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Updated: Apr 4, 2022


Food packaging

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Soviets build a wall dividing East and West Berlin

By Paula Green

John F. Kennedy was sworn in by Chief Justice Earl Warren as the 35th President of the United States on January 20, 1961. Kennedy, the youngest person to be elected president at the time, was also the first Catholic president. On April 17, U.S. Cuban Exiles and CIA mount an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro in an operation known as the Bay of Pigs.

Average: The average income was $5,315.00. Cost of a new home $12,500.00. The average cost of a new car is $2,850. Gasoline was 27 cents per gallon. A pound of bacon was 67 cents. A gallon of milk was 49 cents. A loaf of bread sold for 21 cents. A dozen of eggs cost 30 cents. The price of a first-class stamp was 4 cents. McDonald’s hamburger cost 15cents.

Firsts: Pampers introduced the first disposable diaper. The first rechargeable and cordless toothbrush hit the market. Fritos “corn chips” make their first appearance. The first Six Flags theme park opens in at Arlington Texas called “Six Flags Over Texas.” Wham-O launches the Slip N’ Slide.

U.S. Events: President Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps. Commander Alan Shephard Jr. becomes the first American in space in a suborbital flight aboard Mercury 3. The 23rd Amendment to the US Constitution grants the right to vote to citizens in the District of Columbia. Barbie gets a boyfriend when the Ken doll is introduced.

World News: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in space during a single-orbit flight. Soviet space probe Venera 1 becomes the first man-made vehicle to reach another planet when it arrives at Venus. Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann is tried in Israel and found guilty. OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is formally constituted.

Entertainment: Popular films – West Side Story, Breakfast at Tiffany, The Hustler, The Guns of Navarone, The Parent Trap, The Absent-Minded Professor, Blue Hawaii, 101 Dalmatians, The Misfits, El Cid, Splendor in the Grass, and Judgment at Nuremburg. Disney releases their first live action musical film, Babes In Toyland.

Television: debuts Dick Van Dyke, Hazel, and Car 54 Where Are You? Two medical dramas premiered Dr. Kildare on NBC and Ben Casey on ABC. Popular shows: Bullwinkle, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, and Top Cat. Shows that ended: This Is Your Life, You Bet Your Life and Bat Masterson.

Songs: Billboard Hits – Tossin and Turnin, Runaway, Blue Moon, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Take Good Care of My Baby, Runaround Sue, Quarter to Three, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Mother-In-Law, Please Mr. Postman, Let’s Twist Again, and Hit the Road Jack.

Publishing: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: Harper Lee wins for To Kill A Mockingbird, Henry Miller’s 1934 novel Tropic of Cancer is published legally in the U.S. for the first time. Popular books – The Agony and the Ecstasy, Catch-22, The Carpetbeggars, The Winter of Our Discontent, and Stranger in a Strange Land.

Sports: NFL Champs: Green Bay Packers, AFL Champs: Houston Oilers, World Series Champions: The New York Yankees, Stanley Cup Champs: Chicago Blackhawks, NBA Champions: Boston Celtics.

Politics: President: John F. Kennedy, Vice President: Lyndon B. Johnson. President Kennedy asks Congress for $531 million to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

Quotes: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

~ John F. Kennedy, inauguration speech

“Sorry Charlie. Starkist wants tuna that taste good, not tuna with good taste.”

~ Starkist Tuna ad

Today, all day I had the feeling a miracle would happen, I know now I was right.”

~Tony (Richard Beymer) from West Side Story




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