The decade of the 1960’s started off relatively quiet but would become known as a decade of change and turbulent times. The decade was marked by the space race, space walks and moon landings; it was a time of civil rights demonstrations, church bombings and race riots. There was a British invasion and the Beatles shot to fame. It was the time of the Viet Nam war; there were peace demonstrations, draft protests, sit ins, college riots and Weathermen bombings. There were happenings, hippies, long hair, bell bottoms and of course, the Woodstock concert. It was a decade of too many assassinations; by the end of the 10 year period America would be changed forever.
People survived the decade without cable TV, satellite communications, the Internet, GPS devices, PC’s, laptops, CD’s, cell phones, hand held media devices, VCR’s, DVD’s, digital cameras and host of other gadgets.
Here is a brief look at some people and events from the year 1961.
On January 3, 1961 President Eisenhower cut diplomatic relations with the island nation of Cuba
On January 17, 1961 Ike gave his last State of the Union address; he warned the nation to be cautious of the “military-industrial complex”.
Congressman Sam Rayburn (Democrat) from Texas, Speaker of the House of Representatives died on November 16, 1961.
On January 20, 1961 John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States.
On March 1, 1961 JFK announced the beginning of the Peace Corps.
On March 29, 1961 the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified giving residents of the District of Columbia the right to vote in presidential elections.
On April 17, 1961 the Bay of Pigs invasion began; it would fail in the next several days.
On May 25, 1961 President Kennedy in a speech before Congress announced the Apollo Program and the goal to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
On August 13, 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall commenced.
On November 3, 1961 U Thant was elected acting Secretary General of the United Nations.
On November 18, 1961 JFK sent 18,000 US troops to South Viet Nam.
The annual unemployment rate for 1961 was 6.7%.
The New York Yankees were the 1961 World Series Champions defeating the Cincinnati Reds in 4 out of 5 games.
On October 1, 1961 New York Yankee Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season beating Babe Ruth’s record.
On July 31, 1961 the MLB All Star game being played at Fenway Park was declared a tie in the 9th inning (due to rain). This was the first time in MLB history that an All Star game was officially called a tie.
On March 3, 1961 Floyd Patterson successfully defended the Heavy Weight Boxing title in a rematch with Ingemar Johansson. The bout was held in Miami; Patterson scored a 6th round knock out.
Patterson would again successfully defend the title on December 4, 1961 in a fight against challenger Tom McNeeley. Toronto hosted the bout; Patterson scored a 4th round knock.
Arts and Entertainment
The 33rd Academy Awards were hosted by Bob Hope on April 17, 1961. The Best Picture Award for 1960 went to, “The Apartment”.
In 1961 the prime time Emmy for comedy went to, “The Jack Benny Show”. In the drama category the prime time Emmy went to, “Macbeth, Hallmark Hall of Fame”. The Emmy for best variety show was awarded to “Astaire Time”.
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1960 went to “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee.
On February 9, 1961 the Beatles made their premiere performance at the Cavern Club.
On August 1, 1961 the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park opened.
On October 18, 1961 the movie “West Side Story” opened.
On November 10, 1961 “Catch-22” written by Joseph Heller was published.
On January 31, 1961 Ham the Chimp was blasted off into space aboard the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule.
On February 1, 1961 the United States tested the first Minuteman 1 ICBM.
On April 11, 1961 the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann began in Israel. On December 11, 1961 the court sentenced Eichmann to death.
On May 5, 1961 Astronaut Alan Shepard aboard Mercury-Redstone 3 became the first American space traveler.
On July 1, 1961 Diana, Princess of Wales was born.
On November 17, 1961 New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s son Michael disappeared in New Guinea.
Bureau of Labor Statistics