June 16, 1957 – American Broadcasting Airs “The Amateur Hour”

On June 16, 1957, Americans watching Sunday night television tuned in to ABC at 9:00 PM for “The Amateur Hour“, hosted by Ted Mack.  “The Amateur Hour” originated as a radio broadcast in 1934 and moved to television in 1948.  Each show began by spinning a wheel to determine the performance order of the guest talent. The voiceover phrase, “Round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows,” was part of the ritual.  Singers, musicians, jugglers, tap dancers, baton twirlers, and other acts would perform and the audience would vote by postcard or telephone for their favorites.  Winners appeared again on the next show and three-time winners were eligible for the annual championship, with scholarship money at stake.

A few contestants became quite famous: Frank Sinatra appeared with The Hoboken Four during the radio era; Pat Boone and Gladys Knight were discovered (although controversy surrounded Pat’s amateur status); and Ann-Margret (1958) and Irene Cara (1967) launched their careers from “The Amateur Hour.”

The show was remarkably long-lived.  Its last broadcast, episode number 1651, took place in September of 1970.

Image Credit: Kultur Video

June 15, 1957 – Record Rainfall in East St. Louis, Illinois

On June 15, 1957, a 16.54″ (42.01 cm) deluge of rain fell on East St. Louis, Illinois within a twelve-hour period.

A region of plentiful coal resources, East St. Louis grew quickly after the Civil War with industries such as mining, steel, and also meatpacking.  The population peaked in the 1950’s, when ensuing de-industrialization and factory closures ushered in a long period of decline.  The deterioration of the core urban area of East St. Louis was so severe that John Carpenter filmed his futuristic science fiction film Escape from New York on location there, using the blighted cityscape to represent a postapocalyptic Manhattan Island which had been converted to a maximum-security prison.

In the 50s, though, East St. Louis was evidently still bucolic enough for Ward Cleaver to flatteringly refer to his wife, June, as “the Belle of East St. Louis” in an episode of Leave it to Beaver.  Other notable (real) people connected with the city: Miles Davis, Jimmy Connors, Dawn Harper, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Al Joyner all were born there; and Ike and Tina Turner met at the Club Manhattan in 1956.  Illinois Senator and Democratic Minority Whip Richard Durban was also born and raised in East St. Louis.  At the time of the record-breaking deluge, Dick was 12 years old.

June 14, 1957 – Happy 11th Birthday, Donald Trump!

Donald Trump at Paul Onish Bar Mitzvah Age 12

Donald Trump, age 12 (second from left), attending a friend’s bar mitzvah.

On June 14, 1957, Donald John Trump of Queens, New York celebrated his eleventh birthday with his parents, Fred and Mary Anne, and his brothers and sisters, Maryanne, Fred Jr., Elizabeth, and Robert. Donald was a bright but somewhat troublesome student at Kew-Forest School in Jamaica, Queens. Little did he know it, but he was only two years away from shipping off to New York Military Academy, a private boarding school.

In his 1987 memoir co-written with Tony Schwartz , The Art of the Deal, Donald recounts one incident that contributed to his “troublesome” reputation. In second grade, he recalls, “I actually gave a teacher a black eye – I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled. I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way. The difference now is that I use my brain instead of my fists.”

Trumps’ military academy experience proved of great value. Academy teachers wouldn’t tolerate disrespect. Donald learned, as he expressed in his memoir, to channel his “aggression into achievement.”

Becoming our nation’s 45th president is quite an achievement.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Image Credit: Chuck Hadad/CNN

June 13, 1957 – Red Sox Immortal Ted Williams Blasts 3 More

Ted Williams

The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived

On June 13, 1957, at age 39 and three years from retirement, Boston Red Sox’s temperamental virtuoso left fielder Ted Williams set an AL record by hitting three home runs in a single game for the second time in the season.  His first three-home-run game had been played on May 8.  Ted spent his 21 year baseball career at Boston, 16 of those years in left field guarding the Green Monster.  Joe DiMaggio said of Williams that he was “the best pure hitter I ever saw.”

Ted’s 1957 batting average of 0.388 led the AL.  He was named the AL Most Valuable Player twice, and also won the Triple Crown twice.  Williams interrupted his career to serve as a Marine-commissioned Navy pilot during World War II and the Korean War.  He was quoted as saying, “The greatest team I played for was the Marine Corps.”

Image Credit: Ted Sande/AP

June 12, 1957 – Weightlifter Paul Anderson Sets World Backlift Record

On June 12, 1957, Georgia-born American hero Paul Anderson entered the Guinness Book of World Records with a backlift of 6270 lbs.  The 24-year-old strongman had already broken many United States and world records over his five-year career.  As a member of the 1955 United States Weightlifting team, he traveled behind the Iron Curtain to the Soviet Union.  At a meet in Gorki Park, St. Petersburg, he set three world records to the delight of the Cold War-era crowd.   Paul also won the Gold Medal in weightlifting at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Paul Anderson Wikimedia Commons

Record-breaking weightlifter Paul Anderson

The platform Paul used for his record-breaking backlift held the heaviest items he could find around his Toccoa, Georgia home, including a safe filled with weights and concrete totalling 2480 lbs.  The Guinness Book entry read:

“Greatest lift.  The greatest weight ever raised by a human being is 6,270 lbs. in a backlift (weight lifted off trestles) by 364-lb Paul Anderson (U.S.) (b. 1932), the 1956 Olympic heavyweight champion, at Toccoa, Georgia, on June 12, 1957.”

Paul made his life work the establishment and continued success of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia. An alternative to incarceration with adult criminals, the home offered troubled or homeless boys a second chance for a new life.  They received a good education and learned a strong work ethic.  Paul made over 500 public appearances a year in support of the home, giving weightlifting demonstrations and sharing with the crowds his Christian faith and love for America.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

June 11, 1957 – First Test of the Convair X-11

Convair X-11

Convair X-11 launch

On June 11, 1957, Convair conducted its first test of the Convair X-11.  A division of General Dynamics since 1953, Convair was famous for its B-36 strategic bomber, the largest land-based, piston-engined bomber in the world.  Convair also pioneered the delta-winged aircraft design used for the F-102 Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart interceptors, and the B-58 Hustler supersonic intercontinental nuclear bomber.

Convair’s first X-11 test was a static test.  The rocket was mounted on a stand and the engines fired in place – the first X-11 never left the ground.  Later X-11s in the series were launched successfully.

The X-11 went through several transformations before becoming the basis for the Atlas expendable launch system, which was incorporated as part of the Mariner space probes and the Mercury and Saturn program rockets.  Atlas descendants are currently in use as satellite launch vehicles for commercial and military applications  and for other space vehicles.

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force

Vintage 1957 – Illustrator Edna Eicke

Edna Eicke - Tom Funk - (c)The Estate of Edna Eicke

Illustrator Edna Eicke

1957 was a prolific year for Edna Eicke. The prestigious New Yorker magazine tapped the accomplished illustrator to create six covers for the weekly publication. Over the course of her career, Eicke’s illustrations would grace the magazine’s cover fifty-one times, spanning the years from 1945 to 1961.

Eicke was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1919. She graduated from Parsons School of Design with a degree in advertising and fashion and started her career sketching window displays for Sue William’s Display Studio in New York. After marrying fellow Display Studio staffer Tom Funk, Eicke started a family and a new career as a cover and interior illustrator for House and Garden, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Women’s Day, and many other magazines.

At first, Funk and Eicke lived in Greenwich Village. They were profiled by Life Magazine and photographs of their apartment appeared in House and Garden. They later moved to the artists’ enclave of Westport, Connecticut with their three children.

Eicke’s popular New Yorker covers usually depicted metropolitan landscapes and scenes from childhood. Games of hide and seek in the park, lights glowing from house windows at dusk, small ghosts going trick-or-treating, leaves changing color in autumn – how comforting these scenes must have been while the Cold War, Cuban unrest, and atomic weapon threat hovered in the background.

Prints of Eicke’s 1957 New Yorker covers – from January 19th, April 20th, June 8th, July 27th, August 24th, and December 14th – are still available from Conde Nast.

 

Portrait Image Credit: Tom Funk, the Estate of Edna Eicke
Illustrations Image Credit: The New Yorker