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home : columns : rahn larson August 20, 2017

1/9/2013 9:48:00 AM
A half-century later . . .
The American media loves a good "50-years-ago" story.
It's a made-to-order history lesson, a chance for research, new angles, storytelling - all thing that national journalists love. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we'll hear Gov. George Wallace's inauguration speech on Jan. 14, 1963. He offered these famous words: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!"
You can bet news outlets around the world are already studying the major events of 1963. They are studying, for instance, the John F. Kennedy assassination, and King's "I have a dream speech."
Obviously, the people and events surrounding the JFK assassination (the shooting, funeral, Lyndon Johnson, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, etc.) and Martin Luther King speech will receive the heaviest coverage. Rightly so. Those events, which occurred a few months apart, are among the most notable events in American history.
I have no doubt that we will see a heavy dose of stories about the racial tension of 1963, just as we saw during the 2012 newscasts. I expect to see lots of black-and-white footage showing sit-ins, riots and the like.
In studying 1963, I found a number of other interesting stories which may, or may not, seep into evening newscasts this year.
Here are a few of them:
• March 21 - The Alcatraz Island federal prison in San Francisco Bay closes. I mention this one because of the 1979 Clint Eastwood film, Escape from Alcatraz, a true story. It's a great movie.
• March 22 - The Beatles release their first album Please Please Me. By May this was at the top of the UK charts. Folks around the world were asking, "Do you think the Beatles will back it up with another good album?"
• May 1 - Coca-Cola Co. introduces its first diet drink, TaB cola. Of course it was the precursor to Diet Coke, which was born in 1982. TaB is still available in some markets.
• May 8 - Dr. No, the first James Bond film, is shown in U.S. theaters. The greatest Bond of all time, Sean Connery, starred in that one. Producers originally sought Cary Grant for the role.
• July 1 - ZIP Codes are introduced in the U.S. I'm surprised the Zone Improvement Plans have only been around for 50 years.
• Nov. 18 - The first push-button telephone was introduced to Bell customers in Pennsylvania. That reminds me of the day, about 10 years ago, when we watched one of Andrew's young friends try to use our old wall-mounted rotary phone in the basement. The boy was mystified as he kept pushing the numbers (rather than turning the rotary dial) to no avail. We still chuckle about that little scene.

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