The '60s at 50


Monday, April 25, 1966: 'Pop!'

    Peter Benchley's cover story on pop culture begins: "It's a fad, it's a trend, it's a way of life. It's pop." and goes on to say that "In short, pop is what's happening ... it's anything that is imaginative, nonserious, rebellious, new, or nostalgic: anything, basically, fun." (Full story, from Lichtenstein Foundation via Internet Archive: @)

     Roy Lichtenstein's cover illustration was similar to the comic-book-style words that appeared on screen during fight scenes in TV's "Batman." 

*"The Continuing Influence of Popular Culture on Contemporary Art" (Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia, 2003): @
* "American Pop Frankenstein? Andy Warhol, Iconic Experience and the Advent of the Pop Society" (Steve Sherwood, UCLA): @
* Entry from @
* Peter Benchley website: @
* Roy Lichtenstein website: @

Related posts
* "Batman" (January 12, 1966): @
* "Notes on 'Camp' " (September 1964): @
* Pop art at the Guggenheim (March 14, 1963): @
* "Pop Goes the Easel" (March 25, 1962): @
* Andy Warhol's soup cans (July 9, 1962): @
* Roy Lichtenstein (1961): @ 


Monday, April 18, 1966: AstroTurf

The Los Angeles Dodgers shelled veteran Robin Roberts with a barrage of singles Monday night and defeated the Houston Astros, 6-3, in the first official game played on the Astrodome's infield of synthetic grass. ... Neither club gave indication of concern about the pool table green infield made of tough nylon strips zippered together. There were three errors, but none could be blamed on the carpet-like material that Astro officials plan to extend into the outfield by mid-June.
     -- Story by Associated Press: @
     -- Image by Associated Press from July 1966, showing the installation of Astroturf in the Astrodome outfield.

* @
* "Astroturf Applauded by Dodger" (Associated Press, April 19, 1966; from, subscription only): @
* "The Cool Bubble" (Roger Angell, 1966): @
* "The Rise and Fall of Artificial Turf" (Mark Armour, Baseball Analysts, 2006): @
* "MLB's turf wars are just about over" (Associated Press, September 2009): @
* "Materiality and Meaning: Synthetic Grass, Sport, and the Limits of Modern Progress" (Benjamin D. Lisle, 2012): @
* "Turf Wars" (Jennifer Weeks, Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2013): @
* "Movies, Bullfights, and Baseball, Too: Astrodome Built for Spectacle First and Sports Second" (Eric Robinson, Society for American Baseball Research, 2014): @
* "Monofilament Ribbon Pile Product" (Patent, 1967): @
* Earlier post on the Astrodome (April 1965): @


Monday, April 11, 1966: LSD in the United States

Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, the nation's only licensed distributor of LSD, has ceased distribution of the hallucinatory drug in this country. LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is produced by the company's parent concern, Sandoz Ltd., in Switzerland. ... The company had informed the federal food and drug administration in Washington that it was withdrawing its investigational drug application because of "unforeseen public reaction." Authorities said the drug produced extreme sensations of color, sight and taste, breaking down the sense of reality.
     -- From Associated Press: @
     -- Image from Life magazine, March 25, 1966: @

* LSD information (National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health): @
* LSD information ( @
* "How LSD was popularized" (Schaeffer Library of Drug Policy): @
* "Legend of a Mind: Timothy Leary & LSD" (The Pop History Dig): @
* @
* The Albert Hofmann Foundation: @
* "History of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals" (The Herb Museum): @
* "Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond" (Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, 1985): @
* "Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream" (Jay Stevens, 1987): @ 
* "Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs" (Richard J. Miller, 2014): @ 
* "Acid Hype: America News Media and the LSD Experience" (Steven Siff, 2015): @


Friday, April 8, 1966: End of poll tax

Mississippi's $2-a-year poll tax was ruled unconstitutional by a special three-judge federal court which forbade the state to apply it as a requirement to vote.
     The judges ruled in favor of a Justice Department suit, brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that contended Mississippi had used the 76-year-old tax to keep Negroes from voting.
     The suit also charged the tax discriminated economically against the poor of any color, and made a negligible contribution to public education revenues -- for which it was earmarked -- of only 0.43 percent.
     The decision forbids application of poll tax payment as a voting requirement in any "municipal, county or state or national election hereafter held within the state of Mississippi."
     The panel, Judge Walter P. Gewin of Tuscaloosa, Ala., of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and District Judges Harold Cox of Southern Mississippi and Claude F. Clayton of Northern Mississippi, noted the decision followed the Supreme Court's March 24 decision against the Virginia state board of elections in a poll tax case.
     Similar federal panels earlier ruled the poll tax unconstitutional in Alabama and Texas.

     -- Story by Associated Press: @
     -- Image taken from nameplate of The Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, Mississippi), January 15, 1964

Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (March 24, 1966)
* "Supreme Court Strikes Down Virginia Poll Tax" (United Press International, March 24): @
* "Mississippi Last State of Poll Tax" (UPI, March 25): @
* "Supreme Court Says Poll Tax Violates Economic Equality" (AP, March 28): @
* Decision and opinions (from FindLaw): @
* Oral arguments (from @
* Biography of Evelyn Thomas Butts (Encyclopedia of Virginia): @

Other resources
* "A Review of the Activities of the Department of Justice in Civil Rights, 1966" (Department of Justice, January 1967): @
* "Recalling an Era When the Color of Your Skin Meant You Paid to Vote" (Smithsonian magazine, March 2016): @
* Earlier post on 24th Amendment (January 23, 1964): @ 


Friday, April 8, 1966: 'Is God Dead?'

Time magazine publishes a provocative article (with a controversial cover) by religion editor John T. Elson. It begins:

     Is God dead? It is a question that tantalizes both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect that the answer is no. 
     Is God dead? The three words represent a summons to reflect on the meaning of existence. No longer is the question the taunting jest of skeptics for whom unbelief is the test of wisdom and for whom Nietzsche is the prophet who gave the right answer a century ago. Even within Christianity, now confidently renewing itself in spirit as well as form, a small band of radical theologians has seriously argued that the churches must accept the fact of God's death, and get along without him. How does the issue differ from the age-old assertion that God does not and never did exist? Nietzsche's thesis was that striving, self-centered man had killed God, and that settled that. The current death-of-God group believes that God is indeed absolutely dead, but proposes to carry on and write an theology without theos, without God. Less radical Christian thinkers hold that at the very least God in the image of man, God sitting in heaven, is dead, and -- in the central task of religion today -- they seek to imagine and define a God who can touch men's emotions and engage men's minds. 
     If nothing else, the Christian atheists are waking the churches to the brutal reality that the basic premise of faith -- the existence of a personal God, who created the world and sustains it with his love -- is now subject to profound attack.

* Complete text: @
* "Is God Dead?" (the Rev. G.H. Ashworth, for The Bryan, Ohio, Democrat, May 25, 1905): @
* "The God Is Dead Movement" (Time, October 22, 1965; subscription only): @
* John T. Elson obituary (New York Times, 2009): @
* "Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists" (Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, editors, 2010): @
* "Methodist Heretic: Thomas Altizer and the Death of God at Emory University" (Christopher Demuth Rodkey, 2010): @
* "American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas" (Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, 2012): @
* " 'God Is Dead' Controversy" (New Georgia Encyclopedia, 2013): @
* "Thomas J.J. Alitzer: On the Death of God Theology" (Jose L. Gutierrez, 2014): @

Time, December 26, 1969
The magazine publishes a three-year-later look at the subject with "The New Ministry: Bringing God Back to Life."
* Complete text: @

motive magazine, February 1966
The official magazine of the Methodist Student Movement publishes a satirical obituary, written in the style of The New York Times, titled "God is Dead in Georgia."
* Complete text: @
* Note: Anthony Towne, who wrote the obituary, followed it up in 1968 with the book "Excerpts from the Diaries of the Late God." Short summary (from "Religion in America Since 1945: A History," Patrick Allitt, 2003): @
* motive magazine archives (Boston University School of Theology): @ and @

Sojourner Truth, 1852
During an anti-slavery meeting in Salem, Ohio, the abolitionist and social reformer replies to Frederick Douglass' speech on how to rid the country of slavery with the plaintive question (by some accounts), "Is God gone?" The phrase is more remembered as "Is God dead?", which is also inscribed -- without the question mark -- on her tombstone in Battle Creek, Michigan.
* Excerpt from "Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend" (Carleton Mabee and Susan Mabee Newhouse, 1995): @
* Exceprt from "Sojourner Truth as Orator: Wit, Story and Song" (Suzanne Pullon Fitch and Roseann M. Mandzuik, 1997): @
* Excerpt from "Sojourner Truth's America" (Margaret Washington, 2009): @ 


April 1966: 'Frank Sinatra Has A Cold'

Gay Talese's profile of Frank Sinatra is published in the April 1966 issue of Esquire magazine. It stands as one of the high achievements of "New Journalism," in which writers use all manner of literary techniques to tell a nonfiction story. The profile is also noteworthy in that Talese did not interview Sinatra, talking instead to the people in the entertainer's circle.

-- Subhed reads: "And some of the most important people in some of the most important places in New York, New Jersey, Southern California and Las Vegas are suddenly developing postnasal drop"
-- Cover illustration by Edward Sorel

* Full story ( @

* Annotated version, 2013 ( @
* 50th-anniversary edition (Taschen-Boeken): @
* Oral interview with Talese, 2015 ( @
* "The Birth of 'The New Journalism' " (Tom Wolfe, New York magazine, February 14, 1972): @
* Complete issue of New York magazine (February 14, 1972): @
* Short summary of "New Journalism" (from "Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices," edited by Roger Chapman, 2010): @
* "The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, Capote and the New Journalism Revolution" (Marc Weingarten, 2010): @
* "Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century" (edited by Norman Sims, 2008): @
* "The Esquire Decade" (Frank Digiacoma, Vanity Fair magazine, January 2007): @
* "It Wasn't Pretty, Folks, But Didn't We Have Fun? Surviving the '60s with Esquire's Harold Hayes" (Carol Posgrove, 2001): @
* Talese biography ( @
* Talese's website (via Random House): @


Saturday, March 19, 1966: Texas Western 72, Kentucky 65

With a starting lineup of five black players, Texas Western College beats the University of Kentucky (which did not have a single black player on its roster) for the NCAA men's basketball championship. Many accounts of the game -- including those from the Associated Press, United Press International, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated, all linked below -- did not mention the game's social significance. Shown here are two exceptions -- a column by sportswriter Harvey Yavener of The Trentonian (N.J.) newspaper, published March 21; and a story by Time magazine, published March 25). Texas Western is now known as the University of Texas at El Paso.

* Associated Press game story: @
* United Press International: @
* New York Times (from @
* Sports Illustrated (from @
* The Road to Glory (UTEP website): @
* "Significance of Texas Western's 1966 NCAA title not realized at first" (Jon Solomon, CBS Sports, 2016): @
* "Basketball's Game-Changer" (John Feinstein, Washington Post, 2008): @
* "A Win for Texas Western, A Triumph for Equality" (Michael Wilbon, Washington Post, 2006): @
* "Texas Western's 1966 title left lasting legacy" (Frank Fitzpatrick, ESPN Classic, 2003): @
* "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (Curry Kirkpatrick, Sports Illustrated, 1991): @
* "The Game: A Study in Black & White, 1966" (Bryan Woolley, Nova magazine, 1991): @
* "In An Alien World" (Jack Olsen, Sports Illustrated, 1968): @
* "All-America First: All-Negro 1st Team Topped by Alcindor" (Associated Press, 1967): @
* "And The Wheels Turned" (UTEP student-produced documentary): @
* "And The Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Basketball Game That Changed American Sports" (Frank Fitzpatrick, 2000): @
* "Basketball's Biggest Upset: Texas Western Changed The Sport With A Win Over Kentucky in 1966" (Ray Sanchez, 2005): @
* "Benching Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of the Color Line in Southern College Sports, 1890-1980" (Charles H. Martin, 2010): @ 


Friday, March 11, 1966: Ronald Reagan's tree quote

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) -- Ronald Reagan called upon private industry Friday to battle the "infinite danger" of growing federal government. "The might of the government is awesome," said the Republican gubernatorial candidate. "We have got to act fast. We're running out of time." Reagan made the remarks in a speech to about 500 persons attending the annual meeting of the Western Wood Productions Association. He urged the group to join with other private industries, such as privately operated utility firms, in combating federal power. "The time has come," he said, "for more control of the government by the people instead of more control of the people by the government."
     ... Regarding proposed federal plans for a Redwood National Park in Northern California, Reagan said he hadn't fully studied new bills now before Congress, but that he favored a "common sense limit" on the program. He explained that both the natural beauty of the area and the economic needs of the lumber industry should be considered. He added, "a tree's a tree -- how many more do you need to look at?"

-- "Reagan Flays Federal Grip on Private Industry," Long Beach Independent, March 12, 1966
-- Editorial cartoon from Fresno Bee, March 15
-- NOTE: Many online resources (and books, for that matter) state that Reagan spoke on March 12. However, newspaper accounts of the time -- both before and after the event -- show that it actually took place on Friday, March 11.

* "If You've Seen One Tree ..." ( @
* "The Wrong Side of History" (Center for Western Priorities): @
* Excerpt from "Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power" (Lou Cannon, 2003): @ 


Friday, March 4, 1966: 'We're more popular than Jesus now'

In a story written by Maureen Cleave and published in the London Evening Standard, John Lennon of The Beatles says:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it ruins it for me.

Lennon's comments attracted little attention until they were reprinted in the September edition of Datebook magazine. (The cover and inside headline used the phrase "I don't know which will go first -- rocknroll or Christianity.") 

The backlash in the United States was swift, beginning with radio station WAQY in Birmingham, Alabama, which in August encouraged listeners to throw away or burn the band's records. Other stations followed suit and stopped playing Beatles songs, while the group was condemned by politicians and religious figures.

-- Jackson, Mississippi, August 1966; photo by Corbis Images

* Summary from The Beatles Bible: @
* Summary from The Beatles Ultimate Experience: @
* "John Lennon and Jesus, 4 March 1966" (Gordon Thompson, author of "Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out"): @
* " 'Christianity will go' comment stirs up fans" (Ottawa Citizen, August 3, 1966): @
* "John's Gospel" (David Frost, The Spectator, August 12): @
* "Beatle Lennon Apologizes" (The Nashua, N.H., Telegraph, August 12): @
* "Stations No, No Beatles Disks" (Billboard, August 13): @
* "Beatles Running Strong -- With Powerhouse Stations' Blessings" (Billboard, August 20): @
* "Warm Welcome for Beatles in 'Bible Belt' " (Sydney Morning Herald, August 21): @
* "Vatican 'forgives' John Lennon" (Reuters, November 22, 2008): @
* Film clips of controversy: @ 


February 1966: 'Valley of the Dolls' published

A swinging first novel about fast spending, free loving and despair among the jet-set celebrities of Broadway and Hollywood. Miss Susann spans 20 postwar years in the lives of three women who can be loosely categorized as Anne, the Face; Jennifer, the Body, and Neely, the Talent.
     Each of the three achieved fame in her own way -- Anne doing high-priced commercials on television; Jennifer making nude movies in France, and Neely singing in nightclubs and films -- but none of them was able to attain happiness.
     All three ultimately become devotees of the "dolls" of Miss Susann's title. The pills which a Broadway attorney who functions as a deus ex machina in the story describes as "standard equipment for this business."
     Miss Susann's thesis is the not unfamiliar one that the pinnacle of stardom is a cold and lonely place, likely to destroy anyone who ascends to it. The point is not clearly made. Certainly stardom is self-destroying the one of her characters, but another is plagued by cancer and the third by an unfaithful husband -- afflictions not peculiar to show business.
     -- United Press International

* @
* Book: @
* "Actress-Writer's Best Seller Creates Furor in Hollywood" (UPI, August 1966): @
* "Happiness is Being Number 1" (Life magazine, August 19, 1966): @
* " 'Valley of the Dolls' at 50" (Simon Doonan, Slate, February 2016): @
* "How 'Valley of the Dolls' went from a reject to a 30-million best-seller" (Martin Chilton, The Telegraph, February 2016): @
* "What Was It about 'Valley of the Dolls'? It Was Jacqueline Susann" (Kate Dries, Jezebel, February 2016): @
* "Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann" (Barbara Seaman, 1996): @ 


Monday, February 7, 1966: Crawdaddy magazine

Paul Williams, a student at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College, publishes the first issue of Crawdaddy magazine, "intelligent writing about pop music." (Williams said it was actually printed on January 30 and given a publication date of February 7.) Though at first the magazine consisted entirely of record reviews, over time it added more in-depth coverage of the artists as well as of the era itself. Crawdaddy preceded such magazines as Rolling Stone (1967) and Creem (1969). 
     -- Image: First paragraph of first issue

* Selections from archives (Paste magazine): @
* Selections from archives (Rock's Back Pages; subscription required): @
* Selections from archives (complete issues from February 7, 1966, through October 1968): @
* Paul Williams website (Williams died in 2013): @
* "The Crawdaddy! Book: Writings (and Images) from the Magazine of Rock" (edited by Williams, 2002): @
* "Very Seventies: A Cultural History of the 1970s, from the Pages of Crawdaddy" (edited by Peter Knobler and Greg Mitchell, 1995): @
* Excerpt from "Understanding Popular Music Culture" (Roy Schuker, 2016): @


Thursday, February 3, 1966: Luna 9

A Soviet space station made history's first soft landing on the moon Thursday, Moscow announced. British scientists in England said the unmanned capsule, Luna 9, sent pictures back to earth from the moon's surface. A Tass announcement said the landing was made ... after the ship, launched Jan. 31, had hurtled through space for more than three days. The first American attempt at a soft landing, a key step in putting a man on the moon, is not expected before May. A soft landing means bringing an instrument package down on the surface slowly enough so that there is no crash and resultant destruction.
     -- Associated Press: @
     -- Image from Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester: @  (More from Jodrell Bank: @)

* "Soviets Soft Land on Moon" (St. Petersburg Times): @
* "Soviet's Luna 9 Lands on Moon, Photos Sent" (United Press International): @
* Summary from BBC: @
* Summary from NASA: @ and @
* Summary from Zarya: @
* "The Search for Luna 9" (Air & Space magazine, September 2015): @
* "The forgotten moon landing that paved the way for today's space adventures" (The Conversation, February 2016): @
* "How Russia Beat the U.S. to the Moon" (The Daily Beast, February 2016): @ 


February 1966: Southern Living magazine

Begun as a section in The Progressive Farmer titled "The Progressive Home" (retitled "Southern Living" in 1963), a new monthly magazine made its debut as a separate publication, Southern Living, in February 1966. At a time when the South was changing rapidly from a rural to a more urban region, Southern Living targeted families who often lived in suburbs, owned their homes, and enjoyed cooking, gardening, entertaining, travel and home-improvement projects.
     -- From "The Companion to Southern Literature: Themes, Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs" (2002): @

* Southern Living 50th Anniversary Headquarters: @
* Entry from Encyclopedia of Alabama: @
* Entry from North Carolina History Project: @
* "Azalea Death Trip: A Journey Through the Land of Southern Living" (Allen Tullos, Southern Changes, 1979): @
* "Living Southern in Southern Living" (Diane Roberts, in "Dixie Debates: Perspectives on Southern Cultures," 1996): @
* "Life at Southern Living: A Sort of Memoir" (John Logue and Gary McCalla, 2000): @
* "Whitewashing Southern Living: The Sociocultural Significance of the 1966 Magazine Launch in Birmingham, Alabama" (Summer Hill-Vinson, 2011): @
* "A Timely Invention: The Evolution of The Progressive Farmer and Southern Living" (Jamie Cole, 2012): @
* "Southern Living at 50: Editors reflect and look toward the future" (Alabama News Center, 2016): @ 


1966: 'The Green Book'

First published in 1936, "The Green Book" -- variously titled "The Negro Motorist Green Book" and "The Negro Travelers' Green Book" -- provided information on how blacks could travel more safely. The last edition was published in 1966; the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 had lessened the need for such a guide.
     -- Image from National Postal Museum: @

Note: Most of the editions can be viewed online at The New York Public Library's Digital Collections site: @ (Also see the NYPL's "Navigating The Green Book": @)

* "The Green Book" (The Postal Record, 2013): @
* "An atlas of self-reliance: The Negro Motorist's Green Book" (National Museum of American History, 2015): @
* "The segregation-era travel guide that saved black Americans from having to sleep in their cars" (Vox, 2015): @ 

Similar guides
* "Directory of Negro Hotels and Guest Houses in the United States" (1939, National Park Service): @
* "Travel Guide of Negro Hotels and Guest Houses" (1942, David Rumsey Map Collection; search for title): @ 
* "Go: Guide to Pleasant Motoring" (1959, The Newberry, Chicago): @

* "Technology and the African-American Experience: Needs and Opportunities for Study" (Bruce Sinclair, 2004): @
* "Republic of Drivers: A Cultural History of Automobility in America" (Cotten Seiler, 2008): @
* "Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life" (Tom Lewis, 2013): @
* "Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism" (James M. Loewen, 2013): @

Other resources
* Map of 1956 listings (University of South Carolina): @
* "Driving While Black: The Car and Race Relations in Modern America" (Thomas J. Sugrue, Automobile in American Life and Society): @
* "The Architecture of Racial Segregation: The Challenges of Preserving the Problematical Past" (Robert R. Weyeneth, 2005): @
* "Route 66 and the Historic Negro Motorist Green Book" (National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, National Park Service): @
* Mapping The Green Book: @
* The Green Book Chronicles: @
* The Green Book Project: @
* " 'Green Book' Helped African Americans Travel Safely" (NPR, 2010): @
* "The Green Book" (podcast): @ 

Blog archive

E-mail and Twitter

Send to: @