November 24, 1966: Hazy Shade

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(Pictured: Bullwinkle J. Moose floats above the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.)

(In the very first post on this website, I warned you that sometimes it was going to be so personal that only I would care about it. This is an example of what I meant. This may not be one day in your life, but it’s one day in mine.)

November 24, 1966, is a Thursday. It is Thanksgiving Day. All over America, families gather to celebrate. For a second straight day, elevated smog levels are recorded on the East Coast. After a stretch of Indian summer weather, a stagnant air mass is held in place by a cold front, which has allowed the buildup of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and smoke. New York City is positively choking. Today, in hopes of minimizing the smog, the city closes its garbage incinerators, and utilities cut back on the use of fuel oil to generate electricity. Despite the smog, one million people attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, where the haze is noticeable.

There are also Thanksgiving Day parades in Detroit and Philadelphia, also sponsored by department stores, J. L. Hudson’s and Gimbels. This afternoon, in Detroit’s traditional Thanksgiving Day NFL game, the Lions are blown out by the San Francisco 49ers 41-14. For the first time, the Dallas Cowboys play on Thanksgiving, beating the Cleveland Browns 26-14. There’s also an AFL game today: Buffalo beats Oakland 31-10. On TV tonight, CBS airs the 1963 theatrical movie Jason and the Argonauts at the conclusion of the Cowboys/Browns game. ABC presents Batman, F Troop, The Dating Game, Bewitched, That Girl, and Hawk, a police drama starring Burt Reynolds. On NBC, it’s the anthology show GE Fantasy Theater, Star Trek, The Hero (a sitcom with Richard Mulligan as an actor who stars in a TV Western, with Mariette Hartley as his wife), and The Dean Martin Show.

The current Cash Box magazine chart is led by the Beach Boys and “Good Vibrations.” “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band is #2; last week’s #1, “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers, is #3. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes and “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees round out the Top Five. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “I’m Your Puppet” by James and Bobby Purify (currently #1 on the Cash Box R&B chart) and a medley of “Devil With a Blue Dress” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Elsewhere, “I’m Ready for Love” by Martha and the Vandellas is up 16 spots to #24; “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan is up 26 spots to #33; “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon and Garfunkel is up 19 spots to #35. Two Motown hits are the highest-debuting songs of the week: “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Jr. Walker and the All-Stars at #61 and “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations at #67. The #1 song on the Cash Box country chart this week is “Open Up Your Heart” by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. The self-titled debut album by the Monkees is atop the Cash Box album chart.

Perspective From the Present: On Friday, November 25, New York City issued a first-stage smog alert, asking people to avoid driving, turn thermostats down, and stop burning their own garbage. Similar alerts were issued in New Jersey and Connecticut. On Saturday morning, the weather turned, and a northeast wind dispersed the smog. Although precise figures are impossible to calculate, some experts said that the smog likely caused as many as two dozen excess deaths in the city per day.

Six-year-old me did not celebrate Thanksgiving with my whole family on this day. A few days earlier, I had been kicked on the playground, and as a result, I developed some sort of infection in one leg. I had already missed a couple of days of school because I had keep it elevated and under hot towels. That meant I couldn’t go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for Thanksgiving dinner with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. So Mother, my two-month-old brother, and I stayed home while Dad and my other brother, age 4, went to the dinner. Mother prepared turkey noodle soup for  us, entertained me with board games, and did all she could to lessen my disappointment and, most likely, hers.

Even though we didn’t particularly like the circumstances, we made the best of what we had to deal with—a good lesson for Thanksgiving 2020.

November 3, 1964: Leader of the Pack

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(Pictured: Lyndon Johnson goes cow-punching at his ranch on November 4, 1964.)

(While we all go quietly mad waiting for this day to unfold however it’s going to, here’s a brand-new post about a bygone day.)

November 3, 1964, was a Tuesday. It is Election Day. Pre-election headlines in the morning papers include a change at the top in Saudi Arabia, where King Saud has been deposed and replaced by his younger brother, Prince Faisal. Also yesterday, CBS officially acquired the New York Yankees from a pair of hotel magnates, Del Webb and Dan Topping, for $14.4 million. NASA is preparing for the launch of Mariner 3 on Thursday. It is to make the first flyby of the planet Mars. Today, President and Mrs. Johnson cast their ballots in the president’s hometown of Johnson City, Texas, before returning to the LBJ Ranch. There, according to Johnson’s daily diary, they “spent the day resting in bed with no interruptions in preparation for the late hours to come.” In the early evening, Johnson takes a number of phone calls before he and Lady Bird helicopter to the ranch of family friend A. W. Moursund and then to Austin to watch the returns.

On network TV today, schedules are sprinkled with reruns of primetime shows including Father Knows Best, Wagon Train, The Donna Reed Show, I Love Lucy, and The Andy Griffith Show. Game shows include The Price Is Right, Password, Concentration, The Match Game, and Jeopardy. Daytime dramas include General Hospital, Search for Tomorrow, Another World, The Secret Storm, and As the World Turns. Tonight’s regular TV schedules are pre-empted for election coverage, which begins with the early evening newscasts. At the end of the night Johnson is reelected, defeating Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, taking 44 states, 486 electoral votes, and 61 percent of the popular vote. The Democrats will end up with a 295-140 margin in the House of Representatives and 68-32 in the Senate. Among the new senators will be Robert F. Kennedy, who won a seat in New York by defeating incumbent Kenneth Keating. Former Kennedy hand Pierre Salinger, who had been appointed to a Senate seat from California in August, lost his race to Republican George Murphy.

In Berkeley, Calfornia, tonight, moviegoers can see the James Bond film Dr. No, Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole in Becket or Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, along with Fail Safe, Fate Is the Hunter, Yul Brynner in Invitation to a Gunfighter, and Shoot the Piano Player, directed by Francois Truffaut. In Memphis this afternoon, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson make a live appearance on a local TV show before their show at Ellis Auditorium tonight. Also tonight, the Rolling Stones play Cleveland. Teenage female fans rush the stage, causing police to stop the show only seconds after it begins, although it eventually resumes. During the show, a 17-year-old girl falls from a balcony and suffers minor injuries. The Stones are angry about the small crowd of only about 1,000; local radio station WHK blames Mayor Ralph Locher’s recent ban on future rock concerts, saying many fans with tickets were not permitted to attend. In England, the Hollies and the Tornadoes play Aylesbury and the Honeycombs play the Manchester Odeon.

At KQV in Pittsburgh, “She’s Not There” by the Zombies makes a giant leap from #13 to #1 on the new Finest Forty survey. Last week’s #1, “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las, falls to #3, while “Baby Love” by the Supremes holds at #2. Lorne Greene’s “Ringo” is #4. A double-sided hit by Elvis Presley, “Ask Me” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” debuts at #12, just ahead of Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman,” which has fallen out of the Top 10 this week. Other debuts on the chart include “Mountain of Love” by Johnny Rivers, “Big Man in Town” by the Four Seasons, and Jan and Dean’s “Sidewalk Surfin’.” Apart from Elvis, the biggest movers on the chart are “I’m Gonna Be Strong” by Gene Pitney and “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton, both up 15 spots. The Beatles are absent from KQV’s chart for the first time since January.

Perspective From the Present: Mariner 3 malfunctioned after launch and the mission was terminated after eight hours. Sam Cooke’s Memphis TV appearance was his last on live TV before his murder in December. The Beatles would return to the KQV chart within a couple of weeks with “I Feel Fine” and “She’s a Woman.” And on another election day, 56 years on, a lot of us are hoping for a similar landslide, not to confirm the popularity of a sitting president, but to rebuke a president and a party unfit for office and homicidal toward democracy itself.

November 2, 1948: It’s Too Soon to Know

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(Pictured: ABC News covers the 1948 election on radio and local TV.)

(This seemed like a good idea when I started it. Maybe it’s too far back in time to be of interest. You’ll have to tell me.)

November 2, 1948, is a Tuesday. It is Election Day. Although his Gallup poll margin has fallen from 17 points ahead in September to five ahead last week, Republican Thomas E. Dewey, currently the governor of New York, is expected to defeat incumbent Harry Truman for the presidency today. (Elmo Roper, the other major American pollster, stopped polling the race in September, claiming that Dewey’s election was inevitable.) Dewey has the endorsement of over 500 newspapers reprsenting 70 percent of the country; columnist Walter Winchell reports that gamblers are offering 15-to-1 odds against Truman. Having held the lead all summer, Dewey has campaigned cautiously, avoiding controversial issues and rarely even mentioning his opponent’s name. Truman, meanwhile, has attacked the current Republican Congress with a highly partisan, people-vs.-the-powerful message.

Tonight, election returns are broadcast on television for the first time, but audiences are expected to be very small. Like Truman (who will escape his election-night party in Kansas City to follow the returns from a resort in Excelsior Springs, Missouri), most voters follow the returns on radio. CBS coverage features Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas, Eric Sevareid, and others. NBC’s coverage is led by H. V. Kaltenborn and Robert Trout, both former CBS commentators. At midnight, Kaltenborn sees a swing in Dewey’s favor and confidently predicts that while Truman has been ahead all night, late returns will put Dewey over the top.

In the new Associated Press college football poll released yesterday, Notre Dame has taken over the #1 ranking from Michigan, which falls to #2, even though the Wolverines have more first-place votes. Notre Dame blew out winless Navy 41-7 in Baltimore on Saturday while Michigan was squeaking past Illinois at home 28-20. The Basketball Association of America opened its third season last night. The Indianapolis Jets beat the St. Louis Bombers 84-80. No games are scheduled tonight. The New York Knicks will play the Fort Wayne Pistons and the Philadelphia Warriors will meet the Washington Capitols tomorrow night. The defending champion Minneapolis Lakers, Boston Celtics, Providence Steamrollers, Chicago Stags, and Rochester Royals will open later in the week. The National Hockey League is on a week-long break; the league’s second-ever All-Star Game is tomorrow night in Chicago, pitting the league all-stars against the defending champion Toronto Maple Leafs.

This week’s Cash Box Disc Hits Box Score ranks songs by title and lists the versions available by different performers. Several songs are popular in only one version, however, including this week’s #1 song, “A Tree in the Meadow” by Margaret Whiting. Last week’s #1, “It’s Magic,” can be found in versions by Doris Day, Dick Haymes, Tony Martin, and Gordon MacRae. “Twelfth Street Rag” is #3, recorded by Pee Wee Hunt. “Buttons and Bows,” with popular versions by Dinah Shore and the Dinning Sisters, is #4. Other top songs of the week include “My Happiness,” with versions by Ella Fitzgerald, the Pied Pipers, and Jon and Sandra Steele; “Cool Water” by Vaughn Monroe with the Sons of the Pioneers; “Ramblin’ Rose” by Perry Como and the Satisfiers; and “On a Slow Boat to China” by the Kay Kyser Orchestra. “It’s Too Soon to Know” by the Orioles, currently climbing the R&B charts, is at #20. At #23, comedy bandleader Red Ingle has found a way around the current musicians’ union strike against record labels with a country parody of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” that was recorded with non-union musicians playing mostly toy instruments and creating sound effects. “Serutan Yob (A Song for Backward Boys and Girls Under 40)” is credited to the Unnatural Seven. “Serutan Yob” is “Nature Boy” spelled backwards, but Serutan is also a popular brand of laxative widely advertised on network radio to younger people, which accounts for the “under 40” reference in the title.

Perspective From the Present: By 4AM Wednesday morning, Truman was certain he would win; Dewey held out until several large states went for Truman at mid-morning, and he finally conceded by telegram around 11AM. Many newspapers and magazines had prepared Dewey-wins articles in advance, and some published them. The most famous, of course, was the Chicago Tribune, which bannered “Dewey Defeats Truman” on its November 3 front page. Truman won 303 electoral votes to 189 for Dewey and seven for States Rights Democrat Strom Thurmond. His margin in the popular vote was a little over two million.

Seventy-two years and 18 presidential elections later, the Orioles describe our current situation very well. I made my election prediction in today’s Sidepiece. To subscribe, go here

September 22, 1965: Three Strikes and You’re Out

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(Pictured: Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves, center, gets caught off third base by a pack of Los Angeles Dodgers on September 21, 1965.)

September 22, 1965, was a Wednesday. Pakistan agrees to a cease-fire in its war with India, which Pakistan started with a surprise attack on September 1. Pakistani Foreign Minister Bhutto demands voters in Muslim-majority Kashmir be permitted to decide whether to remain part of India or become part of Pakistan. In addition to fighting a two-front war with Pakistan, India has also been on the verge of war with China. Reports yesterday indicated that India had begun to remove troops from the border with Tibet, as China had demanded, although Indian officials denied that a withdrawal had begun. In New York City, seven of the city’s eight daily newspapers remain shut down as reporters continue a strike that began last week and other unionized workers refuse to cross picket lines. The New York Post, which is not affected by the strike, has doubled its press run, but to fill the void, radio and TV stations have expanded news coverage, and some out-of-town papers are being sold in the city. An Associated Press story published around the country reports that subway riders are not sure how to act without a newspaper to distract them from fellow passengers. In California, migrant workers are on strike for higher wages, threatening the harvest of grapes and other farm products.

In major-league baseball today, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Braves 7-6 in 11 innings at Milwaukee County Stadium. It seems likely that this is the last game for the Braves in Milwaukee before they move to Atlanta in time for the 1966 season. The win pulls the Dodgers to within two games of the National League-leading San Francisco Giants, who lost to the Cincinnati Reds 7-1. In the AL, the front-running Minnesota Twins lose to the second-place Baltimore Orioles 5-2, but the Twins still lead by eight games. They haven’t clinched the pennant yet, but it’s getting close. Future Twins pitcher Mark Guthrie is born. In London, Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen bring their son Zac home from the hospital nine days after his birth.

On TV tonight, a number of new shows that premiered last week air their second episodes, including Gidget, The Big Valley, I Spy, Lost in Space, and Green Acres. Elvis Presley continues work on his next film, Paradise Hawaiian Style. Jazz players Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly complete work on a new album, which will be titled Smokin’ at the Half Note and released later this year. Dean Martin headlines the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. At the Coffee Gallery in San Francisco, the Great Society, featuring lead singer Grace Slick, plays its first gig. Elsewhere in San Francisco, the Jefferson Airplane opens for Lightning Hopkins at the Matrix.

At WMCA in New York, “Yesterday” and “Help” by the Beatles are both in the Top 10, at #1 and #7 respectively. Also in the Top 10 is Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction,” which was #1 last week, along with the McCoys’ “Hang on Sloopy,” “You Were on My Mind” by We Five, “The In Crowd” by Ramsey Lewis, the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” debuts on the station’s Good Guys Top 57 survey all the way up at #24; “Everybody Loves a Clown” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys is red-hot right behind it at #25, up from #46 last week.  Across the country at KHJ in Los Angeles, “The In Crowd” is #1 on the Boss 30 for a second week. “Yesterday,” which is shown as being by Paul McCartney, is up to #3, and “Help” is at #8. The hottest record at KHJ is “Keep on Dancing” by the Gentrys, up from #29 last week to #14 this week.

Perspective From the Present: Milwaukee Braves ownership started thinking about a move to Atlanta in 1963, and wanted to be there for the 1965 season, but were forced to keep playing in Milwaukee while legal wrangling continued. Braves games were broadcast in Atlanta in 1965. The last legal roadblock wasn’t removed until shortly before the 1966 season began. The scars left by the drawn-out battle over the future of the Braves lasted a long time in Wisconsin, even after the Brewers began play in 1970.

I knew nothing about anything that happened on this day, for I had been in kindergarten for less than a month, and my world was much, much smaller.

August 24, 1970: Spill the Wine

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(Pictured: Karl Armstrong, in custody in Toronto in 1972, before his extradition to stand trial as leader of the Sterling Hall bombing conspiracy.)

August 24, 1970, was a Monday. Early this morning, a truck bomb explodes outside Sterling Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The target is the Army Math Research Center, housed in the building. Researcher Robert Fassnacht, father of three, is killed in the blast, which is heard 30 miles away. In California, the United Farm Workers go on strike after an agreement with growers earlier this month collapsed. A front-page story in the New York Times is headlined “Homosexuals in Revolt.” It discusses the new militancy of the gay liberation movement about a year after New York’s Stonewall riots. The National Organization for Women is planning marches in several major cities to be held on Wednesday. Women’s Strike for Equality events are timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which permitted women the right to vote. President Nixon is at the Western White House in San Clemente, California; he arrived Saturday after a brief trip to Mexico. Among his appointments today, he meets with his economic advisors and hosts a reception for West Coast business leaders. He declines to take two phone calls from 1936 Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon, gets a haircut in the afternoon, and ends his day watching the movie Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.

Only two games are played in the  National League. Chicago Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins runs his season record to 16-and-14 with a complete-game 4-2 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Elsewhere, Atlanta shuts out Montreal 6-0 in a make-up game after yesterday’s rainout at Parc Jarry in Montreal, and in the American League, Kansas City beats New York 8-7. At the University of Iowa, the football team assembles for its team picture. Future professional golfer Rich Beem is born.

Among his guests tonight, Dick Cavett welcomes singer James Brown and Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid. Dark Shadows is one of 16 daytime dramas broadcast by the three networks today, along with eight game shows and primetime reruns including That Girl, Bewitched, The Lucy Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show, and Gomer Pyle USMC. While being followed by a film crew, Elvis Presley plays dinner and midnight shows at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Jefferson Airplane plays Atlanta and Johnny Cash plays Toronto. Chicago plays Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” is one of the top hits in its namesake city, at WLS. “War” by Edwin Starr is the station’s new #1 song this week, knocking last week’s #1, “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon and War, to #3. “I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B. J. Thomas is #2. Other top hits include “Signed Sealed Delivered” by Stevie Wonder, “Make It With You” by Bread, and “Why Can’t I Touch You” by Ronnie Dyson. The biggest mover on the chart is “Hi-De-Ho” by Blood Sweat and Tears, up seven spots to #13, although “Julie Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman debuts in the Top 30 at #22. Two other songs are in their first week among the Top 30: “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond and “Candida” by Dawn. The oldest records on the chart have all been around 13 weeks: Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold,” “The Love You Save” by the Jackson Five, and “Mama Told Me Not to Come” by Three Dog Night.

Perspective From the Present: Events of that day either changed things directly—in Madison, Sterling Hall brought an immediate end to the era of anti-Vietnam protest marches on the UW campus—or they signaled broader changes in progress. The women’s rights movement would gain force after the Women’s Strike for Equality (although gay liberation would take a while longer). The United Farm Workers strike, which would last several months, turned organizer Cesar Chavez into a significant historical figure.

In Monroe, Wisconsin, an hour south of Madison, it wouldn’t be long before I first heard WLS on the school bus. It was a change, inasmuch as WLS became the radio station I heard most often instead of the hometown station Mother and Dad listened to. But it was also a beginning.

If there is a single date in Madison’s local history that stands out from all the others, August 24, 1970—50 years ago today—is probably it. I wrote about Sterling Hall for my original blog 15 years ago (!) and reposted it here in 2010. It’s one of my favorite pieces of my own writing, and I invite you to read it, or read it again.

August 3, 1984: Close Your Eyes

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(Pictured: gymnast Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.)

August 3, 1984, was a Friday. The lead story on all three network newscasts tonight is about the economy. Despite rising unemployment numbers, the stock market rose again today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 31.47 to close at 1166.08. The S&P 500 has gained more than eight percent in the last three trading days. Bert Lance, who resigned from his position in the Carter Administration under a cloud of scandal and was later acquitted of bank fraud, has stepped down as an advisor to Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign. Mondale had tried to name Lance chairman of the Democratic National Committee before the party’s convention last month; that nomination was withdrawn after complaints from fellow Democrats.

The Summer Olympics continue in Los Angeles. Scoring a perfect 10 on her vault, Mary Lou Retton wins gold in women’s all-around gymnastics, one of six golds Team USA wins on this day. Swimmer Tracy Caulkins wins two, an individual gold in the 200 meter individual medley and a team gold in the 4-by-100 medley relay. Future Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is born. In the majors, the Detroit Tigers are cruising in the American League East despite dropping a 9-6 decision to Kansas City; they lead the Toronto Blue Jays by 10-and-a-half games. The American League West is much tighter. The Minnesota Twins and California Angels opened a critical four-game series last night. The Angels took over first place by a half-game after a 14-2 laugher, but tonight the Twins regain the lead with a 4-2 win. The National League East is equally tight; the New York Mets pull to within a half-game of the Chicago Cubs with a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh while the Cubs lose 6-5 to Montreal. In the NL West, the San Diego Padres maintain a seven-and-a-half game lead over Atlanta despite losing to Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros 6-2.

ABC devotes primetime to the Summer Olympics and nearly triples the ratings of its competitors. CBS counterprograms with its usual Friday-night lineup of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. NBC presents a repeat episode of the martial-arts adventure The Master starring Lee Van Cleef and Timothy Van Patten, as well as the first network broadcast of The Private Eyes, a 1980 theatrical movie starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts as Scotland Yard sleuths solving a mystery in a spooky mansion. In theaters, moviegoers can choose from last week’s top-grossing picture, Purple Rain, along with Ghostbusters, Gremlins, the re-release of Disney’s The Jungle Book, The Karate Kid, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. New releases this weekend include Grandview U.S.A., The Philadelphia Experiment, and Joy of Sex, based (very loosely) on the how-to book by Dr. Alex Comfort.

Metallica plays New York City. Stevie Ray Vaughan plays Tampa; he’ll move on to Jacksonville tomorrow night and Columbia, South Carolina, on Sunday. Elvis Costello plays Sunrise, Florida, and the Pretenders play New Haven, Connecticut. The Beach Boys play the Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California, performing 22 songs in less than an hour. On the American Top 40 show to be broadcast around the country this weekend, “When Doves Cry” by Prince and “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. hold at #1 and #2. Also in the Top Five: “State of Shock” by the Jacksons, “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen, and “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner. Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You” makes the biggest move of the week, up seven spots to #15. Richie’s “Hello” is one of two Long Distance Dedications on the show, along with “Looks Like We Made It” by Barry Manilow. There are four new songs among the 40 this week: “All of You” by Julio Iglesias and Diana Ross, Jermaine Jackson’s “Dynamite,” “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” by Billy Joel, and Night Ranger’s “When You Close Your Eyes.”

Perspective From the Present: The August 1984 gains in the stock market are widely recognized now as the start of a bull market that wouldn’t end until the Black Monday crash of October 1987. Three months before the presidential election, no one seriously believed that Walter Mondale would oust Ronald Reagan from office, and unforced errors like the continued promotion of the disgraced Bert Lance didn’t help his chances. The Soviet boycott of the Summer Olympics, which was a major story all summer, was forgotten in the blitz of American gold medals, and the games became a two-week patriotic celebration. From our one-bedroom basement apartment in small-town Illinois, we cheered Mary Lou Retton and the other Olympians, and we spent the weekend watching them.