(Pictured: Billy Casper, 1966 U.S. Open champion, lines up a putt.)
The world turns a day at a time, and before too long, 50 years have gone by. But the week of June 18, 1966, is a week that has, in a sense, never really ended.
From top to bottom, the Billboard Top 40 contained an astounding bounty of music, and to listen to the radio in that week—in that summer, in that year—must have been remarkable, and hard to turn off. The top four songs held their positions from the previous week: “Paint It, Black,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?,” “I Am a Rock,” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” “Monday Monday” had just dropped out of the Top 10. Also on its way down: Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and #23” Also in the Top 20 were hits by the Four Seasons (“Opus 17”), the Beatles (“Paperback Writer”), the Animals (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), and James Brown (“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”). The highest-debuting record of the week within the 40 was “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Great soul stars were everywhere: Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, Sam and Dave, the Supremes, the Temptations. The week also sparkled with indelible singles by less famous acts: “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” by the Chiffons, “Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrkle, “Oh How Happy” by Shades of Blue, “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swingin’ Medallions, and the Standells’ “Dirty Water.”
(The bottom of that week’s Top 40 contains three songs from our One Week in the 40 list—each placed within the Top 40 for a single week. The Kinks’ “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” jumped from #41 to #36 for the week before falling back to #44 the next week. At #39 was “S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song)” by Joe Tex, and at #40 sat “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me” by country star Eddy Arnold.
Elsewhere that week:
Sunday, June 19, was Father’s Day. Ed Wynn, whose career as a comedian ran from vaudeville to television, and whose son, Keenan Wynn, also became a prominent actor, died at age 79. Many dads watched the U.S. Open golf tournament, where Billy Casper come from seven strokes behind over the last nine holes to catch Arnold Palmer and force an 18-hole playoff for the championship. On Monday the 20th, Casper won the playoff by four shots. Five doubleheaders were played in the majors on Sunday; only six games were played on Monday. The Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants led their leagues as the week began.
The week before, the Supreme Court had ruled that police must read suspects their rights before questioning them. On Monday, the House of Representatives sent the Freedom of Information Act to President Johnson on a 307-0 vote. (Johnson, who would have preferred to keep much non-classified information secret, reluctantly signed the bill on the Fourth of July.) Later in the week, the Senate cast a unanimous vote for a package of new regulations for automobile safety, mandating that all new cars be equipped with seat belts, shoulder belts, rear-view mirrors, hazard lights, door locks, and other safety features beginning with the 1968 model year. The Organization of American States voted to withdraw peacekeeping troops from the Dominican Republic. Johnson had sent about 22,000 American soldiers to the Dominican Republic the year before to intervene in the country’s civil war, in hopes of stopping a Communist takeover.
The constitutional rights of the accused, the right of citizens to know what their government is doing in their name, to what extent the government has a duty to protect the health and safety of citizens, the proper way to project American power abroad—we have never really stopped discussing those issues. Much as we have never stopped listening to the songs that soundtracked them a half-century ago.