September 14, 1957 – Cuban President Fulgencio Batista Faces Internal Opposition

Batista’s army executes a rebel. Photo: Imagno – Museo de la Revolucion, La Habana, Cuba

On September 14, 1957, the New York Times reported that Cuban President Fulgencio Batista had recently suppressed a revolt in the town of Cienfuegos in which officers and personnel of his own Navy had taken sides with Fidel Castro against his regime.  The previous day, Batista had announced that he would not be a candidate for reelection the following June (he was constitutionally forbidden to succeed himself) but that the suspension of civil liberties would be renewed for another 45 days.

The Cienfuegos revolt, crushed by Army tanks and aircraft, had been instigated by no more than 100 men, Batista claimed, including “a few dissident, illicit men in the Navy”.  According to the Times article there were three sources of opposition to Batista: Fidel Castro’s M-26-7 movement; adherents of former President Carlos Prio Socarras, who was deposed by Batista in 1952; and a group of Opposition parties.

On this day, the Times reported that the island “was an armed camp”.  Citizens were fearful of a breakdown of authority resulting in a state of chaos; merchants were losing business, tourism was down, businesses wanted to close but were not being permitted to do so by the government.  Soldiers patrolled the streets, rounding up opposition figures, and the jails were full of people accused of revolutionary activities.  Citizens had little faith in Batista’s government, but also little confidence that change could be achieved through peaceful means at the ballot box.  The Times concluded that “despite the bloody revolt, the terrorism and other efforts of the Opposition to force President Batista out of office, he will undoubtedly continue to control the island as long as his Army, the most powerful branch of the armed forces, remains loyal to him.”

57 + 57 Football: Detroit Lions Regular Season Week 2

Detroit Lions LogoPack up the Skotch Plaid Cooler, 1957-fanatics, it’s tailgating-time! The official football team of 1957 Time Capsule this year is (drum roll, please) . . . the Detroit Lions!

Fifty-seven years ago, the Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns in the 1957 NFL Championship on December 29th (in chilly Detroit), by a whopping 59-14. The AFL didn’t exist until 1960 and the first Super Bowl was held in 1967. The National Football League Championship was truly the national championship throughout the fifties. Since our banner year, the Lions have won a total of one playoff game – in 1991 against the Dallas Cowboys. They’ve had plenty of chances over the years to vie for their division championship, but disappointment and defeat have deflated their Lion pride.

But this year will be different! Already the Lions are 4 and 1! After winning three of their four preseason games, Detroit’s finest in pads opened on September 8th by bringing down the New York Giants, 35-14, on Monday Night Football (do we still miss fifties-sports-figure Howard Cosell?). This Sunday, September 14th, the Lions go on the prowl for the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. Lions and panthers may be related, but only one cat will end up king of the savanna. Game time? One o’clock Eastern, four o’clock Pacific.

And here’s an invitation to all true Detroit fans, loyal through the years. Send me your highlights from the game. We’ll follow the Lions through the fall, with interesting facts, bits of history, and your memories or keys moments from this season’s games. Leave a comment and then look for next week’s coverage.

Go Lions!

September 13, 1957 – The Kalmikoffs Win in Buffalo

Dastardly Ivan and Karol at work. Photo: Online World of Wrestling

On September 13, 1957, Ivan and Karol Kalmikoff defeated Vic Christy and Sammy Berg in a National Wrestling Alliance event at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York.  The Kalmikoffs tag team – a team of fictitious Soviet brothers consisting of Ivan (Edward Bruce, native son of Detroit, Michigan), and Karol (Karol Piwoworczyk, hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma) – were very successful in the mid-50s, having begun their sweaty grappling career in 1953 in Amarillo, Texas.  Two other “brothers” participated occasionally: Nikita (Nikita Mulkovich) and Stan or Igor (Eric Pomeroy).

Populated by wild characters with quirky gimmicks, partly athletic event but wholly staged entertainment, professional wrestling featured clearly defined heroes and villains who episodically portrayed the alternating triumph of the forces of good or evil in (and frequently out) of a canvas-floored ring.  What great fun – and how vicariously cathartic – to boo the Communist Red menace Kalmikoffs while the Cold War raged.

Television fueled the popularity of professional wrestling as each of the major networks broadcast the colorful, inexpensive-to-produce matches.  As a result, the ’50s became the “Golden Age” for the pseudo-sport.

September 12, 1957 – [Subliminal] Messages

Popcorn and Coca-Cola. [1957 Time Capsule]. Photo: Faux Food Diner

On September 12, 1957 [1957 Time Capsule], market researcher James Vicary revealed at a press conference in New York City that 45,699 movie-going guinea pigs [1957 Time Capsule] had been recently exposed to what sounded suspiciously to alarmed Americans like thought control.  The Wall Street Journal reported the following on Vicary’s presentation about his new subliminal [1957 Time Capsule] projection technology:

“This story may sound as though a flying saucer [1957 Time Capsule] is lurking behind the scenes, but you can rest assured that all characters in this drama are real.  The tale begins some months ago when several closed-mouthed men walked into a New Jersey motion picture house [1957 Time Capsule] and fitted a strange mechanism to the film projector.  Over the next six weeks, as 45,699 unsuspecting movie goers watched Hollywood’s newest epics [1957 Time Capsule],  a strange thing reportedly occurred.  Out of the blue, it is claimed, patrons started deserting their seats and crowding in the lobby.  Sales of Coca-Cola [1957 Time Capsule] reportedly rose 18.1% and popcorn purchases zoomed 57.7% over the theater’s usual sales.  These claims – and the explanation of this purported phenomenon – were made at a press conference yesterday afternoon [1957 Time Capsule] by executives of a new firm called Subliminal Projection Co., Inc.  The movie patrons had been subjected to ‘invisible advertising’ that by-passed their conscious [1957 Time Capsule] and assertedly struck deep into their sub-conscious.  The trick was accomplished by flashing commercials past the viewers’ eyes so rapidly [1957 Time Capsule] that viewers were unaware they had seen them.  The ads, which were flashed every five seconds or so, simply urged the audience to eat popcorn [1957 Time Capsule] and drink Coca-Cola, and they were projected during the theater’s regular movie program.”

Vicary claimed that subliminal advertising [1957 Time Capsule] would revolutionize the advertising industry – which was moving rapidly to take advantage [1957 Time Capsule] of the growing popularity of television – by promoting products directly to the drives, needs [1957 Time Capsule] and desires of the unconscious mind.  The cool, rational processes of conscious recognition and evaluation [1957 Time Capsule] would be disabled.  The public was worried: were they about to become [1957 Time Capsule] the victims of brainwashing?

September 11, 1957 – Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” Sends Many

Sam Cooke: Sharply-dressed and on his way to the top

 

On September 11, 1957, the latest buzz was all about a new song getting plenty of airplay on the radio.  “You Send Me“, the B side of a new single released by newcomer to the pop scene, Sam Cooke, was catching everyone’s attention (unlike Side A, a reworking of George Gershwin’s “Summertime”).

At the time, Cooke was a member of the gospel quartet, the Soul Stirrers.  As one of eight children of a Baptist minister, Cooke began his career singing church songs with his brothers and sisters in a group they called The Singing Children.  He joined the Soul Stirrers in 1950 at age 19.  In 1957, crossing over to pop or R & B alienated a gospel vocalist’s fan base.  The success of “You Send Me” precipitated Sam’s leaving the Soul Stirrers and heading out on his own.

“You Send Me” went to the top of Billboard’s pop and R&B charts.  It established Cooke as a mainstream R&B singer and achieved legendary status as part of the foundation of soul music, a genre which Sam helped create.  Cooke has been called the King of Soul for his talent and influence on other vocalists, including Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.  He had 29 Top 40 pop hits in the United States between 1957 and his death in 1964, and even more of his singles hit the Top 40 R&B charts.  Cooke later started his own recording label, SAR Records, a publishing imprint, and a management firm.  He took an active role in the civil rights movement.

Sadly, the man who in September 1957 had everyone joining in on “whooooa—–oh—oh-oh-oh-oh” was shot and killed by a hotel clerk in Los Angeles, California in December of 1964.  The controversial ending to a stellar career – which included the hits “Chain Gang”, “Wonderful World”, “Bring it on Home to Me”, “Cupid”, “Twisting the Night Away”, “Another Saturday Night”, and “A Change is Gonna Come” – was ruled a justifiable homicide.

Where Were They Then? – Dr. Seuss

 

Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, enjoying success and a good read. Photo: Al Ravenna, New York World-Telegram; Library of Congress

Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, enjoying success and a good read. Photo: Al Ravenna, New York World-Telegram; Library of Congress

A new volume by one of America’s greatest author/illustrators – beloved by children and adults – is now available on bookstore shelves. Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel passed away in 1991, but thousands upon thousands of new copies of his well-known books find their way to good homes every year. An alert Seuss-o-phile named Charles D. Cohen is responsible for the recent addition of Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories to the Seuss canon. The stories, from Geisel’s long-time publisher, Random House, first appeared many years ago as illustrated strips in Redbook Magazine and other periodicals. The stamp-sized drawings have been enlarged and enhanced. Horton and Marco and the Grinch figure into the plotlines. More Seuss! A grateful world – and this blogger – say, “Thank you!”

For Ted Geisel, the year 1957 turned the mildly successful ad writer, cartoonist and illustrator, animator, screenwriter, and author into a worldwide sensation. From his home base in La Jolla, California, happily ensconced with his wife, Helen Palmer, Geisel completed his book-on-a-dare, commissioned by William Spaulding of Houghton Mifflin. The challenge: write an engaging learn-to-read book from a carefully selected and very short list of easy reader words. The goal: help children learn to love to read. Dr. Seuss was all over that like oobleck.

The Cat in the Hat was released on March 12, 1957 and became a phenomenal bestseller. The old saying, “a rising tide floats all boats” went to work in McElligot’s Pool and all of Geisel’s titles started flying off shelves (without the mischievous mayhem of Thing 1 and Thing 2). An invitation from Random House to join their staff then led Ted to wonder what he’d do If I Ran the Zoo Circus Publishing Company. Dr. Seuss put on a children’s book editor hat (one of the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins), started practicing in New York City and delivered another whopper on November 24th, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. After thirty years in the business, at age 53, Theodor Seuss Geisel was an overnight success. The days of Green Eggs and Ham had only begun. No one could have told you then, Ted, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

September 10, 1957 – Jerry Lewis Solos at Ben Maksik’s Town and Country Club

Jerry Lewis (Not Nutty Yet)

On September 10, 1957, singer, dancer, and comedian extraordinaire Jerry Lewis gave a powerhouse solo performance at Ben Maksik’s Town and Country Club in Brooklyn, New York.  After years of second-billing behind Dean Martin doing successful comedy nightclub acts, radio and television programs, and films, Jerry was on his own before a live audience with his unique brand of slapstick comedy.  The duo’s breakup in July of 1956 ended a relationship that had become increasingly strained by Lewis’ dominance in popularity.  Each went on to success as solo performers.  Neither would ever comment on the split or consider a reunion.

In the Paramount film released in June of 1957, The Delicate Delinquent, Jerry became a major comedy star in his first solo role playing a juvenile delinquent mistaken for a gang member.  Officer Darren McGavin put Lewis through police training – compete with amusing “mishaps” – and young Jerry finally “reformed” and redeemed himself by graduating from the academy.

Later that summer, reviewer Robert W. Dana of the New York World Telegram and Sun covered Lewis’ act at the Town and Country Club for his column, “Tips on Tables”.  Dana admitted “I haven’t always been an ardent Lewis fan.  I am now after this performance.”  He continued, “Given the keynote at the outset by Ned Harvey’s crack band, the man with the shorty  haircut never let up.  He’s Mr. Rhythm with a voice.  He’s Mr. Hoofer, with a loose-jointed grace of a true showman.  And he’s Mr. Clown, who makes each line count for a laugh.”

Lewis, the son of a vaudeville entertainer father and a radio-station-piano-playing mother, spent part of his opening night kidding around with a Spanish dancer act, poking fun at rock and roll, crooning a “Danny Boy” spoof, and giving a side-splitting portrayal of “Tokyo’s foremost singing star”.  After initially bumbling about, he “caught on” and joined in a tap dance number.  And he gave serious and skillful renditions of “Shine on Your Shoes”, his top forty hit “Rock a Bye, My Baby”, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, and closed the evening with the somewhat poignant “I’ll Go My Way By Myself”, which Dana described as “a touching, straightforward conclusion”.  Lewis deeply appreciated Dana’s column, sending him a signed note on September 12th “to express my heartfelt thanks to you for your very, very nice column.  I more than appreciate your kind words, and my only hope is that I can live up to them”.

Jerry Lewis went on to great fortune and fame all over the world.  He received numerous rewards for his film and television work.  In spite of suffering nagging health concerns through much of his adult life, he maintained a full work schedule. Until stepping down in 2011, Lewis dedicated himself to his yearly Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, raising 2.6 billion dollars over the years for research and treatment of the crippling disease.