10.30.2011

October 30, 1961: Tsar Bomba

From Cornell University Library: Tsar Bomba ("King Bomb" in Russian) is the nickname for the AN602 hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detected. Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb was originally designed to have a yield of about 100 megatons of TNT. However, the bomb yield was reduced to 50 megatons to reduce nuclear fallout. The attempt was successful, as it was one of the cleanest nuclear bombs ever detonated. Only one bomb of this type was ever built and it was tested on October 30, 1961, in the Novaya Zemlya archipeloago. Weighing 27 tons, the bomb was so large (26 ft long and 6.6 ft in diameter) that the bomber that carried it had to have its bomb bay doors and fuselage fuel tanks removed. The bomb was attached to a 1,760-lb. fall-retardation parachute, which gave the release and observer planes time to fly about 28 miles from ground zero. The fireball, about 5 miles in diameter, was prevented from touching the ground by the shockwave, but nearly reached the 6.5 mile altitude of the deploying bomber.

* Summary (from wired.com): @
* Summary and videos (from nuclearweaponarchive.org): @
* "Moscow's Biggest Bomb" (from Cold War International History Project, page 3): @
* Map of blast site (from Corbis Images): @
* Newspaper front pages: @ and @

Monday-Tuesday, October 30-October 31, 1961: Stalin's body

The New York Times, October 30:

Stalin's Body to Be Moved
From Tomb in Red Square
Party Votes Unanimously to Transfer
Downgraded Dictator From Side of
Lenin in Communism's Shrine

MOSCOW, Oct. 30 -- The Soviet Union took the dramatic step of shattering the image of Stalin today by ordering his body removed from its place beside the sarcophagus of Lenin in the great mausoleum in Red Square.

The transfer of the body of Stalin, preserved by a secret chemical formula since his death in March, 1953, was approved unanimously by the twenty-second congress of the Soviet Communist party.

For Premier Khrushchev, the congress resolution symbolized the defeat of elements in the Soviet Union that have opposed his post-Stalin reforms. It capped the campaign of de-Stalinization begun by Mr. Khrushchev at the twentieth party congress in 1956.

Stalin had been denounced by Mr. Khrushchev for opposing the Leninist thesis of "peaceful coexistence" and for his internal regime of terror.

From a 2009 story in Pravda: "(In 1953) Stalin's body was embalmed and placed for public viewing in Lenin's Mausoleum, which was then called 'The Mausoleum of V.I. Lenin and I.V. Stalin.' On October 30, 1961, the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ruled that Stalin's gross desecration of Lenin's legacy made it impossible to keep the casket with his body in the Mausoleum. Stalin's body was removed from the Mausoleum on the night of October 31, 1961, and buried in the grave underneath the Kremlin wall."

The official statement from the 22nd Congress (translations vary; this is from the Times article): "The further presence in the mausoleum of the sarcophagus with the coffin of J.V. Stalin shall be regarded as inexpedient because the serious violations by Stalin of the Leninist behests, the abuses of power, the mass reprisals against honest Soviet people and other actions during the period of the personality cult make it impossible to leave the coffin with his body in the V.I. Lenin Mausoleum."

Stalin's name was also removed from the outside of the mausoleum.

* Excerpt from "Digging up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials" (book by Michael G. Kammen): @
* "The speech Russia wants to forget" (about Khrushchev's 1956 speech; from BBC): @


10.27.2011

Friday-Saturday, October 27-28, 1961: Standoff in Berlin

For 16 tense hours, tanks from the United States and the Soviet Union face off on either side of the Berlin Wall, at the Friedrichstrasse crossing point (also known as Checkpoint Charlie). Tensions had escalated over the past several days over the issue of Allied access to the Soviet sector. In the end, neither side was willing to take the next military step, though all the tanks were fully armed. After back-channel negotiations, Soviet tanks pulled back first, followed by the Americans.

* Summary from U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center: @
* Summary from Frederick Kempe, author of "Berlin 1961": @
* Summary from The Atlantic Times (monthly newspaper in Germany): @
* Summary and CNN video (from www.liveleak.com): @
* Footage from www.britishpathe.com: @
* "Berlin crisis: The standoff at Checkpoint Charlie" (from The Guardian newspaper; click on photo with story for explanation): @
* Checkpoint Charlie (from berlin.de): @
* "Kennedy and the Berlin Wall" (book by W.R. Smyser): @

10.26.2011

October 1961: 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities'

The influential book by urban activist Jane Jacobs is published. In it, the New York resident takes direct aim at urban planning policies. From a 2011 article in The Guardian newspaper: "Jacobs, a housewife, mother and part-time architectural journalist, had been drawn into the campaign to prevent New York's dictatorial planning boss Robert Moses -- who had already ripped up swaths of the city -- from driving a highway through her native Greenwich Village. ... But her book did not just dwell, negatively, on the harm New York's car-obsessed, modern-minded planners were doing. Building on close observeration of her own and other neighborhoods, she mounted a thorough and original defense of traditional city forms against both the garden city movement and modernist city planning. She argued that dense, mixed-income mixed-use neighborhoods, designed around short city blocks with busy amenity-lined streets and small parks, had a huge range of benefits unappreciated by modern urban planners, who mistakenly associated the old city with all the evils of the 19th-century slum."

The photo shows Jacobs at a December 1961 news conference of the Committee to Save the West Village. (From the New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Collection, Library of Congress)

* Short biography (from Project for Public Spaces): @
* New York Times review (November 5, 1961): @
* "Cobblestone Conservative: How Jane Jacobs saved New York City's Soul" (The American Conservative, October 2011): @
* Symposium on book and its impact (From The American Conservative): @
* "Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the story of 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities' " (book by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch): @
* "Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City" (book by Anthony Flint): @
* "Downtown is for People" (1958 article by Jacobs in Fortune magazine): @
* New York Times obituary (2006): @

10.22.2011

Tuesday, October 24, 1961: Prime minister's questions

After a trial run in July, Prime Minister's Question Time is made a part of England's parliamentary proceedings. The format allows members of Parliament to ask questions directly to the prime minister in the House of Commons. An information sheet prepared for Parliament says the questions are meant "to seek information, to press for action and to hold the Government to account." The sessions take place twice a week, for 15 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (In 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair would change it to a single 30-minute session weekly.)

Harold Macmillan, prime minister in 1961, described it this way:

"You have to know who is your questioner ... like a prep school, there are boys who are popular, whom you must never slap down, even if they are asking a silly question. then there are the unpopular, the tiresome, and the House rather enjoys their being slapped down ... You must remember that, like a school, on the whole it dislikes the front bench (the masters) ... often you can turn an enemy into a friend, by some slight recognition. Always keep your temper ... and always have a good control of questions and supplementaries ... in many ways it is the most anxious work; I would never have lunched out on question day."

The photo is from 2007; Prime Minister Tony Blair is at center left.

* History and procedure (from www.parliament.uk): @
* Explainer (from BBC): @
* Explainer (from www.number10.gov.uk): @
* Explainer (from www.parliament.uk): @
* "50 Years of PMQs" (from The Independent newspaper): @
* "Prime Minister's Question Time celebrates 50 years" (from The Telegraph newspaper): @
* "What's the art of answering a tricky question?" (from the BBC): @
* Videos of questions from 2008 to present day: (from www.parliament.uk): @

10.21.2011

Undated: Paul Rand

Graphic designer Paul Rand creates a new logo for United Parcel Service. It was one of a string of distinctive, enduring corporate trademarks created by Rand, including IBM (designed in 1956 and refined in 1972), Westinghouse in 1960 and ABC in 1962.

* www.paul-rand.com: @
* Biography and career of Rand (from www.iconofgraphics.com): @
* History of UPS logo (from www.goodlogo.com): @
* History of IBM logo (from www.ibm.com): @
* Westinghouse brand guidelines (PDF): @
* Timeline of notable logos (from www.goodlogo.com): @

10.18.2011

Wednesday, October 18, 1961: 'Le Bateau'

The exhibition "The Last Works of Henri Matisse: Large Cut Gouaches" opens at New York's Museum of Modern Art. One of the works, "Le Bateau" had been hung upside down. The error would not be noticed until December 3; it was turned right side up the next day. (The correct version is at left; below is The New York Times headline of December 5.)



* Other examples of upside-down artworks: @
* MoMa press release (October 1961): @
* MoMa account (2001): @

Wednesday, October 18, 1961: 'West Side Story'

The film version of the stage musical has its premiere in New York. From the official website: "Two gangs from opposite sides of the street. One romance that dared to cross the line. In 1961, this movie adaptation of the Broadway smash-hit musical 'West Side Story' broke box office records and won an incredible 10 Academy Awards, more than any other musical before or since. On the streets of New York City, two gangs (the Sharks and the Jets) battle for territory and respect. But when Tony, the leader of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Sharks leader Bernardo, a chain of events is set in motion that will tear their worlds apart forever. Featuring music from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and songs like 'America,' 'Somewhere' and 'Tonight,' this timeless story of star-crossed lovers and rival gangs races to a shattering climax you will never forget."

* Official website: @
* Entry at www.tcm.com: @
* www.westsidestory.com: @
* Detailed synopsis (from filmsite.org): @
* Story and photos in Life magazine (October 20): @

10.17.2011

Tuesday, October 17, 1961: Massacre in Paris

A protest by some 30,000 Algerians living in Paris turns violent, as local police are ordered to use force to stop the demonstration. The number of protesters killed is estimated at up to 300; many bodies were found dumped in the Seine. The demonstration, organized by the FLN movement (National Liberation Front), was part of an years-long campaign, often violent, by Algerians to gain independence from France.

The caption on the top photo (from Corbis Images) reads: "Police shoot Algerian demonstrators dead in Paris." The bottom photo, showing words painted on a bridge, translates as "Algerians are drowned here."

* The day's events (from rfi.fr): @
* Photo gallery (from Le Monde newspaper): @
* "The Paris Massacre of 1961 and Memory" (from the book "Crisis and Renewal in France, 1918-1962"): @
* "Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror and Memory" (book by Jim House and Neil McMaster, who also wrote the article cited above): @
* "A 1961 Massacre of Algerians in Paris: When the Media Failed the Test" (from Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 1997): @

* Short summary of Algerian War of Independence (from encyclopedia.com): @
* Medium-length summary (from Armed Conflicts Events Data): @
* Long summary (from statemaster.com): @
* Chronology of war (from Atlantic magazine, 2006): @

10.16.2011

Monday, October 16, 1961: 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'

Written by Simone Beck, Louisette Berthole and Julia Child, the influential cookbook is published by Alfred A. Knopf. Craig Claiborne of The New York Times wrote: "... it will probably remain as the definitive work for nonprofessionals. ... It is written in the simplest terms possible and without compromise or condescension. The recipes are glorious ... All are painstakingly edited and written as if each were a masterpiece, and most of them are."

* "Julia Child, the French Chef" (chapter from "Eating History: 30 Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine): @
* "My Life in France" (book by Child and Alex Prud'homme): @
* Child entry from "The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink": @
* Boeuf Bourguignon recipe: @
* Omelette recipes: @

10.14.2011

Saturday, October 14, 1961: Operation Sky Shield II

Military forces from the United States, Canada and England conduct the second in a series of tests of North American air defenses. From United Press International:

A mock but mighty aerial war flared high in the skies over the North American continent today. At noon hundreds of jet interceptor planes began screaming aloft from runways in the United States and Canada. Antiaircraft missile launchers pointed toward targets, although they fired no actual missiles. Jet bombers headed down from near the polar regions. They flew far aloft or hugged the terrain to escape radar detection, over routes Soviet pilots likely would take in strikes toward targets.

From noon to midnight no airline, no civilian plane would be airborne while the air maneuvers soared above over 14 million square miles of the continent and its seaward environs.

Gen. Laurence S. Kuter, chief of the North American Air Defense Command -- a combined organization of U.S. and Canadian defense systems -- directed the defenders from his headquarters at Colorado Springs, Colo. He announced the start of exercise Sky Shield II at noon, EST. ... Kuter declared that this operation involving hundreds of fighter planes and B52 and B47 bombers of the Strategic Air Command was "not a contest" between offensive and defensive forces. The position of the bombers will be known at all times.

It would be the largest and longest such flight stoppage until the attacks of September 11, 2001.

(The photo, from the New York Journal American newspaper, shows a TWA plane on public display that day.)

* Summary (from Mitchell Gallery of Flight): @
* "The Day Nobody Flew" (Air & Space magazine, 2006): @
* "This Is Only a Test" (Air & Space magazine, 2002): @
* Newsreel: @
* "U.S. Air Defense to Test Muscle in Sky Shield II" (The Leader-Herald, October 11): @
* "Defense: Testing the Shield" (Time magazine, 1961): @

10.13.2011

Friday, October 13, 1961: 'Stokey the Bear'

This episode of the cartoon "Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties" (which premiered in September 1961 as part of NBC's "The Bullwinkle Show") got its creators in trouble with the government. The segment featured a bear that starts fires instead of preventing them (a takeoff on Smokey the Bear). Following protests from the U.S. Forest Service, the episode was withdrawn after a single showing. (Note: "The Moose That Roared," linked below, says the episode aired October 13, a Friday; however, "The Bullwinkle Show" was usually scheduled for Sunday nights. Not sure about the discrepancy.)

* Watch the episode: @
* "The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose" (book by Keith Scott): @
* "Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America" (book by Karl F. Cohen): @

Friday, October 13, 1961: Ampelmännchen

The distinctive guides for pedestrians (translated as "little traffic light man") are introduced in East Berlin, though they would not be widely installed at the city's intersections until 1969.

From press.visitberlin.de: "The luminous little men were first deployed at the Friedrichstrasse/Unter den Linden crossroads ... The success story of the Ampelmännchen is closely linked with the checkered history of the capital. Only when Germany was reunified did the figures move into the limelight. When plans to replace the GDR design with West German traffic light symbols were revealed, a surge of indignation swept through the country and the Ampelmännchen advanced to the status of beloved cultural artifacts. When the little chaps found their way into the western part of the city, it became clear that the Ampelmännchen are a symbol of reunified Berlin ..."

* History (from ampelmann.de): @
* Company video: @
* History (from www.germany.info): @
* "Men in Hats: East Germany's Cult Pedestrian Signal Turns 50" (from Spiegel Online): @
* "Green Light -- The Red and Green Man at 50" (from www.germany.info): @
* "East Germany's little green man makes a name for himself in the West" (from London Times): @

10.11.2011

Wednesday, October 11, 1961: Don Juan Pond

During an aerial survey of southern Antarctica, an improbable natural feature is sighted: a small lake. It is named Don Juan Pond after the U.S. Navy helicopter pilots who carried the researchers. With a salinity level of 40% (18 times saltier than seawater), the shallow lake is thought to hold the saltiest water on the planet, and as such does not freeze. The pond is fed by melting glaciers; evaporation increases the salinity.

* Entry from The Encyclopedia of Earth: @
* Entry from www.geographic.org: @
* "Why Astrobiologists Love Don Juan Pond" (from Astrobiology Magazine, 2010): @
* Map: @
* Satellite photos: @ and @

Wednesday, October 11, 1961: 'Space Flight Report to the Nation'

From The Associated Press:

If your children are eager to go rocketing into space, tell them to start saving their money. Commercial manned space flights could be a reality by 1975-80, a space researcher predicted today. Space transportation techniques are expected to develop rapidly in the next 20 years, greatly reducing the cost of a round-trip from earth into an orbit, or to the moon, said H.H. Koelle of the George E. Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Ala. This could be the timetable, Koelle told the space flight report to the nation sponsored by the American Rocket Society:

* Large, orbiting space stations carrying men in 1968-1969.
* A permanent, manned station on the moon, 1970.
* A lunar settlement by 1975.
* Manned expeditions to other planets starting in the 1972-74 period.
* Round-trips from earth to low altitude orbits involving 5,000 men every year by 1975. Several men would be involved in each trip.
* About 500 annual man round-trips from earth to moon by 1975.
* Commercial manned space flights developing in the 1975-80 period.

"It will be witnessed by the middle-aged generation of today, with the younger generation of today taking an active part in it," Koelle suggested. His prepared paper did not estimate the cost of the round-trip ticket into orbital flight or to the moon.

* "Show Window for Space Progress in New York" (video from www.britishpathe.com): @
* "Free Enterprise v. the Moon" (Time magazine, October 20): @
* "The American Rocket Society Story -- 1930-1962" (from Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1980): @

10.09.2011

Tuesday, October 10, 1961: 'Catch-22'

The darkly comic novel about the lunacy of war is published by Simon and Schuster. Written by Joseph Heller, himself a World War II veteran, it introduces the concept-word "Catch-22" into the language. "Catch-22" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule."

As described in the book:

"Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to, but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to."

* "What is Catch-22? And Why Does the Book Matter?" (from BBC): @
* "Joseph Heller's 'Catch-22' " ("Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations"): @
* "Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller" (book by Tracy Daugherty): @
* "Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a Catch-22" (book by Erica Heller): @
* "The War for 'Catch-22' " (Vanity Fair, August 2011): @
* Joseph Heller Collection, Brandeis University Libraries: @
* "Joseph Heller's 'Catch-22' Manuscript and Correspondence (also from Brandeis): @
* Various cover images: @
* Time magazine review (October 27): @
* New York Times article on 25th anniversary (1986): @

10.07.2011

October 1961: 'Waterfall'

Dutch artist M.C. Escher completes the lithograph "Waterfall," which appears to depict the never-ending movement of water. The illusion makes use of the Penrose Triangle, a so-called "impossible object" that seems plausible when viewed 2-dimensionally but can't be replicated in 3 dimensions.

* Official Escher website: @
* "M.C. Escher's Legacy: A Centennial Celebration" (book): @
* Video of reconstructed "Waterfall": @
* "Escher for Real": @
* More about Penrose Triangle: @

10.06.2011

October 1961: Electronic calculators

Made by the Bell Punch Company and marketed through Sumlock Comptometer Ltd., the first electronic desktop calculators are introduced: the ANITA Mark VII (pictured) at the Hamburg Business Equipment Fair in Germany, and the ANITA Mark VIII at the Business Efficiency Exhibition in London.

* www.anita-calculators.info: @
* Entry from Vintage Calculator Web Museum: @
* Entry from oldcalculatormuseum.com: @
* Advertisement: @

10.05.2011

Thursday, October 5, 1961: 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

Star and style came together as Audrey Hepburn played Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," loosely based on the 1958 novel by Truman Capote. (The movie had its New York premiere on this date.) The black Givenchy dress that Hepburn wore became a star in its own right; it is typically considered one of cinema's most fashionable images. The film, nominated for 5 Academy Awards, won two, both for its music: Henry Mancini won for best score, while Mancini and Johnny Mercer won for the song "Moon River."

* Short summary: @
* Overview from www.tcm.com: @
* New York Times review: @
* Excerpt from "Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion" (book by Sarah Gristwood): @
* "Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman" (book by Sam Wasson): @
* Watch trailer: @
* Watch opening sequence: @
* Truman Capote reads from novel: @

10.04.2011

Wednesday, October 4, 1961: McComb, Mississippi


From The Associated Press: "A civil rights demonstration on the City Hall steps resulted in the mass arrests of 144 Negro pupils and one white man. The group -- junior high and high school pupils -- was protesting the expulsion from school of four Negroes Wednesday arrested earlier in a chain store sit-in. Police said several white men punched the lone white demonstrator before police rescued him. He was jailed 'for his own protection,' police said. Demonstrators marched with signs through the streets of this southwest Mississippi town and made speeches outside the City Hall. Police say they booked all of them on breach of peace charges. The Congress of Racial Equality at Jackson identified the white man as Bob Zellener, 22, of Atlanta. CORE said he is a field worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Police Chief George Guy said Zellener's assailants left before deputies could arrest them."

For some weeks tensions had been increasing in and around McComb, particularly since September, when Herbert Lee, a black farmer working to register other blacks to vote, was shot and killed by E.H. Hurst, a white state legislator. Hurst claimed he acted in self-defense; a coroner's jury ruled that Lee's death was justifiable homicide.

* Summary of McComb voter registration efforts (from Civil Rights Movement Veterans website): @
* Interviews with key figures in McComb events: (joint project of McComb High School and The Urban School of San Francisco): @
* www.mccomblegacies.org: @
* Excerpt from "Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi" (book by John Dittmer): @
* Excerpt from "I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle" (book by Charles M. Payne): @
* Excerpt from "Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC's Dream for a New America" (book by Wesley C. Hogan): @
* "A Circle of Trust: Remembering SNCC" (book by Cheryl Lynn Greenberg): @
* "Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom" (how events in McComb inspired this civil rights song; from the book "Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs"): @
* Excerpt from "The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement" (book by Bob Zellner and Constance Curry): @
* www.bobzellner.com: @

10.03.2011

Tuesday, October 3, 1961: 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

The situation comedy premieres on CBS. The show features Van Dyke's work life as well as his home life: he plays a writer for a TV comedy show. The memorable opening of Van Dyke tripping over an ottoman as he arrives home did not appear until the show's second season.

* Overview (from Museum of Broadcast Communications): @
* Official website: @
* "The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book" (book by Vince Waldron): @
* dick-van-dyke-show.blogspot.com: @
* Watch episodes (from www.hulu.com): @

10.02.2011

October 1961: Robert Johnson

Columbia Records releases the compilation album "Robert Johnson -- King of the Delta Blues Singers," generating a wider interest in and appreciation of the recordings of Johnson, who died in 1938.

* Short biography (from allmusic.com): @
* Robert Johnson Blues Foundation: @
* "The Robert Johnson Notebooks": @
* Website for film "Can't You Hear the Wind Howl: The Life & Music of Robert Johnson": @
* "Searching for Robert Johnson" (Vanity Fair, November 2008): @
* "Robert Johnson: Lost and Found" (book by Barry Lee Pearson, Bill McCullough): @
* "Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues" (book by Elijah Wald): @; Wald's website: @

10.01.2011

Sunday, October 1, 1961: Roger Maris

The New York Yankees outfielder hits his 61st home run, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 from 1927. But because major league baseball teams played 162 games instead of the 154 in Ruth's day -- and because Maris wasn't nearly as popular as teammate Mickey Mantle -- Maris' accomplishment wasn't fully appreciated in its day.

* Footage of home run No. 61: @
* Home run list (from www.baseball-almanac.com): @
* "Pursuit of No. 60: The Ordeal of Roger Maris" (Sports Illusrated, October 2, 1960): @
* Roger Maris Museum (Fargo, North Dakota): @
* Anniversary website: @
* "Maris Anniversary: The Catch of a Lifetime": @

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