February 1963: Vietnam

Armed with U.S. rifles, women paramilitary volunteers salute as they march past Vietnam's first lady Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu during a military school graduation in Saigon, Feb. 27, 1963. South Vietnam had about 3,000 trained women at the time, with about 1,000 active in the country's military or social service. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

* From "Vietnam War Almanac" (James H. Willbanks, 2009): Senior White House aide Michael V. Forrestal advises President Kennedy to expect a long and costly war. ... He warns that, in his opinion, Viet Cong recruitment in South Vietnam is effective enough to continue the war even without infiltration from the North. (Forrestal's report was written in late January and apparently presented to Kennedy in early February.)
--  Text of report (from U.S. Department of State): @

* February 24. From The New York Times: A Senate study group warned today the struggle for Vietnamese independence was fast becoming an "American war" that could not be justified by present United States security interests in the area. The four-man panel, headed by Senator Mike Mansfield, the majority leader, called for a "a thorough reassessment of our over-all security requirements on the Southeast Asian mainland" with a view to the orderly curtailment of United States aid programs ... (The) group questioned whether the $5,000,0000,000 spent in aiding Southeast Asia since 1950 had been justified by the results. It was even more doubtful about the wisdom of continuing present policies indefinitely. ... "There is no interest of the United States in Viet Nam which would justify, in present circumstances, the conversion of the war in that country primarily into an American war, to be fought primarily with American lives."
* Summary of report (from U.S. Department of State): @
* Text of report (from Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University): @

* February 25. From United Press International: The United States has decided to permit its soldiers to shoot first in the Vietnamese guerrilla war without waiting to be fired on by the Communists, it was reported today. The move is aimed at checking the growing U.S. casualty rate in the undeclared jungle war, according to informed sources. Another young American died yesterday. A young machine gunner was killed when two U.S. Army H-21 helicopters were downed by Communist Viet Cong ground fire. The machine gunner, a private first class, was not indentified. His death brought to 52 the number of Americans killed in combat since the United States began its military buildup in South Vietnam in 1961. Informed military sources said the new "rules of engagement" will permit the U.S. Army's new HU-1 gas turbine helicopters to open fire on "positively identified" guerrillas without waiting to be fired on first as heretofore.
-- Memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (dated February 16; from U.S. Department of State): @ 


Thursday, February 21, 1963: The end of Telstar 1

The pioneering communications satellite, launched on July 10, 1962, stops transmitting. From a United Press International story dated February 28, 1963:

   NEW YORK -- Telstar has turned silent again, apparently succumbing to a radiation sickness that afflicts it every three months, Bell Telephone Laboratories reported Thursday.
   Engineers had restored the commnications satellite to working order Jan. 3 after a 40-day absence. Last Thursday it apparently misinterpreted a ground command, disconnected its storage batteries and quit working, Bell Labs said.
   Both failures occurred as Telstar's changing orbit edged into strong sections of the Van Allen radiation belt. This pattern makes Bell Engineers "suspect that the continued inhibiting effects of radiation on transistors" is to blame, Bell spokesman Bruce Strasser said.
* Earlier post on Telstar: @
* "How the U.S. Accidentally Nuked Its Own Communications Satellite" (Scientific American, July 2012): @

Note: The satellite's demise happened the same week that the otherworldly hit song "Telstar" dropped off Billboard's Hot 100 music chart after a 16-week run. The song, which had been No. 1 in the U.S. for three weeks in December 1962-January 1963, was still a Top 10 hit around the world, including No. 2 in France, No. 7 in South Africa and No. 8 in Holland.
* Listen to the song: @
* Entry from "The Billboard Book of No. 1 Hits" (Fred Bronson): @
* Billboard magazine (February 16, 1963): @
* Billboard magazine (February 23): @
* The Tornados (from www.allmusic.com): @ 
* The Joe Meek Society: @


Tuesday, February 19, 1963: 'The Feminine Mystique'

Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" is published by W.W. Norton and Co. From the Jewish Women's Archive:

   The book highlighted Friedan's view of a coercive and post-World War II ideology of female domesticity that stifled middle-class women's opportunities to be anything but homemakers.
   A survey she conducted of her Smith College classmates indicated that many felt depressed even though they supposedly enjoyed ideal lives with husbands, homes, and children. Enlargin her inquiry, Friedan found what she called "the problem that has no name" was common among women far beyond the educated East Coast elite. ... She showed how women's magazine's, advertising, Freudian psychologists, and educators reflected and perpetuated a domestic ideal that left many women deeply unhappy. In suppressing women's personal growth, Friedan argued, society lost a vast reservoir of human potential.
   Friedan's book is credited with sparking second-save feminism (see note) by directing women's attention to the broad social basis of their problems, stirring many to political and social activism.

Note: "Second-wave feminism" is defined in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the period in the late 1960s and early 1970s "when feminists pushed beyond the early quest for political rights to fight for greater equality across the board, e.g., in education, the workplace, and at home."

Photo from Corbis Images, dated October 1963; caption reads, "Betty Friedan attends to Abraham Lincoln bust in her home."

* 50th-anniversary edition: @
* New York Times review (April 1963): @
* Advertisement in The New York Times Book Review (June 1963): @
* "The Skeptical Early Reviews of Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique' " (The Atlantic, 2013): @
* " 'The Feminine Mystique' at 50" (New York Times, January 2013): @
* C-SPAN programs: @
* Entry from "Encyclopedia of Leadership" (Berkshire Publishing Group, 2004): @
* "Betty Friedan and the Making of 'The Feminine Mystique' " (Daniel Horowitz, 1998): @
* "A Strange Stirring: 'The Feminine Mystique' and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s" (Stephanie Coontz, 2011): @
* Episode of BBC's "Witness" series (2013): @
* "The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory" (edited by Linda Nicholson, 1997): @ 


Monday, February 18, 1963: San Francisco coffee

The San Francisco Chronicle publishes a front-page story on the city's coffee "crisis" -- the poor quality of coffee served to restaurant patrons. It would make famous the headline "A Great City's People Forced to Drink Swill." (The Chronicle would report in 1995: "The crusade continued for several weeks. The results: Street sales of the newspaper soared -- and the coffee served in upscale restaurants improved markedly.")
* Text of story: @
* Anniversary story from the Chronicle's The Big Event site: @
* "The State of the American Newspaper: The Battle of the Bay" (American Journalism Review, 1999): @
* Excerpt from "Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love" (David Talbot, 2012): @
* Excerpt from "Fat Man on the Left: Four Decades in the Underground" (Lionel Rolfe, 1998): @ 


Friday, February 15, 1963: Irradiation

   The process of irradiating food is approved by the U.S. government, with the first food being canned bacon (to preserve it longer). In August, wheat and wheat powder would be added (to kill insects). The labeling symbol for irradiated foods would be adopted in 1986.

   From a U.S. Department of Agriculture fact sheet (link below):
   Food irradiation is a technology for controlling spoilage and eliminating foodborne pathogens. The result is similar to pasteurization. The fundamental difference between food irradiation and pasteurization is the source of the energy used to destroy the microbes. While conventional pasteurization relies on heat, irradiation relies on the energy of ionizing radiation. Food irradiation is a process in which approved foods are exposed to radiant energy, including gamma rays, electron beams and X-rays. ... Irradiation of meat and poultry is done in a government-approved irradiation facility. Irradiation is not a substitute for good sanitation and process control in meat and poultry plants. It is an added layer of safety.
* USDA fact sheet: @
* Summary from U.S. Food and Drug Administration: @
* Summary from Cooperative Extension Service, University of Georgia: @
* Historical milestones (also from University of Georgia): @
* U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (pages 548-549; 1964): @
* "Irradiated Food Questioned" (FDA news release, 1965): @
* "Irradiation of Foods -- An FDA Perspective" (1986): @
* Safety of Irradiated Foods" (J.F. Diehl, 1995): @
* "Food Irradiation: A Reference Guide" (Vanessa M. Wilkinson and Grahame Warwick Gould, 1996): @ 
* "Food Irradiation: Available Research Indicates That Benefits Outweigh Risks" (General Accounting Office, 2000): @
* "Irradiation and the 'Ick Factor' " (New York Times, 2011): @ 


Undated: "Snow"

Geoffrey Jones makes a short film during Britain's "Big Freeze" of 1962-1963. The documentary, showing scenes from and on trains, is set to ever-accelerating music. 
* Watch the film: @
* Summary from BFI Screenonline: @
* More about Geoffrey Jones (from BFI Screenonline): @

More about "The Big Freeze"
* From The Royal Windsor Web site: @
* From the BBC: @
* BBC "Winterwatch" documentary: @
* From Wales Online: @ 


Tuesday, February 12, 1963: Gateway Arch

Construction begins on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States in the 19th century. (The structure would be completed in October 1965; photo from July 1965.)
* www.gatewayarch.com: @
* Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (from National Park Service): @
* "The Incredible Gateway Arch" (Popular Mechanics, December 1963): @
* Exhibit on Eero Saarinen, who designed the arch (www.eerosaarinen.net): @
* "Eero Saarinen: An Architecture of Multiplicity" (Antonio Roman, 2006): @ 


Monday, February 11, 1962: Sylvia Plath

The 30-year-old poet and author takes her own life in her London home. Her novel, "The Bell Jar," had just been published in January. "Ariel," her influential book of poems, would be published in 1965.
* From The Poetry Archive: @
* From Academy of American Poets: @
* From the BBC: @
* "Plath Profiles: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Sylvia Plath Studies" (Indiana University Northwest): @
* www.sylviaplath.info: @
* sylvia-plath.org: @
* www.sylviaplath.de: @
* October 1962 interview: @
* Plath reads "Daddy": @ 


Friday, February 8, 1963: The Beatles on U.S. radio

This is the most likely date of the first airplay of a Beatles song in the United States (that according to Beatles historian Bruce Spizer; his website is beatle.net). The single, "Please Please Me," was released on the Vee-Jay label and played by disc jockey Dick Biondi on WLS in Chicago. The band's name was misspelled as "The Beattles" on the earliest Vee-Jay pressings, also appearing that way on WLS' "Silver Dollar Survey." ("Please Please Me" would peak at No. 35 in mid-March on WLS, having made no national impact, though by that time it had reached No. 1 in Britain. "Silver Dollar Survey" sheet: @)
* "Who Played The Very First Beatles Record in America?" (from forgottenhits.com): @
* Excerpt from "The British Invasion" (Barry Miles, 209): @
* Portion of Dick Biondi show, February 23: @
* Entry from The Beatles Rarity: @
* Entry from The Beatles Collection: @
* Entry from Goldmine magazine: @
* "The Vee-Jay Story" (from www.bsnpubs.com): @ 


Saturday, February 2, 1963: VW Bug in Antarctica

Delivered by the Nella Dan supply ship, a Volkwagen Beetle dubbed "Antarctica 1" arrives at Mawson Station in the Australian Antarctic Territory. It required only minor modifications from a standard VW before being put into regular service for the workers at Mawson. (This advertisement appeared in Look magazine in January 1965. The last lines read: "Things got so fierce that one man said, 'Now we know what it'll be like when Hell freezes over.' So if it ever does, you know what car to buy.")
* "Australian Volkswagens in the Antartic" (from www.vw-resource.com): @
* "Antarctica 1" (from www.rallybugs.com): @
* "This was the first car in Antarctica" (from jalopnik.com): @
* Short documentary: @
* The search for the original "Antarctica 1": @
* "Big Bertha's predecessor, the first car in Antarctica" (from Hemmings Daily): @ 


February 1963: Polacolor

From The Associated Press (February 3; link below): 

   The scientific miracle of instant color photography has finally arrived.
   It is called Polacolor ... a film used in a Polaroid camera which produces a finished, fine quality color print just 50 seconds after the tab is pulled. 
   This long-awaited, much-talked-about triumph of American photographic know-how is the result of a 15-year research program headed by Dr. Edwin Land (above), inventor of the picture-in-a-minute process.
   Polacolor film represents entirely new photographic concepts, dozens of new inventions, the creation of new molecules and hundreds of new laboratory and manufacturing techniques.
   Whenever a picture is taken with the film, it compresses into one step and only 50 seconds of time the conventional color process. The latter normally requires a darkroom, over 20 separate steps with much equipment, careful temperature control and a minimum of about 90 minutes.
* "New Film Cuts Color Processing Time" (Eugene Register-Guard, February 3): @
* "Now It's 60-Second Photos in Color" (Life magazine, January 25, page 74): @
* "50 second color: what will it mean?" (Life magazine advertisement, March 22): @
* "Instant Color Photos!" (Popular Mechanics, February, page 100): @ 
* Exerpt from "The Manual of Photography: Photographic and Digital Imaging" (R.E. Jacobson, 2000): @
* "Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land" (Victor K. McElheny, 1998): @
* "The Land List: An Ongoing Project in Cataloging Polaroid Cameras": @ 

February 1963: Burma-Shave signs

Burma-Vita Company, the shaving-products company behind the Burma-Shave rhyming signs that dotted U.S. roadways, is bought by Philip Morris Inc. The signs would gradually be removed in the coming months, as Philip Morris goes with a different advertising strategy. (Philip Morris noted in its 1963 annual report: "Burma Shave represents a bit of Americana coincident with our country's automobile age. A Sunday drive in the family car has, since 1926, been pleasantly 'interrupted' by the catchy signs that rhyme along the highway. ... But progress has passed them by; super highways, turnpikes and a nation in a hurry have doomed their bright doggerel.")

Note as to date of sale: A newspaper story dated January 30 stated, "Philip Morris Inc. announced today it had agreed in principle to acquire Burma-Vita Company of Minneapolis, for cash." The book "The Verse by the Side of the Road" (linked below) said the sale "was announced publicly" on February 7, while a New York Times story published February 23 indicated that it had taken place the previous week.
* Burma-Shave.org: @
* "The Verse by the Side of the Road" (Frank Rowsome Jr., 1963): @
* Story by Rowsome for American Heritage magazine (1965): @
* "How Burma-Shave Saved the Family Farm" (from www.grit.com, 2007): @
* Entry from Legends of America website: @
* Entry from Advertising Age: @
* Entry from Edina (Minnesota) Historical Society: @
* Print advertisements (from Duke University Libraries): @
* "Everyday Reading: Poetry and Popular Culture in Modern America" (Mike Chasar, 2012): @ (Chasar's blog, Poetry & Popular Culture: @

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