Can it really have been 40 years?
The year started out big for football fans. This was when the major college bowl games were all played on Jan. 1. The Rose Bowl was a classic with Woody Hayes' #1 Ohio State Buckeyes defeating John McKay's #2 USC Trojans, 27-16. USC senior running back O. J. Simpson ran for 171 yards, but for naught.
It was a tumultuous year in world politics. The United States involvement in the Vietnam War was in its tenth year but had peaked the year before; 1969 actually saw the first U.S. troop withdrawals. North Vietnam president Ho Chi Minh died that year as did U.S. World War II hero and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The patriarch of the Kennedy family, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., also passed on in 1969. It was a year of beginnings too: Richard Nixon was inaugurated as president; Golda Meir became the first female prime minister of Israel; and Warren Burger was sworn in as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
On a lighter note, the top five movies for the year were certainly a mixed bag: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; The Love Bug; Midnight Cowboy; Easy Rider; and Hello, Dolly! The year saw the release of the last Warner Brothers "Looney Tunes" cartoon as well as the premier of several iconic television programs, The Brady Bunch, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Sesame Street.
That all-encompassing category of "Pop Culture" had no shortage of 1969 entries. It was a year of "firsts:" the Boeing 747 made its debut; the Stonewall Riots in NYC marked the beginning of the Gay Rights movement in the U.S.; the first ATM was installed in Rockville Centre, New York; retail giant Wal-Mart incorporated; Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy's; the Woodstock Festival was held in upstate New York; and the first message was sent over ARPANET, the early forerunner to today's internet. On a another computer-related note, Linux developer Linus Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland.
Speaking of music, 1969 was one of the most eventful of a generation. The Beatles were the most popular, creative, and successful rock band of the 1960s. This was the year of many milestones for them, not all of a positive nature as their tenure as the "fab four lads from Liverpool" faded away: they gave their last public performance in January on the roof of Apple Records; they recorded (and released) their last album as a group, Abbey Road; Paul McCartney married his "Lovely Linda" Eastman in London; and John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar, later conducting their "Bed-In" for peace in Montreal where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance," the first solo single released by a Beatle.
That brings us back to why we're here: The year 1969 saw the launch of four Apollo missions. NASA's year was ushered in on a high note, just days after Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders returned from the first-ever manned mission to the moon.
Chief Cataloguer and Historian