Advertisement

Commentary: Recalling events, public personal, of 50 years ago

September 07, 2013|By Steven Hendlin

Fifty years ago, Sept. 12, 1963, was a Thursday, under the sign of Virgo. Young people were listening to "My Boyfriend's Back" by the Angels. J.D. Salinger's "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour, An Introduction," had recently been published.

Movies released in September included Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," with Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren, and "The Great Escape," starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.

Much of the news in the country was centered around the Civil Rights movement, which was in full swing, with almost daily demonstrations, especially in the South. Our role in Vietnam was growing. Three months earlier, on June 11, a Buddhist monk had immolated himself on a Saigon street to protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. The next day, June 12, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was shot and killed outside his home in Jackson, Miss., by a white racist.

Advertisement

Also on June 12, Alabama Gov. George Wallace blocked two black students from registering at the University of Alabama. President John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and had them escort the two students to campus to be registered. The day before, Kennedy addressed the nation in a speech that defined his position on civil rights. The bill that he submitted to Congress was ultimately passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Firefighters tuned their hoses on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Ala., in mid-July and folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan performed during a civil rights rally on Aug. 28.

On Sept. 12, the Beatles were in their London EMI studios recording "Hold Me Tight," and "Don't Bother Me." The Porsche 911 was making its debut on this day in Frankfurt, Germany. And after 234 episodes, on this date, "Leave it to Beaver" had its last telecast.

But the event that shattered my life on this date 50 years ago was standing 15 feet from my father and watching him die of a heart attack. Our family had just finished dinner, and he and I had moved into the living room — just the two of us. He was smoking his pipe while lying on a sofa — his typical after-dinner relaxation. We were talking about the U.S. Amateur Golf Tournament, when he choked once, dropped his pipe and was gone. Life as I had known it for my first 14 and a half years would never again be the same.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|