December 17, 1960: I Gotta Know

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(Pictured: Charles Brown asks that you please come home for Christmas.)

(There will be a new post here every other day through Christmas Day because why not.)

December 17, 1960, was a Saturday. The top headline this morning concerns the mid-air collision of two passenger planes over New York City yesterday. A total of 136 people died, including 128 passengers and crew on the planes and eight people in the ground in Brooklyn. This afternoon, a U.S. Air Force plane crashes into a crowded street in Munich, West Germany. Fifty-two people die, 20 on the plane and 32 on the ground. Twelve of the dead on the plane were students at a University of Maryland satellite campus located on a U.S. Army base in Munich; they were headed home for Christmas. Also today, the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abebe Aregai, is shot to death when Ethiopian troops storm the palace where rebels have been holding him hostage after a coup attempt earlier in the week. A more peaceful transition of power will occur in the United States on Monday, when the Electoral College confirms the November election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency. Earlier in the week, the state board of elections in Illinois certified Kennedy as the winner of the state’s 27 electoral votes after several weeks of Republican vote-fraud accusations.

The British medical journal The Lancet publishes a story about the risks of lead poisoning from drinking homemade wine. In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is awakened by a sound in the night. The NFL regular season ends this weekend. Tonight, the Green Bay Packers clinch the Western Conference championship with a 35-21 win over the Rams in Los Angeles. The Packers will play for the NFL championship on the day after Christmas against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have already wrapped up the Eastern Conference championship regardless of the outcome of their game tomorrow. The first regular season of the new American Football League also ends this weekend. The Houston Oilers have already won the Eastern Conference; the Los Angeles Chargers can win the West by beating the New York Titans tomorrow. The NFL championship game will be played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on the day after Christmas; the AFL championship game will be played on New Year’s Day in Houston. They will not be the final games of pro football’s postseason, however. In addition to the NFL Pro Bowl all-star game on January 15, the NFL will hold its first Playoff Bowl on January 7 in Miami. Second-place finishers in each conference, Detroit and Cleveland, will meet in a game whose proceeds will benefit the players’ pension fund.

Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George, and Doug McClure, stars of the CBS-TV detective series Checkmate, are on the cover of TV Guide. Checkmate is part of the CBS lineup tonight, along with Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke. NBC airs three westerns tonight: Bonanza, The Tall Man (about the adventures of sheriff Pat Garrett and outlaw Billy the Kid), and The Deputy, starring Henry Fonda as an Arizona marshal who doesn’t like to use his gun. ABC starts its night with The Roaring 20s, which follows a newspaper reporter and gangsters in 1920s Chicago, and an episode of Leave It to Beaver.

At WOKY in Milwaukee, Elvis Presley’s double-sided hit, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “I Gotta Know” stays at #1 on the new Hit Parader survey released today. Two versions of “Wonderland by Night” are shown tied at #2: a vocal by Anita Bryant and an instrumental by Bert Kaempfert. “He Will Break Your Heart” by Jerry Butler, “Lonely Teenager” by Dion, and “Fools Rush In” by Brook Benton make strong moves into the station’s Top 10. Other major movers in Milwaukee include the Shirelles’ “Soldier Boy,” “Exodus” by Ferrante and Teicher, and “Corrina Corrina” by Ray Peterson. WOKY charts several holiday-themed records on its Top 60, including the double-sided “Christmas Auld Lang Syne” and “Child of God” by Bobby Darin at #16, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Charles Brown at #33, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by David Seville and the Chipmunks at #43, and “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Harry Simeone Chorale at #54.

Perspective From the Present: December 17, 1960, may not be one day in your life, but it’s one day in mine. This blog and the other place are both vanity projects at heart, and I wanted to write about the week of my first Christmas, and a few more Christmas weeks to come in future days.

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