July 4, 1971: Sooner or Later

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(Pictured: President Nixon certifies the ratification of the 26th Amendment on July 5, 1971.)

July 4, 1971, was a Sunday. It’s hot around the country with very little rain anywhere. Dallas tops 100 degrees; high today in Chicago is 91 and in Cincinnati 87. On Friday, an Acapulco-to-New York flight was diverted to Monterey, Mexico, where its 100 passengers were released after payment of the hijacker’s $100,000 demand. The plane flew on to Lima, Peru, then Rio de Janeiro and finally Buenos Aires, where a 20-hour standoff ensued before Robert Lee Jackson agreed to surrender today. The 7,500-mile hijacking is the longest in history to date. Today in Washington, pro-marijuana activists hold a smoke-in. Yesterday, Doors lead singer Jim Morrison was found dead in a bathtub in Paris.

Among the preceding week’s news stories analyzed in the Sunday papers: Ohio ratified the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, giving it a three-quarters majority of the states and thereby lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. The US Postal Service officially began operation, replacing the Post Office Department. The postmaster general, Winton Blount, is no longer a member of the presidential cabinet or in the line of succession. Over 6,000 American soldiers were withdrawn from Vietnam this week; American forces are down by half compared to to 1969 levels. Comic strips in the Sunday papers include Peanuts, Short Ribs, Winthrop, Captain Easy, Alley Oop, Andy Capp, Eek and Meek, and Priscilla’s Pop. At Smith Buick in Gallipolis, Ohio, a new 1971 Buick Electra four-door hardtop with automatic transmission, power steering, air conditioning, radio, and six-way power seat is $4899. Gallipolis car shoppers looking for a used car might consider the 1968 Mustang at Wood Motor Sales: two-door hardtop, all-white finish with matching blue interior, low mileage in excellent condition, for $1595.

A full schedule of games is played in the majors today. Vida Blue scatters nine hits and goes the distance to run his record for the season to 17-and-3 as his Oakland A’s beat the California Angels 2-1. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs play a wild one at Wrigley Field. The Pirates get three in the top of the eighth to take a 7-4 lead; the Cubs come back with five in the bottom of the eighth and win it 9-7.

On TV tonight, CBS airs episodes of Lassie and Hogan’s Heroes, the TV movie A Step Out of Line, about three Korean War buddies who turn to crime for money, and an episode of The Ice Palace, a summer variety series featuring stars of the Ice Capades. The ABC Sunday Night Movie presents Batman, the 1966 theatrical movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward. It follows an episode of The FBI. NBC presents The Wonderful World of Disney, The Red Skelton Show, Bonanza, and an episode of The Senator, starring Hal Holbrook.

The Newport Jazz Festival shuts down early after gate-crashers invade the venue during the afternoon. Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Tower of Power play the Fillmore West in San Francisco. It is the final show on the venue’s closing night and admission is by invitation only, but it is broadcast on local radio. Closing weekend featured the Grateful Dead on Friday night and Hot Tuna last night.

At WLS in Chicago, “It’s Too Late” by Carole King tops the new Hit Parade, which will be out tomorrow. “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor is up from #6 to #2, while “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” by the Fortunes is up from #5 to #3. Among the records moving into the Top 10 is Tommy James’ “Draggin’ the Line,” up to #7 from #13. The hottest songs on the chart are “Sooner or Later” by the Grass Roots and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” by the Bee Gees, both up eight spots. King’s Tapestry is the #1 album, followed by the Stones’ Sticky Fingers and Ram by Paul and Linda McCartney.

Perspective From the Present: The summer of 1971 was the last one in which I got to be a kid 100 percent of the time. The next summer, I would be expected to drive a tractor or do other work on the farm beyond the little chores that my brother and I were already doing. I was playing Little League baseball (poorly) and learning to play the saxophone (without getting very good at that either). I was still listening to WLS on the the famous green Westinghouse tube-type radio that I had scrounged from the basement the previous fall. But by July, I could imagine my own voice coming through it someday.

2 thoughts on “July 4, 1971: Sooner or Later

  1. Shaggy dude in the second row is my man.

    Gonna have to look up Short Ribs — totally unaware of its existence. (I have not made a study of comic strips and I’m sure there are hundreds I do not know.)

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