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Counterculture Timeline: Civil Rights Battles 1954-1959
Date   Context   Counterculture Events   The Arts   The Period
-- The generation --

NY &

Feb 3 - First innoculations for polio

May 8 - Dien Bien Phu: French defeat in Vietnam

June 27 - Guatemalan President Arbenz overthrown by military

July 21 - Geneva agreement divides Vietnam

December 2 - Senate censures Joe McCarthy

Concern in Europe & US about fallout & disposal of radioactive waste

Indian Relocation program sends Indians to the cities

Microchip & tv dinner invented

More than 200,000 join the Cub Scouts for the first time.

Thorazine invented - first major tranquilizer

Dr. Jonas Salk develops polio vaccine

  UK: "Teddy Boys"

April - Television covers Army-McCarthy hearings, with Edward R. Murrow; McCarthy is censured by Senate

May 17 - Brown v Board of Education of Topeka: Supreme Court strikes down `seperate but equal' doctrine, outlawing segregation in public schools

Oct - Eli Lilly Co? succeeds in artificially synthesizing LSD

Fender introduces Stratocaster guitar

Simon Rodia completes Watts Towers, Los Angeles

The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach is a center for jazz

Ginsberg moved to San Francisco and took a room around the corner from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights bookshop; he joined with Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Robert Duncan, Philip Whalen, and met Peter Orlovsky, who became his longtime companion.


Hank Ballard & the Midnighters: Work With Me Annie a closet hit
April - Bill Haley & the Comets: Rock Around the Clock released;
July 5 - Elvis Presley (19) re-records "That's All Right [Mama]" with Sam Phillips at Sun; July 7 - DJ plays it 14 times in a row on Memphi evening radio & gets 47 calls. Elvis is interviewed on radio & 7000 requests come in for the record, which is not yet out; July 10 - Elvis records "Blue Moon of Kentucky" as the flip side; July 19 released ---> hit.
August - Bill Haley and the Comets cover Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll" -- hit. September 23 - Elvis cuts record #2: "Good Rockin' Tonight"/"I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine".

July 3 - First Newport Jazz Festival
Leadbelly's songs first released on record
1950s mid Chuck Berry live shows

TV: Disney, Father Knows Best, Lassie

Marlon Brando (30) in On the Waterfront
Fellini (34): La Strada
Kurosawa (44): Seven Samurai

Franz Kafka: The Castle
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Tolkien: Lord of the Rings
Blackboard Jungle - Ed McBain (Evan Hunter)
Aldous Huxley: Doors of Perception
Helen & Scott Nearing: Living the Good Life

December - Fess Parker plays Davy Crockett on Disneyland television show --> 7 month sales boom in coonskin caps & other Crockett items


The US contains
6% of world's population, but
60% of cars,
58% of telephones, 45% of radios,
34% of railroads.

[Storming Heaven p.94 sez Baby Boom height 1954-1964
4 mill babies born / year]

[Utne #42 p 137 sez
Baby Boom 1946-1964
total 77 million]

Generations book

September 9 - Famous grating shot taken of Marilyn Monroe in New York City. Next day, friend notices bruises from fight that evening with husband Joe DiMaggio.

Silent generation (Artist)
born 1925-1942
continues to turn 20


1st & 2nd

  January 1 - U.S. begins training South Vietnamese army

Military 40 billion out of total U.S. budget of 62 billion

April 18 - Albert Einstein dies

First national marketing of McDonalds (by Ray Kroc at Des Plaines, Illinois)

Disneyland opens (Anaheim, California)

  Lawrence Ferlinghetti (2003): Caffe Trieste started after [we started City Lights Books]. And that was the first real European- style cafe. Tosca existed then, but Tosca had its famous cappuccino machine that makes cappuccino without coffee. Papa Gianni Giotta came from Trieste with his family. He was a poor fisherman, not in Trieste, in Ischia, and he started the Caffe Trieste in about '55. And that's where poets started hanging out. It's still pretty much the way it was. They're still singing Italian family opera on Saturday afternoons. . "


Jan 22 First "Poets' Follies", San Francisco

Mar 12 Charlie "Bird" Parker (34) dies (New York apartment of Baroness Rothschild "heart attack" - now say pneumonia)

April 29 - countries meet in Bandung, Indonesia to form the Non-Aligned Movement - beginning
of the non-aligned movement and the first step of Communist China into world affairs.


May - Davy Crockett song (Bill Hayes version) tops best seller charts; other versions also in Top Ten

spring - Kerouac: "Jazz of the Beat Generation" in New World Writing



June - Weavers reunion sells out Carnegie Hall, Vanguard releases lp record

June 29 - Gordon Wasson eats psilocybin mushrooms in Oaxaca

July - Ferlinghetti publishes first book of poems
(Pictures of the Gone World)

August - Pete Seeger called before HUAC, refuses to testify

August 28 - Emmet Till, 14, lynched, Money, Mississippi for wholf whistle at a white woman
August 31 - Emmet Till's body found in the Tallahassee River; body taken back to Chicago where he was raised and 600,000 came to funeral; Emmet Till was the second Negro boy killed in 16 days and the third since May 7

summer - Kerouac writes Mexico City Blues in Mexico City

  June 23 - folk/calypso singer Harry Belafonte (28) first time on television

June 29 - Bill Haley (29) & the Comets: Rock Around the Clock and Shake Rattle n Roll becomes No. 1 hit (for eight weeks) (released January 1 & plays behind the credits of the movie Blackboard Jungle) (Haley is a former hillbilly singer from Penn, cutting discs in the teenage idiom since `Rock The Join' 1952; inspired by Hank Williams (c&w) and Louis Jordan (r&b)

summer - Fats Domino: Ain't That a Shame #1 r&b charts, 11 weeks

Sometime in 1955 John Lennon (15) starts a skiffle group called The Quarrymen

  DJ Alan Freed moves to WINS, NY [The Rock 'n' Roll Years]
7 of 15 pop best sellers are rooted in r&b, produced
originally for the black music market
Little Richard first record;
Chuck Berry first record & hit : Maybelline

TV: 64,000 Dollar Question, Gunsmoke

The Blackboard Jungle (movie): links Rock Around the Clock with juvenile delinquency;
Comics also come under fire for causing juvenile delinquency

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden

Ingmar Bergman: Smiles of a Summer Night

John Lennon: In His Own Write (March)

Family of Man - exhibit & book (Edward Steichen
for Museum of Modern Art, NY)

Joseph Heller: Catch 22

J.P. Donleavy: Ginger Man

Mad Magazine starts

(The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit - Sloan Wilson)
    fall - Ginsberg (29) takes peyote, has vision of Moloch as America

fall - Kerouac (33) meets Gary Snyder (25) who has been studying Japanese and Zen Buddhism U.C. Berkeley in preparation for going to Japan as a Zen monk

fall - Anais Nin takes LSD as part of Oscar Janiger's studies (LA) [Diary Volume V pages 47-55 & Volume VI pages 55-66]

September 14 - Little Richard records Tutti Frutti

September 30 - James Dean dies in Porsche crash on Highway 101; East of Eden is out, but Rebel, Giant not yet released


October 13 - Ginsberg organizes poetry reading at Six Gallery, Fillmore Street, San Francisco (featuring also Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Kenneth Rexroth) and brings down the house by reading "Howl" publicly for the first time.

December 1 - Rosa Parks (43) is arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat.
Starts year-long Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott by 30-40,000 Negro riders (out of a Negro population of 50,000) (Dec 5, 1955 - Dec 21, 1956).
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 26, appointed leader

December 24 - Aldous Huxley (52) takes his first LSD

Milltown - first marketed sedative

Elvis Presley
Ken Kesey
Woody Allen

turn 20 - Silent generation Artist

  October - Mickey Mouse Club starts on television

October - Pat Boone's cover of Fats Domino's "Aint That a Shame" hits pop charts

November - RCA signs Elvis Presley (20) from Memphis and Carl Perkins (23) from Tennessee

The period described in Kerouac's Dharma Bums in Berkeley was circa 1955-1958


2nd &


Federal-Aid Highway Act: Congress authorized 41,000 miles of
interstate highways - really begins freeway suburbanization

February 1 - First class postage stamp price
raised from 3 to 4 cents

when? Khruschev's secret anti-Stalin speech / 20th Congress CP

fall- USSR invades Hungary

when? revolt in Poland

US Communist party membership drops to 5000 by the end of 1956
(from 60-80,000 during and after World War II,
and 43,000 as late as 1950)

International Geophysical Year (IGY)





1956 November - Eisenhower defeats Stevenson again


January 26 - MLK arrested for the first time

January 30 - MLK home bombed

February 1 - MLK's Montgomery Improvement Association files suit in federal court against Alabama for segregation of buses

February 4 - white student riot at University of Alabama against court-ordered admission of first Negro student

March 17 - Benefit concert to raise funds for Woody Guthrie in the hospital

when? The Cellar, a tiny club, opens on the former premises of a Chinese restaurant, 576 Green St.

May - Gary Snyder goes to study in Japan
(Kerouac and poet Robert Creeley were thrown out of The Cellar that night after returning from dockside, where they had bid adieu to poet Gary Snyder on his way to Japan. Kerouac asked Creeley if he would like to spend the night at Snyder's Mill Valley cabin and Creeley agreed, bringing with him Rexroth's wife, Marthe. Rexroth always mistakenly believed it was Kerouac who had spent the night with his wife, inciting Rexroth's lifelong antipathy for Kerouac.)

May 27 - Tallahassee bus boycott

June - Jack Kerouac starts job as fire lookout in the Cascades

summer - John Lennon meets Paul McCartney

July - Pete Seeger cited for contempt (for HUAC silence)

December 21 - end of Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott

when? First Committee? for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Aldermaston march, UK

1956?? Third Avenue El removed, opening up Cooper Square in New York's Greenwich Village

Abraham Maslow publishes first paper on peak experiences

"The year of the Teddy Boys" - UK

[Sometime in 1956 must be when the atom bomb ad was on television xx]

Richard Hamilton (Britain) does first painting later called 'Pop' - a collage "Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?" - shown in 1956 London show "This Is Tomorrow."


January - The Platters - black r&b group reach Top Ten pop chart with "Only You" and "The Great Pretender"; first time
white buyers prefer original to cover version by whites

February - U.K.: `Free Cinema': first of a series of programs
at the National Film Theatre
-> theatre renaissance (including `Look Back in Anger'
from John Osborne's book)

Feb 11 - Elvis Presley's first TV appearance (full length) on Dorsey Brothers Show, singing Heartbreak Hotel)
["Elvis's first tv was Mar 24" ]
April - "Elvis is a household word"
April 3 - Elvis on Milton Berle's TV show: Heartbreak Hotel & Elvis does screen test
Heartbreak Hotel goes to Top Twenty

Pat Boone also on charts with Little Richard's Tutti Frutti
& Bill Haley with "See You Later Alligator"
& Carl Perkins with own song "Blue Suede Shoes"

June 5 -Elvis on Milton Berle's tv show singing "Hound Dog";
causes commotion about his hip action

July 1 - Elvis on Steve Allen's tv show, in a tux

fall Brigette Bardot the rage in the U.S.
September 9 - Elvis on Ed Sullivan's tv show: Ready Teddy
November 15 - Elvis in movie "Love Me Tender"

John Osborne (UK): Look Back in Anger
William Whyte: The Organization Man
C. Wright Mills: The Power Elite
Franz Kafka: The Trial (posth.)
Aldous Huxley: Heaven & Hell


Percentage of white collar workers surpasses blue collar

"Rock and Roll" term officially used by whites first time - by Alan Freed, NY d.j.
Elvis: Heartbreak Hotel & Blue Suede Shoes & Don't Be Cruel with Hound Dog (5 gold records)
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
James Brown first record;
Little Richard: Tutti-Frutti & Long Tall Sally top r&b (not pop) charts;
Gene Vincent: Be-Bop-A-Lula (first?)
Belafonte: first album "Calypso"

TV: Price is Right

Fellini: Nights of Cabiria
France: Roger Vadim's first film: And God Created Woman - Brigitte Bardot (24)

(John Wayne, Agnes Moorehead, Susan Hayward shoot "The Conqueror" in Utah downwind of Yucca Flats, where 11 nuclear bombs were exploded in 1955 - By 1960, 90% of the 220 cast & crew had contracted cancer & 43 die of it)


3rd & 4th

  Influenza pandemic (new gene combination)

Largest amount of radioactive fallout ever measured descended on the United States from the highest kilotonnage of nuclear weapons ever detonated in Nevada from May to October. (more)

Strontium 90 detected in cow's milk around the US
(radioactive isotope which lodges in bone & causes cancer) [Egbert Pfeiffer - zoologist & anatomy professor at the University of North Dakota] [Records "lost" 1994]

Time magazine, March 11 -
"U.S. daily press reports have indicated that radioactive strontium 90 from the fallout of thermonuclear explosions is nothing to worry about. Japanese scientists do not agree."

Time magazine, May 6 -
"Talk about the perils of atomic radiation has swelled in volume and intensity ever since the U.S. and Russia fired their much-publicized H-bombs in 1954."


January? - Atlanta nonviolent (Negro) bus demo
January 10 - Bombings of four Montgomery churches & two Negro leaders' homes
January 10-11 - Southern Christian Leadership Conference founded by MLK & 60 other Negro church leaders meeting in Atlanta

In February 1957, poets Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti tried reciting their poems against the backdrop of a live jazz quartet downstairs at The Cellar, unintentionally creating the crucial archetype of the beatnik era. It earned notices in Time, Life and Down Beat magazines. Fantasy Records recorded an album of Ferlinghetti and Rexroth reading to a jazz trio, ``Poetry Readings at the Cellar.'' Jack Kerouac used The Cellar for a scene in his ``Desolation Angels.''

Hugh Romney (20) in Boston reads "The Cool, Cool Bards of 1957" in Time magazine, and decides to become poet named Wavy Gravy

"'Witless Madcaps' Come Home To Roost." Village Voice. (Feb. 13, 1957)(Dan Balaban) - (critique of Ginsburg and (what became the Beat) poets ???)

Kenneth Rexroth warns in the Nation that Ginsburg runs "the danger of turning into a popular entertainer — he affects an audience much as Louis Armstrong affects French bobby soxers."

Life, Sept. 9 (p. 105): Big Day for Bards at Bay;
Time, Dec. 2 (p. 71): Cool, Cool Bards

1957 - Poetry and jazz at The Cellar, 576 Green Street, San Francisco

1957 - Greenwich Village women wearing black dancer's tights instead of stockings

  1957 Wilhelm Reich book burning and he died, shortly after sent to jail for selling Orgone Box [WER #63 p 57]

1957 - The second issue of the Evergreen Review (No. 2) was a landmark - The San Francisco Scene: included the new Beat writers Jack Kerouac (October in the Railroad Earth), Allen Ginsberg (Howl), and poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as Ralph Gleason on the San Francisco Jazz Scene, Kenneth Rexroth's San Francisco Letter, and Henry Miller's Big Sur and the Good Life.

Editor Donald M. Allen "discovered" Richard Brautigan (24) and brought together the San Francisco Issue of Evergreen Review in 1957, linking up Ginsberg, Kerouac, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, James Broughton, William Everson [Brother Antoninus], Philip Lamantia, and me for the literary public eye. And it was Don who edited the major poetry-world shaker, The New American Poetry, in 1960. (Michael McClure 42)

when? The White Negro - Norman Mailer (Dissent magazine) (used `hipster' to describe the Beats)


Height of the Baby Boom - 4.3 million births

1957-1975 births fell by average 1.7% per year
[Wm Whyte

Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka: Diana, Fabian
Elvis: Jailhouse Rock, All Shook Up
Everly Brothers: Bye Bye Love & Wake Up Little Susie
+ At the Hop
Jerry Lee Lewis: Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On
& Great Balls of Fire
Buddy Holly first records: That'll Be The Day, Peggy Sue
(& w the Crickets on Ed Sullivan)
Sam Cooke first record
Chuck Berry: School Days [Rhino Catalog]

TV: Gunsmoke is US most-watched program; Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick, Perry Mason, Real McCoys,
Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963)

West Side Story (the play)

Bergman: The Seventh Seal, and Wild Strawberries
Becket's End Game plays in London

Arthur Frommer's first Europe On Five Dollars A Day

Miller: Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch

Vance Packard: The Hidden Persuaders
(manipulative advertising)

Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged

Tom Lehrer, out of the army, starts doing concerts, opening for singers i.e. Odetta or comedians Mort Sahl, Mike & Elaine (later Nichols & May)

Shelley Berman lands his first job as a comedian at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago

Why Johnny Can't Read - Rudolf Flesch - (1955) republished & becomes widely known

150 million dollars worth of Milltown tranquilizer used

Bag/Sack dresses ("mumus") (Hawaii fad)

  March 5 - British Gold Coast becomes Ghana, first independent nation of sub-Saharan Africa   March - Pete Seeger indicted for contempt of court (for HUAC silence)

May 17 - MLK leads Prayer Pilgrimage to Washington D.C. - 30,000 (Third anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education decision)

  March 25 - US Customs seizes second printing of Howl by City Lights, US District Attorney decides not to pursue, and
printing released
  May 15 - Britain explodes thermonuclear bomb in central Pacific   July - Account of Gordon Wasson's mushroom experience published in Life Magazine

August 29 - Civil Rights Act (first civil rights legislation since 1875) passed

  July - Alan Freed gets television rock and roll show

July 9 Elvis: Teddy Bear (classic) = huh?

August 8 - American Bandstand with Dick Clark (27) starts on national television

August - San Francisco Police Juvenile Dept raid City Lights & charge Ferlinghetti with obscenity for selling Howl [& trial ended - Charters p. 57]


Sept 29 - Explosion at nuclear weapons site near Chelyabinsk in Ural Mountains, USSR
(kept secret until 1989)

October 4 - Russians launch first satellite Sputnik;
US responds with
increased emphasis on science education in schools

October 7 - Nuclear accident (fire) at Windscale nuclear plant, England - first significant release of radioactive material from a reactor -
releases 600 times more radioactive radio-iodine
than Three Mile Island (covered up).

Atomic bomb air raid drills

  September 4 - Little Rock, Arkansas: nine Negro students try to attend Central High; Governor Orval Faubus orders National Guard to prevent them
September 25 - President Eisenhower sends Federal troops to Little Rock; they remain for the entire school term (?to May 1959??)

latter part of 1957- John Coltrane, member of the Miles Davis Quartet, does legendary gig with Thelonious Monk at New York's Five Spot.

Teamsters Union is expelled from AFL-CIO when Jimmy Hoffa refuses to expel criminals & union refuses to expel Hoffa


September - Kerouac's On The Road finally published (written 1950 - about the late 1940s) and stays 6 weeks on the bestseller list (almost titled The Beat Generation)

Kerouac refuses television series; instead Route 66 started

Herb Caen coins term "Beatnik" [Hettie Jones: "after Sputnik"]
Enrico Banducci:
"Herb Caen was sitting at an outside table at Enrico's and he saw some of these kids come by with these torn clothes. He said, "Look at them. They look beat. They're a bunch of beatniks." I laughed like hell. Then I saw it in his column"

September - Howl obscenity trial: ruled not obscene on October 3

October 17 - Elvis in movie "Jailhouse Rock"

  November - USSR launches second Sputnik, with dog inside

  SANE (Student National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy) founded (after newspaper ad about bomb tests in late 1957)

  Dec - Kerouac reads at the Village Vanguard  
- - The generation that grew up during World War II, then experienced the economic boom of the early 1950s,
the first boom in their and their parent's lifetimes, reaches their 20s- -


4th Detroit
& 5th Calif


Recession in US: almost 5.2 million unemployed

The recession of 1958 helped Democrats win a sweeping victory in the congressional elections, increasing their number in the Senate from 49 to 65, and giving them a stronger majority.

May V.P. Nixon motorcade booed in Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela

  when? 10,000 students join school desegregation march, Wash DC [Haydn p. 29]

March?? U.K.: Thousands march on Aldermaston nuclear base (first) (Direct Action Committee, Bertrand Russell)

May 11 - Last Poet's Follies, San Francisco (Club Fugazi, 678 Green)
spring - Partisan: The Know-Nothing Bohemians - Norman Podhoretz
May - Art D'Lugoff opens Village Gate on Bleeker St.
National attention on Beats, tour buses start touring North Beach

During the 1950s and 1960s, San Francisco's hungry i nightclub (546 Broadway) was the main breeding ground for rising comedy talent, including Mort Sahl, Jonathan Winters, Ronnie Schell, Jackie Vernon and Professor Irwin Corey; The Kingston Trio and The Limelighters + Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, Phyllis Diller, Maya Angelou, Bill Dana, John Sebastian and Carmen McRae.

The Beats movement spreads thru US and Europe
UK: Teddy Boys "die out"

First Montessori school opened in US (125 running by 1965) (concept introduced to US 1913) [Look}

  March 24 - Elvis (23) reports for army duty ("inducted")

July 2 - Elvis in movie "King Creole"

Everly Brothers: Hey Bird Dog, All I Have to Do is Dream
Chipmunks Song, Purple People-Eater, Lollipop, Tequila, To Know Him is to Love Him;
Elvis: Hard Headed Woman;
Coasters: Yakety Yak;
Jackie Wilson: Lonely Teardrops (first?);
James Brown: Try Me;
Chuck Berry: Johnny B. Goode;
Johnny Otis: Willie and the Hand-Jive;
Bobby Darin: Splish Splash (first?);
Stereophonic recordings come into use;
Phil Spector starts producing records (?= start of Motown?);
Kingston Trio: Tom Dooley;
Theodore Bikel Town Hall concert, NY;
John Coltrane: first album "Coltrane's Sound".

TV: Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Ugly American - William Lederer
John Kenneth Galbraith: The Affluent Society
Ferlinghetti: The Coney Island of the Mind
Kerouac: Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans
Paul Krassner starts publishing The Realist
Lorraine Hansberry: A Raisin in the Sun

Jasper Johns first show



hula hoops become popular & fad - 20 million sold

magazine articles on the Beats:
Nation Feb 23 159-
Sat Rev Aug 3 p10

Commentary Dec p475
Harper Jan p21
Newsweek Jan 13 p90
Time - June 9 p98
Lib J Je 15 p1850-
Nation - Nov1 p58
+ Mademoiselle, Evergreen Review,
Village Voice,
Playboy (Herbert Gold)


when? Fidel Castro begins "total war" against Batista govt, Cuba

when? VP Nixon, on tour of S.Am., recd w hostility;

sends troops to Caribbean

when? US artificial earth satellite Explorer I launched

when? USSR Sputnik III launched

when? US launches first moon rocket; fails moon but 79,000 mi xx

Synanon founded

John Birch Society founded

when? first jet service New York to Europe

  June - Paul Robeson finally gets a passport 8 years after it was taken from him, some said for being a Communist Party member?, allowing him to tour abroad again (explain xx)

September - MLK stabbed in Harlem department store

Alan Watts takes LSD (at Huxley's invitation)
(while doing his radio program)
---> LSD introduced to Ginsberg & Bohemia

October - Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and 20 others arrested in Birmingham, Alabama protesting bus segregation; Reverend William Holmes Borders launches boycott in Atlanta which ends segregated busing

when? Bayard Rustin organizes Youth March for Integrated Schools which sparks sit-ins in Oklahoma City and Wichita

5th & 6th

January 2 - Cuba: Batista's army defeated by Fidel Castro's guerillas

January 3 - Alaska becomes US 49th state

March - Uprising of Tibetans against the Chinese, Dalai Lama flees to India with others

May - US? sends two monkeys up in a rocket

when? Doyle, Dane, Bernback, Inc. Volkswagon US campaign started: "Think Small", "Some Shapes Are Hard To Improve On" (in 1953, 2000 had sold in the US; in 1959, 150,000)

China's "Great Leap Forward" (disastrous)

  UC Berkeley: SLATE wins end to racial discrimination in fraternities & sororities (under Brown vs. Board of Education)
March - SLATE holds forbidden rally to support Berkeley housing discrimination initiative

when? Wyatt Walker leads Richmond, Virginia CORE march of 2000 to protest school segregation;
April 29 - CORE lunch counter sit-in in Miami

spring: New York Post series "The Beat Generation" (check date xx)


February 3 - Buddy Holly (22) , The Big Bopper [J.P. Richardson, 29], & Richie Valens (17)
killed in plane crash near Mason City, Iowa (5 miles north of Clear Lake) --> rock music lull [+ Little Richard became a preacher, Chuck Berry arrested for statutory rape, and Gene Vincent left the US) (+ Elvis in the army, Jerry Lee Lewis in disrepute for marrying his 14-year-old cousin)

There Goes My Baby, Climb Every Mountain, Put Your Head on My Shoulder, A Teen-Ager in Love, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, My Favorite Things (Frankie Avalon: Venus, Paul Anka: Lonely Boy, Kansas City, The Coasters: Charlie Brown, Elvis: Big Hunk o' Love)
Bobby Darin: Dream Lover, Mack the Knife
The Twist becomes #1 record [must be wrong - see 1960]
Limelighters, The Brothers Four: Tom Dooley
More of Tom Lehrer, An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer
(& performing at San Francisco's hungry i, North Beach)

Smothers Brothers' first professional appearance at The Purple Onion, 140 Columbus in San Francisco (Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Maya Angelou, Phyllis Diller, the Kingston Trio also got started there.)

May 25 - Billie Holiday's last performance (44) [dies 1959]

spring: Joan Baez (18) attending Boston University; her first singing engagement was at the Gate of Horn, Chicago. She sang twice a week at Club 47 Mount Auburn for $20 a show.
Newport Folksong Festival: folks star Bob Gibson invites Joan Baez up to the stage from the audience to join him onstage, her first performance at Newport & the start of her professional career.


TV: Bonanza, Rawhide

Some Like It Hot (Marilyn Monroe)
Bergman: The Virgin Spring, Wild Strawberries
Fellini: La Dolce Vita

French New Wave cinema boom: 67 new directors make
first feature films
(24 in 1959, 43 in 1960) including Truffaut: The Four Hundred Blows,
Jean Luc Godard: Breathless,
Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais)

(Goldfinger with Ian Fleming)
Eugène Ionesco: Rhinoceros
A Raisin in the Sun (play)

Yves Saint Laurent's skirt hems at knees doesn't go

(Philip Roth: Goodbye, Columbus)
A Seperate Peace: John Knowles;
Common Sense & Nuclear Warfare - Bertrand Russell;
? Hawaii: James ?Michenor;
(The Manchurian Candidate - Richard Condon - about search for mind-control drug?);
Erving Goffman: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life;
Norman O. Brown: Life Against Death;
Saul Bellow: Henderson the Rain King

when? Carl Jung & his work get first widespread exposure on television

Joan Baez sings at Albert Grossman's Gate of Horn nightclub in Chicago, where she meets Bob Gibson as well as Odetta.

July - Khruschev visits the U.S.

August 21 - Hawaii becomes US 50th state

  June - "The sick humor of Lenny Bruce" (recorded 1958) released during an engagement at San Francisco's hungry i club ?? (he was 34)

when? Ken Kesey, majoring in writing at Stanford, living in Perry Lane, Palo Alto w Robert Stone + (Vic Lovell - who had introduced Alpert to marijuana) takes psilocybin, LSD, etc at Menlo Park Veterans Hospital (under CIA's MK-ULTRA program)

July - SCLC, CORE, and FOR sponsor first conference on non-violence, at Spelman College, Atlanta

  July 21 D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (written 1928) finally ruled not obscene & legal for publication in U.S. after U.S. Postmaster General tries to ban it from the mails

  when? USSR launches rocket w two monkeys aboard

when? US artificial planet Pioneer 4 at Woomera
when? USSR Lunik reaches moon; Lunik II photographs moon

when? President Eisenhower invokes Taft-Hartley Act to halt 116-day-old steelworkers' strike; longshoremen's strike halted same way

Eisenhower, in farewell address, warns of the military-industrial complex
? when was govts get our of the way for peace?

Thalidomide children (Better Living Through
Chemistry's first failure)

First Barbie dolls

  September 2 - Lucy Mae Jones (17) becomes the first black pupil at Durham High School, North Carolina after a ten-year legal battle to allow black children to attend white schools, in keeping with the 1954 US Supreme Court decision to end segregation in schools; 225 black children applied, 8 were accepted

September 26 - Highlander Folk School raided & closed down (Tennessee)

late - TV program on Elijah Muhammed's Nation of Islam draws first national attention to his Muslims

fall - U.C. Berk: protest over expulsion of student who had gone on a hunger strike to protest U.C. making ROTC compulsory

"several months before Feb. 1, 1960") Durham sit-in

October - Kerr Directives prohibit UC student governments from taking positions on "off campus" political issues; in response, SLATE sends letter to protest firing of professor at University of Illinois

San Francisco Mime Troupe founded

Nov 30 - Life magazine pans the Beats

September - Bob Zimmerman (18) enters University of Minnesota

William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (Paris publication)
Kerouac: Dr. Sax, Mexico City Blues, Maggie Cassidy
Lawrence Lipton: The Holy Barbarians


winter - Kerouac on Steve Allen television show

On to The Early Sixites: Folk Music and Idealism 1960-1963