September 21, 1982: I Got the Shaft

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(Pictured: Frank Zappa sits for a portrait, 1982.)

September 21, 1982, was a Tuesday. It is the first observance of World Peace Day. Following last night’s NFL game (a 27-19 Green Bay Packers win over the New York Giants), players go on strike. The impasse will last 57 days before games resume in November. In San Francisco, the iconic cable car system closes for a renovation project. The project will be completed in June 1984. In Lebanon, Amin Gemayel is elected president, succeeding his brother Bashir, who was elected last month but was assassinated before he could take office. Reagan has announced that in response to the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, U.S. Marines will be sent back to Beirut as peacekeepers. Today, Reagan meets with American negotiators about to depart for arms reduction talks in Geneva and Vienna, and he appoints six members to the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, including actors Cary Grant and Dina Merrill. He also speaks at a fundraising luncheon for Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Emery of Maine.

Fifteen games are played in the majors, including two doubleheaders in New York, where the Yankees split with Cleveland and the Mets split with Montreal. Attendance for the latter is announced at 2,251. At the end of the day’s action, the California Angels lead the American League West by two games over Kansas City; the Milwaukee Brewers lead the AL East by two over Baltimore. Division leaders in the National League are Los Angeles in the West and St. Louis in the East. The Cardinals lose to the Phillies tonight 5-2 as Phillies ace Steve Carlton wins his 21st game.

Frank and Moon Zappa appear on Good Morning America to discuss the “Valley Girl” phenomenon. Cartoon Express premieres on USA Network. It’s a daily late-afternoon block of Hanna-Barbera reruns, and will air in various forms until 1996. The network TV lineups tonight are almost entirely reruns: ABC airs Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three’s Company, Too Close for Comfort, and Hart to Hart; CBS shows The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie and the theatrical movie Hero at Large, starring John Ritter. On NBC, a two-hour episode of Father Murphy, starring Merlin Olsen, is followed by a news special called The Man Who Shot the Pope, about the 1981 attack on John Paul II and its possible terrorist connections. Later on NBC, Johnny Carson welcomes actor Richard Harris and comedian Charlie Callas. Callas fails to get many laughs, so Carson whistles a “bomb” sound, and in response, Callas gives him a shove that’s intended to be playful. Johnny doesn’t take it that way, and tells Callas on the air that he will never be invited back on the show. And he won’t be.

The Grateful Dead play Madison Square Garden, Van Halen plays Oklahoma City, Rush plays Salt Lake City, the Go Gos play Lakeland, Florida, and Judas Priest plays Chicago. The Harvard Crimson publishes a review of Elvis Costello’s latest album, Imperial Bedroom. In the Los Angeles Times, critic Robert Hilburn takes a nostalgic look back at the Whisky A Go-Go; the legendary nightspot closed on Sunday night. In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown has a question for Linus.

At WBEN in Buffalo, the top four songs on the station’s survey are unchanged from the previous week: “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar, “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” by Melissa Manchester, “Jump to It” by Aretha Franklin, and “I Keep Forgettin'” by Michael McDonald. “Love Come Down” by Evelyn “Champagne” King debuts at #5. The only other song new in the Top 10 is “Somebody’s Baby” by Jackson Browne. “Heart Attack” by Olivia Newton-John and “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond are both up 14 spots for the week, sitting at #11 and #12. Halfway across the country at KDTH in Dubuque, Iowa, the afternoon jock is not playing any of these. His show is more likely to feature the nation’s current #1 country hit, “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” by Jerry Reed.

(Note from the proprietor: e-mail subscribers to this blog and followers on Twitter and Tumblr received an early draft of this post yesterday in error. Should you happen to walk under my office window, please be aware that hot garbage in the form of my new laptop may come flying out of the window at any moment.)

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September 11, 1985: Twice a Day

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(Pictured: Pete Rose follows through on his 4,192nd hit. The catcher is Bruce Bochy, who would go on to manage in the majors, winning three World Series in five years with the San Francisco Giants.)

September 11, 1985, was a Wednesday. Headlines in the morning papers include a request by the Reagan Administration to raise the federal debt ceiling to an unprecedented $2.078 trillion in October. Also yesterday, incumbent mayors Ed Koch in New York and Coleman Young in Detroit won primary elections. In such heavily Democratic cities, winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general election. A Colorado resident named Dennis Whiles turns himself into immigration authorities in San Pedro, California. His real name is Georg Gaertner, and during World War II, he escaped from a camp for German prisoners of war in New Mexico, a secret he kept from his wife of 21 years until recently. His surrender is timed to coincide with the release of a book he co-wrote about his experience; authorities say that his lengthy marriage means he probably won’t be deported. A wire-service story reports on a survey that says 50 percent of career women are dissatisfied with the frequency of their sex lives. The psychologist conducting the survey also says that women “like the idea of starting and finishing the day in a warm, emotional way.” This prompts the Los Angeles Times to headline the story, “Career Women Tell Survey They’d Like Sex Twice a Day.”

Tonight, in the bottom of the first inning at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Pete Rose of the Reds singles off Eric Show of the San Diego Padres. It’s Rose’s 4,192nd hit, breaking the all-time record held by Ty Cobb. The Reds go on to win 2-0. On TV tonight, CBS airs an episode of I Had Three Wives, a short-run series starring Victor Garber as a private eye whose ex-wives—a lawyer, an actress with martial arts skills, and a reporter—help him solve cases. It’s followed by the TV movie Brass, an unsold pilot, starring Carroll O’Connor as the NYPD’s chief of detectives. ABC carries the sci-fi movie J. O. E. and the Colonel followed by a rerun of Hotel with guest star Elizabeth Taylor. NBC airs Highway to Heaven followed by the premiere of the new series Hell Town, starring Robert Blake, and the news program American Almanac, hosted by Roger Mudd. The Fall Preview edition of TV Guide is on sale in stores with listings for the week of September 14.

On the current Billboard Hot 100, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” by John Parr is #1, taking over the top spot from “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, which falls to #2. “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner and “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franklin have pulled a similar trade of positions at #3 and #4. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams holds at #5. The biggest mover within the Top 10 is “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits, moving to #6 from #10. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Don’t Lose My Number” by Phil Collins and “Pop Life” by Prince. Ready for the World’s song “Oh Sheila” moves from #26 to #18, the biggest move within the Top 40. The only other song new to the Top 20 is “Dress You Up” by Madonna at #17. Five songs are new in the Top 40; the highest debut is Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart” at #32. New at #33 is “Dancing in the Street,” a record Mick Jagger and David Bowie made for Live Aid in July. Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” is new on the Hot 100 all the way up at #43.

Perspective From the Present: I saw Rose tie Cobb’s record against the Cubs the preceding Sunday. I was at the height of my obsessive baseball fandom in 1985, although it would have been tempered by September. The Cubs had crashed at mid-season, losing the whole starting rotation to injuries and dropping 12 games in a row at one point, and were now firmly mired in fifth place. On this particular night, they beat the last-place Pirates 3-1. I don’t know if I watched, but if I had, I would likely have seen Rose’s record-setting hit. Nationally televised regular-season games were still relatively rare, but local broadcasters could pick up the Cincinnati TV feed whenever Rose came to bat.

September 7, 1967: Good Morning World

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(Pictured: Paul Revere and the Raiders.)

September 7, 1967, is a Thursday. The weather forecast for the northern half of the United States and the Pacific Coast is for fair skies, with rain possible across the south and into the Rocky Mountains. In Madison, Wisconsin, the predicted high is 79. President and Mrs. Johnson are at the LBJ Ranch in Texas through the weekend while Congress is on its Labor Day recess. The United Auto Workers launched a strike against Ford late last night; up to 159,000 union workers in 25 states may ultimately be affected by the strike. The strike will last for 68 days; workers at GM and Chrysler will stage brief walkouts as well. A million students in six states are idled by teachers’ strikes.

Walgreens stores in the Chicago area invite you to “save big on beer”: locally brewed Van Merritt is just 79 cents for a six-pack of cans. You can get a six-pack of Old Style in bottles for 92 cents or Budweiser in cans for $1.05. At the start of play today, four teams are in a virtual tie for first place in the American League: the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins have identical records of 78-61; the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are percentage points behind with identical records of 79-62. Tonight, the Twins and Red Sox both win, while the White Sox and Tigers are idle; the result leaves the Twins ahead of the Red Sox by .001; the Tigers and White Sox trail by one-half game. In the National League, the Cardinals, Cubs, and Giants all win; St. Louis maintains an 11-and-a-half game lead over the Cubs and Giants.

Two new TV series premiere opposite one another tonight: on ABC, Sally Field stars in The Flying Nun; on CBS, it’s the western Cimarron Strip starring Stuart Whitman. Several other new fall shows have already premiered this week, including Good Morning World, a sitcom set in a Los Angeles radio station, and He & She, starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss. (They have been a married couple in real life since 1961; 50 years from now, they will still be married.) New fall series to premiere this weekend include The Mothers-In-Law, The High Chaparral, and The Carol Burnett Show. Crime dramas Ironside and Mannix will debut next week. Also this weekend, NBC will air Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, starring the comedy team in a fast-paced variety special. The show’s high rating will prompt NBC to make it a regular series in January.

On the new survey coming out tomorrow at WLS in Chicago, Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” holds for another week at #1, just ahead of “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee and “Light My Fire” by the Doors. At #4 it’s “The Letter” by the Box Tops, up from #22 the week before. Two other songs are new in the Top 10: “I Had a Dream” by Paul Revere and the Raiders at #8 and “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, up to #10 from #24 last week. Also in the Top 10: local favorite the Cryan’ Shames with “It Could Be We’re in Love,” “Never My Love” by the Association, “Reflections” by Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the double-A-sided hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Words” by the Monkees. There are 12 new songs on the survey this week: the highest debut is “Little Ole Man” by Bill Cosby at #20. WLS DJs Art Roberts and Larry Lujack will make personal appearances tomorrow night. Roberts will be the MC of a show at the Holiday Ballroom; Lujack will MC a record hop at Notre Dame High School and later, a show at the Rivoli Ballroom.

Perspective From the Present: I have recently been watching episodes of He & She on YouTube. It was a sophisticated, adult sitcom, a predecessor of shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and several years ahead of its time, which helps to account for its demise after one season. A half-century later, it’s definitely worth watching.

Also: In September 1967, I had just started the second grade at Lincoln School, in Miss Jones’ class, although I would transfer to the newly opened Northside School in January. My second-grade report card includes the notation that I listen attentively and am considerate of others only some of the time, and there is also a note that says I need to work on expressing myself better in writing.

August 15, 1973: Tantrums

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(Protesters march against the TV show Maude and its abortion-themed episodes, 1973.)

(This is a brand-new, never-before-seen-anywhere post.)

August 15, 1973, was a Wednesday. In June, Congress passed a bill cutting off funding for American operations in Vietnam after August 15, ending direct military involvement in the war. Today, the final American air combat missions of the war are flown over Cambodia, and the aircraft carrier Constellation leaves harbor in the Gulf of Tonkin, where American ships have operated since 1964. President Nixon gives a nationally televised address on the Watergate affair. He insists he had no prior knowledge of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters or of any coverup, and he suggests that tapes of his Oval Office conversations are covered by executive privilege. He also criticizes Congress for “a continued backward-looking obsession with Watergate.” An Associated Press survey in 12 major cities finds that the price of eggs has risen in eight of them. The largest increase was in Los Angeles, where a dozen eggs, which cost 69 cents on July 31, cost 88 cents this week. Major candymakers including Hershey and Curtiss are deciding whether to raise prices or further decrease the size of their products due to the rising price of raw cocoa beans. Hershey’s famous 10-cent chocolate bar was reduced in size by 0.12 ounces in January.

In major league baseball, a Baltimore win coupled with a Detroit loss puts the Orioles in first place in the American League East by one-half game. In the West, Kansas City expands its lead over idle Oakland to one game with a win over Cleveland. St. Louis and Los Angeles are divisional leaders in the National League. This afternoon, the Chicago Cubs lose to the Atlanta Braves 15-1. It’s their 10th straight loss. (The streak will reach 11 before the team finally gets a win on Friday.)

Nixon’s Watergate speech delays or pre-empts scheduled network programming: The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Dan August, and Cannon on CBS; Adam-12, The Wednesday Mystery Movie, and SEARCH on NBC; and the sitcom Love Thy Neighbor, the TV movie Duel, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law on ABC. Last night, CBS repeated a controversial episode of the sitcom Maude, in which the title character, played by Beatrice Arthur, considers whether to get an abortion. Twenty-five of the 198 CBS affiliates did not carry the show, including stations in Milwaukee, Boston, New Orleans, and Seattle. The United States Catholic Conference has been pressuring CBS affiliates not to the air the rerun. When the episode was originally broadcast in November 1972 (when abortion was legal in New York State, where Maude is set, but before January’s Supreme Court national ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade), only two stations refused to carry it. A second abortion episode is scheduled for next week.

The Illinois State Fair continues in Springfield, where Bobby Goldsboro will perform two shows tonight at the grandstand. In Chicago, WCFL runs newspaper ads for its upcoming live broadcast of Chicago’s sold-out show at Chicago Stadium on Sunday night, which will be hosted by afternoon DJ Larry Lujack. On the latest Super CFL Survey, “Get Down” by Gilbert O’Sullivan is #1, knocking “Yesterday Once More” by the Carpenters to #2. “Diamond Girl” by Seals and Crofts makes a strong move from #12 to #5. “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings is even hotter, jumping from #18 to #7, the single biggest move on the survey. Also new in the Top 10: “Uneasy Rider” by the Charlie Daniels Band. Also making strong upward moves: “Are You Man Enough” by the Four Tops and “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk, both up eight spots. New songs within the Top 40 are “My Maria” by B. W. Stevenson and “Loves Me Like a Rock” by Paul Simon.

Perspective From the Present: I would probably have watched the Nixon speech that night, and Maude the night before—although I doubt I knew what an abortion was, and the Maude episode did not use the word. I would have been suffering along with the Cubs, who were as sick of losing as their fans. On Tuesday, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins had a bat-throwing tantrum after being pulled in the fifth inning of the ninth loss in the streak, 5-1 to Atlanta at Wrigley Field. It was the last summer I played Little League baseball, at which I was even more inept than the Cubs. As one hot day followed another, I eagerly listened to the radio, reluctantly did farm work and took saxophone lessons, and certainly looked forward to returning to school—the eighth grade—in a couple of weeks.

August 3, 1979: Completely Freaked Out

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(Pictured: Yaphet Kotto, Sigourney Weaver, and Ian Holm in Alien, 1979.)

August 3, 1979, was a Friday. Headlines on the morning papers include a government report that blames operator error for the Three Mile Island nuclear accident last spring. Investigators say that operators interfered with automated safety procedures that would have minimized the accident if left alone. Also in today’s headlines: New York Yankees catcher, team captain, and 1976 American League Most Valuable Player Thurman Munson died in a private plane crash yesterday in Ohio. He was 32. Today’s Yankees game against the Baltimore Orioles goes on as scheduled at Yankee Stadium. The Orioles win 1-0. Also today, President Jimmy Carter swears in Patricia Harris as his new Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Harris moves over from the top position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Harris move is part of the cabinet shakeup Carter launched on July 18. Provincial elections are held in Iran to select members for a new national council to advise Ayatollah Khomeini and other leaders. Many major parties and candidates have dropped out, calling the elections “undemocratic and unlawful.”

On Navy Pier at Chicago’s lakefront, Chicagofest opens its 10-day run. The second edition of the annual festival was in jeopardy for a while earlier this year after cost overruns in 1978, but Mayor Jane Byrne was forced to back down from her proposal to replace the fest with a series of smaller neighborhood festivals. There are eight stages, each representing a different genre. Tonight, the rock stage is headlined by Jay Ferguson, the jazz stage by McCoy Tyner, the folk stage by Tom Paxton, and the country stage by the Dirt Band. Muddy Waters plays the blues stage, and he is joined by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the Blues Brothers. Main stage headliners during the fest include Bobby Vinton, a triple bill of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino, the Charlie Daniels Band with Dr. Hook, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson on separate nights, Shaun Cassidy, Helen Reddy with Jim Stafford, and Chicago with Orleans. Several Chicago radio stations will broadcast from the festival, and The Mike Douglas Show will be taped at Chicagofest on weekdays. Over 100,000 advance tickets have been sold at $3.50 each. Admission at the gate will be $5.

Future actress Evangeline Lilly is born. The Muppet Movie, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, and North Dallas Forty, starring Nick Nolte, open in theaters this weekend. So do The Amityville Horror and The Wanderers, which is advertised with a pull quote from a Newsweek review calling it “Grease with brass knuckles.” During the day, the three broadcast networks air 11 soaps and 10 game shows along with repeats of Laverne and Shirley, All in the Family, and M*A*S*H. Shows on TV tonight include Diff’rent Strokes, Hello Larry, The Rockford Files, and Welcome Back Kotter. Following the late local news, ABC shows 15 minutes of highlights from the PGA Championship golf tournament. (Ben Crenshaw holds a one-shot lead after the second round; he will lose a three-hole playoff to Australian David Graham on Sunday.) ABC follows the golf with a repeat of highlights from California Jam II, a rock concert held in March 1978, starring Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Heart, Foreigner, and others.

At WLS in Chicago, “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer hold at #1 and #2 on the survey that will come out tomorrow. At #3, Cheap Trick swaps positions with Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” now at #4. No song among the station’s top 12 moves more than one position up or down. The biggest mover within the survey is “My Sharona” by the Knack, up 15 spots to #16. (The debut album from the Knack is new at #1, knocking Cheap Trick at Budokan to #3; Supertramp’s Breakfast in America holds at #2.) Barbra Streisand’s “The Main Event/Fight,” the title song from her current movie with Ryan O’Neal, is up to #24 from #38. “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman” by Dr. Hook is up to #30 from #41.

Perspective From the Present: I have written elsewhere that in the summer of 1979 I worked Saturdays and Sundays at KDTH in Dubuque and bunked with a couple of college friends on Saturday nights. One weekend—and we might as well call it the weekend that started on Friday, August 3—we went to see Alien, which had been in theaters all summer. It was the first movie we’d ever seen with a soundtrack in stereo. When the alien sneaked up on somebody from behind and we heard the sound behind us before we saw it, we were completely freaked out. Moviegoers take such effects for granted now, but when they were new, well, damn.

July 24, 1966: Soldiers

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(Pictured: National Guardsmen on patrol in Cleveland after rioting in July 1966.)

(Most posts at this blog have previously appeared in some form at either The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ or Popdose. Here’s a brand-new post that’s never appeared anywhere before. Find others here.)

July 24, 1966, was a Sunday. Newspaper headlines this morning include President Lyndon Johnson’s speaking tour stops yesterday in Indiana and Illinois, during which he addressed the recent race riots in Chicago and Cleveland and defended his administration’s policy in Vietnam. National Guardsmen have been patrolling Chicago’s troubled west side since July 15th; the last units will be sent home from the area tonight. Johnson was accompanied on his trip by Democratic officials facing reelection in the fall. Richard Speck, accused of murdering eight student nurses in Chicago on July 13, remains hospitalized after attempting suicide while hiding out after the murders.

Also yesterday, actor Montgomery Clift died at age 45 after suffering a heart attack in his New York apartment. Today, pro golfer Tony Lema is killed when his private plane crashes into a golf course near Chicago. Lema is 32. Al Geiberger wins the PGA Championship in Akron, Ohio, by four shots over Dudley Wysong. Sixteen games are played in the majors today, including six doubleheaders. The American League-leading Baltimore Orioles lose to the Chicago White Sox 4-0; their lead over the Detroit Tigers is 12 games. The National League race is much tighter. The Pittsburgh Pirates maintain a one-game lead over San Francisco after both teams win today; the Los Angeles Dodgers gain ground with a doubleheader sweep of the New York Mets, 5-0 and 6-0, but they remain 2 1/2 games behind.

In Peanuts today, for the first time in the strip’s history, the World War I flying ace enjoys a root beer at a sidewalk cafe. The fiction best-seller list is topped by Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. On TV tonight, CBS opens prime-time with Lassie and My Favorite Martian, followed an Ed Sullivan Show repeat from February starring the Supremes, the Dave Clark Five, Stiller and Meara, and Allan Sherman. Perry Mason, Candid Camera, and What’s My Line follow Ed on CBS. NBC airs The Wonderful World of Disney, Bonanza, and The Wackiest Ship in the Army. On ABC, its Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The FBI, and The Pony Soldier, a 1952 Western set in Canada starring Tyrone Power and Cameron Mitchell.

The Newport Folk Festival closes with performances by Richie Havens, Tom Paxton, and Pete Seeger. Other headliners on the four-day bill included Judy Collins, Chuck Berry, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Skip James, and Phil Ochs. The Rolling Stones, touring in support of their album Aftermath, play an afternoon show in San Bernardino, California, before going on to play two shows in Bakersfield, California, that night. The Animals and Herman’s Hermits play New Orleans. At KSTP in Minneapolis, Don DuChene does an afternoon show featuring Barbra Streisand, Count Basie, Herb Alpert, Bob Newhart, and others. At the Top 40 stations across town, WDGY and KDWB, “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells tops both stations’ surveys. The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” is at #2 on KDWB; WDGY charts only “Paperback Writer” and lists it at #5. “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, “The Pied Piper” by Crispian St. Peters, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham, and “Hungry” by Paul Revere and the Raiders are in the Top 10 on both stations. The hottest songs at WDGY are “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, up to #15 from #30, and “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” by Napoleon XIV, debuting in the Top 3o at #16. At KDWB, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” is the biggest mover within the Top 40, zooming to #7 from #36 the week before. “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful is up 18, to #15 from #33.

Perspective From the Present: At our house, Lassie was a frequent viewing choice on Sundays, but we rarely missed The Wonderful World of Disney. We had to be on our way to bed when Bonanza came on, and for many years I couldn’t hear that familiar theme song without remembering how it felt to have to go to bed before I wanted to.

May 26, 1974: Let It Happen

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(Pictured: Paul McCartney and Wings, 1974.)

(This post, like others in the category An Entirely New Day, is brand-new and has never appeared anywhere else.)

May 26, 1974, is a Sunday. Tomorrow is Memorial Day. President Nixon is spending a second consecutive weekend at his home in Key Biscayne, Florida. A wire service story observes that six months ago, aides would have discouraged him from taking back-to-back weekends off, fearing bad press, but Nixon has reportedly adopted a “let it happen” attitude, given the impeachment hearings now taking place in Congress. Investigators in California have intensified their search for a man they believe can lead them to Patty Hearst and her Symbionese Liberation Army cohorts, who have been on the run since six SLA members were killed in a shootout with Los Angeles police on May 17th. At a funeral home in New York City, mourners have been filing past the casket of composer and bandleader Duke Ellington, who died on Friday. His funeral will be held tomorrow.

The Treasury Department and U.S. Mint say 32 million pennies are “missing.” The director of the Mint says the shortage is because people keep pennies “in dresser drawers, pickle jars, piggy banks,” although a Treasury official blames simple neglect of the unpopular coin. The shortage of pennies has prompted some stores to round prices to the nearest nickel and others to make change with one-cent postage stamps. Still others are rewarding customers who pay with pennies. Osco Drug Stores in the Chicago area have a weekend special on Schlitz beer, at $1.15 for a six-pack. Fifths of selected brands of bourbon, vodka, rum, and gin are $2.98 each. JC Penney Auto Centers have a closeout special on a FM stereo/8-track tape deck for your car, originally $119.95, now $79.88. Automobile air conditioning units are also on sale, starting at $159.88 plus installation.

The best-selling fiction book this week is Watership Down by Richard Adams; Merle Miller’s Plain Speaking, an oral history-style biography of Harry S Truman, is the nonfiction best-seller. In her nationally syndicated newspaper column, Dr. Joyce Brothers writes about sexuality among older adults. “The young think sex is their prerogative and therefore resist the notion that their grandparents can not only have but enjoy sex.” In baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox, dueling for the top of the American League East, continue a weekend series. The Brewers won yesterday, 9-2, to reclaim first, which the Sox had taken with a win on Friday night. A. J. Foyt has the pole position for today’s running of the Indianapolis 500. New safety measures are in place after the fiery 1973 crash involving driver Swede Savage, who died about a month later; activities leading up to the race were curtailed in response to the ongoing gasoline shortage.

On TV tonight, ABC has its traditional tape-delayed broadcast of the Indy 500, which is won by Johnny Rutherford. The CBS lineup includes Apple’s Way (a family drama from the creator of The Waltons), Mannix, and Barnaby Jones; on NBC it’s The Wonderful World of Disney, Columbo, and a news special on cancer. At KHJ in Los Angeles, the top three songs are unchanged from the week before: “The Streak,” “The Loco-Motion,” and “Band on the Run.” Three new songs move into the Top 10: “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics, “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” by the Main Ingredient, and “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays. They replace Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night, and Mike Oldfield’s Exorcist theme, “Tubular Bells.” The biggest mover on the station’s chart is “Be Thankful for What You Got” by William DeVaughn, up eight spots to #18.

Perspective From the Present: I have written elsewhere about the smoky fire we had in our house sometime in the spring of 1974, possibly in May, and maybe even on Sunday the 26th, although I no longer remember precisely when. It was and was not a remarkable disruption in our lives; my brother and I were displaced from our bedrooms for the whole summer amidst the repainting of the house upstairs and down, but I merely moved my hanging-out space to our furnished basement. With a radio, a TV, and a couch, I had everything I needed.

Many of “the young” Dr. Joyce Brothers wrote about in 1974 are grandparents now, and another generation of grandchildren is skeeved out at the idea of Nana and Papa getting it on. But they are, kids. They are. Possibly even as you’re reading this.

May 2, 1967: Name of the Game

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(Pictured: Frank and Nancy Sinatra in the studio, 1967.)

(Late correction below.)

May 2, 1967, was a Tuesday. Armed members of a militant group known as the Black Panthers interrupt a session of the California House of Representatives, which is debating a bill, supported by the National Rifle Association, that would forbid the carrying of loaded firearms in public places. The Panthers argue that blacks need to be armed to protect themselves against oppressive policing. Police stop more Panthers outside the capitol and confiscate 15 weapons. Remarkably, nobody is arrested. Elvis and Priscilla Presley spend their first full day as husband and wife after marrying yesterday in Las Vegas. Also yesterday, police in Chicago foiled an attempted airplane robbery that would have netted the two thieves a bag of stocks and bonds worth two million dollars. Also in Chicago, the combination of a strike by milk truck drivers and a lockout by dairies leads to milk shortages in the city. A UFO is spotted over Montezuma, Iowa. Martin Luther King speaks at Unionville High School in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia. Organizers ask him not to talk about Vietnam, or about controversial congressman Adam Clayton Powell.

The Toronto Maple Leafs win hockey’s Stanley Cup, beating Montreal 3-1 to take the series 4-2. It’s the fourth Cup in six seasons for the Leafs; 50 years later, they will not have won another. On a busy day of major-league baseball, the Cincinnati Reds lose to the Cardinals in St. Louis, 5-0, but still have the majors’ best record at 15-and-6. In the American League, the Washington Senators and Kansas City Athletics split a doubleheader. Both games end up 1-o. The CBS TV lineup tonight includes Daktari, The Red Skelton Hour, Petticoat Junction, and on an edition of CBS Reports, “The National Science Test.” CBS runs ads in newspapers with a form viewers can use to answer the questions that will be presented on the show. On NBC, it’s The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., Occasional Wife, and the movie Fame Is the Name of the Game, which will later be turned into a weekly series. ABC airs episodes of Combat!, The Invaders, Peyton Place, and The Fugitive.

The Beach Boys open a tour of Ireland in Dublin. Carl Wilson misses the show, apparently due to illness. having been arrested for draft evasion in New York last week. He’s released on bond today, and will rejoin the band later in the week. Sam and Dave perform in Stockholm, Sweden. A short-lived club, the Rock Garden, closes in San Francisco. During its five weeks of operation, it hosted shows by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Love, the Grateful Dead, the Steve Miller Blues Band, the Buffalo Springfield, and Country Joe and the Fish. It later becomes a Latin jazz club and a soul-music club. Club-goers in Chicago can hear jazz singer Barbara McNair at the College Inn and the Mongo Santamaria Septet at the London House. In London, England, Nancy Sinatra records the theme song for the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. It appears in the movie, although the version of the song released as a single will be recorded later, in Los Angeles.

At WABC in New York, Nancy’s duet with her father, “Something Stupid,” hits #1 on the new All-American survey. Last week’s #1, “Happy Together” by the Turtles, falls to #2. “The Happening” by the Supremes is at #3, just ahead of a new entry in the Top 10, “I Got Rhythm” by the Happenings (#4), and “Groovin'” by the Young Rascals (#5). Also new in the Top 10: “Close Your Eyes” by Peaches and Herb. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin is new on the survey at #14. “Respect” was a WABC Pick Hit last week. This week’s Pick Hit is “The Congressional Record” by the Hardly Worthit Players. One of the players, Bill Minkin, had charted twice earlier in the year as Senator Bobby with novelty versions of “Wild Thing” and “Mellow Yellow.”

Perspective From the Present: Even though this blog featured a 1967 post just a couple of weeks ago, there’s no harm in going back to that particular well so soon. Every day, it seems, we learn about something else that’s been part of our lives for exactly half-a-century. The world we live in today was born during the 1960s, and that fact comes home day by day, anniversary by anniversary.

(Correction to Carl Wilson story, about which my original sources were unclear, courtesy of the new Twitter feature Peace and Love, tweeting the summer of 1967 from a Wisconsin perspective, curated by our friend Jeff Ash.)

March 6, 1981: I Have the Skill

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Walter Cronkite and his family arrive at a party celebrating his final evening news broadcast on March 6, 1981.)

(When this blog began in January, I promised to write entirely new, never-before-seen posts for it once in a while. This is the first one.)

March 6, 1981, is a Friday. President Reagan holds an afternoon news conference. The reporters asking questions were chosen after Reagan drew names from a jelly-bean jar the previous day, but there are no limits on the questions he can be asked. He takes questions on the political situation in El Salvador, his economic recovery program, and his proposed cuts in social welfare programs.  Longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas asks him if his stance on the right to life means he is opposed to contraception. He responds, “No, I am not.” In today’s Peanuts strip, Sally writes a report for school. Future actress Ellen Muth is born, and George Franconero Jr. is shot to death in front of his home in North Caldwell, New Jersey, in a suspected mob hit. Franconero, a disbarred lawyer and the brother of singer Connie Francis, was cooperating with the FBI in an investigation of organized crime.

After 19 years, Walter Cronkite anchors the CBS Evening News for the final time. He tells the audience, “I’ll be away on assignment, and Dan Rather will be sitting in here for the next few years.” CBS has placed full-page ads in newspapers around the country touting that assignment: a trip to Moscow as part of a five-hour special report on America’s defenses and the new series Walter Cronkite’s Universe. In Platteville, Wisconsin, several young college broadcasters have a little party to watch the last Cronkite show. CBS primetime features The Incredible Hulk and two episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard. NBC lines up Harper Valley PTA, The Brady Brides, Nero Wolfe (a detective drama starring William Conrad and Lee Horsley) and NBC Magazine. ABC has Benson, I’m a Big Girl Now, and Long Journey Back, a 1978 made-for TV movie starring Mike Connors, Cloris Leachman, and Stephanie Zimbalist, about the aftermath of a real-life bus/train crash that took place in 1972.

With less than one week to go in the regular college basketball season, undefeated Oregon State remains ranked #1, with once-beaten DePaul at #2. A column in the Chicago Tribune suggests that TV commentator Billy Packer is likely done after NBC loses the NCAA tournament to CBS in 1982. (Packer will move smoothly from NBC to CBS and remain one of its lead college basketball voices until 2008.)

The Grateful Dead plays Pittsburgh and Queen plays Rosario, Argentina. Duran Duran continues its first headlining tour of the UK in Cardiff, Wales. The Boomtown Rats play Toronto, and U2 plays the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, a show that will be widely bootlegged and eventually get an official release in 2004. Ted Nugent plays Portland, Oregon, and Kansas plays in Wichita with Loverboy opening. At D93 in Dubuque, Iowa, “The Best of Times” by Styx takes over the #1 spot from John Lennon’s “Woman,” which falls to #3. “Smokey Mountain Rain” by Ronnie Milsap sits between them at #2. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Hello Again” by Neil Diamond at #7 and “Hearts on Fire” by Randy Meisner at #10. They replace “Don’t You Know What Love Is” by Touch, which is down from #6 to #14, and whatever was #9 the previous week, which has fallen off the survey entirely. The biggest movers are all up four spots; in addition to “Hello Again,” they include “What Kind of Fool” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb, ” “Morning Train” by Sheena Easton, and “Just Between You and Me” by April Wine.

Perspective From the Present: I had been working part-time at D93 and its AM sister, KDTH, for nearly two years by March 1981. D93 racked up enormous audience shares, although the numbers were somewhat illusory: its lone Top 40 competition in town was an AM station. D93, which was completely automated with no live jocks, had developed a modest reputation for breaking hits, although that rep came at the cost of playing lots of relative stiffs. The generic pop-rocker “Don’t You Know What Love Is,” the much more interesting “I Have the Skill” by the Sherbs, and the pointless Roy Orbison cover “Running Scared” by the Fools all made the Hot 100. But “Come to My Arms” by Graf, an attempt to clone the Doobie Brothers that’s pretty terrible, did not. Taken all together, D93’s music mix looks pretty weird, but it didn’t sound much weirder than what any other Top 40 station would have been playing in the spring of 1981.