April 22, 1986: Abuzz

(Pictured: Prince appears at the American Music Awards in January 1986.)

April 22, 1986, is a Tuesday. The nation is abuzz this morning over last night’s syndicated TV special The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults, hosted by Geraldo Rivera, during which a chamber below the Lexington Hotel in Chicago, where Capone had once lived, was opened on live TV. It did not contain cars, bodies, or money as hoped, only dirt and old empty bottles. Thirty-five percent of TV homes in America watched. In Madison, Wisconsin, just after 4AM, 20-year-old convenience store clerk Andrew Nehmer is murdered. Decades from now, a possible suspect will be identified, but the murder will remain unsolved. Western diplomats continue discussions about a further crackdown on Libya, one week after retaliatory American bombing raids on Tripoli and Benghazi. The Libyan government is accused of sponsoring the April 5 terrorist bombing of a Berlin disco frequented by American soldiers, in which two Americans were killed and 79 wounded. President Reagan notifies Congress that the national security emergency regarding Nicaragua, in place since the previous May, will be continued. Tonight, Reagan gives a speech at the Heritage Foundation anniversary dinner. Several states get snow with record cold.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Lucy tells Linus about their sister-brother dynamic. Future football player Marshawn Lynch and future actress Amber Heard are born. Cliff Finch, who served as governor of Mississippi from 1976 to 1980, dies of a heart attack at age 59. On TV tonight, ABC’s lineup features Who’s the Boss, Perfect Strangers, Moonlighting and Spenser: For Hire. CBS airs the new family drama Morningstar/Eveningstar, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, and The Equalizer. NBC counters with The A-Team, Hunter, and an NBC White Paper news special titled The Japan They Don’t Talk About, which shows how some Japanese manufacturing differs from the industrial powerhouse portrayed in media reports. The Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 122-104 to win their first-round NBA playoff series three games to none. After scoring 63 points in the previous game, Bulls star Michael Jordan scores 19. The Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets also complete first-round sweeps.

The Los Angeles Times carries a feature story on prolific session guitarist Tommy Tedesco. The Grateful Dead play Berkeley, California, and Rush brings the Power Windows tour to Greensboro, South Carolina. Van Halen plays the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago, Stevie Nicks plays Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, and Neil Diamond plays the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love” is new in the Billboard Top 10; Stevie’s “I Can’t Wait” holds at #16. Prince tops the Hot 100 with “Kiss”; a song he wrote under an assumed name for the Bangles, “Manic Monday,” is #2. At #99, on its way out of the Hot 100, is “A Love Bizarre” by Sheila E, co-written by Prince. In Macomb, Illinois, the local Top 40 morning-show host plays all of these songs, although his favorites at the moment are “Your Love” by the Outfield and “R. O. C. K. in the U. S. A.” by John Cougar Mellencamp, both of which sound great blasting in the car on warm spring days. Or they will, if spring ever comes to western Illinois.

April 16, 1967: The Happening

(Pictured: Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, and Rick Wright of Pink Floyd, 1967.)

April 16, 1967, is a Sunday. The top story in the Sunday newspapers regards the massive anti-Vietnam protests held in New York and San Francisco yesterday; in New York, over 300,000 were said to have attended. More mass protests are scheduled for tomorrow, including Washington, D.C. The current edition of Look magazine features an article called “The Student Revolt,” but its cover features Britain’s Prince Philip and Prince Charles. Students are not the only ones angry. In an interview published this weekend, civil rights leader Martin Luther King warns that at least 10 cities “could explode in racial violence this summer.” Today, King delivers a sermon titled, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.” Preparations continue for Monday’s launch of the unmanned Surveyor III spacecraft, which will land on the moon, take photos, and sample the lunar soil. Future pro football player Chuck Evans is born. The Cincinnati Nature Center opens.

Led by center Wilt Chamberlain’s 38 rebounds, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the San Francisco Warriors 126-95 to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals; one week from tomorrow, the 76ers will win the championship. The Chicago White Sox sweep a doubleheader from the Washington Senators; the second game goes 16 innings. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox play 18 innings, with the Yankees finally winning the six-hour game 7-6. The Grateful Dead plays the Kaleidoscope in Los Angeles, Pink Floyd plays Bethnal Green in London, the Buffalo Springfield plays San Francisco, the Yardbirds play Lolland, Denmark, the Duke Ellington Orchestra plays Cleveland, the Beach Boys and Tommy James play Pittsburgh, and the Electric Prunes appear on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Other shows on TV tonight include Lassie, Bonanza, Hey Landlord, and The FBI.

At WLS in Chicago, three Midwestern acts are in the Top 10 of the current Silver Dollar Survey: the Buckinghams and the Cryan’ Shames from Chicago with “Don’t You Care” and “Mr. Unreliable” at #6 and #7 respectively, and 2 of Clubs from Cincinnati with “Walk Tall” at #9. The top song belongs to the Monkees, however, with “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” which knocked last week’s #1 song, “Happy Together” by the Turtles, to #2. “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra is at #3. “On a Carousel” by the Hollies leaps into the Top Ten at #4. Also hot: “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five, “The Happening” by the Supremes, and “Somebody to Love” by the Jefferson Airplane.

A seven-year-old in Wisconsin hears none of this. One day this spring—perhaps in April—his first-grade teacher, fighting off laryngitis, decides to turn over parts of her lessons to some of her students. He teaches a math lesson that involves addition with the number nine. It’s the first teaching he’s ever done, but it won’t be the last.

April 11, 1965: How Dangerous

(Pictured: This is not the tornado that struck my family’s farm on April 11, 1965, although it looms that large in my memory.)

April 11, 1965 was Palm Sunday. Across the middle of the country, it’s the first warm spring day. In an old schoolhouse near his ranch in Texas, President Johnson signs the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the nation’s first law federally funding schools. Johnson, who had been a teacher himself as a young man, is joined for the ceremony by his first teacher. In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown battles the kite-eating tree. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford speaks at a dinner in Chicago and encourages support for the Israel Bonds Program. In his mostly lighthearted speech he compares Israel, “surrounded by a numerically larger and hostile army,” to the Congressional GOP, whom Ford says are similarly outnumbered by the Democrats. A gigantic tornado outbreak strikes the Midwest. Over approximately 11 hours, 47 tornadoes are reported from Iowa to Ohio. Storms in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio come with winds in excess of 200 MPH, and 271 people are killed. The most fatalities occur in Indiana, including 36 in and around Elkhart. Among the first communities to be hit is Monroe, Wisconsin, about 2:00 in the afternoon. The tornado carves a 27-mile path through Green, Rock, and Dane counties, destroying or damaging homes, businesses, and over 400 cars. Forty injuries are reported, but no fatalities. Winds in the Monroe tornado are estimated to have reached over 100 MPH.

A Texas entrepreneur announces the formation of the United States Football League, which will have six franchises in major cities. It is to begin play in the spring of 1966 with its championship game on Memorial Day, but the new professional league will never get off the ground. Conference finals continue in the National Basketball Association. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers take 3-2 leads in their respective series with wins today. In the National Hockey League, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Black Hawks 4-2 to take a 3-2 lead in their semifinal series. Marvin Panch wins the NASCAR Atlanta 500. Baseball’s regular season begins tomorrow; today the Chicago Cubs acquire pitcher Ted Abernathy from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash.

On TV tonight, ABC broadcasts Wagon Train and the sitcom Broadside, about a group of Navy WAVES assigned to a base in the South Pacific. Bonanza anchors NBC’s lineup. On CBS tonight, following Lassie and My Favorite Martian, Ed Sullivan welcomes Gerry and the Pacemakers (who are promoting their movie Ferry Cross the Mersey), Maurice Chevalier, and Soupy Sales among his guests. In London, the Beatles close the annual all-star concert presented by New Musical Express, which features the winners of the magazine’s annual popularity poll. It’s the third year the Beatles have appeared. Also on the bill: the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, Them, the Animals, the Kinks, and several other acts.

At WRIT in Milwaukee, several of the acts from the NME show are on the station’s latest survey. “I’m Telling You Now” by Freddie and the Dreamers is #1; “Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders moves to #2. The hottest record on the chart is “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits, moving from #20 to #3. (Herman’s version of “Silhouettes makes another strong move, from #32 to 20.) Also new in the Top 10 are “Go Now” by the Moody Blues and “The Clapping Song” by Shirley Ellis. Also moving up: “Count Me In” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys (to #22 from #34).

Perspective From the Present: The National Weather Service in Kansas City and local weather bureaus knew about the ripe conditions for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, so at about 10:45AM, they issued a Severe Weather Forecast, which was standard operating procedure at the time. At 1:00, they updated it to say that “one or two tornadoes” might occur, but they identified a huge area of threat—essentially from Madison to Peoria and Cedar Rapids to Chicago, about 50,000 square miles. But by then, tornadoes were already hitting Iowa. (My family and I heard that updated forecast on a Rockford, Illinois, radio station in the car on the way back from our Sunday dinner.) Further alerts were issued as the storms moved across Illinois and Indiana, but the terminology wasn’t clear enough about the urgency of the situation, and as a result, many people were unaware just how dangerous the storms were. In the aftermath, the National Weather Service devised the tornado watch and tornado warning terminology that we use today.

My first baseball glove, which I would get when I started playing organized ball three or four years hence, was a Ted Abernathy autographed model.

April 9, 1983: Let’s Dance

A wedding picture, 1983. All fashion and grooming choices seemed like a good idea at the time.

April 9, 1983, was a Saturday. By joint resolution of Congress, it is National POW/MIA Recognition Day and the last day of National Drug Abuse Education Week. The space shuttle Challenger lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California after its five-day maiden voyage. Rehearsals are held for the Academy Awards, which will be presented Monday night. Newspapers across the country publish a UPI story reporting that the city council of Ottumwa, Iowa, has declared the town to be the “video gaming capital of the world.” In his weekly radio address, President Reagan touts his tax cuts, and warns that “liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives want you to pay more—much more.” Stonyfield Farm produces its first batch of yogurt. There is an avalanche in California’s American River Canyon.

Quarterback John Reaves of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits sets league records for pass attempts and pass completions in a 22-16 overtime win over the Denver Gold. Julio Franco of the Cleveland Indians hits his first major-league home run. Tanya Roberts guest-stars on the pilot episode of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, broadcast on CBS. Stephen Bishop and Oxo are guests on American Bandstand. Joan Rivers hosts Saturday Night Live with musical guest Musical Youth. The Grateful Dead plays the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. In Brooklyn, New York, Metallica does its last show with guitarist Dave Mustaine, who later forms Megadeth. Bob Seger performs in Seattle. Rush wraps up a two-night stand in Montreal. Steve Forbert plays the Lone Star Cafe in New York City. Thin Lizzy plays in Dublin.

On the latest Billboard Hot 100, the top 3 songs are unchanged from the previous week: Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is in its 6th week at the top, followed by Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran. “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners zooms to #4 from #11. Jackson’s “Beat It” moves into the Top 10 from #14. The biggest move within the Top 40 is made by Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science,” jumping from #26 to #16. “Overkill” by Men at Work is new in the Hot 100 all the way up at #28. David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” entered the Top 40 at #29 from #43 the week before, and Duran Duran’s “Rio” is new at #40, up from #58. The oldest record on the chart, in its 21st week on, is “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash. It’s at #86 this week, down from #50.

Perspective From the Present: Yup, that’s our wedding picture at the top of the page, for on April 9, 1983, the Mrs. and I became Mr. and Mrs., getting married in my hometown church. I nursed a slight hangover through much of the day thanks to an impromptu bachelor party two nights before. My parents kept inviting wedding guests to what was supposed to be a small family gathering between the church reception and the dance, and they ended up with 150 people in their house. My ex-college roommate took his tux back to my parents’ house on Sunday, where he summed up the feelings of many guests, and of the bride and groom, when he said to my father, “Let’s do this again sometime, but not right away.”

April 5, 1983: Opening Days

(Pictured: Tom Seaver back on the mound in New York, 1983.)

April 5, 1983, is a Tuesday. Headlines on the morning papers include the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Challenger, launched yesterday on the sixth mission of the shuttle program; the death of actress Gloria Swanson at age 84; and the upset win by North Carolina State over Houston in the finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Today, President Reagan vetoes the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Claims Settlement Act, extends the term of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving through the end of the year, and appoints Allen Davis ambassador to Uganda. Chattanooga, Tennessee, sets an all-time record with 3.36 inches of rain, while El Paso, Texas, sets an snowfall record for a single day in April with 6.5 inches. The Board of Commissioners of Orange County, North Carolina, adopts an ordinance prohibiting the keeping of wild animals. The ordinance exempts the teaching and research facilities at the University of North Carolina.

Today is the second day of the new major-league baseball season with nine games scheduled. After 5 1/2 seasons in Cincinnati, pitcher Tom Seaver returns to the New York Mets and outduels Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0. John Candelaria of the Pittsburgh Pirates strikes out 10 St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-1 win; it will be the most by any Pirates pitcher on Opening Day until 2013. The defending American League champion Milwaukee Brewers lose to California 3-2; the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos are postponed by bad weather in Chicago; they will open tomorrow. Shows on NBC tonight include The A Team, Remington Steele, and St. Elsewhere. CBS shows the TV movie The Return of the Man from UNCLE. On ABC, it’s Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three’s Company, and Ryan’s Four, a medical-show pilot starring Tom Skerritt, Lisa Eilbacher, and Tim Daly. It won’t become a regular series.

Danny Rapp, lead singer of Danny & the Juniors, commits suicide in Arizona. Future pro football player Will Buchanon and future pro golfer Brendan Steele are born. Huey Lewis and the News play Austin, Texas, R.E.M. plays Nashville, and the Beach Boys play Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rush plays Buffalo and Prince plays Denver. On the current Cash Box chart, the top five are largely unchanged from the previous week. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson is #1 for the fourth week in a row; “You Are” by Lionel Richie and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club swap #2 and #3 spots; “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran and “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders round out the top 5. There’s one new entry in the Top 10: “Jeopardy” by the Greg Kihn Band. The biggest move within the top 40 is made by Bob Seger’s “Even Now,” moving from #38 to #28; “I Won’t Hold You Back” by Toto is up from #40 to #32, and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” moves from #22 to #15. The hottest record on the entire chart is David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” reaching #34 in its second week on.

In a small one-bedroom apartment in Dubuque, Iowa, a calendar hangs on the kitchen wall. Today, there’s a note: “Opening Day: baseball.” On the upcoming Saturday, April 9, there’s another: “Opening Day: marriage.” The couple sharing the apartment differs on how funny the notes are: the young man thinks they’re hilarious, but his intended bride is less amused by them. Years hence, she will continue to put up with him, with everything that’s funny and everything that isn’t, and he will consider himself very fortunate indeed.