Notes from the 1960s

1960 – Soviet surface to air missiles shoot down an American U-2 spy plane over Soviet territory. Pilot Francis Gary Powers is taken prisoner, tried, and sentenced to 10 years in a gulag.


1960 – Federal Food & Drug Administration approves the birth control pill for distribution.


1960 – Minneapolis Lakers move to Los Angeles, keep the name “Lakers.”


1960 – Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon compete in 4 televised debates -the first ever presidential debates to be televised.


1960 – Official U.S. Census shows the population has reached 180,000,000. Median family income is $7,688.


1960 – Senator John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts defeats Vice President Richard Nixon in a very close presidential election.  Electoral votes: 303-219. Popular vote: Kennedy 49.7%, Nixon 49.3%.


1960 - Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler introduce The Corvair, The Falcon, and The Valiant respectively – “compact” models to combat smaller imports.


1960 – Americans Wilma Rudolph, Rafer Johnson, and Cassius Clay star in an otherwise Soviet dominated Summer Olympics hosted by Rome, Italy.


1960 – The USS Triton, a nuclear submarine, circumnavigates the globe, submerged for 84 days. Follows the route of Ferdinand Magellan centuries before.


1960 – Popular movies: Alfred Hitchcock’s Pyscho, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus. Popular songs: Are You Lonesome Tonight? – Elvis Presley, The Twist – Chubby Checker, Georgia on MyMind – Ray Charles.


1961 – President Kennedy initiates a program known as the Peace Corps. American college graduates volunteer overseas, using their expertise to aid developing nations.


1961 – A bus carrying Freedom Riders is attacked by an angry mob in Montgomery, Alabama.


1961 – Soviet forces in East Germany construct a dividing wall in the city of Berlin to keep people from fleeing East Berlin and other places behind the Iron Curtain.


1961 – Astronaut Alan Shepard Jr. is the first American to be launched into space. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is first man in space.


1961 – Popular movies: Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn, West Side Story, and 101 Dalmatians. Popular songs: Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles, Please Mr. Postman – theMarvelettesThe Lion Sleeps Tonight – the Tokens.


1961 – Yankee slugger Roger Maris hits 61 home runs - most ever in a single baseball season.


1961 – Cuban exiles attempt to invade Cuba intent on overthrowing Fidel Castro’s regime. Invasion is quickly repelled and several exiles are taken prisoner.


1961 – Texas Instruments patents the first silicon chip used for electric circuits.


1962 – John Glenn Jr. is the first American to orbit the earth. Soviet Yuri Gagarin is first man to orbit the earth – did so in 1961.


1962 – James Meredith enrolls at the University of Mississippi as federal troops battle thousands of protesters. Meredith is first African-American enrolled at Ole Miss.


1962 – March 2nd. Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points in an NBA basketball game for the Philadelphia Warriors. The Warriors beat the N.Y. Knicks 169-147.


1962 – Marilyn Monroe found dead in her Hollywood home, apparently from an overdose of sleeping pills. She was 36 years old.


1963 – Attorney General Robert Kennedy uses the National Guard to enforce the new desegregation laws in the South.


1963 - Popular movies: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds starring Tippi HedrenIt’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Popular songs: Surfin’ U.S.A. – Beach Boys, Blowin’ In The Wind – Peter, Paul, and Mary, Blue Velvet – Bobby Vinton.


1963 – Annual automobile death count reaches 40,804, an all-time high for a single year, up to that point.


1963 – President Kennedy visits the Berlin wall. Gives speech in support of free Berlin. “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’ “


1963 – James Meredith is the first African-American candidate to receive a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi, where his enrollment the year before had caused enormous protest.


1963 – Martin Luther King is the key speaker at a civil rights rally in Washington D.C. in August. His speech inspires the crowd and the nation to share in his dream.


1963 – President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas as he rides in an open motorcade. His alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald is shot and killed two days later by night club owner Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Police Dept. Vice President Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President the day Kennedy died.


1963 – The first liver transplant is performed by surgeons.


1963 – Kodak introduces the Instamatic camera, which uses easy-to-use film cartridges. Meanwhile Polaroid introduces a new camera that produces a photo in just over a minute.


1963 – Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright requires that states provide legal counsel for criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire their own attorney.


1964 – British rock group the Beatles make their American debut. Appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.


1964 – Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics. Swimmer Don Schollander wins four of the U.S. team total of 36 gold medals. The Soviets win 30 gold medals.


1964 – Surgeon General reports that cigarette smoking causes cancer.


1964 – Congress and President Johnson pass the most comprehensive Civil Rights Act in the history of the United States.


1964 – Warren Commission reports its findings to the public. Their assertion is the Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone as the single gunman in the Kennedy assassination.


1964 – President asks congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Congress passes the resolution and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam is significantly escalated.


1964 – President Johnson wins re-election by defeating Republican Barry Goldwater in the November election.


1964 – Ford introduces its newest model – the Mustang. Sales of the new vehicle are brisk.


1964 – 24th Amendment is ratified. It prohibits the use of a poll tax in the election of federal officials.


1964 - Popular movies: Goldfingerstarring Sean Connery, Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews. My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Popular songs: House of the Rising Sun. – the Animals, Fun, Fun, Fun – the Beach Boys, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison. A Hard Day’s Night, I Feel Fine, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Twist and Shout, and She Loves You – by the Beatles.


1965 – American troop involvement in Vietnam goes from 23,000 in 1964 to 154,000 in 1965.


1965 – Popular songs – California Girls – the Beach Boys. Ticket to Ride, Yesterday, Eight Days a Week – the Beatles. Turn, Turn, Turn – the ByrdsMy Girl – the Temptations. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan. Satisfaction – the Rolling Stones. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin – the Righteous Brothers.


1965 – Craig Breedlove sets new speed record for a land vehicle - called the Spirit of America. His jet car reaches the top speed of 600.6 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.


1965 – Black activist Malcolm X is assassinated in New York City by militant Muslims. He was 39 years old.


1965 – SONY introduces the first home videotape recorder.


1965 – CBS broadcasts the first “Peanuts” television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.


1965 – Demonstrations against U.S. involvement in Vietnam occur in over 40 cities across the United States.


1965 – Edward White is the first American to walk in space. He leaves the space capsule as it is orbiting the earth while remaining tethered to the capsule.


1965 – After numerous accusations of police brutality against blacks, riots break out in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Results: 34 deaths, and hundreds of businesses being destroyed by fire. Damage exceeds $40 million.


1965 – Soft contact lenses are invented.


1966 – The Boston Celtics win their eighth straight NBA championship, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. Coach Red Auerbach announces his retirement. Celtics announce Bill Russell as their new coach – the first African-American to coach a major sports team in America.


1966 – The United States begin a massive bombing campaign against North Vietnam. B-52s begin bombing the northern capital city of Hanoi.


1966 – 19 year old Jim Ryun, from the University of Kansas, sets new world record in the mile, running a 3:51.3, knocking 2.3 seconds off the old record. He will follow this performance by lowering the mark by .2 seconds the following year.


1966 – Medicare begins providing medical coverage for Americans over the age of 65.


1966 – In Miranda v. Arizona the Supreme Court requires that individuals in police custody be informed of their rights.


1966 -  Popular songs – California Girls – the Beach Boys. Paperback Writer, We Can Work it Out – the Beatles. You Can’t Hurry Love – the Supremes. Monday, Monday – the Mamas & the Papas. Summer in the City – the Lovin’ Spoonful. I’m a Believer – the MonkeesThe Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel. You Can’t Hurry Love – the Supremes.


1967 – Chevrolet introduces a new model to compete with the Ford Mustang – the Camaro SS.


1967 – Thurgood Marshall nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court, becoming the first African-American justice in the court.


1967 – The first championship football game between the NFL and the AFL is played. In what is later to be called the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.


1967 – NASA launches a new series of missions called Apollo. The first mission ends in tragedy as three astronauts, Edward White, Virgil Grissom, and Roger Chaffee, are killed by a fire in the capsule, as the rocket sat on the launch pad in Florida.


1967 – Racial tension results in riots in several cities. Detroit riots result in 38 deaths and $500 million in property damage.


1967 – NFL expands to 16 teams. New teams in 1967 are the Cincinnati Bengals and the New Orleans Saints.


1967 – Popular movies – The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?, starring Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn. The Jungle Book, by Disney. Popular songs, Light My Fire - the Doors, Respect – Aretha Franklin, Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane, Happy Together – the Turtles, Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – Frankie Valli.


1968 – North Vietnam launches massive military offensive during the Vietnamese New Year holiday known as Tet. The 84,000 North Vietnamese troops used in the invasion nearly overtake South Vietnam. U.S. and South Vietnamese troops struggle to hold off Communist forces from taking Saigon.


1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated while in Memphis, Tennessee. He goes to Memphis to support the striking sanitation workers in the city.


1968 – Figure skater Peggy Fleming wins gold medal in the Winter Olympics held in Grenoble, France.


1968 – Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy is shot and killed in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California primary.


1968 – Mexico City hosts the Summer Olympics. USA wins 45 gold medals to 29 won by the Soviets. American stars include long jumper Bob Beamon, who shatters the world record, leaping 29 feet, 2 and a half inches. Dick Fosbury wins the high jump with a revolutionary technique. The U.S. men sweep the 400 meter run. George Forman wins the heavyweight gold medal in boxing.


1968 – Apollo 8 astronauts are the first men ever to orbit the moon.


1968 – Demonstrators and police clash violently in Chicago as the city hosts the Democratic National Convention. The whole world watches as television crews broadcast the Gestapo tactics employed by the police.


1968 – Claiming to represent the “non shouters,” Richard Nixon wins the Presidential election, defeating Hubert Humphrey. Electoral votes: Nixon 301, Humphrey 191.


1968 – Work begins on the Trans-Alaska pipeline. It will bring oil from the north slope at Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez. Construction will continue until its completion in 1977.


1968 – Popular movies – Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton HestonFunny Girl, starring Barbara Streisand. Popular songs – Hey Jude – the Beatles, Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf. I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye.


1969 – 250,000 anti-war protesters march in Washington D.C. to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War.


1969 – July 20th - Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission, are the first men to walk on the surface of the moon. Michael Collins pilots the command module that circle the moon as the other two descend in the lunar landing module.


1969 – 400,000 people attend an outdoor concert in Bethel, New York, that becomes a free festival of peace and music. Woodstock becomes monumental music event. Artists that perform at Woodstock include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Grateful Dead.


1969 – The New York Mets, who finished in last place in 1968, win the baseball World Series, defeating the Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1.


1969 – Astronauts of the Apollo 12 mission successfully complete the second journey to the moon.


1969 – Popular movies – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman & Robert Redford. True Grit, starring John Wayne. Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, and Dennis Hopper. Popular songs – Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In – the Fifth Dimension. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head – B.J. Thomas. Get Back – the Beatles.