May 13, 1964: In From the Cold

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(Pictured: Barbra Streisand with President Kennedy, 1963.)

May 13, 1964, is a Wednesday. After weeks of negotiations, senators reach a tentative agreement on a new version of a comprehensive civil rights bill. The current bill, which has been under debate in Congress since March, is being filibustered in the Senate. In a phone call captured by his White House taping system, President Johnson discusses the act with Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois today. Johnson says, “We don’t want this to be a Democratic bill, we want it to be an American bill.” Last night in New York City, Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater spoke to a crowd of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden. He accused the Johnson Administration of fomenting racial unrest, and he criticized the idea that integration could be accomplished through legislation: “You cannot pass a law that will make me like you, or you like me.” In Teaneck, New Jersey, the school board votes in favor of busing all of the district’s sixth-grade students to a single school starting in the fall, making Teaneck the first school in America to voluntarily desegregate, as opposed to doing so by court order. Cambridge, Maryland, which was torn by race riots last summer, has been under martial law and patrolled by National Guardsmen ever since. On Monday, a crowd protesting an appearance by Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace was tear-gassed. Today, about 100 people hold a silent protest, and they are confronted by Guardsmen with rifles and fixed bayonets.

At the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, NASA runs another test on the Apollo space vehicle, which will eventually be used to send astronauts to the moon. In Las Vegas, Lt. Raynor Hebert takes off in an F-105 jet from Nellis Air Force Base. Due to a technical problem, Hebert’s plane can’t gain altitude. He realizes that if he bails out, the plane will probably crash into an elementary school, where 800 students are in class. So he keeps the plane aloft until it has passed the school, after which it crashes into a residential neighborhood. Hebert dies in the crash along with four people on the ground. Future comedian and talk-show host Stephen Colbert and future actor and TV producer Tom Verica are born. John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold leads the New York Times Best Sellers list for fiction this week; the nonfiction list is led by the UPI/American Heritage book Four Days, about the assassination of President Kennedy last November, and by Jim Bishop’s A Day in the Life of President Kennedy. Kennedy’s own Profiles in Courage is also on the Best Sellers list.

The sixth annual Grammy awards were presented last night at ceremonies in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, and were not televised. Henry Mancini won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Days of Wine and Roses.” Album of the Year was The Barbra Streisand Album. The Swingle Singers were named Best New Artist. Pop Grammys were won by Jack Jones, Peter Paul and Mary, and Al Hirt, among others. The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Recording Grammy went to Nino Tempo and April Stevens for “Deep Purple.” At the Granada Theater in Harrow, England, tonight’s concert bill stars the Kinks, the Hollies, and the Dave Clark Five. In Bromley, England, the Yardbirds perform. Chuck Berry headlines the Globe Theater in Stockton, England, with Carl Perkins, the Animals, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and other acts. At KIMN in Denver, the Beatles rule the station’s new survey with the double-A-sided “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” at #1 and “Do You Want to Know a Secret” at #2. Three songs are new in the Top 10: “Love Me With All Your Heart” by the Ray Charles Singers, “Little Children” by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and “People” by Barbra Streisand. The #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, “Hello Dolly” by Louis Armstrong, is not on the KIMN chart.

Perspective From the Present: The rewritten civil rights bill was formally introduced in Congress later in May, passed in June, and signed into law as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in July. The Ray Charles breaking into the Top 10 in Denver in this week was not the soul singer; it was Perry Como’s longtime musical director. “Love Me With All Your Heart” became an MOR classic, and another one of those records I heard before I noticed it. And I’m pretty sure a copy of Four Days is somewhere in my office.

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