You say? What's so special about 1962?
Well, that depends. Mebbe not much, comparatively (Well, except for the Cuban Missile Crisis; Oh, and I got my drivers' license...which we'll come back to...) Mario Savio would matriculate at Berkeley that year, but the first strong whiff of the counter-cultural revolution on campuses was still a couple of years off. In '63, JFK was assassinated, in '64, the VietNam invasion began in earnest, and things seemed to trend toward more chaos from then on. In '62, we had Cronkite, and Huntley & Brinkley calmly assuring us all was well. It sure seemed "normal" at the time.
THAT'S THE POINT. Looking back these 50 years, it seems to me that '62 might well have been the LAST year which it would NOT be ironic to praise for its apparent aura "normalcy." In the foto, you see probably the most popular car of the year, a Chevy Impala, shorn of the wing-like fins of the previous three model years, looking downright demure, for all its chrome. The '62 Cadillac still had inobtrusive fins, but it was alone in the marketplace...The style was almost apologetic, after the late 50s...
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For casualties of a more personal nature, Marilyn Monroe died. So too did Ernie Kovacs, the legendary televisionary and comedian; and the gangster, Lucky Luciano checked out; the violinist, Fritz Kreisler; ground-breaking sociologist C. Wright Mills; Adolph Eichmann was executed in Israel; authjor William Faulkner and Herman Hesse, the novelist (Siddartha, Steppenwolf); e.e. cummings, the poet, and Eleanor Roosevelt; philosopher Georges Battaille; and the atomic physicist Neils Bohr...
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There were winners: John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in Literature; Linus Pauling won the Peace Prize. The Yankees beat the San Grancisco Giants in the World Series. It was pre-Super Bowl. The Dallas Texans beat the Houston Oilers in the AFL; the Packers edged the Giants in the NFL. On March 2 , in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points against the New York Knicks, breaking several National Basketball Association records. Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson, setting up his epochal battle with the young Cassius Clay. Roger Ward won at Indy, and Graham Hill, in a Ferrarri, won the Formula One championship. Rod Laver won the Tennis grand slam.
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But is, as I said at the beginning, also a year full of portent, too...Elsewhere on the cultural landscape, The Beatles were looming: In January, the first recording featuring the "lads" appeared: "My Bonnie," credited to "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers" (recorded June 61 in Hamburg), was released by Polydor in the U.K. Later in the year, the band fired Georgie Best as drummer and brought in Ringo Starr. They'd release their first LP as "The Beatles" in March, '63.
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In February, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, though he was several months behind the first Russian to do so. Both K-Mart and Wal-Mart opened their first stores: K-Mart in Garden City, MI; Wal-Mart's in Rogers, AR....James Meredith enrolled as the First Black Student ever at the University of Mississippi....Algeria concluded its ferocious fight for liberation from France...A shooting war broke out between China and India....Helen Gurley Brown published "Sex and the Single Girl"...Best Picture was "Lawrence of Arabia. The Number One Billboard hit song of the year was "Sherry" by the Four Seasons.
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The most memorable and portentous evens of 1962 began in October, and seemed for a brief time to threaten the immediate extermination if not of humanity, then of major cities on several continents, in an atomic holocaust. US intelligence flights over Cuba photographed Russian missile installations in Cuba. Kennedy and Kruschev at loggerheads. But the Russkis "blinked." And MAD set in...In a sense, that was the actual HIGH point in the US/Soviet tensions of the whole era, and things reached a tenuous balance, on the very eve of world destruction. The last above-ground nuclear test was triggered in Nevada.
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One more thing about 1962: on November 3, 1962, the term "personal computer" appeared in print for the first time, in the NYTimes..
Oh, yeah! On this exact date, in 1962, about a gazillion miles ago, I got my driver's license and started "dating" and--tho I didn't get laid--I got to third base for the first time, too, in the front seat of the family car, a '58 Plymouth station wagon (with a two-speed, push-button automatic), at the drive-in in Espanola...with whom? You Know: A gentleman doesn't tell, hippies...
Anyway: It's the 50th anniversary of my 16th Birthday...Bring cake!...Hope I see you at the beach---