October 1, 1957 – “In God We Trust” First Appears on Paper Currency

Series 1957 A $1 Silver Certificate

 

On October 1, 1957, new one-dollar silver certificates were issued inscribed with “In God We Trust”, the first United States paper currency to bear the motto declaring the nation’s faith in a providential God.  Coins of several denominations had borne the motto since Civil War times, when Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received numerous requests from citizens for such a recognition of the Deity.  He requested James Pollack, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to “cause such a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition”, because “No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense.  The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.”  Pollock proposed “Our Country; Our God”, or “God, Our Trust”; Chase modified them to “Our God and Our Country” and “In God We Trust” before recommending them to Congress, which passed legislation adopting the mottoes on April 22, 1864.  Later that year, “In God We Trust” made its first appearance on the two-cent coin.

Over the years, the motto appeared on the gold double-eagle coin, the gold eagle coin, the gold half-eagle coin, the silver dollar coin, the half-dollar coin, the quarter-dollar coin, the three-cent coin, the five-cent coin, the one-cent coin, and the ten-cent coin.  The motto was removed from some coins around the turn of the century, prompting public demand that it be restored.  Congress passed an act on May 18, 1908 requiring the motto to be restored to all coins which had originally borne the device.  “In God We Trust” has appeared consistently on all of America’s coins since that time.

It was not until the 1950’s that a joint resolution by the 84th Congress, approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto of the United States.  Then, in 1957, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing began converting its paper money production from the wet intaglio to the dry intaglio printing process.  Dry intaglio printing used high-speed rotary presses which could turn out new bills much faster than the old flat-bed presses used in wet intaglio printing.  During the conversion, as it gradually created the costly new printing plates, the Bureau began including the newly-adopted national motto on all paper currency.  The first bills to be printed using the new process were one-dollar silver certificates.  Federal Reserve notes in one-dollar, five-dollar, ten-dollar, and twenty-dollar denominations began to bear the motto in 1964.  Fifty and one-hundred dollar bills were first printed with “In God We Trust” in 1966.

Vintage 1957 – Near-Mint Near-Complete 1957 Topps Baseball Card Set

1957 Topps Mickey Mantle-Yogi Berra card. Photo: Sports Collectors Daily.

1957 Topps Mickey Mantle-Yogi Berra card. Photo: Sports Collectors Daily.

Attention, baseball card collectors! Rich Mueller at Sports Collectors Daily recently announced that a near-mint, near-complete set of 1957 Topps baseball cards will be put up for auction on eBay. Just Collect is planning to sell, piece by piece, a rare grouping of almost 400 cards obtained from a private collector which Mueller claims would rank “among the 50 best All-Time Finest sets on the PSA Set Registry.”

Topps made significant changes to their card line in 1957. They adopted the standard size still in use today and, rather than using both photo and artwork portraits, switched to photo-only shots of MLB’s Boys of Summer. Our banner year, 1957, is also notable for collectors in that it was a year in which many greats were playing, joined by a swath of soon-to-be-famous rookies. And 1957 was the last year that the Giants played in Gotham and the Dodgers owned Brooklyn.

Collectible baseball cards are rated on a score from 1 to 10. Each card is examined for its centering (how well did the printer do?), corners (how worn are the four points?), creases (did the card get bent or folded?), and surface (are there wrinkles, scratches, warping, damage, bubbles, marks, stains, or notches?).  A rating of ten is extremely rare, and means “taken off the printing press with tweezers and hermetically sealed” (I’m only slightly joking).  On the other end of the scale, a one rating would probably mean that the printing press was in dire need of a tune-up and a teething toddler with cotton candy got hold of the card (again, just a little exaggeration). All the cards in this 1957 collection have been rated a 7 “Near Mint”.

A few big names are missing in the collection, notably Red Sox immortal Ted Williams and  a regular issue of Yankee Mickey Mantle, winner of the Triple Crown in 1956. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, and Roy Campanella are there, along with rookies Brooks Robinson, Rocky Colavito, Don Drysdale, and Bill Mazeroski. Numerous commons, multi-player, minor stars, and team cards also add to the set.

I acquired my love of baseball when I married into the Red Sox nation at age 21. Now I can’t help but wonder about the identity of the persistent baseball card lover who amassed this treasure trove. Were they born in 1957, too?

September 30, 1957 – Havana Gunfire Threatens Batista Loyalist

Members of Batista’s Servicio de Inteligencia Militar (SIM) security forces. Photo source: Jim Hale of Arlequin’s World

On September 30, 1957, violence struck close to home for Cuba’s embattled President Fulgencio Batista as the New York Times reported that Luis Manuel Martinez, a leader in President Fulgencio Batista’s Progressive party youth movement, was the target of a shooting incident in downtown Havana.  Unidentified assailants opened fire on a crowded street, killing a merchant named Sixto Careiro and wounding Martinez and two unnamed victims – a woman and a youth.  The youth was arrested when a revolver was found in his possession.

Martinez worked as an assistant editor of the newspaper Tiempo, owned by Batista supporter Senator Rolando Masferrer.  According to the Times, he was one of the most active propagandists of the current regime.

Batista, in an NBC interview with Martin Agronsky broadcast on the day of the shooting, reaffirmed for the American viewing audience that he would honor the provisions of Cuba’s constitution by stepping down the following summer, when free elections would be held.

September 29, 1957 – The Kyshtym Disaster

Map of the Mayak and Kyshtym area, USSR. Image: Jan Rieke, NASA World Wind Screenshot

 

On September 29, 1957, an explosion in a steel storage tank containing liquid nuclear waste led to the release of a massive 2 MCi of radioactive material in the eastern Ural Mountains of the Soviet Union.  Spent nuclear waste generates heat, and when tank cooling systems failed, containment of the material failed and a non-nuclear explosion occurred on the order of 70-100 tons of TNT.  The Kyshtym Disaster, as it came to be called, was the third worst nuclear disaster in history, dwarfed only by the Chernobyl reactor explosions and fire in 1986 and the Fukushima Daiichi multiple reactor meltdowns in 2011.

The incident occurred at Mayak, a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant sequestered in the closed city of Ozyorsk, near the town of Kyshtym.  Within ten hours of the release, the radioactive cloud traveled 300-350 kilometers in a northeast direction.  Fallout contaminated an area of approximately 800 square kilometers later called the East-Ural Radioactive Trace (EURT).  Secrecy surrounding Mayak and its operations led to the suppression of information about the danger to the local population; it was a full week before people began to be evacuated, without explanation.  According to an article in Critical Mass Journal by Richard Pollock, people “grew hysterical with fear with the incidence of unknown ‘mysterious’ diseases breaking out.  Victims were seen with skin ‘sloughing off’ their faces, hands, and other exposed parts of their bodies”.

Knowledge about the event could only be gathered indirectly.  An estimated 200 people died from cancer as a direct result of the explosion and release; massive amounts of contaminated soil apparently were excavated and stockpiled; and an off-limits “nature reserve” was created in the EURT to isolate the affected region.  Studies of the effects of radioactivity on plants, animals, and ecosystems later conducted and published by faculty members of the Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow eventually confirmed the rumors of a major radioactive release.

At the time, the Soviets were hurrying to catch up with American nuclear weapons researchers.  In their desire to produce sufficient quantities of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, they proceeded without full understanding of the safety measures necessary to protect citizens and the environment.  Their lack of concern led to open dumping of highly radioactive waste into rivers and lakes.  The level of radioactivity in the town of Ozyorsk is currently claimed to be within safe limits, but the “East-Ural Nature Reserve”, as the EURT was deceptively renamed in 1968, is still heavily contaminated.

September 28, 1957 – Mike Wallace Interviews Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957. Photo: Ed Ford, New York World-Telegram and Sun Collection

Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957. Photo: Ed Ford, New York World-Telegram and Sun Collection

On September 28, 1957, the Mike Wallace Interview show aired the second half of a two-part interview with visionary architect and iconoclast Frank Lloyd Wright.  Mike introduced Wright as “perhaps the greatest architect of the twentieth century . . . and in the opinion of some, America’s foremost social rebel.  Fellow architects have called him everything, from a great poet to an insupportable windbag.  The clergy has deplored his morals, creditors have deplored his financial habits, politicians, his opinions.”  Wallace’s questions ranged over a variety of topics – from politics, to religion, to morality, to architecture – seeking Wright’s opinions and at the same time hoping to provoke him into outrageous statements.  Wright displayed a witty, canny intelligence.  He was well up to the task of  handling “fishing” questions, revealing just as much as he wanted to and no more, while actually getting Mike to laugh at himself once or twice.  The following are some gems from an entertaining interview which may have intrigued, irritated, and amused the American viewing audience.

Wallace: “I’d like to chart your attitudes specifically . . . first of all, organized religion.”
Wright: “Why organize it?  Christianity doesn’t need organizing according to the Master of it, the great master poet of all time didn’t want it organized, did he?  Didn’t Jesus say that wherever a few are gathered in my name, there is my Church?  I’ve always considered myself deeply religious.”

Wallace: “Do you go to any specific church?”
Wright: “Yes, I go occasionally to this one, and then sometimes to that one, but my church I put a capital N on nature and go there.  You spell God with a capital G, don’t you?  I spell Nature with an N, capital.”

Wright: “I’m against war.  Always have been, always will be.  And everything connected with it, is anathema to me.  I have never considered it necessary.  And I think that one war only breeds another.”

Wright: “I think the common man is responsible for the drift toward conformity now.  It’s going to ruin our democracy, and is not according to our democratic faith.  I believe our democracy was Thomas Jefferson’s idea.  I mean I think Thomas Jefferson’s idea was the right idea, but we were headed for a genuine aristocracy.  An aristocracy that was innate, on the man, not of him, not his by privilege, but his by virtue of his own virtue, his own conscience, his own quality, and that by that we were going to have the rule of the bravest and the best.  But now that common man is becoming a little jealous of the uncommon man . . . .  He’s a block to progress.”

Wallace: “I understand that last week in all seriousness you said, ‘If I had another fifteen years to work I could rebuild this entire country, I could change the nation.”
Wright: “I did say that.  And it’s true.  Having had now the experience of going with the building of seven hundred and sixty-nine buildings, it’s quite easy for me to shake them out of my sleeve, and it’s amazing what I could do for this country. . . . I don’t think the mob knows anything about architecture, cares anything about it.”

Wallace: “Is the nation’s youth a mob?”
Wright: “No.  I believe that a teenager is a teenager, and I think that with him lies the hope of the future.  Now architecture with us is a matter of the future.”

Wright’s sharp humor came out regarding his recently published book (which Wallace had a copy of and Wright claimed not to have seen), self-exiled Charlie Chaplin, intellectuals, his voting record in the last Presidential election, and Marilyn Monroe’s acting ability.  He waxed eloquent on the role of architecture to “grace the landscape” and change the character of individual lives.  He lamented that American culture had become “drenched” in sex “from the bottom up”.  He loved the “Russian spirit” of the Soviet people but hated their communist government.  He felt strongly about the principles enumerated in our Declaration of Independence.

Wallace asked Wright to share the “something” he lived by. Wright replied, “The answer is within yourself . . . . And Jesus said it, I think, when he said, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ . . . . That’s where humanity lies, that’s where the future we’re going to have lies. If we are ever going to amount to anything it’s there now, and all we have to do is develop it.”

Brandes Residence, by Frank Lloyd Wright; Sammamish, Washington. Photo: Dan DeLong, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

 

Vintage 1957 – Hundred Flowers Crushed in China

Self portrait (interviewing Maoist victims) by Wang Xu. Photo: Art Gallery New South Wales

Self portrait (interviewing Maoist victims) by Wang Xu. Photo: Art Gallery New South Wales

Give us your thoughts, Mao Zedong asked China’s citizens in 1956. How shall we reform this most promising of republics? “Our society cannot back down, it could only progress . . . criticism of the bureaucracy is pushing the government toward the better.” China’s best and brightest minds in the arts and sciences could make vital contributions toward improvement, as long as they were “constructive” (or “among the people”), rather than “hateful and destructive” (or “between the enemy and ourselves”).

The Hundred Flowers Movement – the gathering of intellectual thought – bloomed first in 1956. Named for the poetic theme “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend,” Mao was looking for a way to promote socialist ideology through new forms in the arts and new cultural institutions. His hidden agenda? Root out all dissent. Entice those who disagreed with his program to expose themselves and their non-party-line thinking. Then, spring the trap.

Much skepticism greeted the Chairman’s introduction of a neutral “suggestion box.” Mao even accelerated the process by announcing in the spring that criticism was now “preferred.” The trap began closing in the summer of 1957. Those prominent individuals who had been brave enough to register criticism of Mao’s policies were condemned to prison labor camps and, in many cases, executed. Over 550,000 people were branded “rightists’ and sentenced to death by starvation, hard physical labor, and suicide.  Across the People’s Republic, many individual rights were lost and Maoist orthodoxy would rule, unquestioned in any significant way until the time of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

An exhibit by artist Wang Xu, Archibald Prize winner for 2013, will open this weekend at the Verge Gallery in Sydney, Australia. Wang was born in China and trained in brush and ink painting in Beijing. He emigrated to Australia shortly after the Tiananmen Square uprising. “While enjoying a life of personal security in Australia,” Wang says, “I am still deeply affected by the terrible social and political injustices that continue to occur in China.”

In 2009 and 2012, Wang interviewed and filmed more than 140 survivors of Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign. The survivors are now in their 70s and 80s and have never received acknowledgement or compensation for their sufferings. “Self-portrait (interviewing Maoist victims)”, a work of oil and acrylic on board, will be on display at the gallery. The 8′ x 12′ panel includes 30 portraits of Hundred Flowers victims, and a depiction of Wang holding a video camera.

One issue of conflict in Mao’s 1957 campaign made the headlines this week in the Wall Street Journal. Ilham Tohti, an economics professor in Beijing and a moderate, articulate voice for the minority Uighurs in China’s troubled Xinjiang region, was sentenced to life imprisonment and the government seizure of all his property. WSJ reporter Josh Chin quoted Human Rights Watch researcher Maya Wang: “It’s a shocking verdict, extremely harsh even by China’s standards. By handing down a life sentence, the government is burning its one and only bridge to moderate Uighurs in China. This will only exacerbate the heightened Han-Uighur tensions.” In the days before Tohti’s conviction, a series of explosions in the Xinjiang region killed six and injured 54. Police response left forty more dead in the ongoing  and violent separatist movement.

Thank you, Wang Xu, for documenting and giving voice to those who dared to speak up and lost almost everything, and those who spoke up and whose voices are lost forever.

September 27, 1957 – The New York Giants Rent San Francisco’s Seals Stadium

Seals Stadium, San Francisco. Photo: Wikipedia

On September 27, 1957, New York Giants majority owner Horace Stoneham signed an agreement to rent San Francisco’s Seals Stadium for the 1958 and 1959 seasons, during construction of their new home field, Candlestick Park.  The New York Giants would be no more.  After their last home game at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957, the team which began as the Gothams in 1883 would thereafter be known as the San Francisco Giants.  Walter O’Malley’s Dodgers were making the move to Los Angeles; O’Malley’s encouragement, and the welcome mat set out by the second of the two major venues in California sealed the deal.

San Francisco Mayor George Christopher spearheaded the transition from East to West Coast for Stoneham and his team.  New York city officials had been less than helpful to the Giants organization in finding a new home to replace their crumbling old stadium.  After winning the World Series in 1954 – as underdogs sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four straight games, including “The Catch” by Willie Mays in Game 1 – the Giants had slipped in the rankings and attendance fell off significantly over the next three years.

Seals Stadium had a long history as a minor league ballpark.  The San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, a Boston Red Sox minor league affiliate, made it their home from 1931 until 1957.  After the Giant’s 1959 season, the stadium was demolished and its location at 16th and Bryant Streets was developed for retail business.