March 22, 1969: Mad Pursuit

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(Pictured: Yoko and John, abed.)

March 22, 1969, was a Saturday. A rally led by the Black Panthers and featuring several Chicago Eight defendants is held at the federal courthouse in New York City. In Oakland, members of the Black Students Union at Mills College take the school’s president hostage for several hours, demanding more involvement by minorities in college affairs. President Nixon issues a statement on campus disorders. A group calling itself the DC 9 breaks into Dow Chemical’s Washington offices and destroys files and equipment with pig blood and homemade napalm. They leave behind a letter that says, “In your mad pursuit of profit, you and others like you, are causing the psychological and physical destruction of mankind.” Ten Americans die in Vietnam today: they include Coast Guard engineman Morris Beeson of Pitkins, Louisiana, Marine corporals David Ovist of Pelkie, Michigan, and Thomas Folden of Belle Glade, Florida, and Army sergeant Armin Blake of Denver, Colorado. Future NFL player Russell Maryland is born. Two days after their wedding, John Lennon and Yoko Ono hold their first bed-in for peace at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam.

In sports, UCLA wins its fifth NCAA men’s basketball championship in six years, beating Purdue 92-72. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor scores 37 points and is named the tournament’s most outstanding player in his final college game. West Chester College of Pennsylvania wins the first-ever college women’s basketball championship, beating Western Carolina 65-39. At the Wisconsin state high school tournament, Lamont Weaver of Beloit Memorial hits a 55-foot shot at the buzzer to send the championship game against Neenah into overtime. At the end of the second overtime, Weaver hits two free throws to seal an 80-79 win.

The current edition of The New Yorker is the first to include a conventional table of contents. Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched is on the cover of TV Guide. One of NBC’s Saturday morning shows is The Storybook Squares, a kids’ version of Hollywood Squares starring many of the same regulars dressed as fictional or historical characters. Neil Diamond appears on American Bandstand and sings “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” Bandstand is followed by Happening ’69, hosted by Mark Lindsey and Paul Revere of the Raiders, and also a Dick Clark production. Today’s guest: the Monkees. Shows on TV tonight include My Three Sons, Petticoat Junction, The Newlywed Game, Adam-12, Mannix, Hogan’s Heroes, and Get Smart! The Grateful Dead plays Pasadena and Santana plays San Francisco. Alvin Lee and Ten Years After play Seattle. Led Zeppelin and Blodwyn Pig play Birmingham, England. Blood Sweat and Tears and Chuck Berry play Madison, New Jersey. Steppenwolf plays the Fillmore East in New York City, and Laura Nyro plays Brooklyn.

The Broadway musical Billy, with songs co-written by bubblegum music master Ron Dante, closes after a single performance. Billboard magazine  reports on the large number of songs from the musical Hair that have been covered by various artists. At WAKY in Louisville, Kentucky, (where the NCAA men’s final is played), the Cowsills’ “Hair” debuts on the station’s survey at #30; the Fifth Dimension’s version of “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” is hitbound. The #1 song in Kentuckiana is “Breakfast in Bed” by Dusty Springfield, which will do only a couple of weeks on the nationwide Hot 100; “Runaway Child” by the Temptations is #2. The Zombies’ “Time of the Season” makes a big leap from #11 to #4; “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” by Blood Sweat and Tears goes from hitbound last week to #12 this week. Other strong movers: “My Whole World Ended” by David Ruffin of the Temptations jumps from #27 to #18, and “I Can Hear Music” by the Beach Boys goes from #29 to #19. New songs in the Top 30 include “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” by the Peppermint Rainbow and “Time Is Tight” by Booker T. and the MGs.

Perspective From the Present: At the age of nine, I wasn’t into music yet. I was, however, into sports, and it would be days before my friends and I stopped talking about the finish of the state basketball tournament, and what is still known to Wisconsin dudes of a certain age as “The Shot.” If you are a dude of a certain age, you can see a 1984 TV report on it here. A full episode of The Storybook Squares is here.


August 20, 1969: Beginning and Ending

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(Pictured: heads at Woodstock, peaceful and loving and beautiful and otherwise, August 1969.)

August 20, 1969, was a Wednesday. Hurricane Camille continues to drop rain on the Eastern Seaboard; Nelson County, Virginia, records between 27 and 30 inches, causing the worst flash flooding in the state’s history. Los Angeles newspapers contain several stories on the recent murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people by persons unknown 11 days earlier. Food scientists from the University of Wisconsin perform tests on a 105-year-old crock of cheese recently salvaged from a shipwreck in Lake Michigan. Photographer Richard Avedon takes a portrait of Andy Warhol fingering a scar left after he was shot a year earlier; in 2006, the photo will be valued at approximately $100,000. WKPT, channel 19, signs on in Kingsport, Tennessee, giving the Tri-Cities area of Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City its first full-time ABC affiliate. In sports, the Buffalo Bills acquire quarterback Marlin Briscoe from Denver; the Bills will convert him to a wide receiver. The Chicago Cubs lose 6-2 to the Atlanta Braves, but continue to cruise along in first place, seven games ahead of the New York Mets, who beat San Francisco 6-0.

The East Village Other, an underground newspaper in New York, publishes an eyewitness report from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which concluded early Monday morning: “a few thousand of the absolutely most together and peaceful and loving and beautiful heads in the world are gathered in a grand tribal new beginning.” The Beatles work together in the studio for the last time, editing and remixing “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” at Abbey Road. Miles Davis continues work on the album Bitches Brew. Led Zeppelin plays the Aerodrome in Schenectady, New York, doing two shows, one at 8PM and another at 11. Yes plays the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Blind Faith plays San Antonio. At KHJ in Los Angeles, “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies dethrones the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” from the top spot; “When I Die” by Motherlode blasts from #12 to #4. Songs falling out of the Top Ten include “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” Records moving up include “Get Together” by the Youngbloods (to #8 from #18) and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” by Dionne Warwick (#10 from #22).

In Wisconsin, summer is slipping away; a nine-year-old about to begin the fourth grade knows nothing about Motherlode or Blind Faith, but years later, he will dig them both.

August 1, 1969: Are You Kidding?

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(Pictured: Joe Namath of the New York Jets, who probably wouldn’t have traded places with anyone else either.)

August 1, 1969, was a Friday. On his foreign tour, President Nixon has already visited the Phillippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. He starts today in New Delhi, India, before moving on to Lahore, Pakistan. He meets privately with the Pakistani president in the afternoon, then hosts a dinner for the American traveling party before turning in for the night. He will visit Romania and the United Kingdom before returning home next week. The Nixon trip leads all three network TV newscasts tonight. All three also cover an unfolding murder mystery in southeastern Michigan, where five young women have been found dead in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti since March. Also today, three California newspapers receive nearly identical letters claiming responsibility for three recent murders there. In years to come, the incident will represent the beginning of the Zodiac case—a mystery that will be unsolved 49 years later. In the Gulf of Mexico off St. Petersburg, Florida, 13-year-old Robert Wamser is attacked by a shark while swimming in three feet of water. He is in fair condition after surgery.

The College All-Star Game is played in Chicago. The annual game matches a team of top college football stars against the defending NFL champions. This year that’s the New York Jets, who upset the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl last January. Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who had retired in the offseason due to controversy over his investment in a New York City nightclub and un-retired just two weeks ago, is booed during the pregame introductions. A few high-profile college stars, including O. J. Simpson of USC, skip the game, preferring not to risk injury. The outcome is in doubt with two minutes to go, but the Jets hang on to win, 26-24. In baseball, the National and American Leagues are in their first season of divisional play. The hottest race is in the National League West, where Houston and Cincinnati are on winning streaks; five of the six teams in the division are now within 3 1/2 games of the lead, which is held by Atlanta. In the National League East, the Cubs have a seven-game lead on the Mets. In the American League, Baltimore is on cruise control in the East with a 14-game lead over Detroit; in the West, Minnesota leads Oakland by 3 1/2. The Twins win tonight’s showdown with the Orioles 4-3 despite leaving 15 runners on base.

The Atlantic City Pop Festival opens today; the three-day event features Iron Butterfly, Procol Harum, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Byrds, Janis Joplin, and lots of others. Tonight, the Beach Boys play the Schaefer Summer Music Festival in New York City. In Los Angeles, the Summer Shower of Stars series at the Hollywood Bowl features Blood Sweat and Tears. Led Zeppelin plays Santa Barbara, California, with openers Jethro Tull and Fraternity of Man. Elvis Presley continues an engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, his first concerts in eight years. Earlier in the day, he holds a press conference, at which he’s asked whether his return has anything to do with the success of Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck; how he likes fatherhood and what his life is like at Graceland; about his movie career and whether he dyes his hair; and finally, if there’s anyone he’d rather be. His response: “Are you kidding?”

At KTKT in Tucson, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” by Jackie de Shannon is the new #1, knocking “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans to #2. “My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder is #3. “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones vaults to #4 from #12 last week. Other major movers include “We Got More Soul” by Dyke and the Blazers, up to #9 from #16, Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” up to #15 from #26, and “True Grit” by Glen Campbell, up to #20 from #38. The hottest record in Tucson, however, is “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, which is up 23 spots this week to #12.

Perspective From the Present: I was nine years old and I looked at the newspaper regularly, but apart from the sports, I wouldn’t have cared about much of what I saw in it. On this day, I was probably looking forward to visiting my cousin for a few days. We exchanged multi-day overnight visits every summer. I remember the date of my 1969 visit for an odd reason: the Tate/LaBianca murders happened the next weekend, and I saw the story in the paper while I was there.

April 28, 1969: Outcasts and Sit-Ins

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(Pictured: Don Murray and Otis Young in The Outcasts, a western that aired on ABC in 1968 and 1969.)

April 28, 1969, is a Monday. Yesterday, voters in France rejected a referendum that would have modernized the country’s armed forces. Today, President Charles de Gaulle, who had backed the referendum, resigns from office. De Gaulle, who led the Free French during World War II, served briefly as president in 1945 and 1946, but his current term began in 1958. Among his official communications today, President Nixon sends a message to De Gaulle, and condolences to Bolivia following the death of that country’s president. He also asks Congress to create a commission to develop a plan for “meaningful self-government” in the District of Columbia. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Nixon presents the National Teacher of the Year Award to English teacher Barbara Goleman of Miami.

Around the country, college students stage a variety of protests. An armed group takes over the administration building at Voorhees College, a historically black institution in Denmark, South Carolina. The students’ list of demands includes the establishment of a black studies program, raises for non-academic staff members including cooks and janitors, and a rule that no student should be compelled to attend classes. The standoff will end tomorrow with the arrest of approximately 25 protesters, although only seven will be charged. At St. Louis University, members of the Association of Black Collegians peacefully occupy a campus building for about 12 hours. Although school policy is to disperse such protests by force, university president Paul Reinert chooses to negotiate. He says the school will address the students’ concerns, including investigating the harassment of black students, hiring more black maintenance personnel and security officers, and establishing an office of black student affairs. At Memphis State University, more than 100 students, both black and white, are arrested after a sit-in at the university president’s office. The president had refused student requests to invite controversial New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell to speak on campus.

Michigan representative Gerald Ford gives a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, where he tells the following joke: “You know what an atheist is, don’t you? It’s a guy who doesn’t care how the game between Notre Dame and Southern Methodist comes out.” In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is confident about the outcome of a baseball game. In Santa Rosa, California, Redwood Empire Ice Arena opens with a show featuring Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the cast of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and master of ceremonies Joe Garagiola. The arena is owned by Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz. Joe Burg, who played in 13 games for the National League’s Boston Doves (later the Braves) in 1910, dies at age 86. Eight games are played in the majors today. The Chicago Cubs beat Philadelphia 2-1 in 10 innings to run their record to 15-and-6, the best in major league baseball. In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles also have 15 wins, but their game tonight in Cleveland against Indians is postponed due to a forecast of rain. The Indians have dropped 10 in a row on the way to a 1-and-15 start.

Tonight, ABC-TV airs western series The Big Valley and The Outcasts. The latter is a post-Civil War drama starring Otis Young and Don Murray as a freed slave and a former Confederate soldier who form a partnership as bounty hunters. NBC airs a variety special called The Spring Thing, hosted by Noel Harrison and Bobbie Gentry and starring, among others, Goldie Hawn, Rod McKuen, Shirley Bassey, and Harpers Bizarre. Tonight’s CBS schedule includes an episode of The Carol Burnett Show.

The Who plays in Sunderland, England, and the Doors tape a performance in New York City. It will be part of a profile of the band to be broadcast June 25 on the public television series PBS Critique. At KDWB in Minneapolis, “Hawaii Five-O” by the Ventures shoots to #1 on the station’s new survey from #15 last week. “Hair” by the Cowsills falls from #1 to #2, and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” by Neil Diamond holds at #3. Also hot: “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” by Peppermint Rainbow, up to #4 from #14. “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers is also new in the Top 10 at #10, while “Do Your Thing” by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is at #12, up from #22. New songs among the Top 30 include “Pinball Wizard” by the Who and “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy.

Perspective From the Present: “Love (Can Make You Happy)” is another record about which I’m  completely irrational. Mercy was from Florida, and their song came out on a local Tampa label sounding half-amateurish and all great.


December 25, 1969: Family Affair

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(Pictured: two soldiers decorate a trench for Christmas in Duc Lap, South Vietnam, December 1969.)

December 25, 1969, is a Thursday. In Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, a tornado kills one person and injures eight. Nine other tornadoes are reported today in Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia. In Portville, New York, the Portville Star has a front-page story in which a Cornell University economist predicts that the 1970s will begin with a period of slow economic growth but no prolonged or serious recession. President Nixon issues a Christmas message to American armed forces around the world. Three games are played in the National Hockey League: the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Oakland Seals 3-1; the Boston Bruins blast the Los Angeles Kings 7-1; the Chicago Black Hawks and Minnesota North Stars play to a 4-4 tie. In the National Basketball Association, four games are played. The league-leading New York Knicks run their record to 30-and-6 with a 112-111 win over the Detroit Pistons. Willis Reed of the Knicks leads all scorers with 33 points. In the American Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Stars beat the Kentucky Colonels 105-101 and the Washington Capitols beat the Pittsburgh Pipers 131-112. Future comedian Costaki Economopolous is born. The top movie at the box office is the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Also packing them in, as it has since its release in September: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Reivers, starring Steve McQueen, opens today.

The federal government issues a regulation requiring all TV sets manufactured after January 15, 1970, to conform to new standards designed to make sure sets do not pose a radiation hazard. On today’s Merv Griffin Show, guests include Carol Burnett, Danny Thomas, and Green Acres stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. Shows on TV tonight include This Is Tom Jones, with guests Judy Collins and David Frye, Daniel Boone, Ironside, That Girl, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Family Affair, Kraft Music Hall with guests the Cowsills, and It Takes a Thief. Florence Henderson fills in for Johnny on the Tonight Show. Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman is on the cover of the current edition of Down Beat. The Velvet Underground open a holiday run at the Second Fret in Philadelphia.

At WKNR in Detroit, known as Keener 13, the new music guide shows “Venus” by the Shocking Blue at #1, knocking last week’s #1, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter Paul and Mary to #2. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B. J. Thomas is #3 and “Don’t Cry Daddy” by Elvis is #4. “Midnight Cowboy” by Ferrante and Teicher, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Jingle Jangle” by the Archies are next at #5 through #7. The biggest mover on the survey is “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry, up 10 spots to #18; Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” is up nine to #19. Topping the album chart are Led Zeppelin II and Abbey Road. The main page of the WKNR survey plugs the game at Detroit’s Olympic Stadium between the Keener Cagers and the Harlem Globetrotters, coming up on Saturday night.

Perspective From the Present: As I have written many times in other places, our family Christmas routine was very much the same for as long as I lived at home. On this day, my brothers and I (ages 9, 7, and 3) would be positively vibrating with anticipation on Christmas morning, waiting to see what Santa had brought, but we weren’t allowed out of our bedrooms until Dad could finish the milking and come in from the barn. That period of time, from Mother’s signal to his footsteps up the basement stairs, however long it may actually have been, represented the longest minutes of each year. All these years alter, I marvel at the sheer amount of stuff we got every year, things we’d asked for and things we had not (which often turned out to be even greater than what we had asked for). Dad and Mother weren’t rich, but we never wanted for a single thing, not just on Christmas but the other 364 days of the year. Whatever I’ve been able to do for them in adulthood will never come close to paying what they’re owed.

I owe each of you reading a debt of gratitude as well, that you have found your way to this lightly traveled corner of the Internet and the other corner on which I do business. Thank you, and a merry Christmas to all, wherever you are.

July 2, 1969: Misadventure

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(Pictured: Reggie Jackson at bat, circa 1969.)

July 2, 1969, was a Wednesday. In Greenwich Village, New York City, protests and rioting continue in the wake of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn a few nights before. (The Stonewall Raid and its aftermath will mark the birth of the gay pride movement.) President Nixon signs a treaty with Mexico standardizing the use of the AM radio band in both countries and permitting several American AM stations broadcasting on frequencies allocated to Mexico to operate during certain hours before sunrise and after sunset. NASA decides which agency official will be responsible for the quarantine of the Apollo 11 astronauts and anything they bring back from the moon later in the month. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise returns from a six-month deployment in the western Pacific. Bobby McCoy of Toledo, Ohio, Dennis Sydor of Jersey City, New Jersey, Richard Crudo of East Meadow, New York, and Steven Moody of Malverne, New York, are killed in action in Vietnam. Three other soldiers die in a helicopter crash. Pro wrestler Iron Mike DiBiase dies of a heart attack in the ring during a match in Amarillo, Texas. Future major league outfielder So Taguchi is born. Reggie Jackson becomes the first member of the Oakland A’s to hit three home runs in a game; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jerry Arrigo hits three Atlanta Braves batters with pitches in a single inning.

The International Hotel, the world’s largest, opens on the Las Vegas Strip one day after the Landmark; the two hotels had been racing to completion. Barbra Streisand headlines the 2000-seat showroom. Jerry Lee Lewis and Pacific Gas and Electric play the Schaefer Beer Music Festival in Central Park. At Abbey Road, the Beatles start work on “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry That Weight” and record “Her Majesty.” At Olympic Studios, the Rolling Stones wrap up another day of work on the Let it Bleed album. That night, Brian Jones, who had been kicked out of the Stones in early June, goes for a swim and is later discovered motionless at the bottom of the pool. He will be pronounced dead by misadventure in the early hours of July 3. The Byrds continue work on The Ballad of Easy Rider. Janis Joplin plays Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa; tickets cost $4, $3, and $2.

Variety reports that officials in New Zealand are considering whether to ban the Hair original soundtrack album. Australian police have already ordered copies of the album to be confiscated and destroyed. Cast members of Hair will be tried for obscenity in New Zealand, but acquitted. At WMCA in New York, the biggest leap on its latest music survey is the double-sided hit “Where Do I Go?”and “Be-In (Hare Krishna)” by the Happenings, two songs from Hair, which leaps from #29 last week to #16 this week.  “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans leaps from #6 to #1. Other big movers on the WMCA survey: “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James from #19 to #8; “My Pledge of Love” by the Joe Jeffrey Group from #18 to #13; and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond from #28 to #19.