In Living Memory: The 1960s
Created | Updated Sep 14, 2010
This is a compendium of memories contributed by H2G2 researchers, in answer to the question What have you done or been part of or been there for?.
The intention was to collect first person stories relevant to global events and those from people's cultures, nations and countries.
This is part 2 of 3 (pre-1960s, 1960s and post-1960s) .
There will also be an article entitled Things We Remember for those snippets that didn't fit the description.
Part 2: 1960s Paradise In Parts?
The 1960s attracted most contributions, of course...
The last leg of a flight from Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) on a DC7, then a North Star, to Toronto, expected to take 36 hours.
Taking off one dark, cold February night from Montreal in a North Star 'plane (four props) heading for Halifax, I was looking out of the window at the stars and the receding lights of the city and the countryside below when the inboard port engine exploded.
Back then people didn't scream they way they would today and no jack-ass wannabe heroes tried to take over and save us all from certain death. The stewardess (oh they were pretty back then) just sighed and said, "Oh we're on fire. I guess we'll be heading back to Montreal".
Before we landed, the outboard starboard engine also burst into flames. But both fires had blown themselves out by the time we made a very smooth (and safe) landing on the snowy runway.
After a few hours of mumbling and grumbling in the lobby (there was very little overnight activity in airports in those days and no coffee) we were marched out to another plane at dawn and tried again.
We ran into snow before reaching Halifax and were forced to make a very slippery and scary landing in Moncton where we spent another day in upright plastic chairs until finally another plane was dispatched to take us the last 200 miles.
Once again we were unable to land in Halifax because of snowstorms and had to make an emergency landing at an old half-abandoned Royal Canadian Air Force base about halfway between the two cities' airports since both of those were closed. We sat on the plane for a few hours until the Air Force woke up and came on duty and found us sitting in front of their control tower, engines idling to keep us from freezing.
It took them quite some time to find a gangway tall enough to reach the (then modern and new) aircraft's doors. And then we were finally put into taxis, volunteer jeeps and assorted four by fours to fight through the blizzard to our various destinations in Nova Scotia.
Our cabby, a lady, actually got us within a half mile of our house before she got bogged down in the drifts. A total of four feet had fallen in three days and once off the barely ploughed main roads it was pretty much hopeless.
PS: One can drive the 1000km from Montreal to Halifax today in less than half the time that entire journey took.
Oh Canada, you used to be so much more fun when I was young.
1961 May 25To The Moon?
I remember the Kennedy speech about sending a man to the moon by the end of this decade and feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand up
1963 Nov 22The Shooting of JFK
Watching TV with my sister and a family friend on a Friday evening. The programme was 'Take your Pick' hosted by Michael Miles. Catch phrases were 'open the box' and 'take the money'.
The programme was interrupted to say the President J F Kennedy had been shot.
That was the only time my mother ever woke me up late at night.
She suddenly stood in my room, in tears: "They have shot Kennedy."
(My parents' first date was that day.)
I remember seeing the Kennedy announcement on TV and running out to tell mum who said "Don't be so wicked"
She did give me a huge hug and apologised when she found out it was real.
(The day after Kennedy's assassination, "Doctor Who" first aired.)...A Few Days Later...
In spite of seeing deaths on film, I cannot forget watching Jack Ruby on live TV shooting Lee Harvey Oswald.
We had been glued to the set since the assassination and the American networks were still covering it all 'live'.
1966 Jul 30
Dad stationed in Detmold in Germany (nicknamed Wetmold by Brit squaddies – the weather, you know). Siegfriedstrasse – British hovels on the right, our German hovels on the left.
I drew the short straw and had to run outside to get cigarettes for dad.
It was frightening – a ghost town. No people, no cars, nothing moving... silence hanging low in no man's land.
And suddenly a ROAR from behind every window. I nearly jumped out of my shoes.
Football finals, England vs Germany. The Wembley Goal.
1967 April - October
Expo '67, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
My father's catering company won the bid to feed the school trips to the Expo, we went before the fair opened to the general populace, I think it was in June 1967.
Buckie's USA pavilion and Habitat '67( a new type of housing). I believe that someone is restoring that complex. At the time it was so cool!
The exposure to all the world's/human different cultures was so amazing and blew my tiny little mind (I was thirteen living in Toronto -a very vanilla culture- at the time and was very impressed at the 'world of wonders' that we humans have.
My favourite time was when four of my new found friends and I decided to get lost - we went to La Ronde and tried out all the new rides.
The amazing thing, upon reflection, is that nobody seemed the least bit concerned that we went missing and when we rejoined our group, we somewhat sheepishly apologized .
1969 July 20
First Man On The Moon
Telling my young son "Remember this, it's living history"....Watchkeeping
Next day, buying every newspaper I could find (just the one copy of each!) and Miz Stress taking the front pages into work and photographing them (the price of avoiding discipline was copies for her bosses) and bringing the negatives home. We still have them... somewhere.
Ten years later, working (well, 'consulting') at the cape (Canaveral, that is), a week or so before the day, the local newspaper didn't reply to my offer of free copies...
A well known Swiss firm was confident, relying on NASA getting the job done, and on time... the very next morning after the landing, European newspapers had whole page advertisements about the first wristwatch on the moon.
The watch, a Speedmaster, cost too much for me back then. Had I been able to buy one, a serial number from that batch would buy me a nice small apartment nowadays (but I wouldn't sell).
Even the Russian cosmonauts were issued the Speedmaster, only they didn't want it mentioned.
I remember luggage being kept under a net at the back of the plane (propellers of course) during flights between Paris and the UK. As late as the early seventies if memory serves me correctly. (Was it Dan Air?)
Free bags containing colouring books and associated paraphernalia the first time I went to the States (I was twelve; my brother and sister were younger). We got to visit the cockpit!
Ah yes, visiting the cockpit... especially on long flights. Most kids and many 1st time fliers did in the 1960s. Soon, no one will be even able to believe that one.
Hearing a great noise from Muharraq airport (Bahrain) in the early mornings - TSR2 winding up, on its hot weather trials
I remember the Apollo project and Concorde finally taking to the sky.
Some years later I used to sit in Concorde in the hangar, on the flight deck eating my sandwiches for lunch - one of the bonuses of working for an airline then...
And then there was...
Can you believe that shirt collars were detachable within living memory?
- I remember when I was quite young asking my mum what blue-collared workers were ( as opposed to white-collared ones) She might have been ironing my fathers starched white collars at the time.
- Apparently my dad was white-collar, because he was the boss. Even his overalls were white for when he went onto the factory floor. The managers below him wore brown overalls and blue collars, the labourers wore no collars as far as I can remember, and maybe blue dungarees (?)
- I was promoted to Petty Officer. Those detachable things were a nightmare (but you could wear a shirt two days if very careful - and if you dared). Nylon shirts were a no-no (hairy chests showed through) until either Tee shirts came in or polyester appeared.
My Dads first car, a grey sit up and beg Ford Popular (registration 776 AMC - I'd love to know if that reg is still on a car anywhere...)...
I remember it being unable to climb a steep hill in (possibly) Lynmouth - we all had to get out while Dad drove it up to the top and then we had to walk up and get back in again!
Looking back, I still think the 60's were the best time to live, when everything was possible....
We were going to the stars, we were going to live on the moon and everyone would be flying at twice the speed of sound.
The music was groundbreaking and at least in my memory, there was a real "Warmth" in the world
Postwar grey skies were a thing of the past!
When daddy wasn't looking you wore a miniskirt and the pirate radio stations had fab music
... and don't forget hot pants
RodtheBrit with Various Contributors