January 13, 2013

50 years of pop culture

We thought it could be a lot of fun — while 2013 is still just a few weeks old — to look back at the people and milestones that shaped the past 50 years in American pop culture.

Looking back on 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993 and 2003 through websites like and dredged up a lot of good, bad and just plain odd memories.


The most significant event in 1963 was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, which forever changed the history, innocence and direction of the United States and its people.

And the release of The Beatles’ first album in America, “Meet The Beatles,” with its smash singles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Please Please Me” and “I Saw Her Standing There,” ensured that popular music would never be the same.

The average new home cost $12,650 in 1963, gasoline was 29 cents a gallon, and a loaf of bread cost 22 cents.

Dr. Michael DeBakey completed the first successful surgery involving an artificial heart; the country’s first state lottery was held in New Hampshire; zip codes were used for the first time in the United States; Alcatraz, the dreaded prison off the coast of San Francisco known as “The Rock,” closed; and children took the polio vaccination in sugar cubes.

The country mourned four young African-American girls killed in a Ku Klux Klan bombing at a Baptist church in Alabama, and Americans were inspired by civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.

AT&T introduced the touch-tone phone; Edward Craven Walker invented the Lava Lamp; the country’s musical entertainment came from Roy Orbison, The Drifters and Buddy Holly. Films enjoyed at the movies were “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Cleopatra.”

“The Andy Griffith Show” charmed television audiences along with other programs such as “The Flintstones,” “Mr. Ed,” “The Avengers” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

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