July 20, 1969, was a Sunday. Police in Massachusetts continue investigating an incident on Friday night in which Senator Edward Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Edgartown. A campaign worker riding with him, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. Although Kennedy claims he tried to rescue Kopechne immediately after the crash and again a few hours afterward, he did not report the incident to police until yesterday morning, after Kopechne’s body had been found. Sixteen American servicemen die in Vietnam today: 12 members of the Army, two Navy men, and two Marines. This afternoon, Korean War veterans Neil Armstrong, a Navy lieutenant no longer in the service, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., an Air Force colonel, land on the moon aboard Apollo 11. Tonight, they will become the first humans to walk on its surface. In Seattle, a baby born at the precise moment Apollo 11 is landing is named Neil Armstrong Dial. Gospel and R&B singer Roy Hamilton, best known for his recordings of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Unchained Melody,” dies after suffering a stroke earlier this month. Tonight, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, a series of fights break out between black and white Marines. Fifteen Marines, all white, are injured.
News of the Apollo 11 landing is announced at major league ballparks during a busy afternoon of games. There are five doubleheaders—six if you count the completion of a suspended game before today’s regularly scheduled game in Seattle. The Twins and Pilots were in the 16th inning when last night’s game was called due to a 1AM curfew. Today, Twins pitcher Jim Perry throws two shutout innings to get the win in the suspended game. Perry then takes the mound for the scheduled game and pitches a complete-game shutout. Pilots pitcher John Gelnar loses both games. Elsewhere in the American League, in the first game of the A’s/Angels doubleheader, pitcher Vida Blue starts the game for the A’s and gets the loss in his major-league debut. Among the National League games, the Los Angeles Dodgers play at San Francisco. Giants pitcher Gaylord Perry hits his first-ever major-league home run; in 1964 his manager had said, “A man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” Perry’s home run comes about 30 minutes after the Apollo landing is announced. David Pearson wins the NASCAR Grand National Volunteer 500 in Bristol, Tennessee. Belgian cycling star Eddy Merckx wins the Tour de France, a race he will dominate for the next several years. Dave Hill wins the PGA IVB-Philadelphia Golf Classic on the first hole of a playoff.
The Newport Folk Festival concludes today with performances by James Taylor, Van Morrison, and Pete Seeger. Taylor’s set is cut short so festival promoters can play radio coverage of the moon landing over the PA system. Pink Floyd performs live on a BBC moon landing special titled So What If It’s Just Green Cheese? King Crimson performs in London and interrupts its show to announce that astronauts have landed on the moon. Elsewhere in England, the Who plays Hastings and Deep Purple plays Birmingham. Yes plays Cork, Ireland. In San Francisco, Joe Cocker plays the Fillmore West with Country Joe and the Fish, Blind Faith plays Baltimore, and Led Zeppelin plays suburban Cleveland with the James Gang opening. Upstate New York landowner Max Yasgur meets with a group planning a rock festival for next month. He agrees to rent them a 600-acre parcel for $75,000. Festival organizers have already spent $25,000 to rent land from adjacent landowners.
At WLTH in Gary, Indiana, “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans is #1, knocking “One” by Three Dog Night to #2. “Quentin’s Theme” by the Charles Randolph Greane Sound, heard on the TV show Dark Shadows, makes a big jump from #12 to #5. At country station WKTC in Charlotte, North Carolina, “Statue of a Fool” by Jack Greene is #1. Also in the Top 10: Sonny James’ cover of the Indian love story “Running Bear,” Buck Owens’ cover of “Johnny B. Goode,” and Roy Clark’s “Yesterday When I Was Young.” At R&B station WGOV in Valdosta, Georgia, “The Feeling Is Right” by Clarence Carter is #1. Also in the Top 10: “Mother Popcorn” by James Brown, “Color Him Father” by the Winstons, and “I Wanna Take You Higher” by Sly and the Family Stone.
Perspective From the Present: Even on July 20, 1969—one of the most historic dates in human history—regular daily life went on like it always does. That’s what makes One Day in Your Life so interesting to me, and I hope to you, too.
December 23, 1966, is a Friday. It’s cold in the Upper Midwest with highs around 20; snow is possible from Arkansas and northern Mississippi to southern Ohio; the southeast expects rain. All over the country, elementary school classrooms hold Christmas parties.
Two crewmen die and four are wounded when North Vietnamese shore batteries hit the USS O’Brien off the north-central coast of Vietnam. It’s the first North Vietnamese attack on an American ship from shore. The Chicago Tribune reports that Richard Daley will announce by January 1 whether he will seek an unprecedented fourth term as mayor. The director of placement at Northwestern University says college graduates in business and industry can expect to be offered the highest salaries ever in 1967: engineering graduates will be paid an average of $712 a month to start; salesmen can expect $585. Seventeen Chicago-area men in jail for delinquent alimony payments have been released for Christmas, although some former spouses and their families object. Earlier in the week, thieves stole gifts intended for kids at the Ada S. McKinley Community Services Agency in Chicago, but a local men’s club has replaced them. Sixty-five children are expected to attend today’s Christmas party.
The 16 Polk Brothers stores in the Chicago area will be open tonight until 10:00 and until 8:00 on Christmas Eve. If you buy a new appliance, you get a free case of soup. The Tribune reports that eight Green Bay Packers have been named to United Press International’s NFL All-Star team, although the selections were made public last week. The Packers will play the Dallas Cowboys on New Year’s Day for the NFL championship. On the same day, Kansas City will play Buffalo for the AFL championship. Winners will advance to the first Super Bowl, to be played in Los Angeles on January 15. At the box office, top movies include Doctor Zhivago, The Fortune Cookie, Gigi, Fantastic Voyage, and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. On TV, CBS leads off its primetime lineup with Wild Wild West and Hogan’s Heroes; on NBC, it’s Tarzan and The Man From UNCLE; on ABC, primetime starts with The Green Hornet and Time Tunnel.
In the UK, the final episode of the music show Ready Steady Go, which has become a weekend-starting tradition in the UK since its premiere in 1963, is broadcast. The final episode, titled “Ready Steady Goes,” features a who’s-who of British pop stars including Mick Jagger, the Who, and the Yardbirds, and ends with the whole cast singing “White Christmas.” At WCFL in Chicago, “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band spends a fourth week at #1. “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams is at #2. The two hottest records at WCFL are right behind: “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen is at #3, up from #15 last week; “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees is at #4, up from #17. Rounding out the Top 10: “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan, Mitch Ryder’s “Devil With a Blue Dress,” “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, “Lady Godiva” by Peter and Gordon, and the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
Perspective From the Present: I can’t say for sure that Mrs. Rodger’s first-grade class at Lincoln School in Monroe, Wisconsin, had a Christmas party 50 years ago today. My sense is that when I was a kid, Christmas vacation used to start a little earlier than it does now, and so our last day may have been earlier in the week. But no matter. At the party, Mrs. Rodger gave each of us a Christmas ornament, a paper-maché gingerbread man with her name on the back. It hung on our tree at home every year. It came with me when I moved away, and I still get it out every year, even though we’ve stopped putting up a tree. It’s pictured at the top of this post, looking out from the mantel right now, reminding me of how far I’ve traveled in time . . . and how little.
(Pictured: the Sex Pistols on stage in December 1976.)
December 2, 1976, was a Thursday. The weather across the Midwest and the Northeast is bitterly cold with heavy snow in some areas. Fidel Castro, who has been prime minister of Cuba since 1957, becomes president of Cuba, a position he will hold until 2008. A Utah judge has ordered the firing-squad execution of Gary Gilmore be carried out on Monday after Gilmore turned down a further stay of execution. Sentenced to death in October for two murders, Gilmore has waived all appeals and wants his execution to go forward. (It will, but not until January.) The state of Illinois holds a legislative hearing on a proposal to reinstate the death penalty. An amendment has already been stripped from the bill that would require legislators who vote for the death penalty to witness executions. President Ford holds meetings with the National Security Council, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, and the chairman of a commission on governmental salaries. He also holds a budget meeting. Ford’s half-brother, Bud King, is killed in a traffic accident in Tennessee. Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh, who won two World Series titles with the team and retired at the close of the 1976 season, dies of a stroke at age 59. In Britain, the country is abuzz over a TV interview yesterday in which members of the Sex Pistols used obscene language while talking with interviewer Bill Grundy. The Chicago Tribune reports on a study suggesting that young people who consume popular food additives such as caffeine and monosodium glutamate may be risking their health. Hanley-Dawson Cadillac in Chicago will sell you a new 1977 Coupe de Ville for $7,995. In today’s Peanuts strip, Linus discusses his grandfather.
On daytime TV, guests on Dinah! with Dinah Shore include Orson Welles, Dyan Cannon, and Rob Reiner. On TV tonight, the ABC lineup includes Welcome Back Kotter, the holiday special Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, and The Streets of San Francisco. CBS airs The Waltons, Hawaii Five-0, and Barnaby Jones. NBC has the first episode of the nine-hour miniseries Once an Eagle, about two soldiers and their experiences in the World Wars. The Jacksons are on the cover of Jet and Linda Ronstadt is on the cover of Rolling Stone. Linda and her manager strongly dislike some of the sexy Annie Leibovitz photos that accompany the cover story. Lynryd Skynyrd plays St. Paul, Minnesota, KISS plays Memphis, and Elvis Presley opens an 11-night stand at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Bee Gees play Madison Square Garden in New York, Aerosmith wraps up a two-night engagement in Detroit, and Black Sabbath plays Providence, Rhode Island, with opening act Montrose.
At WLS in Chicago, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart spends the second of what will be five weeks at #1. “Muskrat Love” by the Captain and Tennille holds at #2. Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” “Disco Duck,” and “You Are the Woman” by Firefall round out the Top 5. “Beth” by KISS is the only new song in the Top 10, moving from #11 to #8. “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer, “You Don’t Have to Be a Star” by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., and “Livin’ Thing” by ELO are all up seven spots, from #23 to #16, #29 to #22, and #33 to #26 respectively. Two other songs farther down the chart make eight-place moves: “Love Ballad” by L.T.D. (#38 to #30) and “Baby Boy” by Mary Kay Place, singing as aspiring country singer Loretta Haggers, her character from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (#39 to #31). On the album chart, the top three hold their places from the week before: Frampton Comes Alive at #1, Boston at #2, and Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life at #3. The fastest-moving albums of the week are Elton John’s Blue Moves (#20 to #14) and the debut album by Firefall (#29 to #23).
Perspective From the Present: WLS never had a stronger lineup than it did in 1976, with Larry Lujack and his newscaster Lyle Dean in the morning, Tommy Edwards on middays, Bob Sirott in the afternoon, John Landecker and Steve King at night, and Yvonne Daniels on overnights. You can hear the last part of Daniels’ show and a bit of Sirott filling in for Lujack on the morning show on December 2, 1976, here.
(Pictured: a group of travelers arrives at the airport in Rome on September 28, 1970.)
September 28, 1970, was a Monday. It’s the first day of the fall semester at Kent State University in Ohio, where four anti-war protesters were killed by National Guardsmen in May. Folk singer Phil Ochs headlines a memorial event that includes speeches by civil rights activist Dr. Ralph Abernathy and Thomas Grace, a student wounded in May. Last week, the Scranton Commission investigation into the shootings determined that even if the Guardsmen believed they were in danger, the situation did not call for lethal force. Thirty-two Americans taken hostage three weeks ago in a series of airplane hijackings in the Middle East arrive in Cyprus on their way home; six more former hostages are free in Jordan but yet to start for home. Time‘s cover story this week is about Palestinian guerillas and the Jordanian civil war. Egyptian president Gamel Abdel Nasser dies of a heart attack at age 52 and is succeeded by Anwar Sadat; author John Dos Passos dies at age 74. Running for reelection in California, Governor Ronald Reagan visits a Honda car plant in Gardena. President and Mrs. Nixon visit Pope Paul VI during their trip to Rome. Also in Rome today: the Rolling Stones, who arrive from Vienna for a concert tomorrow night.
This week’s Sports Illustrated features a cover foldout with pictures of major league managers Danny Murtaugh of Pittsburgh, Leo Durocher of the Chicago Cubs, and Gil Hodges of the New York Mets. Inside, the magazine reports on the controversy surrounding eight black football players at Syracuse University who have been suspended for the season over their discrimination complaint against the university. In today’s Peanuts strip, Lucy wonders why Schroeder never gives her flowers. On TV tonight, ABC’s second broadcast of Monday Night Football stars the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, who race to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter on the way to beating the Baltimore Colts, 44-24. The Colts will lose only one more game this season on their way to a Super Bowl win. Major sponsor Ford promotes the new 1971 Mustang, LTD, Maverick, and Torino models among the game’s commercials. CBS counters with Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show, Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. NBC’s lineup includes The Red Skelton Show (new on NBC after 19 seasons on CBS), Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and the theatrical movie The Lost Man, a 1969 film starring Sidney Poitier as a revolutionary on the run from the police.
Findings of a coroner’s inquest into the death of Jimi Hendrix on September 18th are announced in London. Hendrix choked to death while intoxicated on barbiturates. Badfinger plays at Eastern Washington College in Cheney, Washington; Yes plays at Aberystwyth University in Wales. The Moody Blues play the Spectrum in Philadelphia. At WDBQ in Dubuque, Iowa, “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond spends another week at #1 according to the station’s new music survey. New in the Top 10 are “Joanne” by Michael Nesmith, “Groovy Situation” by Gene Chandler, and “Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor. The biggest mover on the chart is “Candida” by Dawn. Among the new songs on the survey are the latest hits by Mark Lindsay, Melanie, and Linda Ronstadt, along with last week’s Premier Single, “Don’t You Know” by Beefcake.
Perspective From the Present: Moody Blues flutist Ray Thomas fell off a stage platform just before the Spectrum show, breaking two toes—and his flute. He asked if anyone in the audience happened to have a flute he could use, and someone did. Whether this happened on September 28 or the night before isn’t clear; neither is it clear whether the Moodys played on back-to-back nights at the Spectrum or just one, and whether Thomas asked for a replacement flute on the first night or the second night. As for the band Beefcake, our friend Larry Grogan suspects it may be made up of songwriters Chris Arnold, David Martin, and Geoff Morrow, who recorded under several different names, and who wrote dozens of songs for acts from Elvis on down, including “Can’t Smile Without You,” made famous by Barry Manilow.
And as for the bigger hits from the fall of 1970, you know how I am about all that.
(Pictured: a high school scene, September 1976.)
I have written many, many One Day in Your Life posts about days in 1976 over the years, although not very many new ones as part of The 1976 Project. But here’s one.
September 2, 1976, was a Thursday. It’s Election Day in Barbados. It’s the first day of school in Dayton, Ohio, and the first day of a new desegregation plan for the city’s schools. In Monroe, Wisconsin, the new school year is about one week old. A newly minted junior is taking third-year French, Social Psychology, Contemporary Family Living, Creative Writing, Journalism, and a physical education course. After a yearlong flight, the Viking II spacecraft has reached Mars; tomorrow, it will become the second spacecraft to make a soft landing on the planet, joining Viking I, which landed in July. Even though it is Thursday, President Gerald Ford discusses political strategy for the upcoming presidential campaign with advisers from the House and Senate known as the Wednesday Group. The group includes Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania, who pledges his support for Ford despite having been named Ronald Reagan’s running mate before the Republican National Convention earlier in the summer. Ford is told that labor leaders dislike Jimmy Carter, and that “the Christ-like evangelism of Carter is not as strong as the president’s quiet faith.” Ford also receives advice on how to look into the camera during the upcoming debates, and he is urged to make a whistle-stop train tour in West Virginia.
In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown and Linus review the baseball season. Five games are played in the majors; the Los Angeles Dodgers sweep a doubleheader from the Montreal Expos. The first Canada Cup international hockey tournament opens; the Canadian team, loaded with NHL stars, is a heavy favorite. (Two weeks later, they will win it.) The NBA Portland Trail Blazers send LaRue Martin, who had been taken first overall by the Blazers in the 1972 NBA draft, to Seattle in exchange for future considerations. Daytime talk show Dinah Shore’s guests today are Jerry Lewis, Chad Everett, Marvin Hamlisch, Charo, and Julius LaRosa. Tonight, network prime-time TV is mostly reruns, including The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, and Barnaby Jones on CBS and Welcome Back Kotter, Barney Miller, and The Streets of San Francisco on ABC. NBC airs a nature special about the Galapagos Islands and The Oregon Trail, the pilot for a proposed western series. Later, comedian David Brenner fills in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show; one of his guests is singer Robert Goulet. Elvis Presley plays Tampa, Queen plays Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Band plays Boston Music Hall.
At WLS in Chicago, Elton John’s duet with Kiki Dee, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” holds on to #1 for a fourth week on the chart dated August 28, 1976. The songs at #2 and #3, “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees and “Let ‘Em In” by Paul McCartney and Wings, hold their spots for a third week, and the songs at #4 through #6 are there for a second consecutive week: Lou Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” (which will go on to spend a third week at #4), “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan and John Ford Coley, and “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band. Also in the Top 10: “Play That Funky Music,” “A Fifth of Beethoven,” Seals and Crofts’ “Get Closer,” and “This Masquerade” by George Benson. Farther down the Top 40, the change of seasons is on, where other indelible hits of summer (“Kiss and Say Goodbye,” “Love Is Alive,” “Afternoon Delight”) mingle with the equally indelible hits of fall (“Lowdown,” “Still the One,” “If You Leave Me Now”).
Buckle up, newly minted high school junior. You are about to take the ride of your life.
Reader Ken commented recently that he doesn’t think we’re interested in the 1940s. Not exactly true. I just haven’t found a reason to write about the 40s—until now.
July 22, 1948, was a Thursday. President Harry Truman holds a news conference in which he’s asked first about the situation in Berlin. The Soviet Union has blockaded the city, but the Allies have responded with an airlift of food and other necessities. Truman is asked about the November election and the economy, among other topics. The Associated Press reports that 3,603 polio cases have been reported so far this year in the United States, over a thousand more than the same period in 1946, which was the worst polio year on record. The Chicago Tribune prints the story on the same page as a story about the discovery of a new antibiotic, aureomycin, and next to a report about 132 people departing from Chicago to a shrine to the Virgin Mary at St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec, seeking cures for various ailments. In Newfoundland, voters decide by referendum to join the Canadian confederation. It was the second vote in two months; an earlier vote failed when neither Canadian union, continued union with Britain, nor independence reached 50 percent. Although it wasn’t on the ballot, some Newfoundlanders favored becoming an American possession.
Ten big-league baseball games are played, including three doubleheaders. In one of them, the Pittsburgh Pirates take the first game from the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3, but the second is called on account of darkness, tied 1-1. In New York, the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 6-5; Bob Feller pitches five innings and gets the loss; he’s lifted for a pinch hitter and is replaced in the sixth by Satchel Paige. Joe DiMaggio has a home run and four RBIs for the Yankees. Among the spectators is an eight-year-old Ohio boy named Jack Nicklaus, who is attending his first major-league game. Future novelist S. E. Hinton, who will write The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, among others, is born. Author Shirley Jackson, whose short story “The Lottery” has become controversial since it was published in The New Yorker last month, tells the San Francisco Chronicle that she hoped to shock readers with “a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.”
The current edition of The Billboard reports on recent TV coverage of the Republican National Convention, suggesting that politicians will quickly need to learn how to adapt their personal styles to the new medium. On the same page, readers learn that NBC will begin sending kinescopes of its programming to affiliates not connected by coaxial cable, to make network shows more widely available. NBC advises that not all programs will be kinescoped, and there will obviously be a time lag between the original broadcast and the kinescoped repeats. The lag may be greater in some cases due to the economizing practice of “bicycling,” in which one station receives the kinescope film, broadcasts it, and then sends it on to another station for broadcast there.
The Billboard also contains its weekly Honor Roll of Hits. The #1 song on the list is last week’s #2, “Woody Woodpecker,” inspired by the popular cartoon character and available in four different versions. The Kay Kyser version is the most popular. The previous week’s #1, “You Can’t Be True, Dear,” falls to #2. It’s available in at least 13 versions. Organist Ken Griffin’s instrumental version is the most popular at the moment, although the same recording with overdubbed vocals by Jerry Wayne was a hit in the spring. Holding at #3 is “My Happiness.” Buyers can choose from 11 different versions. A duet by Jon and Sondra Steele is the most popular, just nosing out versions by the Pied Pipers (a vocal group who have performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and its singer, Frank Sinatra) and Ella Fitzgerald. Four days earlier, a 13-year-old named Elvis Presley recorded himself singing “My Happiness” at the Memphis Recording Service as a gift for his mother.
Perspective From the Present: I am unable to find detailed TV listings for the summer of 1948, but my guess is that early adopters (only 0.4 percent of the population had sets in 1948) saw a lot of test patterns. During the 1947-48 TV season, only NBC and DuMont offered network primetime programming, and then for only a couple of hours a night at most. Summer might have been even quieter. Come fall, however, ABC and CBS would begin primetime programming, and the TV boom would be on.