I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they wish they could have lived in another era, with the 1800’s soundly winning the popularity vote.
I could not agree less. I was born in 1961 and, if I had the opportunity to live it over – and choose when I was born – I would choose the same day of the same month of the same year.
We live in an ever changing world, and it always merits looking back on the pivotal and life changing events of any given year. These are a few I found interesting about 1961.
- On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin – a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut – became the first human to orbit into outer space.
- In January 1961, Yogi the Bear – who was the first break-out character created by Hanna Barbera – landed his own show.
- On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States.
- Andy Griffith and Ron Howard were featured on the cover of the first TV Guide of the Year. The TV Guide sold for .15 cents an issue at the time.
- On May 5, 1961, the United States launched its first man in space – Alan Shepard – on the Freedom 7.
- On August 13, 1961, construction began of the Berlin Wall. The wall started to come down on November 9, 1989. Ironically, what took only 18 days to construct took a full 2 years to deconstruct.
- Mister Ed was first broadcast in October 1961.
- On October 1, 1961, Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hit his 61st home run in the last game of the season against the Boston Red Sox, beating the 34-year-old record held by Babe Ruth.
- On October 30, 1961, The Soviet Union detonated a 58-megaton yield hydrogen bomb, known as Tsar Bomba over Novava Zemlya. It remains the largest ever man-made explosion.
- On November 9, 1961 – Neil Armstrong – an American astronaut who would go on to become the first man on the moon before the end of the decade – recorded a world record speed in a rocket plane of 6,587 km/h flying an X-15.
- On November 10, 1961 – Joseph Heller published Catch-22.
Other notable firsts in 1961 include:
- Ken was introduced as the boyfriend of Barbie, who had made her own debut two years earlier.
- The first Six Flags theme park was opened in Arlington, Texas.
- Pampers – the first disposable diaper – was introduced.
- Amnesty International started in the United Kingdom.
- The first inflight movie was shown on TWA.
- The first electric toothbrush was produced by Squibb Co.
- Niagara Falls, Canada, started producing hydroelectric power.
In other trivia of 1961:
- John Diefenbaker was the Prime Minister of Canada.
- Elvis, Chubby Checker, Lawrence Welk, and the Shirelles topped the music charts.
- U.S. President Barack Obama, Michael J. Fox, Wayne Gretzky, and George Clooney were born.
And, on September 3, 1961, in the tiny town of Perth, New Brunswick, Canada, I made my official entrance into the world at 5:03 p.m.
All in all, I’d say 1961 was a pretty good year.