(Pictured: antiwar demonstrators sing in front of the White House on May 9, 1970.)
(Unlike our recent One Day in Your Life repeats, this is a brand-new post.)
May 8, 1970, is a Friday. In the Midwest, it’s an unusually warm day for early May, with high temperatures in the 80s. Out west, predicted highs are cooler than normal. A nationwide student strike shuts down college campuses after the shooting of 13 students, four fatally, by National Guardsmen at Kent State University on Monday: Illinois State, Washington, Harvard, Purdue, Northern Illinois, Kansas, Yale, North Carolina, Western Kentucky, Texas, the entire University of California system, and dozens of others, big and small, hold marches and vigils. Today, an antiwar protest on Wall Street in New York City is broken up by construction workers. Tonight, President Nixon holds a televised news conference, where he faces tough questioning about the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the nationwide campus unrest. Leaving the White House after the press conference, Nixon aides note large numbers of soldiers deploying to protect the White House from protesters. At around 4AM tomorrow morning, Nixon and his valet will visit the Lincoln Memorial and talk with protesters camped there.
Nixon’s press conference pre-empts programming on the major TV networks. Programs scheduled earlier tonight include Get Smart, The Tim Conway Show, and Hogan’s Heroes on CBS and High Chaparral and The Name of the Game on NBC. ABC airs Game 7 of the NBA Finals before the press conference. In that game, the New York Knicks win the championship, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 113-99 to take the seven-game series. Just before the game, Knicks center Willis Reed, who had not been expected to play due to an injury that had caused him to miss Game 6, limps out of the locker room and onto the court. He scores only four points in 27 minutes of play, but his effort is credited with giving the Knicks an important emotional lift. In baseball, the American League-leading Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins both win their games. Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer goes the distance in a 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox; the Twins get three runs in the 8th to beat Cleveland 7-6. In the National League, the division-leading Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds play home-run derby at Wrigley Field. For the Reds, Hal McRae hits two home runs and Johnny Bench and Tony Perez each hit one; Billy Williams, Jim Hickman, and J. C. Martin each homer for the Cubs, who win 10-7.
Future Houston radio personality Jeffrey Thames is born. The Beatles release the album Let It Be. In Hollywood, the Wrecking Crew lays down instrumental tracks for “I Think I Love You,” a song that will be featured on a new ABC situation comedy airing this fall, The Partridge Family. The Jimi Hendrix Experience plays at the University of Oklahoma in Norman with Bloodrock opening. The Doors play Detroit and Joe Cocker plays Port Chester, New York. At WBGN in Bowling Green, Kentucky (home of Western Kentucky University), “Run Through the Jungle” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is the #1 song again this week, and CCR’s “Up Around the Bend” leaps from #10 to #4. In between are “Soolaimon” by Neil Diamond at #2 and “Which Way You Goin’, Billy” by the Poppy Family at #3. Four songs are new in the WBGN Top 10: “Puppet Man” by the Fifth Dimension, “Cotton Fields” by the Beach Boys, “It’s All in the Game” by the Four Tops, and “Daughter of Darkness” by Tom Jones, which is up from #36 last week. Eight new songs debut on the station’s Top 40; the highest is “Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins; also new is the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.” The new #1 hit on the Hot 100, the Guess Who’s “American Woman,” does not appear on the WBGN chart; neither does last week’s Billboard #1, the Jackson Five’s “ABC.”
Perspective From the Present: The construction workers’ breakup of the Wall Street protest has gone down in history as the Hard-Hat Riot. Nixon’s visit to the Lincoln Memorial was remembered by staffers as possibly the single weirdest event of his presidency. Willis Reed’s inspirational appearance in Game 7 of the NBA Finals remains one of the most memorable moments in NBA history. “I Think I Love You” would become a #1 single and a 70s icon a few months later. And those of us who were around on that day are a half-century older. Or, in the case of my longtime Internet friend Jeffrey, a half-century old.