(Pictured: a TV screencap from Apollo 14 showing astronaut Alan Shepard hitting a golf ball with an improvised club on February 6, 1971.)
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February 4, 1971, was a Thursday. Apollo 14 went into orbit around the moon early this morning. Astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell are scheduled to land early tomorrow morning while Stuart Roosa stays behind in the command module. Twenty thousand South Vietnamese troops have invaded the neighboring nation of Laos. American commanders have refused to discuss the situation in recent days, although an official news embargo has been lifted today. It’s learned that 20,000 more South Vietnamese and 9,000 American troops are massing at the Laotian border. In Oakland, California, authorities fear that the bombing of an Army induction center, which shattered storefronts nearby but injured no one, may mark an escalation of the antiwar movement. Eight American soldiers and one Marine die in Vietnam today. A Delta Air Lines flight from Chicago to Nashville with 27 people aboard is hijacked and flown to Cuba. President Nixon speaks to the American College of Cardiology meeting in Washington. A tornado in rural Grenada County, Mississippi, kills four members of one family. Future actor/comedian Rob Corddry and future Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti are born. The Vatican says that Catholic theologians and teachers will no longer face excommunication or be charged with heresy for opposing church doctrine.
Major League Baseball announces that it will induct former Negro Leagues players into the Hall of Fame, but they will be enshrined in their own wing. Two games are played in the NBA: the San Francisco Warriors beat Phoenix 117-105 and Portland beats Atlanta 137-123. In the ABA, the Virginia Squires beat the Floridians 138-129 in double overtime and the Kentucky Colonels beat the New York Nets 106-99.
On TV tonight, CBS opens with Family Affair and The Jim Nabors Hour, followed by Sinatra in Concert, a November 1970 show taped at the Royal Festival Hall in London. On NBC, it’s The Flip Wilson Show (with guests including Joe Namath and George Carlin), Ironside, Adam-12, and The Dean Martin Show. ABC airs Alias Smith and Jones, Bewitched, Make Room for Granddaddy, Dan August, and This Is Your Life. Movies in theaters include Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn in There’s a Girl in My Soup, Barbra Streisand and George Segal in The Owl and the Pussycat, plus Tora! Tora! Tora!, Lovers and Other Strangers, and Song of Norway, the musical biography of composer Edvard Grieg. At Syracuse University hot spot The Scene, tonight is Wino Thursday. Cover is 50 cents for the wine and cheese party; glasses of Budweiser are 40 cents.
T. Rex plays Croydon, England, while Earth Wind and Fire plays a club date in West Hollywood. Just off a three-night stand at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles, the Allman Brothers fly halfway across the country for the first of two nights at Ohio Wesleyan University. Elvis Presley plays dinner and midnight shows at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The James Gang plays Morehead State University in Kentucky.
At WRKO in Boston, “One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds holds at #1 on the new survey released today. “If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot is #2, and “Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is #3. One song is new in the Top 10: “Groove Me” by King Floyd is at #10 from #13, replacing “Knock Three Times” by Dawn, which slips to #11. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, is up seven spots to #12. “She’s a Lady” by Tom Jones is the week’s biggest mover, leaping 12 spots to #15 in its second week on the chart. Five songs debut: Bobby Goldsboro’s “Watching Scotty Grow,” “For All We Know” by the Carpenters (from the movie Lovers and Other Strangers), Wilson Pickett’s “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations, and Santana’s “Oye Como Va.”
Perspective From the Present: On Saturday the 6th, astronaut Alan Shepard would make history by hitting a golf ball during a moonwalk. The “separate but equal” Negro Leagues wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame was shot down pretty quickly. I received a 45 of “Knock Three Times” for Christmas 1970, and I would eventually buy “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” as well as Wadsworth Mansion’s “Sweet Mary” and the Jackson Five’s “Mama’s Pearl,” also on the WRKO chart this week. The song that would stick with me the longest, however, is “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations, which remains one of my very favorite records of all time.