Friday, August 30, 1963: U.S.-Soviet hotline

    The historic "hot line" between Washington and Moscow is open for business -- business that officials hope will never come.
     Now a tinkle of a bell in the White House or Kremlin -- at either end of the emergency communications system -- may signal the next world crisis.
     But it may also keep nervous fingers from pressing the buttons that would launch nuclear war.
     Completion of the circuits, made possible by a U.S. Soviet agreement to create machinery for forestalling war, was announced laconically Friday night by the Pentagon.
     "The direct communications link between Washington and Moscow is now operational," said a one-sentence announcement.
     The land-line and radio system is, under the terms of the agreement signed in Geneva last June 20, "for use in time of emergency."
     It would be used when the two chiefs of state needed to confer directly and quickly because of an incident, accidental or authorized, which otherwise would bring on nuclear war.
     In urging adoption of the system, President Kennedy cited dangerous delays in communications between Russia and the United States during the anxious days of the Cuban crisis.
     Administration officials said the line will not be used for ordinary communications between Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev or between the foreign offices of the two nations. Those communications will continue to use normal embassy channels.
     The ringing of the bell, part of an elaborate system of sounding and receiving Teletype machines, is the alert that a message is coming.
     The telegraphic tickers will stand ready from now on, day and night.
     Attendants, all carefully selected and screened for security, watch and listen. At least one of the attendants on duty at any time will be bilingual, able to read and wrote both Russian and English.
     -- The Associated Press

The photo is from the National Cryptologic Museum (links: @ and @). The caption reads in part: "The original Washington-to-Moscow Hotline was a one-time tape/teletype system for which the Soviets and Americans exchanged compatible equipment. This East German teletypewriter, made by Gerdlewerk, Karl-Marx-Stadt, was donated to the MCM by a former U.S. Army officer who had been in charge of the Pentagon end of the link."

* "Memorandum of Understanding Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link" (from U.S. Department of State): @
* " 'Hot Line' Opened by U.S. and Soviet to Cut Attack Risk" (New York Times, August 31, 1963): @ 
* "There Never Was Such a Thing as a Red Phone in the White House" (Smithsonian magazine, June 2013): @
* Entry from Top Level Telecommunications blog: @
* Entry from www.cryptomuseum.com: @
* "The Washington-Moscow Hotline: A Compilation of Extracts" (website by Jerry Proc): @ 

August-September 1963: Audio cassette

The compact cassette, made by the Dutch electronics company Philips, was introduced at the Berlin Radio Show (also known as the German Radio Exhibition or Internationale Funkausstellung), which ran from August 30 through September 8. Its initial function was as a recording device; only later did prerecorded music become available.
* History (from Vintage Cassettes): @
* Entry from "Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1" (1993): @
* "Cassette Tapes Are Almost Cool Again" (Motherboard, August 2013): @
* "A History of Magnetic Audio Tape" (website of Diana Cook): @
* "Music and Technology in the Twentieth Century" (Johns Hopkins Press, 2000): @ 


Wednesday, August 28, 1963: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

     More than 200,000 Americans, most of them black but many of them white, demonstrated here today for a full and speedy program of civil rights and equal job opportunities.
     It was the greatest assembly for a redress of grievances that this capital has ever seen.
     One hundred years and 240 days after Abraham Lincoln enjoined the emancipated slaves to "abstain from all violence" and "labor faithfully for reasonable wages," this vast throng proclaimed in march and song and through the speeches of their leaders that they were still waiting for the freedom and the jobs.
     There was no violence to mar the demonstration. In fact, at times there was an air of hootenanny about it as groups of schoolchildren clapped hands and swung into the familiar freedom songs.
     But if the crowd was good-natured, the underlying tone was one of dead seriousness. The emphasis was on "freedom" and "now." At the same time the leaders emphasized, paradoxically but realistically, that the struggle was just beginning.
     -- New York Times (link to front page below)
     -- Aerial photo from Associated Press; Lincoln photo from New York World-Telegram and Sun
-- Summaries and links
* National Museum of American History: @
* Federal Highway Administration: @
* Civil Rights Digital Library: @
* Civil Rights Movement Veterans: @
* PBS: @
* NPR: @
* 50th Anniversary March on Washington website: @
* "One Dream" (Time magazine): @

-- Printed materials
* Program (from Wright State University Libraries): @ and @
* Final organization plans (from Tulane University Digital Library): @
* "An Appeal By The March Leaders" (from Social Welfare History Project): @
* Other materials (from crmvet.org): @
* Other materials (from Library of Congress): @

-- Videos
* Universal Newsreel: @ 
* Same newsreel as above, with different narration: @
* U.S. Information Agency: @
* "The March" (James Blue): @
* "The Bus" (Haskell Wexler): @
* Edith Lee-Payne: @
* Hollywood roundtable: @
* "Reflections on the 1963 March on Washington" (George Washington University, 1998)@

-- Photos
* Library of Congress (search for March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom): @
* National Archives (search for Civil Rights March on Washington): @
* Walter P. Reuther Library: @
* Life.Time.com: @
* Time LightBox: @
* Smithsonian Magazine: @

-- Speeches
* Audio and transcript of King's speech (from American Rhetoric): @
* Video: @
* Early draft of speech (from Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change): @
* Annotated version of 1963 speech in Washington (by Clayborne Carson, director, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University): @
* Post on earlier "I Have a Dream" speech (November 27, 1962): @
* "Freedom March on Washington" (from PRX; album includes other speeches from event): @
* "Two Versions of John Lewis' Speech" (from billmoyers.com): @

-- Radio
* Educational Radio Network coverage (from WGBH): @

-- Oral histories
* Smithsonian Magazine: @
* Capitol Hill History Project: @
* Robert Romer: @

-- Books / magazines / newspapers
* "The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights" (William P. Jones, 2013): @
* "Nobody Turn Me Around: A People's History of the 1963 March on Washington" (Charles Euchner, 2010): @
* "Like A Mighty Stream: The March on Washington, August 28, 1963" (Patrik Henry Bass, 2002): @
* "Memory, History and the March on Washington" (by Clayborne Carson): @
* Life magazine, August 23 (pages 4 and 63): @
* Life magazine, September 6: @
* The Crisis, October (NAACP magazine): @
* Ebony magazine, November (coverage starts on Page 29): @
* New York Times front page, August 29: @
* Washington Post front page, August 29: @
* "I Have a Dream ... / Peroration by Dr. King Sums Up A Day The Capital Will Remember"  (New York Times): @
* Associated Press, August 28: @
* Miami News, August 28: @ and August 29: @
* Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 29: @

-- President Kennedy's meeting with march leaders (August 28)
* "JFK, A. Philip Randolph and the March on Washington" (from White House Historical Association): @
* Kennedy statement (from American Presidency Project): @
* Photo (from JFK Library): @

-- Earlier post
* Plans for March on Washington (July 2, 1963): @ 

Friday, May 17, 1957: Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

1957. Photo by Bob Henriques

1963. Photo from Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis

     A crowd of over 30,000 nonviolent demonstrators gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the third anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. In addition to celebrating the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to end segregation in public education, the Prayer Pilgrimage also dramatized and politicized the failure of most Southern states to work toward or implement the court-ordered desegregation of their schools. The program featured addresses, prayers, songs and scripture recitations by Mahalia Jackson, Roy Wilkins and Mordecai Johnson, as well as Martin Luther King Jr.'s first address before a national audience. The march earned the distinction of being the largest organized demonstration for civil rights and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for future marches on the nation's capitol.
-- From Civil Rights Digital Library (full entry and links: @)

* Summary (from Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University): @
* Text and audio of King's speech (from MLK Institute): @
* Typewritten copy of speech (from Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Atlanta, Georgia): @ 
* Flyer: @
* "Negro Assemblage Hears Pleas to Ike for 'Teeth' in Laws" (Associated Press, May 17): @ 
* "Massed 'Pilgrims' Mark Court Ruling" (Associated Press, May 18): @ 
* Excerpt from "The Civil Rights Revolution: Events and Leaders, 1955-1968" (Frederic O. Sargent, 2004): @


Saturday, August 24, 1963: Cable 243

Cable 243 was a telegram sent by the U.S. State Department to Henry Cabot Lodge, U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam. It raised the possibility of the U.S. taking an active role in removing South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem from power. (The cable's origination and approval also illustrated the rift within the U.S. government over supporting Diem.)

It reads in part:

US Government cannot tolerate situation in which power lies in Nhu's hands (referring to Ngo Dinh Nhu, President Diem's brother.) Diem must be given chance to rid himself of Nhu and his coterie and replace them with best military and political personalities available. If, in spite of all of your efforts, Diem remains obdurate and refuses, then we must face the possibility that Diem himself cannot be preserved. ... We wish give Diem reasonable opportunity to remove Nhus, but if he remains obdurate, then we are prepared to accept the obvious implication that we can no longer support Diem. ... Ambassador and country team should urgently examine all possible alternative leadership and make detailed plans as to how we might bring about Diem's replacement if this should become necessary.

The cable was sent three days after raids on Buddhist pagodas in South Vietnam, part of a suppression campaign that The Pentagon Papers called "the beginning of the end" for Diem's government. (Diem would be overthrown in a coup on November 1.)

* Copy of cable (from National Security Archive): @
* "Martial Law Declared in South Viet Nam" (United Press International, August 21): @
* "Martial Law Fires Vietnam Flare-Up" (Reuters, August 21): @
* "Furious Buddhists Battle Troops" (Associated Press, August 23): @
* "Vietnam Crisis" (newsreel): @
* "Vietnam Crisis Mounts" (newsreel): @
* "Evolution of the War: The Overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem, May-November 1963" (from "United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1957," aka The Pentagon Papers): @
* "Vietnam, Diem, the Buddhist Crisis" (from JFK Library): @
* "JFK and the Diem Coup" (National Security Archive): @
* "Kennedy Considered Supporting Coup in South Vietnam, August 1963" (National Security Archive): @
* Related documents, January-August 1963 (from State Department): @
* "Cold War Mandarin: Ngo Dinh Diem and the Origins of America's War in South Vietnam" (Seth Jacobs, 2006): @
* "American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson and the Origins of the Vietnam War" (David E. Kaiser, 2000): @ 
* Earlier post on "The Situation in South Vietnam" (July 10, 1963): @
* Post on Thich Quang Duc (June 11, 1963): @ 


Friday-Saturday, August 23-24, 1963: Project Stormfury

A joint project between the U.S. Weather Bureau and the U.S. Navy, Project Stormfury was an attempt to diminish the strength of hurricanes by seeding them with silver iodide, enlarging the eyewall and thereby reducing the wind speeds. On August 23-24, a Navy plane dispersed a total of 1,600 pounds of silver iodide into Hurricane Beulah. The effects on Beulah and other hurricanes were inconclusive, and the project was ended in 1983.
* Summaries from Hurricane Research Division, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration: @ and @
* U.S. Weather Bureau report on Hurricane Beulah: @
* "Project Stormfury: A Scientific Chronicle, 1962-1983" (Willoughby et al, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, May 1985): @
* "The Decision to Seed Hurricanes" (Howard et al., Science magazine, June 1972): @
* "Poking the Storm in the Eye" (New Scientist, September 1980, Page 704): @ 
* Entry from "How It Works: Science and Technology, Volume 8" (Marshall Cavendish, 2003): @
* Entry from "Hurricanes: A Reference Handbook" (Patrick J. Fitzpatrick, 2006): @
* "The Neurotic Life of Weather Control" (from "Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America," Ted Steinberg, 2000): @
* Videos (1966, from CriticalPast.com): @
* Stormfury Operation Plan (from The Black Vault, June 1969): @
* Stormfury Operation Plan (from The Black Vault, June 1970): @ 


Sunday, August 18, 1963: James Meredith graduates from Ole Miss

     The white people stared stiffly ahead, without expression. The few Negroes in the audience watched somberly from small, self-conscious islands.
     Except for a few glances, neither group seemed to look at the other. Together, under the tall oaks, they sat in awkward silence and watched what neither had ever seen before.
     James Howard Meredith, a slight man of 30, became the first Negro to graduate from the University of Mississippi in its 115-year history. Without incident, he received what some are calling the $5 million diploma, that being the estimated cost of the soldiers and U.S. marshals it took to get and keep Meredith at Ole Miss.
     The scene Sunday bore no resemblance to the night he entered, last Sept. 30, in an explosion of violence and death. Few people at the graduation at the graduation were aware of the 16 marshals standing inconscpicously on the fringes of the crowd.
     -- Saul Pett, Associated Press. Full story: @
     Photo by Associated Press

* "Meredith's Reactions On Final Day at Mississippi U Chronicled" (Associated Press, August 17): @
* "Meredith: First Negro Graduate of Ole Miss" (Associated Press, August 19): @
* "Mississippi Gives Meredith Degree" (New York Times, August 19): @
* Letter from Meredith to Attorney General Robert Kennedy (September 5, from JFK Library): @
* "I Can't Fight Alone" (Look magazine, April 19, 1963): @
* Earlier post on Meredith's enrollment (September-October, 1962): @ 


August 1963: 'The American Way of Death'

Jessica Mitford's book about the funeral industry in the United States is published by Simon and Schuster. From the book jacket:

     Jessica Mitford's explosive and astonishing book makes public the fantastic inner workings of our Funeral Industry.
     The grotesqueries we glimpsed in Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One" pale before the actuality as Miss Mitford discloses the bizarre facts behind the average American funeral, coast to coast. She brings into the open every aspect of the burial business ... 
      * its psychological strategies: the carefully choreographed walk through the "Casket Selection Room," and other devices by which the bereaved in maneuvered into buying an expensive funeral
     * its language (Cremains, Beautiful Memory Picture, Garden Crypt, Memorial Counselor, Grief Therapist, etc.) with which it propagandizes the public
     * its incredible economies (we spent an average of $1,450 for the funeral of every adult who died in the United States in 1961)
     * its elaborate embalming fashions -- practiced routinely, without consulting the survivors
     * its attempts to keep "the nosy clergy" from standing between the mourner and the undertaker's sales talk
     * its artifacts, including special cosmetics, footwear (the #280 reflects character and station in life"), even lingerie and "hostess gowns" for the dead, the decorator caskets, the vaults, the Earth Dispensers for the Committal Service ("no grasping of a handful of dirt, no soiled fingers!")
     * its Niche and Urn lobby, and the efforts to outlaw the scattering of ashes

* "The American Way of Death Revisited" (Mitford, 1998): @
* "The Undertaker's Racket" (excerpt from book, The Atlantic, June 1963): @
* Review (Saturday Review, August 31, 1963): @
* Review (Etude, University of Oregon, 2004): @ 
* "Outrage over the Death Business" (Life magazine, September 20, 1963, Page 98): @
* "Final Rights: Reclaming the American Way of Death" (Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson, 2011): @
* Mitford memorial site: @ 


Friday, August 9, 1963: 'Ready Steady Go!'

With the slogan "The weekend starts here," the show featuring music stars and dancing teens debuts on Britain's ITV network. It would air until December 1966. Photo of The Kinks' Ray Davies from Southbank Centre.
* Summary (from BFI screenonline): @
* Summary (from televisionheaven.co.uk): @
* "Ready Steady Gone" (from modculture.co.uk): @
* "How Ready Steady Go! soundtracked a revolution" (The Guardian, May 2011): @
* "Ready Steady Go! Pop Dances on to TV" (The Guardian, June 2011): @
* Episode guide from TV.com: @
* Video of October 4 episode (first of 3 appearances by The Beatles): @ and @ 


Thursday, August 8, 1963: The Great Train Robbery

     The Great Train Robbery was the most famous heist in an era that made celebrities of some high-profile criminals.
     The gang, taking inspiration from the rail robberies of the Wild West, raided the Glasgow-to-London mail train and made off with 2.6 million pounds (7 million dollars) in used bank notes.
     The audacious nature of the crime and their flight from justice made them as famous as the Hole in the Wall gang, who decades earlier had become the original Great Train Robbers.
     The mastermind was Bruce Reynolds, a known armed burglar. 
     Using inside information on the movement of valuables, he assembled a gang to intercept a night train in a quiet part of Buckinghamshire.
     On 8 August 1963, fifteen men wearing ski masks and helmets swarmed onto the train and grabbed 120 bags full of money -- a record haul.
     The scale and style of the heist captivated Britain and huge police operation was launched.
     They found the gang's abandoned hideout in nearby Leatherslade Farm -- with fingerprints still intact.
     Members of the gang were sentenced to a total of 300 years. Reynolds, eventually found after five years on the run, was given 10 years for masterminding the crime.
     -- From the BBC. Photo of uncoupled train coaches by Evening Standard / Getty Images. (The robbers had uncoupled the engine and two front carriages from the rest of the train, driving them to a bridge a mile away to unload the bags.)
* "Train Robbers Make Off With Millions" (1963, from BBC): @
* Summary (from British Transport Police): @
* Summary (from British Postal Museum &  Archive): @
* Summary (from mirror.co.uk): @
* Life magazine, August 23, 1963 (page 16): @
* "Looking back at the 1963 Great Train Robbery" (slideshow, Baltimore Sun): @
* Documentary (2012, from ITV): @
* "Witness" (2012, from BBC): @
* Website of Ronnie Biggs, one of the robbers: @
* Bruce Reynolds obituary (New York Times, February 2013): @ 


Saturday, August 3, 1963: The Beatles at The Cavern Club

The band plays the basement club in London for the last time, having appeared there nearly 300 times since February 1961. 
* Entry from The Beatles Bible: @
* 1960s timeline from The Cavern Club website: @
* Earlier post on first gig (February 9, 1961): @

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