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October 19, 2011 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Many of us weren't born yet, but those who were, see 1968 was a pivotal year in US history. The 1968 Exhibit. Everything you wanted to know about 1968 but were afraid to ask.
posted by Xurando (53 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
We were mired in an Asian land war, as I recall.
posted by Trurl at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2011


1968 images
posted by Xurando at 5:41 PM on October 19, 2011


If you dig it, you'd probably also like 1968: The Year That Rocked the World (though his book about salt is actually a better read).
posted by argonauta at 5:43 PM on October 19, 2011


I work in a bookstore, and in the history section there's a metric shitload of books with a year for the title (1968 among them) and a basic main idea that that particular year created the modern world or whatever. I've been thinking of rounding them up and making some kind of display.
posted by jonmc at 5:44 PM on October 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Every year the years that made the world.

It'll be right next to All The Things, How everything made the world.
posted by The Whelk at 5:51 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


kewl, more boomer circlejerking
posted by p3on at 5:52 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


kewl, more boomer circlejerking

So should we circlejerk over 2009 or 2010 instead, no thanks.
posted by Xurando at 5:56 PM on October 19, 2011


I won't have you bashing circle jerks good sir.
posted by The Whelk at 5:57 PM on October 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


1969 was where it was at. Moon landing, Woodstock, Stonewall, the first Led Zeppelin album and the last public performance by the Beatles.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:58 PM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking of rounding them up and making some kind of display.

Please, with shared photos of the same? Thank you.
posted by infini at 5:58 PM on October 19, 2011


I'll see. It may be a few weeks.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


1968 was a pivitol year in U.S. history, it was the year that brought us MikeMc. And really, what more could you possibly want from a year?
posted by MikeMc at 6:10 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


obviously, my birth was the most important event in the world, so 1968 is indeed the most important year in world history.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:11 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, two years later was.
posted by jonmc at 6:13 PM on October 19, 2011


No, two years later was.

IIRC the only important thing to happen in '70 was my using the potty chair...
posted by MikeMc at 6:15 PM on October 19, 2011


If it weren't for 1967 and 1969
1968 would've never turned out that way.
posted by Sailormom at 6:18 PM on October 19, 2011


Boomer? Not quite.
posted by pinky at 6:24 PM on October 19, 2011


1969 was where it was at.

No, seriously, 1967 has claims.

The spaghetti western came to the US. Ali refused military service. Castro seized all intellectual property in the name of the people. Che executed. Hair opens on Broadway. Johnson establishes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

And The Beatles put out a record too, I think.
posted by Trurl at 6:24 PM on October 19, 2011


At their age, I imagine the boomers are happy with any jerking they can get.
posted by crunchland at 6:27 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey! I wrote about this!

Some of what the museum has gathered for this exhibit is genuinely amazing, depending on your tastes. They have, for example, the actual Olympic torch from the summer Olympics. They have the actual uniform insignias worn by Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and Lieutenant Uhura from the original "Star Trek" television series, which, in my world, is a bit like finding a reliquary containing bones from St. Peter. There is a space helmet from our missions to the moon, which is a bit of a melancholic thing to see just now. In a year of enormous unrest, we nonetheless managed to strap some very brave men into eggshells of tin, put massive quantities of explosive fuel on their back, and somehow both blast them off into space and get them home safely.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:30 PM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


1968 was a great year, but I think 1969 was the best. 1968 was when I turned 13 and I remember almost all the events mentioned here. I started high school in 1969, the year of the lunar landing. A wonderful, exciting, very scary time! Frankly the last year or two remind me a lot of that time.
posted by pbrim at 6:32 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Baltimore 68: Riots and Rebirth
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:34 PM on October 19, 2011


1969 was where it was at. Moon landing, Woodstock, Stonewall, the first Led Zeppelin album and the last public performance by the Beatles.

Altamont, Manson family...
posted by Sys Rq at 6:35 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every year since has been an anti-climax. Take that, you pusillanimous gen-x'er, gen-y'ers, and millenials! The best you guys can come up with is a human microphone? Please. YOU MAKE ME SICK.
posted by crunchland at 6:35 PM on October 19, 2011


I wish I could visit this exhibit. When I was in high school I watched a series on PBS called, I think, "The Sixties," which went through the decade year by year. I had been suffering the woes of a neo-hippie in the Reagan era and was very much idealizing the 60s counterculture movement at the time, often wishing I had lived back then, when people weren't so "apathetic." But when we reached the end of the 1968 episode, which had sped through a series of horrible assassinations and chaotic demonstrations and lost souls and political collapse, I remember staring numbly as the credits rolled, and saying "the Sixties were a bloodbath."

"Yes, they were," my mom said. And all this was just looking at relatively impersonal national events, leaving aside that it's the same year my parents met, married, and concieved me all within a couple short months, because my father had received his orders for Vietnam, and was there before the spring.
posted by Miko at 6:37 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Bunny Ultramod's review:

Pretty much any single one might have your typical American nowadays seated at the side of the road, head buried in hands, shaking and sobbing.

Really great review!
posted by Miko at 6:39 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your favorite pivotal year sucks.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:41 PM on October 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


1969 was where it was at.

Well it's 1969 okay/War across the USA...
posted by Rangeboy at 6:43 PM on October 19, 2011


We were mired in an Asian land war, as I recall.

That makes it better than the 20s, when we were up against some Sicilians with death on the line.
posted by DU at 6:52 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is because everyone is watching Wonder Years on Netflix streaming.
posted by bleep at 6:54 PM on October 19, 2011


Everything you wanted to know about 1968 but were afraid to ask.

Dear 1968,

Is it true that the only song on the radio back then was Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth?" Follow up question: What exactly was "happening here?" Was what it was ever made clear?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 7:08 PM on October 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


1968 was pretty dern bad. I went off to college then with high hopes of escaping the last horrifying clutches of the early 60s, and watched everything fall apart instead. 1969 was even worse. I dropped out of college in 1970, and by 1973 was pretty darn near unemployable, with little short-term memory and only vestigial social skills. Peace signs and psychedelia were merely the media & marketing emblems of 1968, and a huge proportion of the population utterly hated anyone they suspected of flashing a peace sign or sporting tie-dye. It was a year of death, tumult, despair, interesting music, struggle, betrayal, upheaval, excitement, naivete, bad trips, and political skullduggery. And whenever I see retrospectives of 1968, all I can think is "They're getting it wrong," so I tend to avoid such things.
posted by Peach at 7:08 PM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


1968 has been retrospected a lot of times. Time magazine had an entire issue devoted to it in 1988. They did it again in 2008, only with a lot more included. Newsweek also devoted an entire issue to that year. NPR spent all of 2008 looking back at 1968. Even the BBC spent time in 2008 looking back at 1968.

It was quite a year. I was around for most of it, only just barely. Born on Elvis' and David Bowie's birthday in that year.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on October 19, 2011


Thank you jonmc

and am I the only 66?
posted by infini at 7:19 PM on October 19, 2011


Is it true that the only song on the radio back then was Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth?"

No. "Sky Pilot" was also on the radio, and was much-requested on AFVN, the US military radio station in Vietnam.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:33 PM on October 19, 2011


Joe Haldemann's novel 1968 is quite good.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:35 PM on October 19, 2011


We were mired in an Asian land war, as I recall.

We fell victim to one of the classic blunders--the most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:38 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and "For What It's Worth" was big in 1967; by'68, it had faded.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:38 PM on October 19, 2011


I was in the throes, of what I now see, as as a long period of mania. I was untouched by what was happening in the 60s, but when RFK was killed after King was killed, that was a pivot point for me, after which, even I knew, 1968 shook the ground.
posted by JohnR at 8:01 PM on October 19, 2011


Dear 1968,

Is it true that the only song on the radio back then was Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth?" Follow up question: What exactly was "happening here?" Was what it was ever made clear?

Dear PostIronyIsNotaMyth,

Thank you for your question! It is a popular misconception, but a misconception none the less, that "For What It's Worth" was the only song on the radio in 1968. Many other songs of varying styles were popular on both AM and FM popular radio in 1968. Why, who didn't love Bobby Goldsboro's haunting beautiful "Honey" or the inspirational moxie exhibited in Jeannie C. Reilly's "Harper Valley PTA"? Not to mention Richard Harris'...interesting rendition of "MacArthur Park". So, you see PostIronyIsNotaMyth 1968 was truly a multifaceted musical year!

Thanks for writing in!

1968

P.S.

"It" turned out to be Diverticulitis.
posted by MikeMc at 8:22 PM on October 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


This debate prompted me to dig up my list of notable stuff from the year I was born, more than a decade before you folks, 1955:

'55 introduced the world to Scrabble, the first ICBMs, the Salk Vaccine (approved for the public), the Montgomery Bus Boycott, The Warsaw Pact, Chicago's Mayor Daley (the first) elected, Disneyland, The Guinness Book of World Records, William F. Buckley's The National Review and Parkinson's Law.

The AFL and CIO merged, while GM became the first corporation to make a Billion Dollar profit.
Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald's franchise.
The Brooklyn Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Istanbul (not Constantinople) had a pogrom against the ethnic Greeks and Montreal had a riot over hockey star Maurice Richard.
President Eisenhower sent the first U.S. advisers to Vietnam and had a heart attack (7 months apart).
Winston Churchill and Juan Peron lost their jobs.
The Presbyterian Church began accepting women ministers.
'In God We Trust' was added to U.S. paper currency.

Debuting On TV in '55: The $64,000 Question, The Honeymooners, Peter Pan (the Broadway show, live), Gunsmoke, The Mickey Mouse Club, The Lawrence Welk Show, Captain Kangaroo, The Benny Hill Show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Johnny Carson's first network show (it flopped). Also the 100th commercial TV station started broadcasting.

Musically: "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets, "Maybelline" by Chuck Berry, "Love and Marriage (The Married With Children Theme)" by Frank Sinatra and "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford. But the biggest hit of the year with 10 weeks at #1: ""Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" by Perez Prado.

Born: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Nye, Penn Jillette, Rowan Atkinson, John Kricfalusi, Yo-Yo Ma, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Blanks, the guy who killed John Lennon, and a disproportionate number of famous actors and pop/rock stars. (And me.)
Died: Albert Einstein, Dale Carnegie, Shemp Howard, both Honus Wagner and Cy Young, Charlie Parker, James Dean and Emmett Till.

All years are eventful, but a year with Disneyland, The Warsaw Pact, Scrabble, "Rock Around the Clock", McDonalds and both Jobs and Gates AIN'T DIDDLEY. (Oh, yeah "Bo Diddley" by Bo Diddley was a hit that year too.) Sounds like a pivotal year to me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:42 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


August 1965: Voting Rights Act (civil rights), Watts Riots, Beatles Shea Stadium (first stadium rock concert), first major US ground battle in Vietnam. All occurred with about seven days of each other.
posted by stbalbach at 10:51 PM on October 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Australian National Gallery did a 1968-themed exhibition in 1995. Great poster, with Martin Sharp's painting of Hendrix. It's on my study wall, in fact, for reasons which wouldn't be hard to guess.
posted by rory at 2:55 AM on October 20, 2011


'68 just never seemed to end. It really did have the feeling of a year that just kept going.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:52 AM on October 20, 2011


Building on what onewellfoop and stbalbach said - I've always seen 1968-1969 as marking not the high point or most significant point but the endpoint of the era of great reforms and changes that occurred throughout the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s. 1969 was, in ol' Hunter's words, "that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

But then I'm not a Boomer, am not overly impressed by them and wasn't even born for another fifteen years or so, so perhaps a grain of salt is indicated.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:19 AM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Minnesota History Center has very good exhibits and programs. Their associated museums (Fort Snelling, Mill City Museum, et al.) are also quite awesome.

It's the one museum I visit every time I am in town, so I was distraught when they were shutdown this past summer during my visit. (They also have the best gift shops -- two!! -- in the Twin Cities.)

For the state's 150th birthday, they accepted suggestions of Things That Came From MN Which Are Awesome And/Or Historical, and the resulting exhibit (and bool, thankyouverymuch) are both informative and fun.

All hail the History Center! All hail the Minnesota Historical Society!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2011


There's a nice blog novel about the year, http://www.project1968.com/project-1968s-history-and.html .

Born in the very important year of 1967, me.
posted by doctornemo at 11:09 AM on October 20, 2011


1968 was a terrible year. I was just a kid but all my idealism was shattered by King's murder followed by Kennedy's assassination -- two heroes and beacons of hope gunned down in quick succession. And just in case any smoldering residual of hope remained, it was rapidly squelched by the brutality of the police riots at the Chicago Democratic convention and the election of Richard Nixon. It's hard to describe how horrifying and discouraging that all was. I don't know what Boomer circle jerkism anyone refers to -- short of the soundtrack, those were terrible days. No wonder we all did drugs.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:28 AM on October 20, 2011


'Strue. When MLK was killed, there was almost a race war in Vietnam (OK, almost another race war.) Guys I had been tight with were suddenly seeing me as The Man. Other units had violent conflicts. I believe there were riots at Long Binh Jail.

I was absolutely flabbergasted that Nixon was elected.

It was a really lousy year, and not just for me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2011


It's an 8-year old thread, but most links are still valid - it might be of interest in any review of 1968: Chicago 1968 - yippies, peace protests, police & Pigasus the pig.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:36 PM on October 20, 2011


Dad left for Vietnam.
MLK was killed in April.
I was born in May.
RFK was killed in June.
I wonder how much mom cried.
posted by Senator at 2:09 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Every year since has been an anti-climax. Take that, you pusillanimous gen-x'er, gen-y'ers, and millenials!

What crunchland said. 1968 was a year of heartbreak and crushed hope.

PS, music fans: 1968 was also the year that the White Album and Beggar's Banquet were released. Not to mention we fortunate few who got to hear some of the Basement Tapes on the original bootlegged reel-to-reel format that summer.
posted by y2karl at 10:49 AM on October 21, 2011


The Minnesota History Center has very good exhibits and programs.

Largely because they have one of the most talented visionary museum people in the country at the helm - Dan Spock. He's great to follow on Twitter if you're interested in all things museum. He's one of my constant inspirations about what museums can do to serve the public in a creative and widely accessible way.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on October 21, 2011


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