Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fifty Years Ago -- 1960

Fifty years ago, in 1960, I was 16 years old, trying to survive another year in high school in the suburbs of Minneapolis. I had a 1953 Chevy, gas was 25 cents per gallon and I was an adventurous explorer of my surroundings and beyond.

The following events took place in 1960.

Jan 2 -- Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential election

Jan 14 -- The U.S. Army promoted Elvis Presley to Sergeant

Feb 10 -- Adolph Coors (beer maker) was kidnapped in Golden, Colorado

Feb 11 -- Jack Paar walked off the Tonight Show (he was a neurotic chap, with a high sense of self-worth and very little sense of reality -- much like my ex-wife’s cat)

Feb 18 -- The 8th Winter Olympic Games opened in Squaw Valley, Cal.

Feb 21 -- The Cuban government placed all Cuban industry under government control (after all, no one knows more about running industry than government bureaucrats)

Feb 28 -- The Winter Olympic Games formally closed with the U.S. hockey team winning the gold medal

Feb 29 -- An earthquake hit Morocco, killing 12,000 people

Mar 3 -- 15 inches of snow fell on New York City

Mar 4 -- Lucille Ball filed for divorce from Desi Arnaz

Mar 5 -- Elvis Presley was discharged from the U.S. Army after his 2-year obligation (whereupon he was free to grow his hair back to unacceptable lengths and load it with grease)

Mar 6 -- Switzerland granted women the right to vote

Apr 1 -- The first weather satellite was launched into space

Apr 2 -- France exploded an atom bomb in the Sahara Desert (it went boom and made a big hole)

Apr 4 -- “Ben-Hur” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards

May 1 -- A USSR missile shot down an American U-2 spy plane whereupon pilot Francis Gary Powers was held in the USSR for 21 months (in a world of secrets, paranoia will destroy ya)

May 6 -- President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960

May 10 -- John F. Kennedy won the West Virginia primary (with the help of Frank Sinatra, Sam Giancana and mob controlled unions)

May 11 -- Israeli soldiers captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and transported him to Israel where he was found guilty of crimes against humanity and hung in 1962

May 19 -- The Belgian government required a rest day for self-employed people (it’s always comforting when one’s government makes rules for its subjects -- it saves people from having to perform the pesky task of making their own decisions)

May 23 -- A 9.5 earthquake in Chile caused a tidal wave that destroyed 537 buildings and killed 61 people in Hawaii

May 26 -- A hidden microphone was discovered in a wood carving of the Great Seal of the United States in the new U.S. embassy in Moscow (in a world of secrets, paranoia will destroy ya)

Jun 7 -- Hugh Hefner open the first Playboy Club, in Chicago

Jun 11 -- The state of California ordered smog devices on automobiles, the first such law in the USA

Jun 22 -- The Eisenhower administration created the Arctic National Wildlife Range on 9 million acres in Alaska

Jul 1 -- The USSR shot down a US RB-47 reconnaissance plane (in a world of secrets, paranoia will destroy ya)

Jul 4 -- The 50-star USA flag made its debut, to honor Hawaii’s admission as the 50th state admitted into the union the previous summer

Jul 9 -- USSR premier Khrushchev threatened to use rockets to protect Cuba from the USA

Jul 13 -- John F. Kennedy won the Democratic presidential nomination in Los Angeles

Jul 14 -- A fire in an insane asylum in Guatemala killed 225 and injured 300 people

Jul 27 -- Vice President Richard Nixon was nominated for president at the Republican national convention in Chicago

Jul 30 -- Over 60,000 Buddhists marched in protest against the Diem government in South Vietnam

Aug 6 -- Chubby Checker introduced a dance called “The Twist” on the Dick Clark Show (it was a dance for dweebs and I refused to take part in the short-lived fad)

Aug 9 -- A race riot erupted in Jacksonville, Florida

Aug 13 -- The first 2-way telephone conversation by satellite occurred

Aug 18 -- The Beatles gave their first public performance, in Germany

Aug 19 -- The USSR launched a spaceship satellite called Sputnik, which included 2 dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats and various plants, and it returned safely to Earth a day later with the 2 dogs, named Belka and Strelka, becoming the first living animals to survive orbital flight

Aug 25 -- At the Summer Olympics in Rome, Wilma Rudolph, who had contracted polio in childhood and spent 6 years wearing a steel brace, won three gold medals in track events

Aug 31 -- The CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Roberrt Maheu to approach mobster Johnny Roselli in an attempt to get organized crime figures involved in a plot to poison Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (In 1976, just prior to testifying before a U.S. Senate committee on the JFK assassination, Johnny Roselli’s decomposing body, minus his legs, was found in a oil drum floating in a bay near Miami -- he was not in a talkative mood)

Sep 5 -- Cassius Clay, who would later change his name to Mohammad Ali, won the light heavyweight gold medal in the boxing competition at the Olympics in Rome (later that year, he would throw his gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a restaurant in Louisville, his hometown)

Sep 14 -- OPEC, a cartel of oil producing countries, was formed by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela (they wear funny headgear and dictate the price of oil to the world)

Sep 24 -- The USS Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was launched at Newport News, Virginia

Sep 26 -- Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox hit his 521st home run in his last time at bat (he was wearing red socks)

Sep 26 -- Fidel Castro made a 4 hour and 29 minute speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the longest speech in UN history (he was wearing green socks)

Sep 30 -- The first prime time animation TV show premiered, called “The Flintstones” (no socks, bare feet)

Oct 1 -- Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain

Oct 10 -- A cyclone hit the coast of the Gulf of Bengal, killing 4,000 people

Oct 11 -- A hurricane in East Pakistan killed 6,000 people

Oct 12 -- USSR premier Khrushchev pounded his shoe on his desk at the UN General Assembly session when someone criticized his country (He was wearing a black sock on his left foot, with a gaping hole allowing the big toe to point toward New Jersey)

Oct 13 -- The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series when Bill Mazeroski hit a homerun in the 9th inning (he was wearing white socks with black leggings)

Oct 13 -- Opponents of Fidel Castro were executed in Cuba

Oct 14 -- The Cuban government nationalized all sugar assets and made itself custodian of all arts and artifacts

Oct 19 -- President Eisenhower imposed an embargo on Cuba, except for medical supplies and certain food products

Oct 25 -- Cuba nationalized all remaining U.S. businesses

Oct 31 -- Another cyclone hit the coast of the Gulf of Bengal, killing 10,000 people

Nov 4 -- The final movie for Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable called “The Misfits” premiered

Nov 8 -- Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th president on the USA

Nov 12 -- Spy satellite Discoverer XVII was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, one of many secret spy satellites launched in the Corona Program series of photoreconnaissance space imaging (in a world of secrets, paranoia will destroy ya)

Nov 12 -- A coup against South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem failed (On orders and assurances from President Kennedy, Diem was killed in a coup on November 1, 1963 -- in a world of secrets, paranoia will destroy ya)

Nov 13 -- Sammy Davis Jr. married Swedish actress May Britt

Nov 16 -- Actor Clark Gable died

Nov 25 -- John F. Kennedy Jr. son of President Kennedy, was born in New York City

Dec 27 -- France exploded another atom bomb in the Sahara Desert (it went boom and made a big hole)

Dec 31 -- The Dallas Cowboys played their first season of professional football, with zero wins

Dec 31 -- The top 3 songs of 1960 were: 1) Will You Love Me Tomorrow -- Shirelles 2) Georgia on my Mind -- Ray Charles 3) Only the Lonely -- Roy Orbison

All in all, 1960 was a fruitful year. I actually had a girlfriend for almost 2 weeks and managed to survive another year of high school. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s the expectation of life on the Planet of Wounded Souls.

Quote for the Day -- “It’s all make believe, isn’t it?” Marilyn Monroe

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the color of socks usually depends on the amount of time between washings. His blogs appear on several websites, including

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