Tuesday, March 19, 2019

52 Ancestors - 12: 1963

I was actually looking for an obituary for a prospective member of my DAR chapter when I began to wonder if MY name would turn up in a search at GenealogyBank. And yes, it does, 42 times, only not always ME. Most of the entries were for “Wendy Slade” in California advertising a million dollar estate complete with carriage house and au-pair building. Yeah, definitely not me.

But the Wendy Slade in this news article dated October 27, 1963, really is ME.
Wendy in the news 1963 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
That's moi in the first photo, obviously concentrating on sewing or threading a needle or SOMETHING.
The Virginian Pilot, Sunday, 27 Oct 1963
from GenealogyBank
There I was when I was just 12, SUPPOSEDLY sewing a costume for a newly organized Children’s Theater program that was just getting off the ground in Portsmouth, Virginia. I was invited to participate by my friend Alice, the tall girl in the last photo. She was a performer. I was sent to the sewing class to help make costumes. While the memory of that day and of sewing and posing for the news photographer is FAIRLY clear, I remember nothing else except that I did not stick with it. Thanks to my mother and my Girl Scout troop, I knew some basic hand sewing, but I was surely not up for making real costumes. I doubt I went back a second time.

So that was me when I was 12. What was going on around me?

 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:
  1. The Ku Klux Klan bombed a Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing 4 young girls.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech.
  3. Alabama elected new governor George Wallace, a strong advocate for segregation.
  4. Medgar Evers was murdered in Jackson, Mississippi.
  5. 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.

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. What fun to find this newspaper with your picture!

    1. It was. Without it, I had almost totally forgotten about this short attempt at little theater.

  2. Oh that's a great link for the theme next week! I have already posted about the newspaper which had my parent's in it...don't think I've ever been in the news. I loved remembering 1963. Especially those inventions and the music!

    1. I know! But I do have other stories of ancestors in the newspaper.

  3. I enjoyed your interpretation of this week’s theme and the nostalgic look back at the year 1963 - I remember many of the events you listed.

  4. So funny, I was writing out a letter to send in regular mail and was writing their Zip Code. I stopped for a minute and wondered "when did this all start?" and now I know!

    What a great picture to have preserved like that from you "sewing" days. Are you still friends with Alice?

    Lots of things happened in 1963 for sure! I was in 1st grade at the time JFK's assassination.


    1. Alice and I are FACEBOOK friends nowadays, like so many other friends from the past.
      (And thanks a heap for pointing out that I'm older than you ha ha!)

  5. The Patty Duke Show! HAHAHA, I wonder what became of Kathy Duke? hahaha, best joke ever. A-Boo looks just like you in this photo.

    1. Yeah, that Kathy Duke was a great actress!

  6. Love the photos, and the historical context for that time!

    1. Surprising how much was still rather fresh in my memory.

  7. Great take on the theme - you are always so creative. I have to laugh at the invention of Tab as I sit here drinking my Diet Coke.

    You are just a few years older than I am but I can remember November, 1963 as if it were YESTERDAY. I sat in front of the TV for hours watching the news reports, funeral procession, and all things Kennedy. Fortunately I was at Sunday School when Oswald was shot but when my dad picked us up, he couldn't stop talking about it. An event I will never forget.

    1. Can people stop pointing out how old I am? HA HA!
      I remember Tab and that it was pretty awful. But now I prefer Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke. I wonder if they really are better or if I'm just used to them.

    2. Diet Coke is 1000% better. I'm not a Pepsi fan, though.

  8. This will make you feel better...I was 16 in 1963, and remember ALL of the events, music and inventions. Loved that you were in the news as a budding seamstress...thanks to your Mom, huh? Although my hair was not long enough for a beehive, I could get it in a French roll. The beehive has made a comeback as the 'Messy Bun'...I'm way into that hairdo. Great take on the prompt this week. Thanks for the 1963 memories!