Where Were You in 1966?
I am fascinated by the 1960s, even though I was too young to personally remember much about the decade. It was a time of great change–politically, socially, really in every way. The world in 1969 had little resemblance to the world of 1960. So, let’s drop into the middle of the decade and see what was happening in 1966, fifty years ago this year. How much do you remember?!
Politics and National Events
On the political front, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson was in the middle of his term in office. The library has several books on Johnson, including the multi-volume work The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro. One of the most divisive political issues of the year was Vietnam War. If you want to learn more, check out Our Vietnam: The War, 1954-1975 by A.J. Langguth, or Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by the Associated Press.
One of the most exciting events of the 1960s was the “space race.” In July 1966, the Gemini 10 space mission was launched with astronauts Michael Collins and John Young, who performed two space walks and other experiments. For more on NASA and the Gemini missions, check out NASA: The Complete Illustrated History, by Michael H. Gorn.
Television and Movies
Now on to my favorite part of the 1960s–the culture! Are you a video fan? Some of 1966’s most popular movies and TV shows were:
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly–a spaghetti western tale of greed, revenge, and warfare, starring Clint Eastwood.
- Blow-up–a London photographer realizes he may have recorded evidence of a murder, starring Vanessa Redgrave.
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum–a comedy spoof of life in ancient Rome, starring Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers.
- Fahrenheit 451–based on Ray Bradbury’s novel set in a future time when books are forbidden and firemen burn books, starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner. One of my personal favorites!
- Popular TV shows of the year were: Star Trek (the original series debuted on September 8, 1966), Batman (A wonderful parody of the Batman comics, it starred Adam West and Burt Ward), Bonanza, Green Acres, Bewitched, and The Andy Griffith Show. Many of these TV shows are still shown in reruns today.
As for the music (my absolute favorite part of the 1960s!), we were listening to:
- Beach Boys–their Pet Sounds album was released in 1966, containing hits such as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Sloop John B.”
- The Monkees released their debut album, with the songs “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I Wanna Be Free.” The Monkees TV show also debuted in 1966.
- The Beatles’ Revolver album debuted in 1966 as well, containing “Eleanor Rigby” and “Good Day Sunshine.”
- Other popular songs of the year were “Cherish” by the Association, “96 Tears,” by ? and the Mysterians, “Monday, Monday,” by the Mamas & the Papas, “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” by Nancy Sinatra, “The Poor Side of Town,” by Johnny Rivers, and “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” by Sgt. Barry Sadler.
And now for some of the books published in 1966:
- The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
- Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
- Tai-Pan by James Clavell
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I remember reading this one in 9th grade English class.
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Third Girl by Agatha Christie
- Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
- The Comedians by Graham Greene
Or, if you’re interested in the 1960s in general, check out Tom Brokaw’s Boom!: Voices of the Sixties; Sixties People by Jane Stern; Time Life’s volume on Life: The ’60s; or the PBS documentary The Sixties: The Years That Shaped a Generation.
I hope you’re enjoyed this journey into the past. Now, check out one of these books, watch a movie, or listen to the music, and remember!
∼Vicky, Reference Librarian, Warrenton central library