The 60s Official Site Blog

Dedicated to the memory and history of the 60s from a personal and historical point of view.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The President Killed

The President Killed the headlines read 44 years ago. It just seems like this happened just yesterday. It's still so vivid in my mind although I was only 15 then and a sophomore in high school. I still remember we were in English class when the news arrived on that day of November 22, 1963. I recall during the mourning period of our president's death, all rock 'n roll music ceased on the radio stations and classic music was played. Does anybody else recall that? The assassination of President Kennedy was the top news story of the 1960s decade.

President and Mrs. Kennedy were in Dallas, Texas, trying to win support in a state that Kennedy had barely carried in 1960. On his way to a luncheon in downtown Dallas, Kennedy and his wife sat in an open convertible at the head of a motorcade. Lyndon Johnson was two cars behind the president, and Texas Governor John B. Connally and his wife were sitting with the Kennedys. The large crowds were enthusiastic.

As the motorcade approached an underpass, three shots were fired in rapid succession. One bullet passed through the president’s neck and struck Governor Connally in the back. A second bullet struck the president in the head; a third one missed the motorcade. Kennedy fell forward, and his car sped to Parkland Hospital. At 1:00 pm Central Time, he was pronounced dead. He had never regained consciousness.

Less than two hours after the shooting, aboard the presidential plane at the Dallas airport, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States.

The Assassin

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested after the assassination on November 22, 1963, but was killed before standing trial.

Oswald was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, two months after the death of his father. As a child, Oswald was often in trouble and, according to a psychiatrist, was emotionally disturbed. Oswald dropped out of school at the age of 17 and joined the United States Marine Corps. In 1959 he was discharged from the Marines at his request. He then defected to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but was denied citizenship there. Oswald returned to the United States in 1962 with his Soviet-born wife, Marina, and their daughter. The Oswalds moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in June 1962. In October of that year, Oswald took a job at the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. On November 22, 1963, a gunman from the sixth floor of this building fired three shots into President Kennedy's motorcade, killing Kennedy and injuring Texas Governor John B. Connally. Oswald was arrested at a movie theater just over an hour later. Oswald was also accused of killing police officer J. D. Tippit, who had been shot shortly after the president's assassination. On November 24, as police were moving him from the city jail to the county jail before a national television audience, Oswald was fatally shot by Jack Ruby while standing in a crowd of police officers and reporters. Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, claimed to be distraught over the president's assassination.

A special presidential commission, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, was established to investigate the Kennedy assassination. Despite numerous conspiracy theories, the commission concluded in 1964 in the Warren Report that Oswald had acted alone. Most Americans today still are convinced that there was more to the conspiracy theory than actually came out during the Warren Commission's investigation. In fact a special committee from the House of Representatives concluded in their investigation in 1979 acknowledged the likelihood of a conspiracy and a second assassin might have been involved.

Two sensational books came out after the assassination of the President regarding a possible conspiracy. On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs. These books were used as the background for Oliver Stone's film JFK. The movie JFK was about the assassination of the President and the investigation by DA of New Orleans Jim Garrison who concluded that the assassination was a conspiracy. Although no hard counter evidence was provided to disprove Garrison’s theories, the FBI files on the case were still sealed from the public at the time of the movie's release, 28 years after the assassination.

Where were you when the President was Assassinated? Do you believe there was a consipiracy? I am waiting to hear your thoughts.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

1960s Tradition: Eating Meals Together as a Family

One of the most important and memorable part of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s was my mother's requirement that we eat our meals together. No such thing as sitting in front of the TV to eat a meal. We started each meal with prayer and then ate our meal over conversation, jokes and laughter. It was a great time to grow up and a fond memory of that time in my life.

I remember my grandmother and my mother made sure my dad got his plate first because as they would say he was the "working man." I remember also when I got my first job I was treated the same way. Does that occur now? Is it important? I don't know but back then it made me feel important and made me understand how important working and supporting your family was.

I will never forget how great a cook my mom was. She could make a feast out of left overs or make a typical Sunday chicken dinner seem like a banquet. Fried chicken was will always be my favorite. I always looked forward to Sunday dinners even when what seemed like 9 times out of 10 we would have fried chicken. My buddy next door and his family had their fried chicken on Sunday as well. Was that a 60s thing or something? I remember Mom cooked it in lard of all things. That was nothing unusual for the cooking in the 50s and 60s. For the last 20 years we have been told that cooking in lard will cause clogging of your arteries. People cooked in lard for over 100 years. How did we manage to live back then according to today's standards?

My mom, who passed away in 1983, had recipes thrown inside a book and shoe box. Many of her recipes were written on napkins, scraps of paper and old used envelopes. She had 100s of them. Many still had old food and grease stains on them. She had so many recipes she had collected and many that were passed down from her mother and her mother's mother. The ones that were great tasting she kept and those she didn't like she got rid of, although Mom hardly ever through anything away.

When I was a teenager it was customary then to bring your girlfriend or boyfriend home to meet the family. I usually did that by inviting them to Sunday dinner for Mom's famous fried chicken. All my girlfriends loved my Mom's cooking. One particular girl I dated loved beef and noodles so when Mom discovered how much this girl loved beef and noodles, she would prepare it whenever she came over. (There went my fried chicken.) I stopped inviting this girlfried over so much because it interfered with my fried chicken dinners. A note is deserved here: I ended up marrying that girl and of course I got all "noodled out."

I receive email and comments in my guestbook all the time about the 60s and how great they were and how much fun growing up back then was. The memories are so many but sometimes not as vivid as we grow older. One comment in particular mentioned "that if you could remember anything about the 60s then you probably didn't live them." I have an idea what she was referring to but I know I lived them and I remember much about that time and of course these meals around the table with family was one of the most memorable times of my life.

Thinking back to those days around the table, I decided to feature Mom's recipes at The 60s Official Site. So if you are interested in old recipes, cooking and so much more check out this cookbook. Just Click Here for more information.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Remembering the Chaos of Daylight Savings Time in the 1960s

At 2:00 AM November 4, 2007 we turn our clocks back to standard time from daylight savings time (DST). Does that mean one more hour of sleep or does it mean we just get out of bed an hour earlier because our bodies has just adjusted to when the clocks were turned up an hour? Do you recall the chaos it caused in the early 1960s?

A Brief History of Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time (DST) has been around in some form or another for quite sometime. The idea of daylight savings time originated from Benjamin Franklin really as a humorous and witty comment.He first spoke of the idea publicly in an essay titled "An Economical Project" which he conveyed as an American delegate while in Paris in 1784. His original intent with the essay was to be whimsical, by poking fun at the tendency of the French to sleep until noon. The essay pointed out that if 100,000 Parisian families burned half a pound of candles per hour for an average of seven hours per day, they would use a total of 64,050,000 pounds of candle wax, costing an immense sum of money that the city of Paris could save every year by implementing a Daylight Saving Time. Many of his friends an acquaintances became fasinated with the idea and continued to discuss it with him.

Then in London, around 1907, a builder named William Willett was the first to seriously try to persuade officials that setting clocks ahead by 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April and retarding them by the same amount on the four Sundays in September would be beneficial to everyone in helping get some extra daylight time over the summer for work. Willett lobbied mightily and spent a fortune trying to convince others, but most just laughed at him and he died about one year before it became a reality.

From 1945 to 1966, there was no US federal law about daylight saving time. By the early 1960s, observance of daylight saving time was inconsistent, with some states on DST, and no agreement when to change clocks. In 1961, when studies made by the committee for time uniformity studied the issue found that along a 35-mile stretch of highway between Moundsville, West Virginia, and Steubenville, Ohio, every traveler passed through no less than seven time changes.

Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore—but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today’s equivalent of over $12 million per year.

Noted Chaos

This chaos of changing the clocks had an effect on my family. I remember walking to church holding my younger sister's hand and arriving when church was just letting out. Some "smartass" high school kid said "kind of late aren't you." My sister and I walked home a little embarrassed and of course our mother wondered why we were home so early so we explained our embarrassing experience. Mom said it was daylight savings time and she didn't know if Circleville, Ohio of all places was observing it. She set the clocks up an hour that Sunday morning. On Monday we went to school and we were an hour early as she was for work. This was a situation that was normal across the entire state of Ohio in 1960 or 1961. Part of the town observed it and other parts did not. I imagine the problem existed throughout the nation.

A man, born just after 12:00 a.m. DST, circumvented the Vietnam War draft by using a daylight saving time loophole. When drafted, he argued that standard time, not DST, was the official time for recording births in his state of Delaware in the year of his birth. Thus, under official standard time he was actually born on the previous day—and that day had a much higher draft lottery number, allowing him to avoid the draft.

DJs in Ohio and TV comedians everywhere made fun of daylight savings time and the chaos and humourous situation it caused. This continued until 1966 when Federal laws were enacted governing the implemetation of daylight savings time.

Not all states observe daylight savings time. Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, most of the Eastern Time Zone portion of the State of Indiana, and the state of Arizona (not the Navajo Indian Reservation, which _does_ observe). Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, due to its large size and location in three states." This presents problems because you have to try to remember how many hours they are behind or ahead of you especially if making a phone call. I have called my daughter in Phoenix getting her out of bed because of the time difference which normally on standard time is hour but with DST it is 2 hours as she has late at night waking me up.

Don't forget to turn your clocks back before you go to bed on November 3.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Close to Nuclear War Just 45 Years Ago

By: Kurt Wiersma and Ben Larson

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. Luckily, thanks to the bravery of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, war was averted.

In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In May 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation from an attack by the U.S. Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Castro felt a second attack was inevitable. Consequently, he approved of Khrushchev's plan to place missiles on the island. In the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba.

For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under contrsuction in Cuba. Early the next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Kennedy immediately organized the EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis. After seven days of guarded and intense debate within the upper echelons of government, Kennedy concluded to impose a naval quarantine around Cuba. He wished to prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island. On October 22, Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public and his decision to quarantine the island. He also proclaimed that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba.

During the public phase of the Crisis, tensions began to build on both sides. Kennedy eventually ordered low-level reconnaissance missions once every two hours. On the 25th Kennedy pulled the quarantine line back and raised military readiness to DEFCON 2. Then on the 26th EX-COMM heard from Khrushchev in an impassioned letter. He proposed removing Soviet missiles and personnel if the U.S. would guarantee not to invade Cuba. October 27 was the worst day of the crisis. A U-2 was shot down over Cuba and EX-COMM received a second letter from Khrushchev demanding the removal of U.S. missiles in Turkey in exchange for Soviet missiles in Cuba. Attorney General Robert Kennedy suggested ignoring the second letter and contacted Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to tell him of the U.S. agreement with the first.

Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba, and specifing the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

October 1, 1962 a Major Television Event Occurred

On October 1, 1962, 45 years ago, a major television event occurred for those of you who watch late TV. Johnny Carson made his debut on the Tonight Show and continually kept us entertained for nearly four decades. Johnny took over for Jack Parr who had quit the show. What a treat for us when Johnny arrived!

For Millions of viewers tuning in the "Tonight Show" it became a ritual. Johnny Carson had such quick wit and a natural charm about him that everybody loved.

In th later years Ed McMahon would with a musical intro announce "Heeeeeer's Johnny." Johnny's trademark became the phantom golf swing that many entertainers and guests would immitate.

I remember when Carson's parody and monologue at times would fail and the band would play "Tea for Two" and Johhny would dance and eventually he got his laugh. Sometimes he would pull down the mike real close to his face and announce "Attention K-Mart shoppers."

Carson's show was the launching pad for many talented performers, notably comedians. Many got their "big break" by appearing on the show, and it was considered the crowning achievement to not only get Johnny to laugh out loud, but also to be called over to the guest chair. In many ways, Carson was the successor to The Ed Sullivan Show as a showcase for all kinds of talent, as well as continuing the Vaudeville variety-show tradition.

An oft-repeated story—since dismissed as an "urban legend"—involved a guest appearance by Zsa Zsa Gabor carrying a white Persian cat. Gabor is said to have asked Johnny if he would like to "pet my pussy?" During a 1989 appearance, Jane Fonda noted that her son had repeated the claim, and "my son said that you said, uh, 'I'd love to, if you'd remove that damned cat!' Is it true?" Carson denied the episode on-air ("No, I think I would recall that...") and both he and Gabor responded to researchers by stating the event "never happened." Despite widespread insistence by people who claimed to see the episode, no audio or video recording has ever been produced.

However, a bit of risqué humor was not beyond Carson. During an interview with Dolly Parton, in reference to her large bust, she said, "People are always asking if they're real and .... I'll tell you what, these are mine." Carson replied, "I have certain guidelines on this show. But I would give about a year's pay to peek under there."

Johnny played so many great memorable characters on his show. Who could forget?

Art Fern, the "Tea Time Movie" announcer (always selling strange or shoddy merchandise). The character was previously named Honest Bernie Schlock and then Ralph Willie when the Tea-Time sketches first aired (mid-late 1960s).
A stereotypical right-wing extremist wearing a plaid hunting coat and cap who always introduced himself as "Floyd R. Turbo American" (with no pause between words)

Aunt Blabby, a cantankerous and sometimes amorous old lady who played the foil to Ed McMahon's straightman through pestering and berating.

Perhaps his best-known character, Carnac the Magnificent, who pretended to be a psychic who could answer questions before seeing them (and reading them out loud). (This is in fact a parody of a real act known as "one ahead" where the first answer is known to the performer in advance, and each succeeding answer is in fact on the card containing the previous item's question.) Carnac's answers were always humorous, ironic, or puns. Ed McMahon would always announce near the end, "I hold in my hand the last envelope," at which at the news the audience would applaud wildly, prompting Carnac to pronounce a comedic "curse" on the audience, such as "May all your genes be recessive!" (In fact, the name Carnac the Magnificent was the stage name Johnny used in his magic act as a youth.)

Carson was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. His other awards include six Emmy Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 1993.

There will never be another Johnny Carson nor will there be anybody that can closely parody him. Although Jay Leno does a good job on the Jay Leno Show, I loved the wit of Johnny Carson more. We all mourned when he left the show and we cried when our late night friend passed away January 23, 2005.

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