1968-1969: Years of Assassinations, Moonwalks and Protests




Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

 1968 and 1969 were years defined by the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, American astronauts being the first to walk on the moon, anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the New York Jets and the New York Mets were surprise Super Bowl and World Series winners.


Super Bowl II would be won by the Green Bay Packers when they defeated the Oakland Raiders on January 14.


Mister Roger’s Neighborhood would be seen for the first time on February 19, 1968.


March 16, 1968 would be one of the low points of the Vietnam War when between 374-504 unarmed civilians were killed at My Lai by United States troops. 2nd Lt. William Calley was charged with 22 of the deaths and sentenced to life imprisonment, but only served three-and-a-half years of house arrest.


President Lyndon B. Johnson announced on March 31 that he would not be running for president in the 1968 election. His decision resulted in the Democrats only having one president elected in the next 24 years, when Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976. It would be 1993 before Bill Clinton took office as the 42nd president and he would become the first Democratic president to serve two complete terms since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


April 4, 1968 started a year of assassinations and demonstrations, when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of his Memphis motel room. Ironically only seven days later the Civil Rights Act bill was passed by Congress, which outlawed racial discrimination, which Dr. King had been fighting before his death.


Then only two months and one day after the assassination of Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated while celebrating a win in California primary during his 1968 presidential bid. Sirhan Sirhan is arrested for the murder of Kennedy.


 If Kennedy had lived to win the Democratic nomination, he may have defeated Richard Nixon in the 1968 election. Instead Nixon defeated Senator Hubert Humphrey by half a million votes.


The Yippies led by Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman would descend on Chicago and the streets of Chicago turned into a riot zone as the Yippies and other radical groups battled Chicago police, U.S. Army and National Guard, while the Democratic convention was being held.


The chaos on the streets of Chicago poured onto the Democratic Convention floor when Senator Abraham Ribicoff denounced the use of Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago. His remarks enraged Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago would could be seen yelling at Ribicoff.


Anti-war protesters in Chicago may have hurt their own cause. In retrospect they may have protested at the wrong convention since the Democrats were more on their side than the Republicans. The Republican convention in Miami was turmoil free, in contrast to the chaos in Chicago.


Richard Nixon would go on to defeat Senator Humphrey in the general election.


1969 was another year with many newsworthy events and January 12 of 1969 would see the New York Jets defeat the Baltimore Colts 16-7, after Jets quarterback Joe Namath had predicted the Jets would upset the Colts.


Richard Nixon would take office as the 37th president on January 20. The Beatles who had first sang in America almost five years ago would hold their last public concert on January 30.


Sirhan Sirhan admits assassinating Bobby Kennedy on March 3. Ironically seven days later James Earl Ray would plead guilty to assassinating Dr. Martin Luther King. Later that month former President Dwight D. Eisenhower died on March 28, 8 years after finishing his second term as president.


The first American troop withdrawals of the Vietnam War were made on July 8. Senator Teddy Kennedy would end any hope of becoming president, when he drove his car off a bridge on July 18, in what became known as the Chappaquiddick incident. Mary Jo Kopechne would die at the age of 28 in the submerged car.


Two days later on July 20, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, when the lunar module Eagle landed on the moon. It had to be ranked as one of the biggest stories of the 20th century. The first flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903 would have been another major advance in the 20th century. Their flight led to commercial flights by airlines in later years.


August 9, 1969 was a day of violence as Charles Manson followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. The next day August 10, they would murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home.


August 15, 1969 will always be remembered as the day the Woodstock Music Festival kicked off on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. The promoters were expecting 50,000 fans, but those numbers were very conservative, considering 500,000 fans showed up.


August 17 would be another deadly day, this time because of Hurricane Camille which hit the Mississippi coast killing 248 people and causing damage of $1.5 billion.


The first ATM was installed in Rockville Centre, New York on September 2, while on the same day Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam died.


The Chicago Eight trial begin on September 24 in Chicago, but was changed to the Chicago Seven, when Bobby Seale a Black Panther was sentenced to four-year sentence for contempt of court.


Another New York sports team would win a championship, when the New York Mets defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Seven years earlier the Mets had been the laughingstock of baseball when they posted a 40-120 record in 1962.


On a lighter note Sesame Street would be seen for the first time on the National Education Network on November 10.


While 250,000-500,000 demonstrators were protesting against the war in Washington, D.C. on November 15, Dave Thomas is busy opening the first Wendy’s in Columbus Ohio.


American astronauts would walk on the moon, only four months after the initial landing, four months prior to the Apollo 12 landing. Pete Conrad and Alan Bean would both walk on the moon.


With the year drawing to a close, a draft lottery was put in place on December 1 and would be the last major event of 1969.


A quick rundown of the events in 1968-1969:




Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy Assassinated

Unarmed Vietnamese Citizens Killed By U.S. Troops

President Lyndon B. Johnson Announces He Will Not Run For Presidency

Anti-war protesters riot during the Democratic National Convention

Richard Nixon is elected president in general election.




Richard Nixon takes office of presidency

Withdrawal of Vietnam troops commences

Teddy Kennedy drives car off bridge in Chappaquiddick incident

Four astronauts become first men to walk on moon

Charles Manson followers kill seven in two days

500,000 anti-war protesters attend Woodstock Music Festival

Hurricane Camille kills 248 persons

First ATM installed in Rockville Centre, New York

Ho Chi Minh Dies

Chicago 7 Trial Begins in Chicago

250,000-500,000 demonstrate in anti-war protest in Washington, D.C.

Dave Thomas opens first Wendy’s

Sesame Street shown for the first time on National Education Network

Draft lottery is instituted
























1962: A Year to Remember

Mr. Acker Bilk playing Stranger on the Shore, the No. 1 hit of 1962.

I can remember the posters for American Graffiti, like the one pictured that asked the question Where Were You in 62′?

My memories of 1962 include walking the halls of Pineville High for the last times that summer, as I took English IV again in summer school so I could receive my diploma that September. It was my third and last encounter with summer school.

The class of 1962 will be celebrating our 50th reunion next April. Just the thought of 50 years passing since I walked out the door of Pineville High School for the last time as a student in 1962 tells me I am getting older much faster than I really wanted to.

It also reminds me that music has changed since then. Can you imagine a clarinet solo by Mr. Acker Bilk being No.1 on the Hot 100 chart today, like Stranger on the Shore was in 1962?

It even charted higher than the No.2 classic I Can’t Stop Loving You sung by the great Ray Charles.

Mashed Potato Time and The Loco-Motion charted No.3 and No.7, but No.9 The Twist by Chubby Checker is the song we will remember most from that year. Checker was 21 in 1962, but will be 70 next month.

Checker would also have the No.17 hit Slow Twistin’ in 1962.  Many songs released in 1962 had the word twist or a variation of twist in the title including these songs:

No.23 Twistin’ the Night Away – Sam Cooke

No.25 Peppermint Twist – Joey Dee and the Starliters

No. 32 Dear Lady Twist – Gary and the US Bonds

No. 38 Twist and Shout – Isley Brothers

No. 87 Percolator Twist – Billy Joe and the Checkmates

No. 88 Twist, Twist Senora – Gary and the US Bonds

No. 89 Twistin’ Matilda and the Channel – Jimmy Soul

No. 92 Soul Twist – King Curtis

Ten songs or ten percent of the Top 100 songs, had to do with the new Twist craze.

It was a great year for ballads too with such standouts as Roses Are Red, Break It To Me Gently, Ramblin’ Rose, Love Letters, You Don’t Know Me and Town Without Pity.

The Beach Boys had one song in the Top 100 list which was Surfin’ USA at No.100, but it apparently had just been released, because it topped out at No.3 the next year. Surprisingly, the Beach Boys only had four No.1 hits during their career.

Ahab the Arab was the best known novelty song of the year, having been released by Ray Stevens.

Green Onions which was recorded by Booker T. and the MG’s  to me was one of the best instrumentals ever to be released came out that year along with instrumentals, like Moon River by Henry Mancini and Walk on the Wild Side recorded by the great jazz organist Jimmy Smith.

The list below will take the readers down memory lane. It was a great year for music.



Basic Training and the Cuban Missile Crisis

It was October 12 of 1962, when I started basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. My first memory is of a soldier from Wardville a suburb of Pineville, Louisiana yelling out a second story window, to a sergeant below “Hey nutbrain”. The sergeant set a new record for climbing the stairs that day, telling the private in no uncertain terms, that that was not the proper way to address someone higher ranking than him. The infiltration course was the least fun of all, not to mention taking our gas masks off in a gas-filled room, so we would know what it was like to experience it.

If there was enough reason to take the basic training seriously before, there was even more now, because we were training during the middle of the Cuban missile crisis.

This is one of the songs we sang as we marched:

“I don’t know but I believe, I’ll be in Cuba by Christmas Eve”

The ten-mile hike and bivouac was not exactly a bed of roses either. It had been hot when we first arrived, but by the time the bivouac came around, it was brutally cold sleeping in a tent in December.

The best part about basic training was when the family visited one Sunday, having made the trip from Pineville to see me.

1962 had started with the final semester starting at Pineville High School in January, receiving my diploma in September, then  starting basic training in October, which ended in December.

The year ended with me visiting home, for Christmas and New Year’s Day. 1963 would bring being stationed in Indianapolis, Indiana to start the year, staying there till April at the Adjutant General’s postal school. Then in May my three-year enlistment started, after deciding to re-enlist rather than go to Army Reserve meetings for several years.

Early in June of 1963, I arrived in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, not knowing that I would board the troop ship the USNS General Walker on a 14 day trip, to another tropical paradise in Viet Nam two-and-a-half years later. The only problem was that the inhabitants of this tropical paradise, didn’t appreciate visitors with M-14’s and tanks.

By now it is way past 1962, so better stop now.





Memorial Day 2011

May we remember on this Memorial Day of 2011, the soldiers who have died in defense of America, from the Revolutionary War to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I would like to remember my cousin James Walter Godfrey from Maine who died piloting a helicopter in Vietnam and the two soldiers who I worked with in Army post office in Vietnam, who were killed by a mortar shell attack, two months after I had left the country.

It is a sobering sight to see their names on the Vietnam War Wall online website, but would like to see their names in person someday on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.

Archive.org: Great Multimedia Website

Archive.org will keep a reader entertained for hours.

Archive.org is probably the best source for audio and video online this side of YouTube.  The home page for the website as I write this article has a link to an audio version of a Grateful Dead concert at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum at New Haven, Connecticut on May 11, 1981.

The concert is only one of 803,305 audio recordings at the website.  There are 2,214 old time radio related links to old time radio shows and magazines that were printed during the height of the popularity of old time radio.

One Roy Rogers episode has been downloaded 74,882 times showing that the website is available for downloading many of the old time radio shows we grew up with.

Old time radio fans will love looking at list after list of old time radio shows available for downloading including some of the more obscure shows which have very few episodes in existence.

The live music archive features 88,813 archives while the moving image archives total 451,934.

Avid readers will enjoy knowing that there are 2.694,639 texts including books and ebooks. The new Bookreader at the site includes Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin and is the example shown of how the Bookreader works.


There is an audio version of some books but the one I listened to was not of the best quality and seemed to be a computer generated voice which probably would be tiring to listen to for an entire book.

Most readers may not enjoy the voice and instead opt to read the books without sound. For those that like the audio they should enjoy the feature that highlights the portion of the book being read by the voice.

The Mega Reader iPhone app provides access to the 1.8 million free books at archive.org so they each iPhone user can have their own personal reader.

Each volume of the Warren Report investigation of the assassination of  President John F. Kennedy is available to read.

The site is an excellent source of reading material for educators and students who are looking for books that are no longer copyrighted.

One word of caution: it could take hours just to look at what is available at archive.org. This website may have the most content of any website online and is worth going to the website to see for yourself what is available.


Going Home Again To Pineville, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana may not have dilapidated buildings like this still standing on Main Street but after being away from Pineville since October of 2007 there weren’t as many changes as I thought there would be when returning to the city I have spent close to 60 years of my life.

One of the biggest changes in Pineville was the new Lowe’s store that was built where the old Wal-Mart store had been unoccupied for many years.

The new football stadium at Louisiana College probably was the most striking new structure in Pineville. After sharing D.C. “Bill” Bates Stadium with Pineville High School for many years Louisiana College finally has a stadium which is on campus and the football team no longer has to ride a bus to Pineville High School for their games.

There were some cosmetic changes to some stores like the KFC restaurant on Highway 28 but for the most part there were very few noticeable changes that caught my eye. Since I didn’t see some parts of Pineville there may be some changes that readers may want to inform me about.

Pineville will always be home for me even though I am living in south Louisiana now after having lived in Tennessee for the three years and four months prior to moving to Sulphur, Louisiana.

My memories of Pineville go back to the first day of the first grade at Pineville Elementary in 1950 and playing Little League baseball for Bates Insurance, Jimmie Walker and RC Cola and then later playing for Bert Dennis Realty in the Pony League at the Sandy Canyon baseball field.

One tragic memory was the night we were playing in a game when someone yelled “that plane is going to crash” and we saw a plane crashing in downtown Pineville into the National Cemetery grounds.

Another tragic event was seeing Pineville Elementary destroyed by fire in 1958 and seeing Tommy Kohara the photographer climbing the fireman’s ladder to take photos of the fire from above.

Four years later after graduating from Pineville High in 1962 I said goodbye to Pineville to join the Army and started basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Will never forget marching to this song in basic during the height of the October missile crisis:

I don’t know but I believe

I’ll be in Cuba by Christmas Eve

After returning home for a couple of weeks after basic training ended once again it was time to bid farewell to Pineville again as I boarded a train for Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana for postal training in January of 1963.

When ending the six months duty for the Army Reserve I decided to go ahead and join the regular Army in May of 1963 and boarded a plane for San Francisco and landed in Hawaii in June of 1963.

After serving in Hawaii from June of 1963 to January 1966 I boarded a troop ship heading toward Vietnam and four months later when I fulfilled my service obligation in May of 1966 it was exciting to gain altitude over Saigon knowing we were safe from enemy groundfire and on the way to Pineville as my ultimate destination.

It would be eight years later after working those years for the Alexandria Town Talk before moving from Pineville to Monroe, Louisiana in April of 1974 to work for the Monroe Morning World for a couple of years returning in March of 1976 to Pineville.

For the next 31 years Pineville would be home till moving again in August of 2007 to Knoxville, Tennessee and living there till December 20, 2010 when we moved to Sulphur, Louisiana.

While this visit was a very short one I hope there will be many more in the future and hopefully for a longer duration.

Life in the 1940’s

A young Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower is shown in the above photo as the Louisiana Maneuvers involving 400,000 U.S. soldiers took place north of Pineville, Louisiana in 1941. Four years later Col. Eisenhower would be a general commanding the D-Day invasion as the U.S. would enter the European theater of World War II on June 6, 1944. Less than a year later the war would be over in Europe when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. Three months later on August 15,1945 the Japanese would surrender.

The war was just part of 1940’s history but affected the daily lives of those who stayed home during the war. In 1943 automobile production was halted so those materials could be used in the war effort.

American citizens experienced rationing of food supplies in 1943. Travel was limited in order to make tires last longer and drivers were told to not drive over 35 MPH to extend the life of tires.

Interesting Facts From the 40’s

The U.S. population was 122 million in the 1940’s and is as of this moment at over 311 million an increase of  189 million since the 1940’s.

The national debt in the 40’s was $43 billion but the national debt today stands at over $14 trillion. The minimum wage was 43 cents an hour and in 1966 when I started work at the Alexandria Town Talk in Alexandria, Louisiana the minimum wage was $1.40 an hour an increase of about a dollar an hour over what American workers were earning in minimum wage in the 40’s. The minimum wage today is $7.25

Many Had No Indoor Plumbing

Only 55 percent of  American homes had indoor plumbing in the 1940’s and outhouses were still being widely used.

The first commercial television stations went on the air in the 1940’s. The first digital computers weighed 30 tons.

Big Band Music Dominated

Big band music dominated the music scene during the 40’s as the bands traveled across the U.S. entertaining fans of big name bandleaders like Glenn Miller, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.

The 1940’s would be the last decade in which old time radio ruled  the airwaves as television began to convert radio listeners into television viewers.

1945 would see the development of the first TV dinner. At the end of World War II there were only 5,000 television sets in existence. In 1951 that number would increase to 17 million sets being used.

Window Air Conditioners Gained Popularity

Only 74,000 window air conditioners were sold in 1948 and that number increased to 1.45 million by 1953.  We didn’t buy our first air conditioner till about 1967 so was 9 years old when we first bought a television and 23 when we bought our first air conditioner.

I don’t ever remember being hot though since that was all we knew and didn’t have anything to compare it with.

The following website has even more details about the 1940’s and the events and entertainment from that decade.


No Modern Electronics in the 40’s

Back in the 1940’s the cell phone,  MP3 players, HD televisions, DVD players, laptops, notepads and electronic readers were not yet in use leaving time for other activities. Life was simpler then with no ringtones being heard from a cell phone when a phone call or message was being sent.

The 40’s saw the birth of my oldest brother in 1941, my birth in 1944, the birth of a younger brother in 1947 and a younger sister in 1947.

No War at End of Decade

The decade ended without another major war but June of 1950 would see the start of the Korean War the war which has been more of a forgotten war except for the veterans of that war and their family members.

You seldom see any television documentaries about the Korean War while you can always find film from World War II and the Vietnam War on television programs.

The 1940’s ended 62 years ago but for those of us who lived during that decade it will be forever etched in our memories.

Joni James: In the Still of the Night Album

Joni James shown on the cover of her In the Still of the Night album which was recorded in 1955. Joni has one of the clearest, easy to listen to voices among all female jazz singers.


Joni James shown seven years later on her I'm Your Girl album and looks even younger than she appeared on the In the Still of the Night album.

This is my second post about Joni James but have since found out that she was the first American to record at London’s Abbey Road studio.  She went on to record a total of five albums at the historic studio.

Joni James was born in Chicago on September 22, 1930 as Giovanna Carmello Babbo before changing her name to Joni James so her original name wouldn’t be misprounounced.

While listening to a clip on David Gasten’s This is Vintage Now of Beverly Kenney it reminded me of Joni James.

The following interview is only a written interview but contains some interesting facts like Elvis Presley displaying her album covers on his wall at Graceland.


Miss James was out of the music business from 1964 till 1986 to take care of her sick husband Tony Acquaviva who died

She would record seven songs that charted in the Top 10 during his first three years of recording and those songs would be the only ones to chart in the Top 10.

Joni James singing her No. 1 hit Why Don’t You Believe Me at Carnegie Hall in this audio only recording which was No.1 in 1952.