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Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away
February 15, 2013 11:04 AM   Subscribe

50 Years Ago: The World in 1963 Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1963.
posted by Mezentian (52 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and the population of the world was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today.

Quite. I'm 44, born in '68, and cannot get my head around the fact that in my lifetime the population of the world has doubled. This doesn't seem possible. Doesn't seem to bother many other folk, tho'.
posted by Wordshore at 11:08 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you have a particularly weak stomach there is a high-res image (famous) of a self-immolating monk (image 26). It's otherwise mostly okay.
posted by Mezentian at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2013


Doesn't seem to bother many other folk, tho'.

It bothers me. But I've read Future Shock.
posted by Mezentian at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this 1963 demonstration at a segregated Baltimore amusement park probably is what inspired a similar scene in the original version of the movie Hairspray.
posted by jonp72 at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2013


If you have a particularly weak stomach, the 100th person self-immolated recently in Chinese-occupied Tibet.

It's fucking depressing that these problems have dragged on unsolved for 50 years.
posted by GuyZero at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2013


Man, this isn't helping my persistent daydream/nightmare that I'll be unexpectedly randomly teleported into the past at any moment.

Great pictures tho.
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on February 15, 2013


It's fucking depressing that these problems have dragged on unsolved for 50 years.

I just sent that link to a friend in e-mail.
I cannot imagine the pain and suffering of the monk in '63. That pic (from a different angle if I recall) was in my history book in high school but.... ick.
posted by Mezentian at 11:17 AM on February 15, 2013


"It's otherwise mostly okay."

I know what you're trying to say there, but I'm not sure I would ever call some pretty graphic images of blatant racism, the assassination of a President, images of our incursion into Viet Nam, and folks getting attacked by police dogs as "mostly okay".

It was a hell of an era... Every one of those images bring memories of sitting in front of our black and white TV set watching these events at the age of 15. I believe we were the first generation to be inundated with the graphics of our news like that, almost instantly (compared to our parents, not compared to our twitter/mefi/internet life now)..... sometimes it was a bit overwhelming.
posted by HuronBob at 11:18 AM on February 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought that JFK had killed the men's hat for daily wear but it looks like it must have taken a few years to die off as a mandatory accessory.
posted by octothorpe at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2013


It was a hell of an era...

Er, yeah. And then some.

Now off to read the slow-loading original link*, as well as others posted subsequently.
*Are you guys swamping it, or is it just one of those days?
posted by BlueHorse at 11:26 AM on February 15, 2013


Well, mostly okay to view.
These are bloodfree photos from the USA. Shocking, but not ick (monk aside).
People being mean doesn't raise any NSFW/NSFL flags for me but I am happy to add some tags if needed.
posted by Mezentian at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2013


I was born in 63. Not quite 50 yet, but this makes me feel old. It feels exactly like it used to when I was a kid looking at WWII pics, thinking how incredibly long ago that must have been.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:33 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's largely an American view of 1963 of ocurse, but what I'm missing is pictures of that winter, the worst in well, fifty years.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:36 AM on February 15, 2013


I turn 50 in April, and while I think I've seen all of these photos before, many of them are still shocking. Still, even with many ongoing struggles, I think America is a better place to live than it was 50 years ago. There is still much injustice and work to be done to end injustice, but we can look back at some of these scenes -- specifically the scenes of de facto and de jure segregation -- and see them as artifacts from an earlier time. And that's progress.

Interesting to take it back another 50 years to 1913 and see how radically things have changed in the last 100 years, not just the last 50.

Happy birthday, me! Maybe I'll live long enough to look back at this next half century in 2063 and marvel at how much further we've come. Now get those hoverboards off my lawn!
posted by mosk at 11:36 AM on February 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


doctor_n -- represent!
posted by mosk at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm 31, and it makes me feel old. I was closer to this when I was born than I was to 2013. Perhaps it's because I've been stuck in bed with the flu for most of this week, and so feel more than usual like time is just kind of bypassing me. I have mixed feelings -- things are better in so many ways, and I certainly don't long to be transported back to 1963, but it also feels like the farther these things move into the past, the more like ancient history they will become, and the more they'll be forgotten.

In rather less self-pitying news, Mrs Gloria Richardson is now my personal hero.
posted by kalimac at 11:39 AM on February 15, 2013


I am not sure if people are less horrible to each other today as back then.

And that makes me sad.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2013


i was ten years old then and it all seemed pretty normal to me.

Nowadays, "normal" seems a pretty meaningless concept.
posted by warbaby at 12:00 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I turned 8 in 1963. I remember seeing a lot of this. It was an amazing, wonderous, terrifying time.

I remember seeing a lot of things that probably would never bee shown on TV today -- Lee Harvey Oswald being murdered, live on TV, death and destruction in Vietnam, people in my part of the country being set upon by police dogs, blasted with fire hoses, beaten up. I remember Wallace standing in the scool house door "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" But I also saw people willing to risk their lives to make a difference, and actually achieving their goals. I saw us actually beginning to leave the planet and go into space. (I was a big SF fan, and found this very impressive.)
posted by pbrim at 12:04 PM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


A year older than HuronBob, I was 16 in 1963.

Sitting in German class in High School when the P.A. system reported Kennedy's assassination.

In the US Navy and in-country Vietnam in 1966.

Returned to the U.S. in 1968 to a changed country.

Yeah. It was a hell of an era.
posted by jgaiser at 12:08 PM on February 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was a lot for 6-year-old me to take in. So much so, I'm not sure I have gotten over it all.
posted by tommasz at 12:10 PM on February 15, 2013


Diane Sawyer, 17, America's Junior Miss of 1963, takes a few snapshots of New York's skyline on March 18, 1963.

This I did not know.
posted by three blind mice at 12:24 PM on February 15, 2013


I'll be 50 in August this year. My own earliest memories might be from 1966 or '67, but it seems to me that the changes to the world even in those three or four years were swift and profound. 1963 isn't really "The Fifties" or "The Sixties" as we think of them, but part of some interstice between those iconic eras where parts of the world seemed to blow up in people's faces with startling regularity.
posted by briank at 12:25 PM on February 15, 2013


I was 17 years old in the summer of 1963, just graduated from High School. I spent the summer that year without working in the fields to accumulate funds for the next year's school clothes. Instead I partied at Lake Millerton with my high-school sweetheart. My friends made plans for college. I decided to join the army. The men in my family have joined the Army. They fought in Europe and in the Pacific during WWII. Some of them served in Europe during the fifties, when they were concerned about Stalin's tanks and MRBM strikes. None of them were career soldiers. Military service was simply a rite of passage. In September, when the summer began to die away, I got my mother to co-sign my military enlistment contract: Airborne, Unassigned, to begin at Fort Ord, immediately.

I turned 18 in November, a week before the president was killed. My battalion was at bayonet training on that day. Training was suddenly suspended and the battalion was marched back to our barracks, where we were sent to our platoon bays to await instructions. We had no idea what was happening for about an hour, then our platoon sergeant called both bays into the lower deck of the barracks, and grimly announced to us that our president had been shot in the head. He told us to stay in the barracks until he came back with further news.

In the flurry of palpable silence that followed we generated whispery rumors that both scared and excited us: The Russians killed him. We were going to war. Of course, that wasn't the case, at least for the first part, and it would be almost two years before the going to war part would happen for me. In the meantime, the world turned upside down.
posted by mule98J at 12:30 PM on February 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Interesting to take it back another 50 years to 1913 and see how radically things have changed in the last 100 years, not just the last 50.

I love playing the "X was as far from now as it was from Y" game: the assassination of John F. Kennedy assassination is roughly as far from today as it was from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
posted by Etrigan at 12:34 PM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am not sure if people are less horrible to each other today as back then.

And that makes me sad.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:47 PM on February 15 [+] [!]


When I went at saw Everything Was Moving I had the rather obvious realisation that there was a large number of people actively or passively against civil rights in the 60s. Many of which are probably still alive. Being born in the UK (where race is more hushed over) in late 80s the thought that this kind of thing occurred in living memory is quite shocking.

I think this thought also makes a mockery of the idea sometimes espoused by the right that we should forget about race issue and move on. Really if you think about it the violence and repression suffered by minorities pre-civil rights was comparable in trauma and scale to a civil war.
posted by Erberus at 12:36 PM on February 15, 2013


Since many of the comments here sound fairly depressing, let me try to offer up a bit of cheer.
The first time I served in the army, our military was fully segregated--1947, many if not all the elite universities had quotas for Jews and no Blacks. Then when I got called back into the army, 1950, Truman had integrated the military, showing those in politics that integration was possible and worked. Soon, too, universities did away with visible quotas, though i suspect they exist in a more concealed way, and minorities not only began going to the universities, they also became professors and even presidents of once-quota driven colleges.

Yes. The JFK assassination came as a shock, but the, it was not long after, that we had the Viet Nam war, the sit ins, and the LSD, pot driven peace loving, bare breasted, long haired babes, in the 60s, memorable still for the Grateful Dead and on and on.

There is something then to be said for the Law of Compensation: whatever gets improved, better, also brings about a loss, a cost.
posted by Postroad at 12:41 PM on February 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


There is something then to be said for the Law of Compensation: whatever gets improved, better, also brings about a loss, a cost.

It seems like back then--and I'm 46 in May, not old enough to remember much past the early 1970s--the improvements we bargained for were idealistic, and these days the improvements seem largely materialistic. But I'm probably just being selective in what I believe happened and in what is happening now.

But, yes, the population doubling i my lifetime seems outrageous and foolhardy and something we knew about. But I know lots of educated people with three or more children, so what can you do?
posted by maxwelton at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


What strikes me about those photos is how similar that world is to today. Much more similar than 1963 was to 1913. If someone plopped you into 1963, you could probably navigate it pretty well.
posted by Longtime Listener at 1:05 PM on February 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am not sure if people are less horrible to each other today as back then.

Though we may despair about the racists and fatheads still in control of the Republican Party, the way in which racist and bigoted attitudes are alive and well amongst large parts of white society, even if they've learned they need to hide it better, there are no segregated lunch counters anymore, no southern governor willing to defy the federal government to defend them.

Heck, even South Africa isn't an apartheid state anymore.

Double heck, just look at how close the US is to getting gay marriage nation wide.

That is progress, that is something to celebrate even if we're still not living in a post-racial paradise.

And it's something that happened in less than a normal person's lifetime.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:08 PM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My parents, whose families left Gary, IN, during the great white flight of the 1950s, were married in Indiana in 1963. Less than a week later they moved to Texas and encountered segregated bathrooms/water fountains/waiting rooms. Their apartment was about a mile from downtown Dallas. My mom was very pregnant with my brother, and was at home watching a soap opera when she heard the sirens on November 22nd, and then Walter Cronkite broke into the broadcast.

I keep thinking about how they were there, for all of that, but how you wouldn't know it today. It was just another year in their (newlywed) lives, I guess, but it seems like such a remarkable year, looking back on it.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:12 PM on February 15, 2013


I was born at the very end of '63, and I remember my mother telling me at one point that she had hoped that I wouldn't be born until after the new year because of the Kennedy assassination. At the time, I thought that seemed uncharacteristically superstitious of her, but as I grew older I began to understand.
posted by gimli at 1:34 PM on February 15, 2013


Mentioned upthread was the observation that we were flooded with images such as those in the link, and later in the decade, even more death - every night - when we watched the News from Vietnam. Yes, different than our parents' lives (I grew up in the 50's and 60's).

But here is a difference in today's media consumption, kind of a commonplace, but worth remembering. In the USA there were just a few TV stations, so EVERYONE saw the Beatles that Sunday night (well, at least half the country, and you don't get audiences of 100 million at a time anymore), and everyone saw the white racists in the South, and everyone saw the firefights and bodybags in Vietnam, if not the many My Lais that went unreported in the press.
posted by kozad at 1:42 PM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is going to sound like a stupid question.
I know this yet Im going to ask it anyway.
So be nice.
How did the police dogs know to attack only black people?
Isnt it all scent-based for them? How would they know "bite these guys, but not these guys"?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:10 PM on February 15, 2013


How did the police dogs know to attack only black people?

Police dogs are trained to attack whoever their handlers tell them to. Also, black people were not alone in protesting for civil rights.
posted by caryatid at 2:18 PM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


. . . there is a high-res image (famous) of a self-immolating monk

. . . the 100th person self-immolated recently in Chinese-occupied Tibet.

It's fucking depressing that these problems have dragged on unsolved for 50 years.


Well, yes, but the one from 1963 is of Thich Quang Duc, in Saigon, protesting repression by the government of South Vietnam.

It was nothing to do with China or Tibet, but it did inspire a series of of self-immolations state-side, in protest of US involvement in Vietnam:
Herz
Morrison
LaPorte
Beaumont

A Brief History of Self-Immolation

= = =

we were flooded with images such as those in the link, and later in the decade, even more death - every night - when we watched the News from Vietnam.

Yes, at some point the Pentagon decided that the way to keep score in Vietnam was to actually keep score.

Every evening at dinner time, Walter Cronkite would report the daily box scores: numbers of Americans and ARVN killed and wounded; and estimated (faked) numbers of NVA and Cong killed, wounded, and captured.

The latter was always much greater than the former which presumably proved we were winning! We just needed to send in The Duke and Lt. Sulu Capt. Nim to finish 'em off.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:18 PM on February 15, 2013


Police dogs are trained to attack whoever their handlers tell them to.

Ah gotcha. Thanks. Like I said, dumb question, but I take responsibility for my own dumbth.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:21 PM on February 15, 2013


It was nothing to do with China or Tibet

Yeah, sorry, I knew that but it kind of came out wrong.
posted by GuyZero at 2:26 PM on February 15, 2013


Why is 1963 in black and white?
posted by dd42 at 2:56 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was born in '72, so this all has the nebulous feeling of distant history for me. However, it was not until I began dating my now-wife* that it really slammed home for me how recently all this madness over sitting at lunch counters and trying to attend universities and getting sprayed down with hoses in the middle of the street and blown up in churches really was.

The struggle that the people** involved in the Civil Rights Movement engaged themselves in was nothing short of heroic. Seeing pictures of them literally moves me to tears; the determination to be acknowledged as merely human, the resolve to participate and be included in the society of which they were already a part, the sheer force of will that it took to place themselves in front of an entire country organized against them and peacefully demand to be treated as peers. It is awe-inspiring and humbling, and I cannot even imagine being possessed of that kind of strength.

*She is black and I am white.
**Certainly, both black and white people were engaged in this struggle, but it's the pictures of black people that I find most affecting. They had more skin in the game, if you'll pardon the pun, and much more to lose if they failed.

posted by Pecinpah at 3:07 PM on February 15, 2013 [4 favorites]



Why is 1963 in black and white?

I believe it was because color film was still very expensive and hard to light.
posted by caryatid at 3:12 PM on February 15, 2013


I was 8 in 1963. It doesn't seem that long ago.
posted by rmmcclay at 7:02 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, backed up by The Policemen in Hats -- last show November 24, 1963

And here's the real photo, and here's the video.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:54 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how that image of Oswald getting shot didn't make the cut in this selection, absolutely an iconic photo of 1963.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:09 PM on February 15, 2013


Diane Sawyer, 17, America's Junior Miss of 1963, takes a few snapshots of New York's skyline on March 18, 1963.

Chilling. This is what I tuned into on September 11, 2001.

I was born at the very end of '63, and I remember my mother telling me at one point that she had hoped that I wouldn't be born until after the new year because of the Kennedy assassination.

I was in the womb, with a due date approaching Christmas. Instead, I was born November 30. My mother has always believed the trauma of the assassination caused my (slightly) premature birth.

How did the police dogs know to attack only black people?

Dogs are known to pick up even subtle social cues, and there are dogs who react to black visitors much more aggressively toward white visitors. It's training and socialization. It would be no surprise if police dogs used to chasing down black burglary suspects and black rape suspects and black murder suspects would be easily directed to attack black civil rights demonsrators.

absolutely an iconic photo of 1963

Because this is more interesting than a rote list of iconic photos. I have rarely, if ever, seen the image of LHO on the stretcher. Kudos to kokogiak.

I believe it was because color film was still very expensive and hard to light.

Actually it was primarily that newspapers were not printed in color, as far as I understand. Color film -- Kodachrome! -- was widely available and decades old but news photography had no use for it.
posted by dhartung at 12:40 AM on February 16, 2013


Why is 1963 in black and white?

Because my family didn't get a color TV until 1967. But that was okay since The Outer Limits was also B&W. (That's what mattered to me, in 1963.)
posted by Rash at 8:43 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That photo of Martin Luther King Jr, standing there with Ralph Abernathy and that cop -- it pretty much amazed me that he wasn't ten feet tall. I've never seen -- or noticed anyways -- an image of him standing around taller people. I did a search and found that he was 5'7". Here's a guy was 5'7" tall and he towers over any American that ever has been or likely will ever be.

I was almost ten the day that Kennedy got pegged. My teacher -- Mrs. De Leo, 3rd grade -- got called out of the room, into the hallway, she came back in crying, told us what had happened, we were sent home. That day was every bit as powerful a day as 9/11 and so were the days that followed. So if you experienced that shocky, jangly feeling at 9/11, and saw everyone slowed, awed, stunned, then you have a sense of what it was like November 22, 1963. Everything stopped, pretty much, in the US, and I suspect in much of the world, too. I've heard JFK's assassination referenced as the day that the US lost its innocence, and it's a valid statement I believe. It wasn't 1957 anymore.

The image of Dr. Michael Debakey installing that pump to help that persons heart -- Debakey and Dr. Denton Cooley were continually in the news with their astounding achievements, worked together for almost twenty years before there was some huge problem between them, it was like a high-society divorce there in Houston. And then it became like one superstar cardiologist vs the other, for decades, it would have surprised no one had there been artillery attacks back and forth, one cardiology department against the one in the hospital right across the street. I heard that both docs were a terror to work with or work for, little if any tolerance of anything less than everything you could possibly give. That photo took me right back, those two guys were in papers all 'round the country, and deserved to be, too.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:46 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, at some point the Pentagon decided that the way to keep score in Vietnam was to actually keep score.

"You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose and I will win." -- Ho Chi Minh
posted by kirkaracha at 9:54 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose and I will win." -- Ho Chi Minh

See Le Duan's "Letters to the South" (1965) : paraphrase...it will take about ten years, we'll have to kill about 38,000 Americans, and endure great sacrifices, before we win.
posted by mule98J at 10:22 AM on February 16, 2013


Great, great pictures, very moving. But hardly of the World in 1963
posted by mumimor at 10:29 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Longform Guide to 1968
posted by homunculus at 3:16 PM on February 16, 2013


Remembering 1960s Afghanistan, the photographs of Bill Podlich
posted by homunculus at 3:46 PM on February 20, 2013


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