Undated: The Mercury 13

Under the privately funded Woman in Space program, 19 women are subjected to the same battery of tests as the Mercury 7 astronauts to see if they are fit for spaceflight. Over the course of the program (1960-61), 13 of the women -- the so-called Mercury 13 -- pass the first series of tests; Jerrie Cobb of Oklahoma (left), the first to be tested, is the only one to pass all three phases. (The program would be shelved, however, for a variety of reasons, for reasons ranging from qualifications to politics. The first woman in space would be the Soviet Union's Valentina Tereshkova in June 1963; it would be June 1983 before a American woman -- Sally Ride -- would go into space.)

* NASA summary: @
* Listen to NPR segment: @
* Watch History Channel documentary (5 parts): @
* Time magazine article on Cobb (August 29, 1960): @
* Life magazine article on Cobb (August 29, 1960): @
* "The 'Astronautrix' and the 'Magnificent Male' " (from the book "Impossible to Hold: Women and Culture in the 1960s"): @
* "The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight" (book): @
* "Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America's First Women in Space Program" (book): @
* "Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race" (book): @
* "A Forgotten Moment in Physiology" (scientific paper): @


Saturday, August 27, 1960: 'Ax Handle Saturday'

A sit-in demonstration turns violent in Jacksonville, Florida, when black protesters are attacked by whites as the protesters leave Woolworth and W.T. Grant stores. Dozens of people -- protesters and bystanders alike -- are injured, and the event gains national attention. (Click on "civil rights" tag for earlier related posts.)

* Anniversary coverage from Florida Times-Union: @
* "It Was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke" (book: @ and video: @)
* Life magazine coverage (September 12 issue): @


Saturday, August 27, 1960: The last 'Lousiana Hayride'

The country music radio show began in 1948, broadcasting every Saturday on radio station KWKH from the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana. The show was carried around the country, as well as overseas on Armed Forces Radio. Through the years performers such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis (the two-term "Singing Governor" of Louisiana who wrote "You Are My Sunshine") and Elvis Presley played the so-called "Cradle of the Stars."

* Listen to "The Louisiana Hayride Medley": @
* "Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River" (book): @
* "Country Chameleons: Cajuns on the Louisiana Hayride": @
* Photos from Elvis' last "Hayride" performance, Dec. 15, 1956. (It was the first time the phrase "Elvis has left the building" was used; you can hear it through a link on this site): @


Thursday, August 25, 1960: Nixon and Jack Paar

Republican presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon appears on "The Jack Paar Tonight Show." (Democrat John F. Kennedy had appeared earlier; see entry of June 16.) Nixon's wife, Pat, joins him on stage later in the show. Paar's first question -- about Nixon's performance as vice president -- refers to a statement made the previous day by President Eisenhower at a news conference. Eisenhower was asked if he could provide an example of any "major idea" by Nixon that had been adopted by the administration. Eisenhower's memorable reply: "If you give me a week, I might think of one. I don't remember." (The remark would resurface as part of a Kennedy campaign ad, and also during the first Kennedy-Nixon debate on September 26.)

* Transcript of "Jack Paar Show": @
* Kennedy campaign ad: @
* Transcript of Eisenhower news conference: @


Wednesday, August 24, 1960: Polio vaccine (update)

The surgeon general of the United States approves the use of the oral vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin, shown at left. (See entry of April 24.)

* Surgeon general's statement: @
* Footage of oral vaccine trials earlier in the year in Florida: @
* Excerpt from "Sentinel for Health: A History of the Centers for Disease Control": @
* "Sabin versus Salk" -- excerpt from "Great Feuds in Medicine: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever": @


Undated: Little Richard goes gospel

The rock 'n' roll whirlwind -- whose '50s hits included "Tutti-Frutti," "Good Golly, Miss Molly" and "Lucille" -- releases two gospel albums after saying he is giving up popular music for the ministry. The albums are called "Pray Along with Little Richard, Vol. 1: A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Pray Along with Little Richard, Vol. 2: I'm Quitting Show Business."

* Listen to "Just A Closer Walk with Thee": @
* Biographies: @ and @
* Discography: @
* Fan site: @


Undated: Origin of the word 'paparazzi'

The word -- usually meaning aggressive, intrusive celebrity photographers -- enters the language after the movie "La Dolce Vita" is released. (At left is a scene from the movie; it premiered in Italy in February 1960, but would not be shown in the United States until April 1961.) Among the movie's characters is a photographer named Paparazzo.

* Movie summary: @
* Reappraisal of movie by Roger Ebert: @
* NPR segment on paparazzi: @


Undated: Crash test human

Lawrence Patrick, a biomechanics professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, studies how the human body responds in a car crash -- by using himself as a test subject. His research includes taking some 400 rides in a sled that violently brakes to simulate a collision, as well as absorbing blows to the chest from a 22-pound pendulum.

* More about Patrick: @
* 2006 obituary: @
* More about Wayne State research: @
* Segment on Patrick in "Tested on Humans" (British documentary): @
* Impact Damage to Internal Organs" (1961 paper co-authored by Patrick): @
* "The Evolution of the Crash Test Dummy": @

Friday-Saturday, August 19-20, 1960: Animals survive spaceflight

Belka and Strelka are among the animals in a "flying zoo" that is launched into orbit aboard the Soviet Union's Sputnik V. The next day they return alive, the first Earth-born creatures to do so. Also on board are a rabbit, rats, mice, flies, plants, fungi, microscopic water plants and seeds. The dogs get a hero's welcome in Moscow.

* Flight summary: @
* Graphic: @
* Soviet newsreels: @ and @
* Soviet postcards: @ and @
* Animals in space (NASA summary): @


Thursday, August 18, 1960: Spy pictures from space

Corona, the United States' first photo reconnaissance satellite system, takes its first picture, of a military airfield in the far northeast area of the Soviet Union. Developed and operated by the CIA and the U.S. Air Force, the system worked like this: The satellite's cone holds small capsules that, once the images are taken, separate from the satellite, then descend via parachute and are recovered in midair by an Air Force plane.

* The first image: @
* More about Corona: @ and @ and @
* "A Point in Time" (1972 CIA documentary): @

Thursday, August 18, 1960: The Pill (update)

Approved by the FDA and expressly advertised as a birth control method, Enovid goes on the market. (See posts of May 9 and June 23) Women had already been using it as a contraceptive since 1957, though it was prescribed to treat "menstrual disorders." Citing a separate study, manufacturer G.D. Searle says in its literature that "the ubiquitous problem of premenstrual tension may be controlled with Enovid."

* Product brochure for doctors (August 1960): @
* "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions": @


Wednesday, August 17, 1960: The Beatles

A mildly promising, mostly struggling rock 'n' roll band from England begins a two-month run at the Indra Club in Hamburg, Germany. The group consists of (from left) John Lennon, 19; George Harrison, 17; Pete Best, 18; Paul McCartney, 18; and Stuart Sutcliffe, 20. The Hamburg shows are the first ones under the band's latest name: The Beatles.

* More about Hamburg: @
* Click on photo for larger version; more photos from first show: @
* Pete Best joins the band (August 12): @ and @
* The band's names through the years: @
* John Lennon's Hamburg work permits: @

Wednesday-Friday, August 17-19, 1960: U-2 incident: Powers' trial

American pilot Francis Gary Powers, captured after his U-2 spy plane was shot down on May 1, goes on trial in Moscow. (See previous U-2 entries using "cold war" tag.) He pleads guilty to the charge of crimes against the Soviet people and is sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be followed by 7 years in a labor camp.

* Portions of trial transcript (translated from Russian): @
* Indictment: go to www.foia.cia.gov and search for GARY POWERS TEXT ON INDICTMENT-SOVIET GOV'T ORDERED U-2 SHOT DOWN
* Powers' "Operation Overflight: A Memoir of the U-2 Incident" (passages about trial begin on page 130): @
* Story about U-2 wreckage in Moscow museum (from Popular Mechanics magazine): @
* CIA memo listing overflights of Soviet bloc (dated August 18; from Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum): @
* Overview of U-2 incident (video): @


Tuesday, August 16, 1960: Record parachute jump

High above New Mexico, aboard a balloon and gondola named Excelsior III, Air Force Capt. Joseph Kittinger floats up to near-space -- 102,800 feet, or nearly 19.5 miles -- and jumps out. It's part of a research effort to study the effects of high altitudes on the human body, as well as whether test pilots and astronauts could survive should they need to eject from their craft. Kittinger approaches the speed of sound during his descent; it takes him 13 minutes, 45 seconds to touch down.

* More about Kittinger's jump: @ and @ and @
* Footage: @
* Earth's atmosphere, from top to bottom: @


Saturday, August 13, 1960: Christus Gardens

Christus Gardens, depicting the life and death of Jesus Christ, opens in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The attraction includes wax dioramas and a huge marble carving of Jesus' face.

* More about Christus Gardens: @ and @


Friday, August 12, 1960: 'Green Eggs and Ham'

Random House publishes "Green Eggs and Ham," a children's book by Theodor Seuss Geisel (writing under the name Dr. Seuss), whose previous works included "The Cat in the Hat," "Horton Hears a Who!" and "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish." The book came about after Bennett Cerf of Random House bet Seuss $50 that he could not write a book using just 50 different words. Seuss used exactly 50 for "Green Eggs and Ham."
* Seussville (Random House website): @
* The art of Dr. Seuss: @
* National memorial website: @

Friday, August 12, 1960: Echo satellite

The United States successfully launches its first communications satellite, Echo 1. It's a large metallic balloon off which communication signals are bounced; as such, it is more a reflector than a transmitter. It would remain in orbit nearly 8 years.

* More about Echo: @ and @ and @
* First-day stamp covers: @


Wednesday, August 10, 1960: The Rat Pack

"Ocean's Eleven," a movie about a Las Vegas heist starring (from left) Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop, opens in New York and Los Angeles, having premiered in Las Vegas a week earlier. Collectively they're known as the Rat Pack. Several of them have connections to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy: Lawford was married to Kennedy's sister Patricia; Sinatra had re-recorded "High Hopes" as a campaign song; and Bishop would serve as master of ceremonies for JFK's inaugural ball the following January (an event from which Davis was excluded because he had married a white woman). Together they sang the national anthem at the 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

* Movie summary and information: @
* Movie trailer: @
* Rat Pack website: @
* Footage from 1963 in Las Vegas (first of 7 parts): @
* "Fly Me to the Moon" (1998 article from American Heritage): @
* "The Rat Pack: Neon Nights with the Kings of Cool" (book): @

Tuesday, August 9, 1960: Timothy Leary

In his efforts to study, explore and understand the levels of human consciousness, Harvard psychology professor Timothy Leary ingests psilocybin mushrooms for the first time during a visit to Mexico. He later wrote, "I was whirled through an experience which could be described in many extravagant metaphors but which was above all and without question the deepest religious experience of my life." Upon his return to Harvard, he would establish the Harvard Psilocybin Project.

* Short biography: @
* Related websites and information: @ and @
* Timothy Leary Archives: @
* New Yorker article: @
* "Seeking the Magic Mushroom" (1957 article by R. Gordon Wasson, published in Life magazine): @
* "The Religious Experience: Its Production and Interpretation" (published by Leary in The Psychedelic Review): @
* Watch "Timothy Leary -- The Man Who Turned On America" (BBC documentary): @


Saturday, August 6, 1960: 'The Twist'

Singer Chubby Checker brings his single (and accompanying dance) "The Twist" to a prime-time television audience on "The Dick Clark Show." Checker's remake of the 1958 original (a modest hit by Hank Ballard & The Midnighters) would reach No. 1 on the charts on September 19 and then again on January 13, 1962. Everybody was hitting the dance floor, as a string of "Twist"-themed songs followed from other singers and bands, especially in 1962 during the song's second wave of popularity. Checker explained the moves this way: "Just pretend you're wiping your bottom with a towel as you get out of the shower, and putting out a cigarette with both feet."

* Listen and watch Chubby Checker version (I think this is "The Dick Clark Show" footage): @
* More about the song and the dance craze: @ and @ and @
* Chubby Checker website: @
* 1960 photo of Chubby Checker, Dick Clark and Conway Twitty in motion: @
* Illustrated guide to the dance: @


Undated: U.S. Census

From 1950 to 1960, the population of the United States increases from about 151 million to nearly 180 million, a jump of more than 18 percent. The percentage increase is the largest since the first decade of the 20th century. (The Census Bureau's definition of the post-World War II "baby boom" includes births from 1946 to 1964.)

* 50 most populous cities: @
* "Statistical Abstract of the United States" for 1960 (in 12 parts; files are 1960-01.pdf through 1960-12.pdf): @
* "The Big Count" video: @
* 1960 questions and instructions: @
* "Myths and Realities About the 1960 Census": @


Undated*: Independence throughout Africa

Starting with Cameroon (January 1) and ending with Mauritania (November 28), the year 1960 sees 17 African countries, all former European colonies, achieve their independence. Of those countries, 14 become free of French rule. The transitions are not always smooth or peaceful, particularly in the case of Belgian Congo, where United Nations troops would be sent in and a military coup would take place before the year is out. (* More than half of the African changeovers -- 9 -- are in August.)

* Map: @
* Timeline: @
* Summaries: @
* More about Congo crisis: @ and @

Monday, August 1, 1960: Aretha Franklin

Eighteen-year-old singer Aretha Franklin begins her first recording session for Columbia Records in New York. The songs are a mix of jazz, pop, blues and show tunes. The resulting album, "Aretha" (released in March 1961), will be her second record; an album of gospel songs was released when she was just 14.

* Listen to "Today I Sing the Blues" (the first song recorded at the first session): @
* Short biography (from rollingstone.com): @
* Essay on her early years: @

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