But they have no time to waste and must act at once...

Admiral General Raeder, chief of the German Navy, recently made a speech to the shipyard workers in Bremen. The significant portion of his speech to the United States was a promise that after the war Germany would have - I quote -: "A fleet developed and enlarged to a size befitting a world power, and overseas naval bases where there would be plenty of work of all kinds." There can be little doubt as to German ambitions for world sea power in the event of victory.

The existence of the British Navy and a balance of power in Europe have operated to give us military security against aggressions from that region. For many years we actually have had the benefits of a two-ocean Navy instead of only the one-ocean Navy that flies the American flag. The defeat of Great Britain would definitely carry with it the destruction of the British Fleet or would transfer it to German hands to be used against us when Germany has trainee German naval personnel to operate it.

USS Frank Knox (DD 742)

USS FRANK KNOX was one of the GEARING - class destroyers and the first ship in the Navy to bear the name. Both decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on January 30, 1971, the FRANK KNOX was subsequently transfered to Greece where the ship was recommissioned as THEMISTOKLIS. Stricken in the early 1990s, the ship was sunk as a target in September 2001.

General Characteristics: Awarded: 1942
Keel laid: May 8, 1944
Launched: September 17, 1944
Commissioned: December 11, 1944
Decommissioned: January 30, 1971
Builder: Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine
FRAM II Conversion Shipyard: Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA
FRAM II Conversion Period: 1960 - May 1961
Propulsion system: four boilers, General Electric geared turbines 60,000 SHP
Propellers: two
Length: 391 feet (119.2 meters)
Beam: 41 feet (12.5 meters)
Draft: 18.7 feet (5.7 meters)
Displacement: approx. 3,400 tons full load
Speed: 34 knots
Aircraft after FRAM II: none
Armament after FRAM II: three 5-inch/38 caliber twin mounts, Mk-32 ASW torpedo tubes (two triple mounts), two Hedgehogs Mk-10
Crew after FRAM II: approx. 275

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS FRANK KNOX. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

FRANK KNOX was launched 17 September 1944 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine sponsored by Mrs. Prank Knox, widow of Secretary Knox and commissioned 11 December 1944, Commander J. C. Ford, Jr., in command. After extensive training on both coasts, FRANK KNOX arrived in San Pedro Bay, P.I., 16 June 1945 to join the fast carrier task forces in their raids against the Japanese home islands. With such a force, FRANK KNOX entered Sagami Wan 27 August, and was present in Tokyo Bay during the surrender ceremonies on 2 September. She served on occupation duty in the Far East until sailing for San Diego, her home port, 4 January 1946.

In 1947 and 1948, FRANK KNOX completed tours of duty in the Far East and was redesignated DDR 742 on 18 March 1949. Upon the outbreak of the Korean war, FRANK KNOX sailed 6 July 1950 to join the 7th Fleet's fast carrier task force in air operations against North Korea. During her tour of duty, she also took part in the Inchon invasion, conducted shore bombardments, patrolled the Taiwan Straits, and on 30 January 1951 joined in a mock invasion of the North Korean coast. This deception proved so effective that Communist troops were withdrawn from central Korea for a time. A final 40-day period was spent in bombardment of the east coast rail centers, Chongjin and Songjin, cutting supply and communications routes.

Returning to San Diego 11 April 1951, FRANK KNOX operated along the west coast and in the Hawaiians until 19 April 1952, when she sailed for Korean service again. Her duty, similar to that of her first wartime tour, included several weeks in Wonsan Harbor to give fire support to minesweepers. The destroyer returned to west coast duty 18 November 1952. During her 1953 Far Eastern cruise, which coincided with the Korean armistice, FRANK KNOX conducted patrols, and covered the transportation of former Chinese prisoners of war who had elected to go to Taiwan rather than return from Korea to mainland Communist China.

Her next tour of duty in the western Pacific, in 1955, found FRANK KNOX taking part in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands.

In 1960-1961 FRANK KNOX was modernized under the FRAM II program, which gave her updated radars and other new equipment. She was based in the Far East from late 1961 until mid-1964, then returned home via Australia and the south Pacific. Again deployed in June 1965, she briefly served off Vietnam conducting naval gunfire support and coastal patrol operations. While underway in the South China Sea on 18 July, FRANK KNOX ran aground on Pratas Reef, and was only freed after a very difficult salvage effort. Though she was badly damaged, and relatively elderly, her command and control capabilities justified an extensive repair job, which was carried out at Yokosuka, Japan, over the next year.

FRANK KNOX rejoined the active forces in November 1966 and resumed her pattern of nearly annual Seventh Fleet cruises, frequently taking part in Vietnam combat missions. Redesignated DD 742 at the beginning of 1969, she completed her final deployment in November 1970 and was decommissioned at the end of January 1971. USS FRANK KNOX was transferred to the Greek Navy a few days later. Renamed THEMISTOKLIS, she served for another two decades before being placed out of commission in the early 1990s. The old ship was sunk as a torpedo target by the Greek submarine in September 2001.

William Franklin Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 January 1874. He attended Alma College, in Michigan, and served in Cuba with the First Volunteer Cavalry (the "Rough Riders") during the Spanish-American War. Following that conflict, Knox became a newspaper reporter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the beginning of a career that grew to include the ownership of several papers. He changed his first name to Frank in about 1900. During World War I, Knox was an advocate of preparedness and United States participation. He served as an artillery officer in France after America entered the hostilities.

In 1930, Frank Knox became publisher and part owner of the Chicago "Daily News". An active Republican, he was that party's nominee for Vice President in the 1936 election. Knox, who was an internationalist and supporter of the World War II Allies, became Secretary of the Navy in July 1940, as President Roosevelt strived to create bi-partisan appeal for his foreign and defense policies following the defeat of France.

As Secretary, Frank Knox worked hard to expand the Navy into a force capable of fighting in both the Atlantic and Pacific. His selection of new uniformed leadership in the wake of the Pearl Harbor disaster was important to seeing the Navy through the difficult, losing months of 1942 and the intense fighting that marked the U.S. offensives that followed. Though he tended to leave military matters to the officer corps, his administrative talents and good judgement made invaluable contributions to the victory that he would not live to see. On 28 April 1944, following a brief series of heart attacks, Secretary Knox died in Washington, D.C.

Accidents aboard USS FRANK KNOX:

In the early morning hours, while underway at sixteen knots in the South China Sea, USS FRANK KNOX ran hard aground on Pratas Reef. A salvage effort was immediately begun, and soon involved salvage ships GRAPPLE (ARS 7) and CONSERVER (ARS 39), tugs MUNSEE (ATF 107), COCOPA (ATF 101) and SIOUX (ATF 75) and submarine rescue ship GREENLET (ASR 10). Though FRANK KNOX was initially only somewhat damaged, several attempts to pull her free between 20 July and 2 August were unsuccessful, and the ship was driven further onto the rocks by waves from a pair of passing typhoons. She was now much more severely holed, with machinery spaces flooded and hull structure weakened.

When conventional hole patching and water removal methods proved inadequate, plastic foam was employed to fill flooded compartments, thus expelling the water and greatly enhancing FRANK KNOX' bouyancy. Her hull was reinforced by welding stiffeners to the main deck. Explosives were used to break up coral around the ship, but these also produced further damage, which led to a need for more foam. Another pulling effort took place on 11 August, with a ship steaming by offshore making waves to help break the reef's grip on the grounded destroyer, but this also failed.

Salvage tackle was re-rigged, more weights were removed from FRANK KNOX, pontoons were attached to her hull, additional foam was generated and the destroyer COGSWELL (DD 651) arrived to make waves as required. A pull on 22 August produced some favorable movement and, on 24 August, USS FRANK KNOX was finally afloat, after nearly six weeks of salvage work in a very difficult environment. Repairs were later done in Japan.

The Secret History Of Knock-Knock Jokes

Joking like this used to be considered a sickness by some people.

The knock-knock joke has been a staple of American humor since the early 20th century. With its repetitive set-up and wordplay punchline, the form has been invoked — and understood — by people of all ages and sensibilities.

But knock-knock jokes have not always been universally appreciated. In fact, in the heyday of the knock-knock's popularity, certain critics railed against it.

Somehow — knock on wood — it has endured.

Jokes, Like Comets

When Melissa Douty — a stand-up comic who competed in the 2015 World Series of Comedy last week — was interviewed by a reporter in Roanoke, Va., recently, she said her career began with a knock-knock joke.

The first joke that the 43-year-old Virginia comic remembers telling — at age 4 or 5 — was this: "Knock knock. Who's there? Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse who? Mickey Mouse's underwear."

So that, for better or worse, was Douty's initiation. But who told the first knock-knock joke?

Before there were knock-knock jokes — as we know them — there were "Do You Know" jokes. Writing in the Oakland Tribune, Merely McEvoy recalled that around 1900, a jokester would walk up to someone and pop a question like: "Do you know Arthur?" And the unsuspecting listener would reply, "Arthur who?" And the jokester would say "Arthurmometer!" and run off laughing.

"Jokes, like comets have definite orbits," McEvoy observed on May 26, 1922. "Most of them travel in elipses of 20 years." The Arthurmometer-type joke, he wrote, had returned — as a new type of jest or a "nifty."

Such nifties were popular among the flappers, McEvoy noted, who would ask: "Have you ever heard of Hiawatha?" And you would reply: "Hiawatha who?" And the flapper would say: "Hiawatha a good girl . till I met you."

"Can it last?" McEvoy wondered. "Probably not. Let us hope that soon I will be able to meet you on the street and ask if you know Gladys and you will say Gladys who and I will say Gladys Zellitsover."

Frank Knox. Library of Congress hide caption

Crazy For Comedy

But the mania only morphed into an even more popular form: the knock-knock joke. And by the mid 1930s, knock-knock jokes were to be heard everywhere. Strangers told them on the streets. Businesses staged knock-knock contests. Swing orchestras wove knock-knock schtick into songs.

The craze was especially potent in Pennsylvania. The Harrisburg Telegraph of June 17, 1936, credited the rise of Knock-Knock Mania to the selection of Col. Frank Knox as the running mate for that year's Republican presidential candidate, Alf Landon. People at WKBO radio station in Harrisburg told Knox jokes on air throughout the day. The Telegraph printed a couple of punchline examples: Cecil have music wherever she goes. And Ammonia a bird in a gilded cage.

"You can't turn the radio on anymore without getting one of the Knock-Knock gags," Jean Mackenzie observed in a radio-listening column in the July 25, 1936, News Herald of Franklin, Pa. "They're fun and when some of the better orchestras perform them, they're screams. But you've probably found that out for yourself."

Merchants chimed in. The Edgmont Cash & Carry grocery in Chester, Pa., ran a display ad in the Delaware County Times: Knock! Knock! Who's there? Don. Don who? Don forget to do your shopping at the Cash and Carry . "

And columnist Ken Murray passed along this in the Altoona Tribune on July 30, 1936: "Evidently the anti-New Deal Democrats are also playing that new game.

"Al be seeing you in Detroit."

At the end of her duplicate bridge column in the Reading Times on July 31, 1936, Constance Gerhard tacked on a handful of rapid-fire knock-knocks. Here are three of the punchlines: 1) Tarzan stripes forever. 2) Mike country 'tis of thee. 3) Agnew I'd seen you somewhere before.

And back in Chester, the Edgmont grocery expanded its knock-knocking marketing campaign by crowdsourcing usable ad copy. In August, the company announced a Knock! Knock! Contest with prizes. One of the examples in the Delaware County Daily Times: Knock knock. Who's there? Teresa. Teresa who? Teresa Crowd!

Brass Knuckles

Orchestra leader Fletcher Henderson. New York Public Library hide caption

From the East Coast to the West Coast, Americans went nuts over knock-knocks. "The whole thing is a game," the Kerrville Times in Texas explained in August of 1936. "Who started it, where, and what it is called is a mystery."

Knock-knock clubs formed in towns in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas. In Missouri a popular version of the joke came from a college campus: Popeye. Popeye need some money. The Knock-Knock Song by Vincent Lopez, et al., became a favorite of some big bands. "That tune inflicted a fiendish game upon an America already suffering through the Depression," Lopez wrote in Lopez Speaking, his 1960s autobiography,

Lopez, Fletcher Henderson and other swing orchestra leaders incorporated the audience-participation novelty song into their acts.

Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. Knock Knock Song

OnlyJazzHQ YouTube

Talk about going viral: Paul Harrison, a syndicated gossip columnist, noted in 1936 that "Hollywood has failed to escape infection by the germ of that game Knock-Knock . that has grown-ups as well as children going daffy." He passed along new kickers, including: Sarah doctor in the house?

By September of 1936, spoilsports were ready for the knock-knock fad to fade away. "The best knock-knock was made by me," observed Heywood Hale Broun in his column, which appeared in the Reading Times. "It goes: 'Knock-knock. Who's there? A gang of vigilantes armed with machine guns, leather straps and brass knuckles to thump the breath out of anybody who persists in playing this blame fool knock-knock game.' "

No No To Knock-Knocks

The knocks against knock-knocks seem to have intensified sometime after the re-election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. People who disliked the puns voiced their objections, and people who loved knock-knock jokes were said to have social problems.

After all, in Europe, incessant wordplay was being treated as a psychological condition. Sigmund Freud had impugned puns in his 1905 book Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconcious. In 1929, Austrian psychoanalyst A.A. Brill was exploring a malady termed Witzelsucht — an addiction to wisecracks, according to Psychology Today. And German neurologist Otfrid Foerster identified manic punning in what eventually became known as Foerster's syndrome.

Writing near the end of 1936, D.A. Laird — director of the Rivercrest Psychological Laboratory at Colgate University — threw cold water on the knock-knock fever in America. He delivered a lengthy screed against mass manias of many types — including knock-knock jokes. Laird spoke of people who incessantly pun and of those who enjoyed the jokes as if they were sick.

In an article that appeared in papers throughout the country, Laird lumped knock-knock jokes in with other "absurd stunts which became crazes and which occupied the main interests of thousands of young people."

He defined knock-knock jokes as one of those "catch-question games, the answers to which no reasonable person could possibly guess."

Citing the scientific work of craze-experts E.S. Bogardus and L.L. Bernard, "the people most likely to take up these pointless games in an enthusiastic way are those folk who like to appear smart and bright by exhibiting a pseudo-intellectual activity. And since no one could possibly guess the right answer to these games, the person starting any of them has a feeling of superiority, a false belief that he is smarter than the other person."

In a weird twist of history. D.A. Laird — who appeared to consider punny repartee to be tedious — also served a stint as the faculty adviser of Banter, the campus humor magazine at Colgate.

Knock-Knocks Nowadays

Are knock-knock jokes funny or not? Are they examples of high wittiness or half-wittedness? The battle continues today.

Whatever you believe, the groans caused by knock-knock jokes are frequent sounds in our national chorus. Knock-knocks are ubiquitous. Amazon offers scores of books containing only knock-knock jokes, including volumes specifically tailored to Christmas, Valentine's Day and Minecraft. A newly Kickstarter-funded interactive dinosaur toy — which taps into IBM's cognitive supercomputer Watson — tells knock-knock jokes.

However, in the Kids N Comedy shows at the Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea, the New York Times reports regularly, clubgoers needn't worry that young stand-up comedians will perform knock-knock jokes. "This crew is sophisticated," the Times opines.

But apparently knock-knock jokes are sophisticated enough to deserve a correction in the New York Times. In 2013, the newspaper apologized for incorrectly crediting a knock-knock joke in a Ben Affleck movie. You may remember the joke. The punchline included the name of the movie: Argo.

Something to the effect of: Argo jump in the lake.

"I think knock-knock jokes always work . with kids," says comedian Melissa Douty. "I haven't heard a new knock-knock joke in years, and I'm not sure I've ever heard a really funny one! I think I liked the Mickey Mouse joke so much because it had the word underwear in it and I felt like I was saying something wrong. I was a very edgy 5-year-old comic. For me, it was the perfect starting point for joke telling."

Frank Knox was born on 1 January 1874 in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of two immigrants from Canada. Knox joined the US Army during the Spanish-American War and served with Theodore Roosevelt's "Rough Riders" in Cuba. After the war, he became a newspaper reporter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he founded New Hampshire's Manchester Leader in 1912. Knox rejoined the US Army as an artillery officer during World War I, and he became a partial owner of the Chicago Daily News. In 1936, he was Alf Landon's vice presidential nominee from the US Republican Party, but Franklin D. Roosevelt beat the Republicans in a landslide victory. 

Nevertheless, Roosevelt appointed Knox Secretary of the Navy on 11 July 1940, and he supported aid to the Allied Powers and opposed isolationism during World War II. In his new position, he called for the internment of Japanese-Americans even before the start of the war, having done so since 1933. Knox went so far as to bar Americans of Japanese descent from serving in the US Navy during the war, having already pushed for their internment. After a series of heart attacks, he died in Washington DC on 28 April 1944, and James V. Forrestal succeeded him as Secretary of the Navy.

Virtual Veterans Day observance

The Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial, usually a place where public in-person Veterans Day celebrations are held, will host a virtual tribute that will be streamed live at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at

The hour-long tribute will include remarks from World War II veterans, video messages from elected officials, business leaders and celebrities, musical performances by Marine Band San Diego and young singer Chelsea Snow, and a flyover by World War II aircraft.

Event participants will adhere to social distancing requirements, and no public spectators will be permitted. ◆

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Secretary of Navy Frank Knox, blindfolded, drawing a number during the first peacetime draft lottery for compulsory military service. Also shows President Franklin Roosevelt at left, Major Edward S. Shattuck, and Lt. Colonel Charles R. Morris. 10/29/1940 (Library of Congress)

Washington Post (12/12/2016)
Smithsonian Magazine (12/15/2016)


In June of 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed the 67 year old Knox as the secretary of the navy and Henry Stimson as secretary of war. Both were interventionist Republicans, and the appointment was widely seen as move secure bipartisan support on the issue of the war in Europe. In addition to working for the notoriously anti-Japanese Hearst newspaper chain, he had publicly advocated in 1933 for the internment of all Japanese in Hawai'i "before the beginning of hostilities threatens." [1]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Knox requested that he be allowed to go to Hawai'i to investigate personally. After spending 36 hours in Hawai'i, he stated at a Los Angeles press conference, "I think the most effective Fifth Column work of the entire war was done in Hawaii with the exception of Norway." [2] In his December 14 report to the President, he repeated his Fifth Column accusations and charged local Japanese with deliberately misleading defenders at Pearl Harbor. He continued to repeat these charges even after the FBI and Army Intelligence agreed that there had been no sabotage during or after the attack. His motive for repeating such false information may have had to do with wanting to deflect attention from the lack of preparation of the military in Hawai'i.

Later in the war, Knox also pushed for mass confinement for the more than 160,000 Japanese Americans in Hawai'i on Molokai or one of the neighbor islands. In subsequent weeks, he continued to press this issue with the President almost alone among administration officials, before ultimately losing this battle to Delos Emmons , the military commander of Hawai'i under martial law, whose selective detention strategy won out. Ultimately, less than 2,000 Japanese Americans from Hawai'i, less than one percent of the population, ended up in camps. Knox was also influential in Japanese Americans being kept out of the navy throughout the war.

Knox died in office on April 28, 1944, after a series of heart attacks. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. His widow, Annie Reid Knox established the Frank Knox Memorial Scholarship in his name at Harvard University to support educational exchange between the U.S. and countries in the former British Commonwealth.

Tragedy in the Fields
In 1938 tragedy struck Crag Burn once again. Lieutenant Commander Frank Hawks, a famous speed flyer, often took people for plane rides in the area. Hawks was meeting with Dorothy&rsquos brother-in-law, Hazard Campbell Sr., to seek funding for a small plane he had landed out on the polo fields. The pair went for a ride, but shortly after takeoff, the plane struck wires and crashed, killing both Hawks and Campbell. Some say the grass has never been the same color and that an outline of the crash site is still visible on the tenth hole today.

From Horses to Birdies
By the late 1960s, the polo fields and bridle paths near the estate&rsquos stable were seeing very little use. The horses had long been sold, and the fields had begun to return to nature. Dorothy Knox Goodyear&rsquos son Bobby and son-in-law, Clint Wyckoff, had the idea to turn a 190-acre parcel into a golf course, a fitting use for the beautiful landscape and existing structures. Dorothy gave the property to the pair in 1969, and they hired prominent American golf course architect and family friend, Robert Trent Jones Sr., to design the course.

Bobby, his sister Dottie, her husband Clint, and their sons Peter, Ranny, and Kevin &ndash all avid golfers &ndash recruited friends and family to help fund the construction of a club where &ldquoa group of friends could play golf.&rdquo This integral group of early supporters, roughly 50 people in all, became the club&rsquos founding members.

A Course is Built
The group was adamant, after seeing other Robert Trent Jones designed courses, that the Crag Burn course would become the premier course in Western New York and that any real estate development would be secondary. Given the combination of heavily wooded sections and open fields, Mr. Jones was commissioned to build a course that would capitalize on the terrain of the property. The front nine would be a parks-style course and run through the wooded section. The back nine would have a more open, traditional feel of a links course. Seven ponds were dug to enhance the design with the soil providing topography for tees and greens.

Oakgrove Construction and Newgolf, Inc. began construction in 1970. A sophisticated valve system was installed to regulate the flow of water between the ponds. Robert Trent Jones had hired the best people in the business, among them contractor Bill Baldwin, who had some of the world&rsquos best equipment operators on his crew. In fact, the man who put down the final layer of soil on the greens was able to translate a hand-scrawled Robert Trent Jones sketch into the delicate undulations that characterize Crag Burn&rsquos greens today.

The clubhouse was fashioned from the original stable, immediately lending a sense of history to the new club. Many of the original details of the stable were kept, including the magnificent slate roof and horse stalls, which created unique alcoves for dining guests. The groom&rsquos cottage for the stables became the pro shop.

World War II Database

ww2dbase William Franklin Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. After attending Alma College in Michigan, he served in the First Volunteer Cavalry, as known as the "Rough Riders", in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Returning to Michigan, he became a newspaper reporter. During WW1, he was an artillery officer in France. In 1930, he became part owner of the Chicago Daily News and became heavily involved in politics. In 1936, he was the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party, though he lost the election terribly to Franklin Roosevelt of the Democratic Party. Despite being in an opposing political party, Roosevelt appoint Knox as the Secretary of the Navy in Jul 1940 for his internationalist views and for Roosevelt to gain unilateral support across political divides. Nevertheless, despite his earnest efforts in running the civilian side of the US Navy, he was often kept in the dark by both of his military and civilian colleagues. Assistant Secretary James Forrestal, for example, ran much of the department because he was closer to Roosevelt than Knox ever was. Knox had so much free time in this role despite the nation being in war that he still had time to run his newspaper in the afternoons.

ww2dbase Knox passed away in Washington, DC after a series of heart attacks.

ww2dbase Sources: Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Mar 2006

Frank Knox Interactive Map

November 15, 1946off Oahu, Hi.
1 Jan 1874 Frank Knox was born.
11 Jul 1940 Frank Knox took office as the US Secretary of the Navy.
24 Apr 1941 In a statement, Frank Knox, the United States Secretary for the Navy, proclaimed: "We can no longer occupy the immoral and craven position of asking others to make all the sacrifices for this victory which we recognize as so essential to us."
12 Dec 1941 US Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox departed from Oahu, Hawaii after personally inspecting damages.
28 Apr 1944 Frank Knox passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Perry says:
2 Apr 2006 09:36:10 PM

Searching for information on Frank Curtis. Worked for Frank Knox but not sure of position. I was told Undersecretary. I could be mistaken. Mr. Curtis commited suicide in Washington, D.C. around 1940.

2. Dawn Ann Knox says:
26 Jul 2015 08:24:41 AM

I would like to know if my family tree goes back to Frank Knox. My family comes from Clark SD. My grandfather was Clifford Jackson Knox. Can you tell me the route the Knox family took as far as where some Knox family moved to?

3. Anonymous says:
23 Jul 2016 09:56:23 PM

Frank Knox''s parents came from Canada, his father from New Brunswick and his mother from Prince Edward Island. They moved to Boston and that is where William Franklin "Frank" Knox was born. Frank and his wife had no children.

4. David Long says:
3 Jul 2020 03:04:43 PM

My father was on the USS Baltimore as a machinest mate. Is it possible to find his records, he mentioned President Roosevelt was on the cruiser.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Frank Knox

An important American with Island roots is Frank Knox, the Secretary of the Navy under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

William Franklin Knox was the son of Sarah Collins Barnard. Sarah was born Aug 9 1849 in Charlottetown. She was the daughter of Jabez Alder Barnard, born Jan 10 1820 in Charlottetown. Jabez Alder was the son of Jabez Barnard, the builder, and Catherine Hawkins.

William Franklin "Frank" Knox (January 1, 1874 - April 28, 1944) was the Secretary of the Navy under Franklin D. Roosevelt during most of World War II. He was also the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 1936.

Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Alma College in Michigan where he felt led to gather all the boys on campus in the chapel to talk to them about the patriotic duty he felt in regards to the Spanish-American War. He recruited roughly a dozen of them to join him in enlisting in the army in 1898. He left the College 15 credits away from graduation. After fighting alongside Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, Knox returned home where his interest in journalism persevered. Within a few years he worked his way from reporter to circulation manager of the Grand Rapids Herald, doubling the number of readers along the way.

He dreamed of a newspaper of his own though. In 1902 he bought the weekly paper in Sault Ste. Marie, turning it into a daily and forcing its competitor to sell out to him. In 1920 he was in Manchester, New Hampshire as president of the local daily paper. His success in the industry continued as he became general manager of Hearst newspapers.

The crowning glory of his journalism career came, however, with the purchase of the Chicago Daily News, whose only rival in the field of foreign news was the New York Times. As publisher, Knox exposed Chicago rackets and corrupt politicians. With his bold and sometimes controversial statements, he carved out a role in the political arena.

During World War I, Knox was an advocate of preparedness and United States participation. He served as an artillery officer in France after America entered the hostilities. An active Republican, he was that party's nominee for vice president in the 1936 election, under Alf Landon. He was the first (and only) Republican supporter of Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Ticket in 1912 to be later named to a Republican ticket. Landon and Knox lost by a landslide, winning just Maine and Vermont. Knox, who was an internationalist and supporter of aid to Britain, became Secretary of the Navy in July 1940, as President Roosevelt strived to create bi-partisan appeal for his foreign and defense policies following the defeat of France. As Secretary, Frank Knox followed Roosevelt's directive to expand the US Navy into a force capable of fighting in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Upon Knox's death in 1944, Winston Churchill wrote to Knox's wife saying, "No one could have been more helpful in all our difficult times."

Following his death, his wife, Annie Reid Knox, established the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowships, which enable students from various countries in the Commonwealth to attend Harvard University for graduate study.

Frank Knox as Secretary of the Navy was well known for his public comment concerning the openly publicized German massacre of civilians at the Czech village of Lidice in June 1942 following the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. He said: "If future generations ask us what we are fighting for [in World War Two], we shall tell them the story of Lidice."

Watch the video: Φρανκ x VoxPopuli - Μετά τον Κωλόκαιρο Video