Undated: The Corvair

In its April issue, Motor Trend magazine names the new Chevrolet product the Car of the Year, citing its "engineering advancement: its (aluminum) air-cooled engine, transaxle and four-wheel independent suspension." Base price was $2,238. Production of the model began in 1959. Though it had a 10-year run, it did not prove as popular as the Ford Falcon and, later, the Mustang.

* Corvair Society of America: @
* Tribute website: @
* More about the car, including the technical issues written about in 1965's "Unsafe at Any Speed" by Ralph Nader: @
* "The Life and Death of the Chevrolet Corvair": @
* "25 things you didn't know about the Corvair": @
* Watch a long advertisement: @

Undated: Planning for a space station

The Manned Space Stations Symposium is held in Los Angeles on April 20-22. Several papers are presented concerning the possibilities and challenges of long-term stays in space. The month before, plans for a "Space Vehicle" (drawn up by Douglas Aircraft Co.) had been shown at the annual Ideal Home Exhibition in London.

* Details and drawings of Space Vehicle: @
* More about Ideal Home Exhibition: @ and @
* Video from 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition: @
* Early history of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences: @


Monday, April 25, 1960: 'Happiness is a Warm Puppy'

"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz first uses the phrase in a daily comic strip. He would use it as the title of his first book two years later, a series of "Happiness is ..." sayings and drawings.

* Charles M. Schulz Museum website: @


Sunday, April 24, 1960: Polio vaccine

The first mass distribution in the United States of Dr. Albert Sabin's oral polio vaccine begins, with thousands of schoolchildren in Cincinnati the first recipients. (The year before, millions of children in the Soviet Union had been given the vaccine.) It was often given in the form of a sugar cube laced with the vaccine. Sabin's method of oral immunization came 5 years later after Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, which was administered by inoculation.

* More on Albert Sabin: @
* National Museum of American History site: @
* More on the Salk and Sabin vaccines: @
* Watch "The Polio Crusade" from PBS: @

Sunday, April 24, 1960: Biloxi wade-in

A group of about 125 blacks go into the waters off Biloxi, Mississippi, the second such wade-in undertaken in an effort to desegregate the city's beaches. An armed white mob attacks the group, and that night brings on more violence, with at least 10 people shot and dozens more injured. A similar wade-in took place in Biloxi on June 23, 1963; dozens of protesters were arrested. (In 1968, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the beach was open to all.)

* "White Men Attack Negroes at Biloxi Beach; 11 Hurt" (United Press International): @
* "Racial Violence Leaves 14 Hurt in Mississippi" (Associated Press): @
* Summary from "Encyclopedia of American Race Riots" (edited by Walter C. Rucker and James M. Upton, 2007): @
* "A Civil Rights Watershed in Biloxi, Mississippi" (Smithsonian magazine, 2010): @ 
* Report from Zach J. Van Landingham, Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, April 27, 1960 (Mississippi Department of Archives and History): @
* "Remembering the Biloxi wade-ins" (WLOX-TV, 2009): @
* "68 Held in 'Wade-In'; Detroit March Biggest" (The Associated Press, June 24, 1963): @
* Text of United States v. Harrison County (Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, August 15, 1968): @
* "A Brief History of the Civil Rights Movement on the Mississippi Gulf Coast" (Civil Rights In Mississippi Digital Archive, University of Southern Mississippi): @
* "Beaches, Blood and Ballots: A Black Doctor's Civil Rights Struggle" (Gilbert R. Mason and James Patterson Smith, 2000): @ 


Thursday, April 21, 1960: Brasilia is born

Brazil's new capital city, built from scratch in about 3 and a half years, is officially inaugurated. It was constructed so that the capital would be in a more central part of the country than the previous capital, Rio de Janeiro. The new capital was known for its urban planning and its modern architecture; at left is the city's Cathedral.

* More about Brasilia: @
* More on history of Brasilia: @
* Graphic of city's key features: @
* Panoramic views of the city: @


Sunday, April 17, 1960: Eddie Cochran dies

U.S. rockabilly star Eddie Cochran ("Summertime Blues," "C'mon Everybody") is killed in a car crash at the age of 21. He was on his way to London to return to the U.S. after a hugely successful tour of England. He was riding in a taxi with fiancee Sharon Seeley (who had written "Poor Little Fool") and singer Gene Vincent ("Be-Bop-a-Lula"), who both survived.

* Tribute website: @
* Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entry: @
* Rockabilly Hall of Fame entry: @
* Listen to "Summertime Blues": @


Friday-Sunday, April 15-17, 1960: SNCC formed

At an Easter weekend gathering at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., young activists form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as part of a civil rights movement that was quickly gaining momentum. (Sit-ins had spread across the South since the Greensboro incident of Feb. 1.) The gospel song "We Shall Overcome," performed at the meeting by Guy Carawan, becomes the unofficial anthem of the movement.

* More about SNCC: @ and @
* SNCC's Founding Statement: @
* More on Guy Carawan: @
* Listen to "We Shall Overcome": @


Thursday, April 14, 1960: Motown

Motown Record Corporation is incorporated by Berry Gordy Jr., left, combining the two Detroit record labels that he had started the year before (Tamla and Motown).

* Motown timeline: @
* Motown Museum: @
* "Motown at 50" from Detroit Free Press (published in '09): @


Wednesday, April 13, 1960: 'We real cool'

"The Bean Eaters," a book of poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, is published. (Ten years earlier, Brooks had been the first black author to win a Pulitzer Prize, for her book "Annie Allen.") One of the poems, "We Real Cool," would become a staple of literature textbooks.

We Real Cool

The pool players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

* Brooks talks about and reads poem: @
* Short analyses: @
* "The Bean Eaters" (from same book): @
* "The Lovers of the Poor" (from same book): @
* More poems and short biography: @


Friday-Saturday, April 8-9, 1960: Unrest in South Africa

April 8: The political groups PAC (Pan Africanist Congress) and the ANC (African National Congress) are banned by the apartheid government under the Unlawful Organisations Act. The order follows the Sharpeville massacre (see March 21) and the state of emergency imposed on March 30. Members of the groups flee the country or go into hiding for fear of arrest; the ban would lead to the rise of armed resistance the next year under the banner of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), or MK.

* Timeline (from South African History Online): @
* History of the ANC (from ANC website): @
* More about ANC (from South African History Online): @
* PAC website: @
* The Road to Democracy Project: @

April 9: Prime minister Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd is shot twice in the face by a white farmer who called Verwoerd "the epitome of apartheid." Verwoerd survives.

* More about the assassination attempt: @
* Newsreel: @
* Brief biography: @

Friday, April 8, 1960: The search for alien life

From a mountaintop in Green Bank, West Virgina, radio astronomer Frank Drake aims a radio telescope toward the "nearby" (11 light years away) stars Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti and begins listening. It's part of "Project Ozma," the first systematic attempt to detect extraterrestrial intelligence (by searching for artificial radio signals). The project would last through July; no alien transmissions or messages were received.

* More about Project Ozma: @
* Recollections from Frank Drake: @
* More on Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti: @ and @
* National Radio Astronomy Observatory site: @
* SETI Institute website: @
* How to set up your computer to monitor radio telescope data: @


Tuesday, April 5, 1960: Kennedy wins Wisconsin

In the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy (476,024, 56.5%) defeats Minnesota Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (366,753, 43.5%). Religion -- specifically, Kennedy's -- becomes a campaign issue, centering on this question: Is America ready to elect a Catholic as president? (Walter Cronkite, at left with Kennedy, asked him about the impact of Roman Catholic voters; the question incensed the Kennedy camp.)

* Summary of Kennedy-Humphrey debate: @
* About the documentary "Primary": @ and @
* Photo of Kennedy and Humprey, who sometimes traveled together while campaigning: @


Monday, April 4, 1960: 'Ben-Hur' wins a record 11 Oscars

The awards for the wide-screen epic included best picture, actor (Charlton Heston) and director (William Wyler). Other notable movies from 1959 included "Some Like It Hot," "North by Northwest," "Anatomy of a Murder" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space."

* Detailed summary of the movie: @
* Oscar database (search for "1959"): @
* Database of "sword and sandal" movies (in German; use Google translate): @


Friday, April 1, 1960: First weather satellite

TIROS-1 (Television InfraRed Observation Satellite) is launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. It was only operational for about two and a half months, but the thousands of images it sent back proved that satellites could monitor global weather conditions from space.

* More about the satellite: @ and @

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