July 11, 1957 – Texas Boy Scouts Arrive for the 1957 National Jamboree

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Scouts arriving at the Valley Forge State Park for the Jamboree

On July 11, 1957, the Texas and Pacific Special, with eleven passenger coaches, two baggage cars, and one baggage dormitory car, arrived at Valley Forge State Park with 576 Texan Boy Scouts and their leaders for the 1957 National Scout Jamboree.  The excited group joined Scouts from across the nation – 52,580 in all – along with 30,000 visitors.  Valley Forge was transformed into a 25,000-tent city with a theater carved out of a hillside the size of Yankee Stadium.

On the way, the “TP Special” had stopped in Washington, DC for tours of the White House, the Capitol Building, the Washington and Jefferson memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, and Mount Vernon.  While in Valley Forge, the Scouts heard from Vice President Richard Nixon, watched fireworks displays, learned the history of Valley Forge, and were treated to an aerial show by the US Air Force Thunderbirds.  One day trip took them to New York City to see the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall, and the United Nations.  On another day they traveled to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Carpenter Hall (where the first Continental Congress met in 1774), the home of Betsy Ross, and the World War II U-boat-fighting submarine, USS Hake.

On the final night of the Jamboree, the story of Scout founder Braden Powell was told.  The stadium lights were turned off, and over 52,000 candles illuminated the memorable scene.  The Texas Scouts boarded their train for home, first stopping at Niagara Falls, then travelling through Canada to Detroit.  The Ford Motor Company played host to the group, giving them an exciting look at a huge factory assembly line – and a shiny new car produced in just minutes.  For many boys, it was the trip of a lifetime.

Image Credit: National Park Service

July 10, 1957 – Night at the Movies: “The Pride and the Passion”, or, “Loving You”?

On July 10, 1957, American filmgoers had two movie premiers to choose from: The Pride and the Passion, with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Sophia Loren; or Loving You, with Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, and Wendell Corey.

The Pride and the PassionThe Pride and the Passion, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, was an adaptation of The Gun, by C. S. Forester.  The setting is Spain during the war with Napoleon, and British Captain Anthony Trumbull (Cary Grant) is on a mission to transport an abandoned cannon to the British lines.  Spanish guerilla leader and hothead Miguel (Frank Sinatra) hates Trumbull but signs on to help, bringing along the sultry Sophia Loren, playing his mistress Juana.  Anthony and Miguel fight for Juana’s affections on screen. Off-screen, Grant was said to be participating in the film to avoid wife Betsy Drake and Sinatra only signed on to be near his wife, Ava Gardner, in Spain herself on the set of The Sun Also Rises.

Opening to mixed reviews, The Pride and the Passion grossed 8.75 million to become one of the twenty highest-grossing movies of 1957.  Two quotes from reviews: “The panoramic, long-range views of the marching and terribly burdened army, the painful fight to keep the gun mobile through ravine and over waterway – these are major pluses,” from Variety; and “overblown, empty, epic nonsense,” from Ephraim Katz of The Film Encyclopedia.

Loving You, which premiered in Memphis and was released nationwide on July 30th, was Elvis’ second movie.  He played truck driver and undiscovered singer Deke Rivers who is “found” and promoted by Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) who becomes his agent (essentially a female version of Colonel Parker).   Glenda sees a financial opportunity in signing Deke to open for her ex-husband Walter “Tex” Warner’s (Wendell Corey) down-and-out country band.  Deke becomes a singing sensation, especially with female members of the audiences, and finds himself attracted both to manipulative Glenda and to Tex’s young and innocent lead singer, Susan Jessup (Delores Hart).

Production on Loving You began January 21, 1957 and finished in early March.  Elvis had his naturally light brown hair dyed black for the film (inspiration: Tony Curtis) and, except during his military service and one brief period in the early sixties, he continued to color his hair for the rest of his life.  Director and screenwriter Hal Kantor spent research time at Presley’s “Louisiana Hayride” concert prior to filming what was orginally titled Lonesome Cowboy, then changed to Running Wild, and finally named Loving You after the song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Elvis to perform in the movie.  Cameo appearances by Elvis’ parents, Vernon and Gladys, as audience-members, and casting of several of Presley’s current band members added to the promotion value of equating fictional Deke and real-life Elvis.  Loving You eventually rose to #7 on the Variety National Box Office Survey.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Free Use; Paramount Pictures (imdb.com)

July 9, 1957 – The 24th All-Star Game at St. Louis, Missouri

On July 9, 1957, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at Sportman’s Park in St. Louis, Missouri, home of the National League St. Louis Cardinals.  Controversy surrounded the game as Cincinnati Reds’ fans stuffed the ballot box and sent all but one of their starting players to the 24th playing of the midseason exhibition game.  The Cincinnati Enquirer printed up pre-marked ballots for fans to send in; as a result, over half of the final vote tally originated from the Reds’ hometown.

New York Giant Willie Mays and Milwaukie Brave Hank Aaron were appointed by Commissioner Ford Frick to replace two Reds’ players.  Voting procedures changed as well – player selections were made by managers, players, and coaches until 1970, after which time fans were once again allowed to nominate their favorites.

Revenge was sweet as the American League team defeated the National League, 6-5, after an action-packed ninth inning which began with the AL team ahead 3-2.  In the top of the inning, a single,a  fumble, a sacrifice, another single and a double brought the score to 6-2 for the AL.  The NL followed with a walk, a triple, a wild pitch, a single and another walk, a strike out, another single, a runner out at third on a steal, and then a pinch hit caught in left-center. It wasn’t enough to overcome outstanding fielding by the American League stars, who were able to squeak out their second win in eight years.

The starting lineups:

American League
1. Harvey Kuenn, Tigers, SS
2. Nellie Fox, White Sox, 2B
3. Al Kaline, Tigers, RF
4. Mickey Mantle, Yankees, CF
5. Ted Williams, Red Sox, LF
6. Vic Wertz, Indians, 1B
7. Yogi Berra, Yankees, C
8. George Kell, Orioles, 3B
9. Jim Bunning, Tigers, P
Manager: Casey Stengel

National League
1. Johnny Temple, Reds, 2B
2. Hank Aaron, Braves, RF
3. Stan Musial, Cardinals, 1B
4. Willie Mays, Giants, CF
5. Ed Bailey, Reds, C
6. Frank Robinson, Reds, LF
7. Don Hoak, Reds, 3B
8. Roy McMillan, Reds, SS
9. Curt Simmons, Phillies, P
Manager: Walter Alston

Image Credit: Wikimedia Fair Use

Where Were They Then? – Wisconsin High School Class of 1957

Wisconsin Longitudinal Study LogoMortarboards off to the Wisconsin high school Class of 1957! Thousands of graduates from across the state have participated throughout their lives in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, filling out questionnaires and giving interviews. These proto-boomers, born mostly in 1939, have provided extensive insight into (take a deep breath), “the life course, intergenerational transfers and relationships, family functioning, physical and mental health and well-being, morbidity and mortality . . . . social background, youthful aspirations, schooling, military service, labor market experiences, family characteristics and events, social participation, psychological characteristics and retirement.”

Initial surveys undertaken by the University of Wisconsin to prepare for the boomer generation languished for five years in a basement. In 1962, astute sociologist William Sewell recognized the potential treasure trove of student data and followed up by phone and postcard. The life outcomes for the student cohort and their family members have been studied right up to the present.

What did the researchers find over the years? Interviews with the graduates, their spouses and family members in this highly successful and respected study shows that “so much of everything that happened to these people later in their lives really depended on whether they went to college after high school.” Most of them stayed put in Wisconsin, enjoyed long, happy marriages, parented two or more children, and maintained productive work lives. Men earned significantly more than women, on average, and virtually all had access to health insurance coverage. They consume alcohol a bit more than the national average, and tend to be overweight, but are enjoying generally good health. They have lived active lives and many have volunteered in their communities, most frequently with faith-based or political organizations. A drawback? They are a fairly homogenous sample – mostly white high-school graduates of European ancestry, with only a few persons of African-American, Hispanic, or Asian background included.

Investigators have been impressed with the willingness of the graduates to participate in this decades-long study. “A lot of people in the study understand what they’re doing is contributing to something bigger,” Pam Herd, a co-principal investigator states. “This will help out future generations,” confirms Gregory Schill,  Madison East High School Class of ’57.

Image Credit: University of Wisconsin

July 8, 1957 – Plan for New, Revolutionary Cuban Government Reported by New York Times

Eduardo Chibas

1948 Presidential election poster for candidate Eduardo Chibas

On July 8, 1957, an article by New York Times reporter R. Hart Phillips disclosed plans by Fidel Castro and other leaders opposed to President Fulgencio Batista to form a revolutionary Cuban regime.  The “Cuban Government Under Arms”, a name recalling Carlos Manuel de Cepedes’s 1868 struggle against Spanish rule, would be a coalition headed by Raul Chibas, brother of the late Eduardo Chibas, founder of the Partido Ortodoxo, of which Castro had been an early member.  The party had hoped to take control of Cuba’s corrupt government in 1952 elections, but Batista’s coup usurped power before the elections could be held.  At that time, the opposition splintered into various groups.  Announcement of the formation of a coalition government was welcome news to citizens hopeful for an end to Batista’s unpopular reign.

Emblema_del_Partido_Ortodoxo

Emblem of the Partido Ortodoxos

At this time, Castro and his forces were still in the mountains of Oriente, Cuba’s easternmost province, near Santiago de Cuba, which was a center of support for Castro’s M-26-7 .  Several opposition leaders, sons of earlier figures in Cuba’s resistance to Batista, were reported to have joined him there.  Formation of the new government was said to be dependent on an insurgent attack to secure Santiago.  Batista had been pouring troops into Santiago de Cuba for weeks.  The New York Times reporter believed “it is apparent that some dramatic move is in the works”.

Images Credit: ecured.cu

July 7, 1957 – Johnny Dollar, Radio Crime-Solver

Yours_Truly_Johnny_Dollar_BaileyOn July 7, 1957, Johnny Dollar, the “fabulous freelance insurance investigator with the action-packed expense account” solved the case of “The Felicity Feline Matter“.  Even after the advent of television, the fifties were still part of the golden age of radio dramas.  Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar was a classic detective series which began in January, 1949 and concluded its long run with a final broadcast on September 30, 1962.  Eight men voiced Johnny over the years, and Johnny No. 6, Bob Bailey (October 1955 – November 1960) is considered by radio crime aficionados to be the best.

Each case (almost always referred to as a “matter”) followed a standard format: Johnny received a call from an insurance executive asking him to investigate an unusual claim; Johnny traveled to a distant locale; Johnny solved the case while indulging in romance and threatened by danger.  Each story was told in flashback as Johnny reviewed his expense account; transportation, lodging, and food entries prompted the story development.  Incidentals occasionally popped up: “Item nine, 10 cents. Aspirin.  I needed them”, and “Two cents. What I felt like”.  At the conclusion of each episode, Johnny would calculate and submit the grand total.

The original Johnny was smart, tough, and a wisecracker.  He was the policeman’s friend, but didn’t necessarily follow the law.  He and his airwave competition – Richard Diamond, Philip Marlowe, and Sam Spade – were all fairly interchangeable.  When Yours Truly returned after a one-year hiatus in October 1955, Bob Bailey and his new writers (primarily Jack Johnstone, Robert Ryf, and Les Crutchfield) made Johnny more sensitive and thoughtful.  They experimented with five-part weekday serials, which allowed them to explore more detailed plots, then reverted to a half-hour weekly show.  In all, there were 811 episodes in Johnny’s 12-year run.  “Felicity Feline” was #544.

Image Credit: vintageradioclassics.com

July 6, 1957 – John Meets Paul

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St. Peter’s Church Hall, Liverpool

On July 6, 1957, the music world shook on its axis as John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at a Rose Queen Garden Fete at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton Parish, Liverpool.  Following two of the three Quarrymen’s skiffle sets that day – the first from the back of a moving flatbed truck, in a parade that included a Rose Queen float, Morris dancers, and Boy Scouts and Girl Guides; the second later in the afternoon from a stage in a field behind the church, with a Liverpool Police Dog display nearby – John’s friend and stand-in tea chest bassman Ivan Vaughan introduced the future immortal songwriting duo in the church hall before the Quarrymen’s third and final set.  Paul sang Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Rock Flight” for John, playing his right-hand guitar upside down.  McCartney stayed to watch the last set and, according to current Quarryman Rod Davis, was impressed with John’s ability to ad lib when he forgot the words to “Come Go With Me”.  Rod adds that John didn’t forget; they had never gotten the words right in the first place.  “We were still schoolkids and we didn’t have any money,” he explained, so they had to decipher lyrics as best they could and weren’t always able to figure them out.

Later that evening, Lennon and fellow-Quarryman Pete Shotton walked home together and John suggested inviting Paul to join the band.  Two weeks later, both Shotton and Vaughan talked with Paul, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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“In This Hall on 6th July 1957 John & Paul First Met: The Quarry Men featuring Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Rod Davies, John Lennon, Pete Shotton, and Len Garry performed on the afternoon of 6th July 1957 at St. Peter’s Church Fete. In the evening before their performance in this hall Ivan Vaughan, who sometimes played in the group, introduced his friend Paul McCartney to John Lennon. As John recalled . . . ‘that was the day, the day that I met Paul, that it started moving.'”

Image Credits: Sue Adair (CC-by-Sa/2.0); Kyle Taylor/flickr