Café Discovery: Context, 1964

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

I was a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School for the first half of 1964 and a junior at at the end of it.  

Like 1963, the music ranged from the Beatles at the beginning of the year…to the Beatles at the end of the year.  The meaningful music, as far as I was concerned, was in between.

I pulled the news from 1964 out of wiki, every fifth story or so.  I’ve added some content and some memories and followed a few threads forward.

I found it an interesting study.  I hope you do, too.

January 3 – U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater announces that he will seek the Republican nomination for President.  His main rival was Nelson Rockefeller, though Henry Cabot Lodge, Ambassador to South Vietnam, won the New Hampshire primary as a write-in and Hiram Fong of Hawaii, Jim Rhodes of Ohio and Margaret Chase Smith of Maine were “favorite son” candidates.

January 11 – United States Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry reports that smoking may be hazardous to one’s health.  This was the first such statement from anyone associated with the U.S. government.

January 16 – Hello, Dolly! opens in New York City’s St. James Theatre.  Carol Channing stars as Dolly Levi, with a supporting cast that includes David Burns as Horace, Charles Nelson Reilly as Cornelius, Eileen Brennan as Irene, Jerry Dodge as Barnaby, Sondra Lee as Minnie Fay, Alice Playten as Ermengarde, and Igors Gavon as Ambrose.  It wins 10 out of 11 Tony Awards, even facing stiff competition from Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl.

January 23 – Thirteen years after its proposal and nearly 2 years after its passage by the United States Senate, the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, is ratified when South Dakota becomes the 38th state to approve it.  Only Mississippi rejected the amendment.  Eight states neither ratified nor rejected it.

January 28 – A U.S. Air Force jet training plane that strays into East Germany is shot down by Soviet fighters near Erfurt; all 3 crew men are killed.

February 1 – The Beatles vault to the #1 spot on the U.S. singles charts for the first time, with I Want to Hold Your Hand, forever changing the way popular music sounds to Americans, also starting the British Invasion in America.  Some of us preferred the song on the other side.

February 7 – A Jackson, Mississippi jury, trying Byron De La Beckwith for the murder of Medgar Evers in June 1963, reports that it can not reach a verdict, resulting in a mistrial.  De La Beckwith was tried two subsequent times, finally found guilty in 1994.  That conviction was upheld in 1997.  Sentenced to life imprisonment, De La Beckwith died a prisoner in 2001.  Bob Dylan’s song Only a Pawn in their Game was about De La Beckwith.

Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat, if Liston goes back an inch farther he’ll end up in a ringside seat. Clay swings with a left, clay swings with a right, just look at young Cassius carry the fight. Liston keeps backing but there’s not enough room, it’s a matter of time until Clay lowers the boom. Then Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing, and the punch raised the bear clear out of the ring. Liston still rising and the ref wears a frown, but he can’t start counting until Sonny comes down. Now Liston disappears from view, the crowd is getting frantic and our radaring stations have picked him up somewhere over the Atlantic. Who on Earth thought, when they came to the fight, that they would witness the launching of a human satellite. Hence the crowd did not dream, when they laid down their money, that they would see a total eclipse of Sonny.

–Cassius Clay, February 24, 1964

February 25 – Cassius Clay beats Sonny Liston in Miami Beach, Florida, and is crowned the heavyweight champion of the world.

March 4 – Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa is convicted by a federal jury of tampering with a federal jury in 1962.

March 10 – Soviet military forces shoot down an unarmed reconnaissance bomber that had strayed into East Germany; the 3 U.S. flyers parachute to safety.

March 14 – A Dallas, Texas jury finds Jack Ruby guilty of killing John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

March 31 – The military, backed by the USA, overthrows Brazilian President João Goulart in a coup, starting 21 years of dictatorship in Brazil.

April 7 – IBM announces the System/360.

April 9 – The United Nations Security Council adopts by a 9-0 vote a resolution deploring a British air attack on a fort in Yemen 12 days earlier, in which 25 persons were reported killed.

April 16 – The Rolling Stones release their debut album, The Rolling Stones.

April 20 – Nelson Mandela makes his I Am Prepared to Die speech at the opening of the Rivonia Trial, a classic of the anti-apartheid movement.

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Nelson Mandela

April 26 – Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge to form Tanzania.

May 2 – Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, hitchhiking in Meadville, Mississippi, are kidnapped and beaten by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Their badly decomposed bodies are found by chance 2 months later in July, during the search for 3 missing civil rights workers.  

James Ford Seale was convicted in 2007 of two counts of kidnapping in which the victims were not released alive and one count of conspiracy.  Conviction overturned in 2008 (statute of limitations).  A decision on a government appeal is expected soon.

May 19 – The United States State Department says that more than 40 hidden microphones have been found embedded in the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

May 27 – Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru dies; he is succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri.

June 9 – In Federal Court in Kansas City, Kansas, army deserter George John Gessner, 28, is convicted of passing United States secrets to the Soviet Union.

June 12 – Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton announces his candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination, as part of a ‘stop-Goldwater’ movement.

June 21 – Three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, are murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, by local segregationist law enforcement officials.

Edgar Ray Killen was convicted on three counts of manslaughter, a lesser charge, in 2005.  The conviction was upheld in 2007.

July 2 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, abolishing racial segregation in the United States.

July 19 – Vietnam War: At a rally in Saigon, South Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Khanh calls for expanding the war into North Vietnam.

July 31 – Ranger program: Ranger 7 sends back the first close-up photographs of the moon (images are 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from Earth-bound telescopes).

August 5 – Vietnam War: Operation Pierce Arrow – Aircraft from carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation bomb North Vietnam in retaliation for strikes against U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

August 16 – Vietnam War: In a coup, General Nguyen Khanh replaces Duong Van Minh as South Vietnam’s chief of state and establishes a new constitution, drafted partly by the U.S. Embassy.

August 28 – Bob Dylan turns The Beatles on to cannabis for the first time.

September 14 – The third period of the Second Vatican Council opens.

September 24 – The Warren Commission Report, the first official investigation of the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy, is published.

October 1 – Three thousand student activists at University of California, Berkeley surround and block a police car from taking a CORE volunteer arrested for not showing his ID, when he violated a ban on outdoor activist card tables. This protest eventually explodes into the Berkeley Free Speech Movement.

October 14 – American civil rights movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. becomes the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading non-violent resistance to end racial prejudice in the United States.

October 15 – The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the visiting New York Yankees, 7-5 to win the World Series in 7 games (4-3), ending a long run of 29 World Series appearances in 44 seasons for the Bronx Bombers (also known as the Yankee Dynasty).

October 21 – The film version of the hit Broadway stage musical My Fair Lady premieres in New York City. The movie stars Audrey Hepburn in the role of Eliza Dolittle and Rex Harrison repeating his stage performance as Professor Henry Higgins, and which will win him his only Academy Award for Best Actor. The film will win seven other Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but Audrey Hepburn will not be nominated. Critics interpret this as a rebuke to Jack L. Warner for choosing Ms Hepburn over Julie Andrews.  Ms. Hepburn’s vocals were performed by Miami Nixon.

October 31 – Campaigning at Madison Square Garden, New York, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson pledges the creation of the Great Society.

November 5 – Mariner program: Mariner 3, a U.S. space probe intended for Mars, is launched from Cape Kennedy but fails.

November 21 – Second Vatican Council: The third period of the Catholic Church’s ecumenical council closes.

November 28 – Vietnam War: United States National Security Council members, including Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, and Maxwell Taylor, agree to recommend a plan for a 2-stage escalation of bombing in North Vietnam, to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

December 11 – Che Guevara addresses the U.N. General Assembly.

December 22 – Comedian Lenny Bruce is sentenced to 4 months in prison, concluding a 6-month obscenity trial.

December 31 – A performance of Tchaikovsky’s then rarely televised ballet The Nutcracker is broadcast by ABC-TV. It is performed by the San Francisco Ballet, starring Cynthia Gregory in one of her earliest leading roles. The performance slips into television obscurity.


Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on May 17, 2009 at 21:02

    …which led to an unhealthy obsession on my part, which lasted for too many years.

    • Edger on May 17, 2009 at 21:38

    Fortran and Assembly Language programs to run on a System/360. A very powerful machine, with 2K of core memory, and a Disk Operating System! Like something out of an SF story about the far future. 😉

    And the Warren Commission was pretty much my first suspicion of politicians lying.

    I guess ’64 blew in from ’63, and the wind hasn’t let up since?

    • kj on May 18, 2009 at 01:34

    great music, thanks.

    • lezlie on May 18, 2009 at 10:58

    in high school that year… very interesting year, as I recall.

    I was too young to vote. My best friend and I decided to work for Goldwater for two reasons.

      1. He had a cool bumpersticker – “AuH2O”.

      2. Because we despised Johnson and felt he would just   keep the war going and that Goldwater would go in and wind it up.

    Who knows if we were right. I did always admire Goldwater. Even if one disagreed with him on policy, one always knew where he stood. And he was a social liberal.


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