It took the U. S. Army to safely escort "The Little Rock Nine" into Central High School in 1957 after Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus refused to abide by a Supreme Court decision on integration that allowed black kids to attend the school. Faubus closed high schools in Little Rock for the 1958-59 school year in protest. That was known as "The Lost Year." (UPI) I was a junior in high school in Ohio and wondered what the fuss was about. I had gone to school with black kids all my life. But, I wasn't living in Arkansas.
Regardless of our ages, we have memories of important events that have happened during our lifetimes. I’m not talking about personal items as much as events that affected the nation and/or the world. How many times have you heard someone say, “I remember where I was when I heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963.” Personally, I was crossing the street at Whiteman AFB in Missouri going back to work after lunch when it happened. Where were you?
Since I can only vouch for events in my lifetime, probably the first one would be the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I was alive at that time but at eight months of age, I can’t say that I remember the event. I would bet that guys like Bob Amento, Dr. Don, and Fancy remember it well though.
I do remember when President Roosevelt died in April of 1945. I had just turned four and was standing by the side of our house in Cincinnati watching my dad paint. Our neighbor came rushing into the yard shouting the news of FDR’s demise.
I remember when Truman beat Dewey in November, 1948 for the presidency. I was seven as my dad and I listened to the election returns well into the night and since he was a big fan of Dewey, he became glummer as the night went on. Television was still in its infancy and was very expensive so we listened to the results on our big Stromberg-Carlson radio. Only bars had TVs in those days.
In November, 1952, General Eisenhower easily won the presidency over Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson had no chance; he was a dry, no personality guy from Illinois going against a war hero. It was the same result when Stevenson ran against Ike in 1956. I watched returns of both elections on our black and white 16” “National” TV set. The ’52 returns pre-empted Milton Berle’s show on NBC, not a happy night for Uncle Miltie watchers.
I was a Nixon fan in 1960 when he ran against Kennedy. Tricky Dick had no chance after the TV debates. He looked tired, had a five o’clock shadow beard, and was upstaged by the vibrant JFK. The election results in November were no surprise. I was 18, had just registered for the draft, and was disappointed in the results.
I’ll always remember where I was in October, 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in the Air Force stationed in Missouri when Kennedy and Khrushchev had a stare down over Russian built missiles being installed in Cuba. Our B-47 Bombers had left our base and were poised on the East Coast ready to go to war. Finally, after a few tense weeks, Khrushchev blinked first and the missiles were dismantled. You could hear a collective exhale of breath on our base when it was settled.
Do you remember the above events happening? How about Beatlemania in ’64? We all know where we were on 9-11-2001 but how about Little Rock and Governor Faubus in 1957? When was the first time you saw a color TV? What about Elvis’s first hit?
Where were you?
To leave a comment or read the other 27 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.