July 16, 1957 – Major John Glenn Sets Transcontinental Air Speed Record

John Glenn Project Bullet

John Glenn at the cockpit of his Vought F8U Crusader

On July 16, 1957, Marine Corps Major John Glenn flew coast-to-coast in 3 hours, 23 minutes, and 8.4 seconds to set a new transcontinental air speed record.  His flight, dubbed Project Bullet by Glenn because his Vought F8U Crusader would fly faster than a .45-caliber pistol round, originated at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in Orange County, California and touched down at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.

Glenn’s mission objective was to prove that the Crusader’s Pratt & Whitney J-57 engine could tolerate extended flight times at combat power, or full afterburner, without damage.  The success of the flight led to removal by Pratt & Whitney of all power limitation on J-57s.  The particular Crusader model Glenn flew was a photo-reconnaissance F8U-1P equipped with a camera but no search radar.  Glenn filmed his entire trip while refueling in mid-air three times using direction finders to home in on the AJ Savage tankers’ beacons.

The air inversion layers in the western United States prevented the excited public from hearing the sonic boom of Glenn’s passing, but in the eastern states the layers disappeared and his expectant mother and her neighbors heard the aural explosion right on schedule.

Glenn’s record-setting average flight speed, including slowdowns for refueling, was set at 725.55 mph, or Mach 1.1.  His achievement put the Major on the radar for a soon-to-be-selected astronaut team for NASA.  He went on to pilot the first manned orbital spaceflight of the Earth in Friendship 7 in February of 1962.

Image Credit: Rob Getz/www.stellar-views.com

Where Were They Then? – Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.

I have evidently been living under a rock. Only this week did I discover the whole alt-world of “fandom.” Fandom, according to Wikipedia, “is a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.” Members of social-network fandoms are different from ordinary fans in that they obsess over “minor details,” create “particular practices,”  and spend a “significant portion of their time and energy” on their shared interest. Sounds a lot like blogging.

Recently, I was strolling the internet for 1957 Time Capsule items when I stumbled across a timeline for the 1957 escapades of . . . Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr.! The timeline was so replete with “minor details” that it took me a moment to remember that Professor Jones was not a real person!

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

In 1957, Indy was embroiled in the events portrayed in the movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Soviet agents, on the prowl for an ancient, telepathic crystal skull, kidnap Indy’s former lover, Marion Ravenwood, and old friend Harold Oxley. Indy finds a new, energetic partner in Marion’s son, Mutt Williams as both the KGB and the FBI join in the chase. A dangerous trip to Peru and Brazil results in the rescue of Marion and Harold and the restoration of the precious, spooky skull to the Temple of Akator. Interdimensional beings say, “Thank you!” and flood the temple valley on departure.

Quite a year for Indy! But not quite all quiet yet. On October 18th, Indy says “I do” with Marion and discovers along the way that something he “did” nineteen years earlier has had a lasting effect. Spoiler alert! Mutt is his son. And someday, just maybe, Mutt will inherit his father’s “mantle” – a dusty fedora.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd/Paramount Pictures

July 15, 1957 – LA Times Publisher Norman Chandler on the Cover of Time Magazine

On July 15, 1957, Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.  The city, the man, and his paper were the subject of the lead story, “CITIES: The New World“.  Norman’s grandfather, Union Army Colonel Harrison Gray Otis, had arrived in Los Angeles in 1882, bought up a quarter-interest in the Times, served as its editor, and four years later bought the publication outright.  In 1886, the paper had a  circulation of about 2500.  By 1957, what had once been a small pueblo settlement on the Pacific Ocean had transformed into a 455-square-mile city of over 2 million inhabitants, with satellite communities covering 4853 square miles, three times the size of Rhode Island.  As of the date of the Time article, the LA Times circulation numbered 462, 257.

Harrison Otis’ tenure at the paper saw the arrival of two railroads and a population surge into the city.  Around the turn of the century, ambitious circulation boss Harry Chandler married Harrison’s daughter Marian.  Chandler took over the paper soon after and became a major driving force in the growth of the City of Angels.  He played a significant role (and enlarged his personal fortune by many millions of dollars) in the construction of an aqueduct to bring water and agricultural prosperity to the San Fernando Valley. Harry was also instrumental in establishing LA as the center of a $2.5 billion aircraft industry (Douglas, Lockheed, North American, Northrup), and had a hand in the development of the California Institute of Technology, the Memorial Coliseum, Union Station, and the Hoover Dam.

Norman Chandler, age 57 when the article was published, politically conservative, grew up on his family’s ranch north of LA and studied business at Stanford University.  He married Dorothy Buffum (“Buffie”, namesake of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), came back to work at the Times and then took over when Harry retired in 1941.  Norman and Buffie managed a multi-million dollar business empire which included paper manufacturing, real estate, securities, television, commercial printing, ranching, and oil.  They funded the construction of the Hollywood Palladium, the Los Angeles Music Center, and the restoration of the Hollywood Bowl.

“Today’s Los Angeles is too amorphous for one man to rule, one newspaper to command,” the article pronounced.  Republican Chandler and his paper nevertheless strongly backed California G.O.P. political candidates, including Vice President Richard M. Nixon.  “I think Dick Nixon would make one of the finest Presidents the U.S. has ever had, ” Chandler asserted.  “[California U.S. Senator] Bill Knowland is a fine man, but if they are both candidates for the G.O.P. nomination in 1960, Mr. Nixon will get the support of the Times.”

Image Credit: Time Magazine

July 14, 1957 – One Hundred Years of Architecture in America at the National Gallery of Art

 

On July 14, 1957, a National Gallery of Art exhibit celebrating the centennial of the American Institute of Architects, “One Hundred Years of Architecture in America“, came to a successful close.  Organized and directed by architectural historian Frederick Gutheim, the exhibit broke ground at the Gallery in several ways: its  first modern installation; first photographic exhibition; and first temporary exhibition.  The displays included ten giant illuminated color transparencies (some as large as 14 by 24 feet, courtesy of Eastman Kodak) of contemporary buildings, over 200 masonite panels mounted with historic photographs of 65 buildings, and a collection of architectural drawings  documenting the contribution of architects to the graphic arts.

An especially popular portion of the exhibit were 91 colorful embroidered and pieced panels depicting themes from biblical quotations about architecture.  Proposed for inclusion by California designer Charles Eames, the panels were created by Sisters Magdalene Mary and Mary Corita and their art classes at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles.  A catalog, 1857-1957: One Hundred Years of Architecture in America, by Frederick Gutheim, was published by Reinhold Publishing of New York.

The scenic Red Rocks Amphitheater, set amidst large rock slabs, was selected by the AIA to represent the state of Colorado at the exhibit.  Built in 1941 in Morrison, Colorado and designed by Denver architect Burnham Hoyt, the venue offers concert performers and goers nearly perfect acoustics.  The centennial exhibit also honored the work of Pasadena, California brothers and architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, famous for their Arts and Crafts esthetic and bungalow designs.  The National Historic Landmark David B. Gamble House in Pasadena, designed by the Greenes and constructed in 1908-1909,  is considered one of the finest examples of residential architecture in the United States.

Images Credit: American Institute of Architects; redrocksonline.com; visitpasadena.com

July 13, 1957 – Personal Premiere of Screenwriter/Director Cameron Crowe

Cameron CroweOn July 13, 1957, Oscar-winning screenwriter/director and wunderkind Cameron Crowe was born in Palm Springs, California.  The son of a real estate and phone service businessman dad, and teacher, activist and “all-around live wire” mother, Cameron went on to graduate from San Diego High School at age 15.  He became the youngest writer ever to contribute to Rolling Stone magazine, interviewing rock stars, bands and road crews while covering concert tours coast-to-coast.  Cameron went on to become a contributing editor and then associate editor of the magazine, before switching to writing and directing movies for Hollywood.

Crowe’s string of successful filmsSay Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, and Elizabethtown – followed his inital hit, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  After posing as high school student at Clairemont High School in San Diego ( at age 22, and “recapturing his lost senior year”), Cameron wrote a book titled, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story.  The movie version premiered a year later and became a surprise hit, launching the careers of previously little-known actors Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Anthony Edwards, and Oscar winners Nicholas Cage (appearing under his given name of Nicholas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, and Sean Penn.

In celebration of Crowe’s birthday, let’s follow the lead of Ridgemont’s reigning stoner-surfer dude, Jeff Spicoli, and order a pizza.  We can “learn about Cuba, and have some food.”

Jeff Spicoli Pizza

“There’s nothing wrong with a little feast on our time.”

Image Credit: Tony Lowe/PR Photos; Universal Pictures

July 12, 1957 – Castro Releases the Sierra Maestra Manifesto

Comandancia_de_la_Plata_Sierra_Maestra_Cuba_03_anagoria

Comandancia de la Plata Sierra Maestra – Castro’s rebel hideout in the Sierra Maestra mountains near Santo Domingo

On July 12, 1957, Castro issued the Sierra Maestra Manifesto, named for the mountain refuge of his M-26-7 front.  Countering the recommendations of The Manifesto of the Five created by a coalition of five other opposition groups hostile to Batista, Castro argued against negotiation or political compromise with the current regime.  He agreed that it was time for all opposition to Batista to unite; their disunity had been fostered and exploited by the regime’s tyranny and deceptions.  He stated clearly that, contrary to the assertions of the Manifesto of the Five, revolutionary violence would not lead to totalitarianism or revenge.  In fact, he asserted, there was no hope for honest elections if the rebels forces were taken out of the picture.

Castro maintained that the Sierra Maestra rebels wanted “free elections, a democratic regime, a constitutional government.  It is because they deprived us of those rights that we have fought since March 10.  We are here because we want them more than anyone else. . . .  We are fighting for the beautiful ideal of a free, democratic, and just Cuba.”  The manifesto spelled out eight points which included calls for: free elections; an impartial provisional government; Batista’s resignation; a unified civic-revolutionary front (all opposition parties working together); no international mediation in Cuba’s affairs; no military junta to rule Cuba; an apolitical military establishment; immediate freedom for political, civil, and military prisoners; freedom of information, the press, and guarantees of individual rights; suppression of embezzlement; creation of career civil service; free elections within labor unions; campaigns against illiteracy and civic rights education for all; agrarian reform; stabilization of the currency; and job creation.

Two points needed emphasis, Castro declared.  First, a provisional leader must be named who was capable of uniting Cuba behind the “ideal of freedom”, who would meet the conditions of “impartiality, integrity, capability, and decency” and, second, all civic organizations must back this leader to avoid partisan compromise and ensure “absolutely clean and impartial elections.”

Castro also maintained that revolution was not inevitable; the crisis in Cuba could be averted by following his manifesto’s agenda.  “We hope,” he concluded, “that our appeal will be heard and that a real solution will halt the spilling of Cuban blood and will bring an era of peace and freedom.”

Image Credit: Anagoria/Wikimedia Creative Commons

1957 Pantry – Try Tuna Salad

Hold the presses! On July 11, 1957, the Department of the Interior issued a release to food editors across the nation. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, whose mission is to “conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people,” want citizens from New York City to Newport Beach to . . . “Try Tuna Salad for Main Dish at Picnics.”

I I1957 Tuna Salad

I’m not sure how suggesting a picnic with tuna salad, using canned tuna, meets the Fish and Wildlife Service mission to conserve and protect our fish and wildlife?

But let’s leave that little puzzle and head to the beach! Pack up the plaid Skotch Kooler, the Pendleton blanket, the sand toys, and the transistor radio. Spread out the potato chips, buttered rolls, fruit, coffee and cupcakes. Build a driftwood fire, see the sun set, burn a few marshmallows, and watch the stars come out. It’s summertime . . . .

Image Credit: U.S. Department of the Interior Information Service