1950s

October 6, 1957 – Chrysler’s “Forward Look”

1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer. Photo: Motortrend

1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer

On October 6, 1957, Chrysler Corporation was busy rolling out its 1958 model year and promoting its successful “Forward Look” designs.  The “high-finned, flying-wedge” Look had helped Chrysler up its auto market share from 15% to nearly 21% and President Lester “Tex” Colbert would not be in a hurry to make significant changes.  Innovations were being made to the Look for 1958, however, and included a wrap-around-and-up “control tower” windshield, a rear-view mirror on the left front fender that could be remotely controlled from the dashboard, and a defroster to keep condensation off the rear window.

The advertising campaign for the Forward Look stressed six keys selling points:

  1. The rightness of style – the dart shape of motion: cuts steering corrections in cross-winds by as much as 20%!
  2. Wonderful Torsion-Aire Ride: suspension so right it prevents starting squat, braking dip, lean on curves.
  3. Pushbutton Torqueflite: control buttons for full control of automatic transmission with two extra buttons for muddy or snowy conditions, downhill engine braking, or flexibility in traffic or up steep hills
  4. Constant-Control Power Steering: works the right way – full-time, not part-time, takes the work out of steering, with a wonderful new “feel” of the road
  5. Total-Contact Braking: your toe does less, the brakes do more, quicker straight-line stops with up to 25% less pedal pressure, longer lining life
  6. Control Tower Windshields: see 50% better, windshield sweeps back into the roofline to let you see up as well as out, with safety glass, of course, and the “all outdoors” feeling comes true again in the roominess inside

The purple prose of this great advertising age continued: “But the rightness goes further!  In every great engineering achievement, in every fine detail of styling, in the total design and total value of these cars.  It’s simply a matter of giving you more for what you pay.  But don’t just look at a great ’58 of the ‘Forward Look’ – drive around and discover the rightness for yourself!”

Image Credit: Motortrend

October 5, 1957 – Surgeons Successfully Separate Conjoined Twins

 

Dr. C. Everett Koop teaching in a hospital in Japan, 1961. Photo: National Library of Medicine, The C. Everett Koop Papers

Dr. C. Everett Koop teaching in a hospital in Japan, 1961.

On October 5, 1957, a team of surgeons and assisting medical staff successfully separated 9-day-old conjoined twins girls Pamela and Patricia Schatz.  The dramatic operation – only the fourth such procedure in the United States after which both twins survived – was accomplished at Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital and lasted two hours and thirty-five minutes.  The fourteen-member team of medical experts included a urologist, a plastic surgeon, a neurosurgeon, two anesthetists, two doctors who gave blood transfusions to the twins, four nurses, two medical photographers (filming the surgery as a teaching and training resource), and lead surgeon (and future United States Surgeon General) Dr. C. Everett Koop, surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Hospital.

Pamela and Patricia were born joined together near the base of their spines.  Their surgery held a greater chance of success because they did not share any vital organs.   During the operation, the heart of the smaller twin, Patricia, stopped suddenly and Dr. Koop quickly made an incision in her chest and manually massaged her heart, while she received a transfusion of blood.  About six minutes later, Patricia’s heart started again and it became clear to attending physicians that she had been born with a congenital heart lesion.  She did not appear to suffer ill effects from her heart stoppage.  Dr. Koop explained to reporters that both Pamela and Patricia might need additional plastic surgery at their separation site.  When asked for the twins’ prognosis, Koop replied, “Fine, for the larger baby.  That of the smaller one depends completely on its heart, whose lesions would seem amenable to surgery later.”

The operation was reported by Philadelphia’s daily newspaper, the Inquirer, in an article which included background information about the history of other such conjoined twin surgeries in America.  The unnamed writer of the article explained, “Attempts surgically to separate Siamese [conjoined] twins have been confined largely to the last decade, when better anesthetics, more potent drugs, and new techniques combined to make such operations feasible.  Few of the attempts, however, have met with complete success.  Most of the twins involved – and there have been dozens of cases here and abroad in recent years – have died under surgery or lived only a few days afterward.  That was largely due to the fact that the twins shared one or more vital organs that could not be surgically divided.”

The professional expertise of Dr. Koop and his team at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital made it possible for Pamela and Patricia to survive and grow as separate individuals.  The followup surgery Koop mentioned for Patricia’s heart lesion became necessary before she was 10 years old.  Sadly, tragically, she died five days after undergoing the open-heart procedure.  Her autopsy could give no explanation for her death.

Image Credit: National Library of Medicine, The C. Everett Koop Papers

October 4, 1957 – Soviets Launch Sputnik 1

Sputnik 1

 

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union upped the ante in the Space Race with the successful launch of Sputnik 1, the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite.  Blasted through the atmosphere from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a two-stage R-7 rocket, Sputnik 1 was a 23-inch diameter, 184 pound, aluminum-magnesium-titanium sheathed sphere with two whip-like antennae.  Powered by silver-zinc batteries, it entered a low, elliptical orbit emitting a radio signal which could be received on Earth by both Soviet scientists and the curious (and highly-alarmed) American public.  Sputnik traveled 18,000 miles per hour, completing an Earth-orbit every 96 minutes.  Radio transmissions continued for 22 days, until transmitter batteries were exhausted.  The history-making satellite spent 3 months in orbit, traveling a total of 37 million miles, before burning up in atmospheric reentry on January 4, 1958.

While not able to conduct as many experiments as the Soviets had initially hoped, Sputnik was able to gather information during its three-month run concerning the density of the Earth’s upper atmosphere, radio-signal distribution in the ionosphere, and meteoroid detection by penetration of the satellite’s outer hull.

The successful launch of an artificial satellite was one of the primary goals of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), inaugurated on July 1, 1957.  The Soviets had first proposed developing such a satellite on May 27, 1954, and President Dwight Eisenhower announced on July 29, 1955 that the United States would send their own version of the technological achievement into space during the IGY.  But Sputnik took America and its government by surprise.  Americans now had to take Soviet scientific abilities much more seriously.  A sense of vulnerability to attack led to panic reactions by the public, as they listened in to Sputnik’s ominous “beep-beep” when it passed directly overhead.  The US government responded with renewed commitment to scientific and technological research, and military and educational program revamping and investment.  ICBMs, missile defense systems, and satellites were all placed on a developmental fast-track.  After several failed attempts, the United States’ first successful launch of its own artificial satellite, Explorer 1, occurred on January 31, 1958.

Numerous references to Sputnik in movies, television shows, and pop songs have made the term part of the American cultural landscape.  Replicas and models of the satellite can be found at the United Nations, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and the Science Museum in London.

Image Credit: NASA

October 3, 1957 – “Howl” Ruled Not Obscene

Beat Museum Poster

On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton W. Horn cleared “Howl“, Allen Ginsberg’s poetic paean to the Beat Generation, of obscenity charges.  Ginsberg and “Howl” publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books were out of the legal doghouse and, as far as the United States government was concerned, “Howl” was art, not pornography.  The buying public, however, may have begged to differ.

Ginsberg wrote “Howl” in 1955 and Ferlinghetti had featured it in a collected edition of Ginsberg’s work, published under the title, Howl and Other Poems.  Written in paratactic style, “Howl” chronicled Ginsberg’s life with other poets, radicals, jazz musicians, drug addicts, and psychiatric patients in thinly-veiled, almost hallucinatory language.  Paratactic form uses phrases which follow one on another without defined connection or relationship – something of stream-of-consciousness and with minimal authorial disclosure of pattern or meaning.  The content of “Howl” included Ginsberg’s rants on industrial civilization, glorification of peyote use, frank references both to heterosexuality and homosexuality, and proclamations that cultural nonconformists and drop-outs were the “best minds of my generation”.  Ginsberg cited poet William Carlos Williams and fellow Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac as his inspirations.

The poem began as a performance piece, debuting at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on October 7, 1955.  Ferlinghetti published “Howl” shortly thereafter.  The legal machinery leading to the obscenity trial was set in motion when 520 copies of the London-printed poem were seized by customs officials on March 25, 1957.  The American Civil Liberties Union supported Ferlinghetti’s trial defense, and details of the case and Judge Horn’s ruling that “Howl” was of “redeeming social importance” were widely publicized.  Articles appeared in both Time and Life magazines, and Jake Ehrlich, Ferlinghetti’s lead attorney, published an account of the trial, titled Howl of the Censor.

Ginsberg called “Howl” his experiment with the “long line”.  Each line of the poem was a single breath unit, “one physical-mental inspiration of thought contained in the elastic of a breath”.  He also referred to the lines as “built on bop – you might think of them as a bop refrain – chorus after chorus after chorus”.  The frequently-quoted opening lines read:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix;
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.”

Image Credit: Coloribus, Grey, San Francisco Ad Agency

October 2, 1957 – The 1957 World Series Begins

Milwaukee celebrates their David vs. Goliath win over the Yankees

On October 2, 1957, the National League Milwaukee Braves traveled to Gotham to meet the American League powerhouse and perennial favorite Yankees for Game 1 of the 1957 World Series.  The defending champion Yankees held the home field advantage over the Braves, runners-up to the Brooklyn Dodgers for the NL pennant the year before.  The Milwaukee roster featured outfielder Hank Aaron, third-baseman Eddie Mathews, outfielder Wes Covington, catcher Del Crandall, shortstop Johnny Logan, second-baseman Red Schoendienst, outfielder Bob Hazle, and pitchers Warren Spahn, Bob Buhl, and Lew Burdette.  New York sported giants of the baseball world: Mickey Mantle in the outfield, Yogi Berra behind the plate, Hank Bauer in the outfield, Tony Kubek in the outfield and on third base, Jerry Coleman on second base, Gil McDougald at shortstop, Enos Slaughter in the outfield, and pitchers Whitey Ford, Bob Turley, Don Larsen, and Tom Sturdivant.

The series went back and forth, with plenty of excitement for fans of the Fall Classic, taking the full seven games to determine the victors.  New York won Games 1, 3, and 6; the Braves took Games 2, 4, 5, and 7.  Milwaukee pitcher Lew Burdette (who had made his major league debut with the Yankees in 1950) was named Most Valuable Player.  Burdette posted wins in three games – 2, 5 and 7 – two of them shutouts (Games 5 and 7), and in all three he was on the mound for the complete game.  Asked about pitching in Game 7 after only two days’ rest, Lew quipped, “I’ll be all right.  In 1953, I once relieved in sixteen games out of twenty-two.  I’m bigger, stronger, and dumber now.”

Songstress Lucy Monroe. Photo: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

Songstress Lucy Monroe

The New York team sported a few big-name players who started every game –  and one member of the organization who is not so well-known.  Miss Lucy Monroe, the designated Yankees National Anthem Singer, sang “Oh Say Can You See” before every Yankee home game from 1945 until 1960.  Also the official soloist for the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lucy once estimated that she had risen to “the rocket’s red glare” over 5000 times in her singing career.  She sang at the New York World’s Fair, with the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia orchestras, and with the Chicago, St. Louis, and Metropolitan Opera companies.  Her soaring voice sold war bonds and inspired Presidents Roosevelt, Johnson, and Kennedy.  She offered her anthem rendition on the chilly platform for President Harry Truman’s inauguration, and at many, many other civic and patriotic gatherings.  After retiring in 1960 at the age of 54, she married New York lawyer Harold M. Weinberg one year later.  They enjoyed 16 years together before Lucy became a widow in 1977.  She died of cancer at her Manhattan home in 1987, at the age of 80.

Image Credits: Milwaukee County Historical Society; Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

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.

September 30, 1957 – Havana Gunfire Threatens Batista Loyalist

Members of Batista’s Servicio de Inteligencia Militar (SIM) security forces

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.

Image Credit: Jim Hale/Arlequin’s World