Looking back to 1964

Fifty years ago – 1964. Can you remember that time?

The high school class of that year is considering having a reunion and many memories will be triggered.

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Following the comments in Our Past last week, and the reference to the school newspaper, we were asked why the paper was called “The Mike” and if it had something to do with the local radio station.

It actually had to do with the school name Lester Pearson. Mr. Pearson was, among other things, Prime Minister of Canada, and the new high school was named after him. “Mike” was his nickname and was used for many school functions, such as sports teams and the newspaper.

But what about 1964? What filled the pages of newspapers? The aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination in late 1963 still dominated the headlines, as did the Vietnam War and a huge earthquake in Alaska. The "Boston Strangler" was off the street, and Ford introduced the Mustang.

It was the time of the topless bathing suit and topless dancing was introduced in San Francisco. The Summer Olympics were in Tokyo and Cassius Clay, not yet Muhammad Ali, defeated Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight boxing title.

The United States came up with its “zipcode” for sorting letters and parcels in 1964, and Canada implemented a similar system about 10 years after that. For the first time, breakfasts might feature Maxim freeze-dried coffee (a big innovation), Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms cereal. Yes, Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms are 50 years old.

Things such as books, music and entertainment seem to prompt a lot of memories. Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Mediaand Eric Berne's Games People Play were very popular books and remain so all these years later. The novel Little Big Manwas widely read, and it too remains sought after.

At the movies 50 years ago, a great favourite with the class of ’64 would have been Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Zorba the Greek, and Topkapi. Musicals were big and Hollywood produced My Fair Lady and A Hard Day's Night, while Broadway featured Hello Dolly, Funny Girl, and Fiddler on the Roof.

And for musical memories there was Bob Dylan (It Ain't Me Babe), Roger Miller (King of the Road), the Beach Boys (I Get Around) along with, you guessed it, The Beatles with their many hits.

So there is a sample of memory triggers, things that really caught our attention, from 50 years ago.

Many are still close to us today. Interested in the possible reunion? Send us an email at ourpast@senseofhistory.com.

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