When I was 12 . . .
- The average cost of a new house was $12,650 and a new car was $3,233.
- US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson became president. Days later, Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby on live national television. I saw that!
It was a time of protests and important “movements”
- Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique launching the Women’s Movement in the US.
- There were many historical events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement:
- The Ku Klux Klan bombed a Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing 4 young girls.
- Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech.
- Alabama elected new governor George Wallace, a strong advocate for segregation.
- Medgar Evers was murdered in Jackson, Mississippi.
- The March on Washington was the largest protest in American history.
- The War in Vietnam was divisive among Americans; by 1963 there were nearly 16,000 American military personal in South Vietnam.
In the world of entertainment . . .
- It was the beginning of Beatlemania with the release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The “British Invasion” followed soon with other bands including the Rolling Stones.
- Peter, Paul & Mary earned a Grammy for “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” was the #2 song of the year.
- Protest songs and peace anthems were also a hit, performed most memorably by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
- Popular films of the year were Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Birds, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I saw all but Mutiny on the Bounty.
- Popular new television shows included “The Fugitive,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” and “The Patty Duke Show.”
- Whiskey-a-go-go opened in Los Angeles as the first discotheque.
Foreign Relations . . .
- The US and Soviet Union established a “hot line” to prevent a possible nuclear war.
- The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed.
- Relations with Cuba were made illegal in the US.
And in other news . . .
- Skateboarding became a sport.
- The Beehive was THE hairstyle of the day.
- Alcatraz Penitentiary closed.
- Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped.
- The Mariner 2 space mission ended when NASA lost contact with the spacecraft.
- The Soviet Union launched Vostok 6 with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.
- The last Studebaker was produced in South Bend.
- Pope Paul VI was elected by the College of Cardinals following the death of Pope John XXII. He continued the Second Vatican Council that implemented many reforms in the Catholic Church including Mass in the vernacular and a greater role for lay people.
- The Supreme Court ruled that state-mandated reading of the Bible in public schools is unconstitutional.
Inventions and Introductions . . .
- The US Postal Service introduced the ZIP Code system.
- The touch tone phones, instant coffee, lava lamp, tape cassette, the Smiley face symbol, videotaped instant replay, artificial heart, and pull tab can.
- Coca-Cola introduced its first diet drink, Tab.
- The Sabin oral Polio Vaccine was taken with a lump of sugar.
- Weight Watchers launched.
- Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert were fired from Harvard for experimenting with LSD.