Important events in the year 1972 which changed the world, and still resonate today. In celebration of my first son Matthew Thomas Rector’s birthday…today.
President Nixon arrives at Beijing (Peking) February 20 with his national security adviser Henry A. Kissinger to confer with Chairman Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) and Premier Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lai), ending the U.S. hostility toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that has persisted since 1949.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover dies at Washington, D.C., May 2 at age 77. He directed the bureau for 48 years, being allowed to remain in office through special presidential dispensation despite rumors that he is a cross-dresser who holds power by keeping files on the indiscretions of leading politicians, including heads of state.
Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D. N.Y.) introduces a resolution May 9 calling for the impeachment of President Nixon following his decision to mine North Vietnamese harbors.
President Nixon arrives at Moscow May 22 and confers with Party Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in the first visit of a U.S. president to the Soviet Union since 1945…
Japan regains Okinawa May 15 after 27 years of U.S. occupation. Two U.S. hunters on Guam have discovered former Japanese Army soldier Shoichi Yokoi, 56, in January and marched him at gunpoint to a local police station. When U.S. troops took Guam in 1944, some Japanese soldiers committed suicide rather than surrender, but Yokoi and more than 1,000 others hid in the jungle; after his comrades were captured or died of starvation or disease, Yokoi lived in a cave for 27 years, surviving on fish, frogs, fruit, nuts, rats, shrimp, and snails. He is returned to Japan, given an audience with Emperor Hirohito, and marries, but while some Japanese hail him as a hero others regard his behavior as antiquated silliness.
U.S. planes bomb Haiphong and Hanoi April 16. The B-52 raids are the first on the big North Vietnamese cities since 1968 and heated debate on the resumption of bombing begins in the U.S. Senate April 19 as North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter jets attack U.S. destroyers that are shelling coastal positions.
The provincial capital Quang Tri falls to the North Vietnamese May 1, 80 U.S. advisers are evacuated, and South Vietnam’s Third Division flees to the South. Saigon relieves the commander of the division, who later claims to have resigned; more than 150,000 flee the imperial capital of Hue as deserters loot the city, engage in gunfights among themselves, and set fire to the marketplace; President Thieu visits Hue and gives military police authority to shoot looters and arsonists, communist forces surround Kontum and Pleiku, Saigon fails in efforts to reopen the supply route between the two beleaguered cities, and U.S. planes mine the approaches to Haiphong while intensifying raids on communist transport lines.
Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) proclaims herself a sovereign state in January with Mujibur Rahman, 51, as the new nation’s first prime minister.
Ceylon becomes a republic May 22 and changes her name to Sri Lanka.
India and Pakistan sign a treaty in July calling for peaceful negotiations over the issue of Kashmir. India continues her claim of sovereignty over the entire state, and it remains a source of contention.
Philippines president Ferdinand E. Marcos declares martial law September 21 in response to an alleged “communist rebellion”.
U.S. B-52s attack Hanoi for 12 days in December, dropping explosives that kill thousands and destroy almost everything except the North Vietnamese determination to survive.
Denmark’s Frederik IX dies at Copenhagen January 14 at age 72 after a 25-year reign. He is succeeded by his daughter, 31, who will reign as Margrethe II.
“Bloody Sunday” January 30 in Northern Ireland sees 13 Roman Catholics shot dead by British troops at Londonderry, where riots have followed a civil rights march conducted in defiance of a government ban. The Irish Republican Army calls a general strike January 31 to protest the shootings, and an estimated 25,000 demonstrators rally in protest at Dublin February 2, destroying the British Embassy by fire. Britain imposes direct rule over Northern Ireland March 30 after years of violence between Catholics and Protestants: 467 Northern Irish are killed in the course of the year.
Gunmen hired by Palestinian guerrillas shoot up Lod Airport near Tel Aviv May 30, killing 24 and wounding 76. Two of the gunmen are Japanese, two are killed by security guards, an Israeli court convicts Kozo Okamoto and sentences him July 17 to life imprisonment.
Egypt’s president Anwar el-Sadat abruptly expels 20,000 Soviet advisers in July and opens a secret line of communications with Washington, hoping that the United States might influence Israel to return occupied regions in return for Egyptian help in ridding the Middle East of Soviet involvement.
Uganda’s Idi Amin captures two British diplomats, bringing them to the Nile Mansions Hotel at Kampala for interrogation and torture as his killer squads begin a campaign of abduction, rape, and murder.
A U.S. Federal Election Campaign Act signed into law by President Nixon February 7 limits campaign spending in the media to 10¢ per person of voting age in the candidate’s constituency and requires that all campaign contributions be reported. Both parties but especially the Republicans receive millions in contributions before the new law takes effect April 7.
The U.S. Navy begins using F-14 fighter planes, designed in the 1960s and built by Grumman Corp. A successor to the F-4 Phantom II jet, the new plane is powered by two Pratt & Whitney or General Electric turbofan engines capable of generating 21,000 to 27,000 pounds of thrust with afterburning and can fly at twice the speed of sound at high altitudes. The radar-intercept officer seated behind the pilot can track up to 24 enemy aircraft at distances up to 195 miles while guiding long-range missiles to six of those enemy planes. Production of the F-14 will continue until 1992.
Gov. Wallace of Alabama campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination but is shot three times at Laurel, Md., May 15 by would-be assassin Arthur H. Bremer, 22, while addressing a crowd before a forthcoming primary election. Wallace’s spine is severed and he will be a paraplegic until his death in 1998; frustrated in an earlier attempt to assassinate President Nixon, Bremer is sentenced in June to a 63-year prison term for attempted murder.
The Watergate affair that will grow into the greatest constitutional crisis thus far in U.S. history has its beginnings at 2 o’clock in the morning of June 17 when District of Columbia police arrest five men inside Democratic Party national headquarters in Washington’s new Watergate apartment complex. Security guard Frank Wills, 24, has found a door taped open and alerted police, who seize Bernard L. Barker, 55, James W. McCord, 42, Eugenio R. Martinez, 48, Frank A. Sturgis (Fiorini), 47, and Virgilio R. Gonzalez, 46, with cameras and electronic surveillance equipment. President Nixon’s campaign manager John Mitchell states June 18 that they were not “operating either on our behalf or with our consent,” but Nixon’s office confirms June 19 that Barker met earlier in June with CIA official E. Howard Hunt, 53, who until March 29 had been acting as consultant to presidential counsel Charles W. Colson, 38. Nixon tells Colson June 20 that he is involved in a “dangerous job.” Hunt has earlier directed CIA activities against Cuba’s prime minister Fidel Castro, and three of the men arrested are Cubans, but the motive for their break-in and the source of their support remains a mystery. President Nixon meets June 23 with his chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and says, “The only way to solve this, and we’re set up beautifully to do it, is for us to have [Deputy CIA Director Vernon] Walters call [FBI Director Pat] Gray and say, ‘Stay the hell out of this . . . [The CIA] should call the FBI and say that, ‘We wish, for the good of the country, [that you] don’t [look] any further into this case.’ Period” (the secret White House taping system installed by Nixon records the conversation.)
Sen. George S. McGovern, 49, (S.D.) receives the Democratic nomination for the presidency at Miami Beach (Republican operatives have aborted the campaign of Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, 58, [Me.], who had led Nixon in opinion polls). McGovern selects Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, 42, (Mo.) as his running mate but switches to former Peace Corps director R. Sargent Shriver Jr., 56, when Eagleton turns out to have been treated for manic depression. “Peace is at hand” in Vietnam, says Henry A. Kissinger on the eve of election, and President Nixon wins reelection despite gossip about the Watergate break-in. McGovern carries only Massachusetts with its 17 electoral votes, Nixon receives 47 million votes, 521 electoral votes, to 29 million for McGovern in the most one-sided presidential election since 1936.
Barbara Jordan wins election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she will serve her Texas congressional district for three terms. She is the first black woman ever to be elected to Congress from a Southern state.
human rights, social justice
The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) receives enforcement powers in March and begins taking noncomplying companies to court. An EOC report says that America’s largest employer of women—American Telephone & Telegraph, its subsidiaries, and 24 operating companies nationwide—is also “without doubt the largest oppressor of women workers in the United States.” It will compel AT&T to give $38 million in back pay to women and minorities.
The U.S. Public Health Service terminates its 40-year-old “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” following publicity about what clearly was a racist program, although it began with good intentions at a time when syphilis was ravaging parts of the South in epidemic form. The study involved 600 poor Macon County, Ala., blacks, 399 of them with syphilis; told merely that they had “bad blood,” all received free meals, free medical exams, and burial insurance, but they were not offered penicillin when it became the standard treatment for syphilis in the mid-1940s, given no chance to quit the study, and allowed to go blind and insane without intervention.
The U.S. Senate votes 84 to 8 March 22 to submit an Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Rep. Martha Griffiths (née Wright), 60, (D. Mich.) is credited with having devised the strategy that got the proposed amendment out of committee. Hawaii is the first state to ratify; getting enough other states to join will prove difficult.
The Pink Panthers movement founded by Japanese pharmacist Misako Enoki, 33, will hold sit-ins and protest rallies and focus on women’s rights to abortion, equal hiring, equal pay, equitable property settlements and alimony, and easier access to contraceptive pills, which in Japan can be dispensed only as medicine, not as birth control aids, and only by doctors, most of whom are men. Members of the radical feminist group wear white military uniforms with pink helmets and will grow to number 4,000 (but see 1977).
President Nixon signs a bill January 5 authorizing a $5.5 billion 6-year program to develop a space-shuttle craft that will lift off as a rocket and return to earth as an airplane.
The unmanned U.S. spacecraft Pioneer 10 lifts off from Cape Kennedy March 2 on a 639-day, 620 million-mile journey past the planet Jupiter.
The Soviet space craft Venus 8 makes a soft landing on the planet Venus in March.
U.S. Apollo 16 astronauts Charles M. Duke Jr., Thomas K. Mattingly, and John W. Young blast off April 16 from Cape Kennedy on a flight of nearly 255 hours. Young and Duke spend a record 71 hours, 2 minutes on the surface of the moon beginning April 20 and return with 214 pounds of lunar soil and rock.
The Star of Sierra Leone discovered in Africa February 14 weighs 969.8 carats, making it the third largest gem-quality diamond ever found. Government troops and police guard the diamond fields in place of the white mercenaries who guarded them before independence in 1961, but illegal mining continues alongside the operations of international companies, whose diamonds are the chief source of the country’s foreign exchange and crucial to her economic development.
U.S. wages, prices, and profits remain controlled by Phase II economic measures; the savings rate in America is 7.6 percent.
Amendments to the Social Security Act of 1935 signed into law by President Nixon October 30 provide for increases in benefits geared to cost-of-living increases; a Supplemental Security income system (SSI) provides means-tested assistance for the elderly and disabled poor.
The National Welfare Rights Organization founded by Los Angeles “welfare mother” Johnnie Tillmon, 46, mobilizes people and resources to focus attention on the nation’s welfare system, whose multi-layered inequities are encouraging the real and fraudulent breakup of marriages when men cannot support their wives and children.
The United States enters the international money market July 19, selling German marks at decreasing prices in the first move since August of last year to shore up the dollar.
Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 1003.16 November 14, up 6.00 to cross the 1000 mark for the first time in history, but a front-page Wall Street Journal article says “little market significance” should be attached to it; the Dow climbs to 1036.27 December 11 but falls sharply December 18 at news of a breakdown in Vietnam peace talks. The market value of stocks held by America’s 66.7 million households totals $1 trillion (net assets of mutual funds total $59.8 billion), although the average household has a net worth of only $65,517 and the median household income is $9,129 per year (59 percent of households have two or more earners); gold prices for the year average $63.9 per troy ounce. The Dow closes December 29 at 1020.02, up from 890.20 at the end of 1971.
The Buffalo Creek flood disaster in West Virginia February 26 leaves 125 dead, 1,100 injured, and more than 4,000 homeless. The Department of the Interior warned state officials in 1967 that dams on Buffalo Creek and 29 others throughout West Virginia were unstable and dangerous. Gushing at an average of seven feet per second, the 15- to 20-foot wave of black water destroys town after town in its path, demolishing 502 houses and 42 mobile homes, damaging 943 others, wrecking 1,000 cars and trucks, and causing property damage estimated at $50 million. Most of the flood victims are coal miners and their families, the dead and missing will prove to include 42 children aged 16 or under, but Gov. Arch Moore bars journalists from the area to prevent what he calls “irresponsible reporting.” “The only real sad part,” he says, “is that the state of West Virginia has taken a terrible beating that is worst than the disaster.”
Mexican prospectors strike oil outside Villahermosa in May. The new Chiapas-Tabasco field will prove to be the largest in the Western Hemisphere, surpassing even the Venezuelan field in the Lake Maracaibo area. Mexico’s proven reserves will total 16.8 billion barrels by 1978, and the potential will be estimated at 120 billion.
Baghdad nationalizes Iraq Petroleum’s Kirkuk field June 1 (see 1927). The field produces 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day, it is the first key field to be seized by an Arab Persian Gulf nation, Iraq Petroleum threatens action against anyone who buys the oil, and by year’s end Iraq is producing only 660,000 barrels per day (Baghdad leaves Basrah Petroleum untouched), down from 1.9 million at the beginning of the year.
Nearly 30 percent of U.S. petroleum is imported, up from 20 percent in 1967.
The Globtik Tokyo launched in Japan is a $56 million 476,025-ton supertanker that dwarfs the 366,813-ton Nisseki Maru launched last year, raising the possibility of a “megaton tanker” with a capacity of a million tons. Indian entrepreneur Ravi Tikkoo, 40, founded Globtik Tankers with $2,500 in 1967 after 3 years of working at London as a middleman between ship owners and bankers.
Japan’s San-Yo Shin Kansen (New San-Yo Line) railroad opens in April to link Osaka with Okayama 103 miles to the south. Built to even higher standards than the 8-year-old Tokaido line, the new line can handle speeds of 155 miles per hour and is the first stage of a new expansion that will extend the wide-track railroad to Kyushu.
New York City transit fares rise January 5 to 35¢, up from 30¢ (see 1970; 1975).
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) that goes into service September 11 is the first new U.S. regional transit system in more than 50 years, but mechanical problems plague the sleek aluminum-bodied trains from the start. The automated system has been completed 3 years behind schedule and cost $1.6 billion instead of the projected $120 million. Its 71 miles of track link San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley with subway and elevated lines that extend to a score of smaller cities to the south and east, but some trains stall beneath the bay and accidents occur.
British motorcar producers turn out a record 1.92 million cars; by 1982 production will have fallen to less than half that number.
General Motors has sales of $30 billion, marketing 537,268 Chevrolet Impalas.
Authorities at New York’s Kennedy Airport begin random searches in February to discourage hijackers; the German government pays the hijackers of a jumbo jet $5 million February 25 to release the plane’s passengers; Israeli paratroopers disguised as maintenance workers end a 23-hour hijacking episode at Tel Aviv May 9 when they board a Sabena jet, kill two Arab males, and capture two women (five of the 100 passengers and crew are wounded); commercial pilots in more than 30 countries go on strike in mid-June to protest “skyjacking”; a hijacker parachutes out of an American Airlines plane over Indiana June 24 with $502,000 in ransom money; two British women aboard an El Al jet are injured August 16 when a last-minute gift received from an Arab acquaintance blows up; American and TWA announce August 29 that they will soon begin inspecting the luggage of all passengers before they board; Cuban hijackers take 31 hostages on a Southern Airways plane November 12 (the men are arrested at Havana, Premier Castro says they will be tried, and diplomatic moves begin to thwart such incidents).
British Airways orders five Concorde supersonic jets July 18; Air France orders four.
Singapore Airlines is created by a split-up of Malaysia-Singapore Airlines and begins promoting itself with a “Singapore Girl” to symbolize Asian hospitality, drawing criticism from feminists. Flight attendants wear skirts and blouses but in two years will switch to sarongs and sandals, helping the new carrier gain widespread recognition.
Intel introduces the 8008 microchip; it contains 3,500 transistors as compared to the 2,300 in last year’s 4004.
Texas Instruments develops the first commercially successful electronic pocket calculator.
The digital quartz watch Pulsar introduced by HMW is the first production-model digital wristwatch (see 1967). It sells for $2,100, but companies such as Fairchild, National Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments will soon be mass-producing the watches, researchers at RCA and Kent State University will develop digital watches with liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and within a few years such watches will be available at $20 and less as Japanese and other Asian manufacturers undersell the Swiss.
A human skull found in northern Kenya by Richard Leakey and Glynn Isaac allegedly dates the first humans to 2.5 million B.C. and opens a new controversy on the age of man (see 1959; 1975).
A new Surgeon General’s Report on smoking issued January 10 warns that nonsmokers exposed to cigarette smoke may suffer health hazards. Later evidence will show that carbon monoxide and other toxins in “sidestream” or “secondhand” smoke actually present greater perils to nonsmokers than to smokers, bringing new pressure to protect airline passengers (and flight attendants), office workers, and others from the minority whose cigarette smoke threatens their health and comfort.
Pacemakers for heart patients gain more enthusiasts through the development of long-lasting lithium batteries and a method to prevent leakage of bodily fluids into the devices . By the late 1980s there will be pacemakers that can sense the variable patterns of the heart’s electrical system and adjust to many body demands. Later models will weigh as little as half an ounce, automatically adjust for a slower heart rate at rest, and last for 5 to 20 years. By December 2001 an estimated 3 million people will be on pacemakers, from newborns to centenarians, and half will be Americans.
The United States stops requiring routine vaccinations of civilians against smallpox; the disease has been eradicated from Central America, Europe, and North America since the 1950s, it will be eradicated worldwide before 1980, but most countries will continue to require vaccinations until then.
Five Oxford colleges agree April 28 to break 750 years of tradition and admit women. Other Oxford colleges have had women students since the 1920s, and there have been women colleges at Oxford since the founding of Somerville in 1879.
Westminster School and other English public schools admit girls for the first time.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) files suit on behalf of black parents in Boston, charging that the city’s School Committee has discriminated against black children by creating a segregated school system (Tallulah Morgan v. James W. Hennigan).
Title IX of a higher education aid bill signed into law by President Nixon June 23 bans sex bias in athletics and other activities at all educational institutions receiving federal aid. Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 include one authorizing a Basic Educational Opportunity Grant Program based on a proposal by former University of California president Clark Kerr; it will be renamed the Pell Grant Program in honor of New York-born Sen. Claiborne (de Borda) Pell, 53 (D., R.I.), who has championed federal monetary aid to full- or part-time undergraduate students who exhibit financial need.
Federal Express is founded at Memphis by local millionaire Frederick W. Smith, 27, a Vietnam veteran whose father built the Greyhound bus system in the South. Smith has raised $72 million in venture capital—the largest such capital assemblage yet—to start an overnight delivery service with its own aircraft (14 French-built Falcon jets) and fleet of trucks. On its first night of operation next year it will deliver 16 packages. By the time it adds letter delivery in 1981 the company will be handling 100,000 parcels and letters nightly, a number that will grow to 1 million by 1989.
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward, 29, and Carl Bernstein, 28, begin to crack open the Watergate affair, working 12- to 18-hour days 7 days per week. Geneva, Ill.-born journalist Robert (Upshur) Woodward and his Washington-born colleague Bernstein have been on the paper’s police beat when called upon to cover the arraignment of five men arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s offices. Idaho-born deputy FBI director W. (William) Mark Felt, 59, tells them to “follow the money” (Felt’s identity will remain secret until the spring of 2005), and on August 1 they report a financial link between the Watergate break-in and the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CREEP); on September 16 they report that campaign finance chairman Maurice H. Stans, 64, and CREEP aides control a “secret fund”; on September 17 they report withdrawals from the fund by CREEP executive Jeb Stuart Magruder, 37, and his aide Herbert L. Porter; Bernstein phones Attorney General John N. Mitchell September 28 to say that his paper is about to publish a story on the June 17 break-in at the Watergate apartment complex and is told, “All that crap, you’re putting it in the paper? It’s all been denied. Katie Graham [Post publisher Katharine Graham, now 54] is gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published”; Woodward and Bernstein report September 29 that former attorney general Mitchell actually controls the “secret fund,” and their story October 10 begins, “FBI agents have established that the Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon’s reelection and directed by officials of the White House and the Committee for the Re-Election of the President.” White House spokesmen denounce the Post stories as “shabby journalism,” “mud-slinging,” “unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations,” and “a political effort by the Washington Post, well conceived and coordinated, to discredit this administration and individuals in it.” The Federal Communications Commission receives three license challenges in the next 3 months against Florida TV stations owned by the Post. Most other newspapers, magazines, and television networks give short shrift to the Watergate break-in story, dismissing it as a “caper.” The White House continues the intimidation of the press begun in 1969, but President Nixon has the support of 753 U.S. dailies in his bid for reelection; only 56 endorse McGovern.
Ms. magazine begins publication at New York in July with Pennsylvania-born Look veteran Patricia (Theresa) Carbine, 41, as publisher, feminist writer Gloria Steinem, now 38, as editor. A spring preview issue has carried a column headed “What’s a Ms.?” and answering it: “For more than 20 years, ‘Ms.’ has appeared in secretarial handbooks as the suggested form of address when a woman’s marital status is unknown, a sort of neutral combination of ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs.’ Now ‘Ms.’ is being adopted as a standard form of address by women who want to be recognized as individuals, rather than being identified by their relationship with a man. After all, if ‘Mr.’ is enough to identify ‘male,’ then ‘Ms.’ should be enough to identify ‘female!’ . . . The use of ‘Ms.’ isn’t meant to protect either the married or the unmarried woman from social pressure—only to signify a female human being. It’s symbolic and important. There’s a lot in a name”.
Money magazine begins publication in October with an initial circulation of 225,000. Time, Inc. has launched the personal finance monthly, whose circulation will grow to overtake those of Fortune, Forbes, and other financial magazines.
LIFE magazine suspends weekly publication December 29 after 36 years (it will continue as a monthly); more magazines shrink their formats to conform with new postal regulations.
Broadway-Hollywood columnist Walter Winchell dies at Los Angeles February 20 at age 74; gossip columnist Louella Parsons at Santa Monica December 9 at age 91 (her assistant, Dorothy Manners, now 69, has been writing the column since 1964).
Millionaire Howard R. Hughes gives a telephone interview in January disclaiming any knowledge of novelist Clifford M. Irving and the “autobiography” that McGraw-Hill has agreed to publish. The publisher has given a $600,000 advance against royalties, Irving’s wife has deposited it in the Zürich bank account she opened last year, Harold McGraw backs up Irving’s claims and produces manuscript pages annotated in Hughes’s handwriting, but McGraw-Hill announces February 10 that it has been the victim of a hoax. Edith Irving is indicted on charges of having represented herself as Helga Hughes; she and her husband will both serve prison terms in connection with the fraud.
Nonfiction: The Limits of Growth, A Report for The Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind by a team of MIT scientists using computer techniques developed by MIT systems engineer Jay Forrester, now 54. Projecting a grim future for highly polluted, overpopulated planet with its resources depleted, the book has sales of 9 million copies, revitalizes the environmental movement, but will fall into disrepute when its forecasts fail to materialize; The United States and the Origin of the Cold War, 1941-1947 by Texas-born Ohio University historian John Lewis Gaddis, 31; Cover-Up: The Army’s Secret Investigation of the Massacre at My Lai by Seymour M. Hersh, who is hired by the New York Times for its Washington bureau; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson, who has been global affairs correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine since 1970 and will continue as such until 1984; The Party’s Over: The Failure of Politics in America by Chicago Heights-born Washington Post reporter David S. (Salzer) Broder, 42; Nixon in the White House: The Frustration of Power by Robert D. Novak and Rowland Evans Jr.; The Fragile Blossom: Crisis and Change in Japan and Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Era by Zbigniew Brzezinski; Xenophon’s Socrates by Leo Strauss; The Mountain People by anthropologist Colin M. Turnbull; The Great Bridge by Pittsburgh-born author David McCullough, 39, is a history of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge; The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking (initially The Cordon Bleu Guide to Lovemaking) by English physician-poet-novelist-pacifist Alex Comfort, 52, who condemns the prudery of “squares” and offers advice on “how to treat a partner who is hip for discipline”; Women and Madness and Wonder Woman by Brooklyn-born New York psychiatrist Phyllis Chesler, 31; “Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers” (pamphlet) by Butte, Mont.-born writer Barbara Ehrenreich (née Alexander), 31, and Washington, D.C.-born film maker Deirdre English, 24; The Foxfire Book by Georgia schoolteacher Eliot Wigginston, 28, who has enlisted the help of his students at the Raburn Gap-Nachoche School to record with camera and tape recorder the traditions, crafts, and folklore of Appalachia.
August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino; Manticore by Robertson Davies; The Sunlight Dialogues by John Gardner; Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed; The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty (her most autobiographical novel); The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally, 37; The Persian Boy by Mary Renault; The Needle’s Eye by Margaret Drabble, who divorces the father of her three children; An Accidental Man by Iris Murdoch; The Friends of Eddie Coyle by Boston journalist-novelist George V. Higgins, 33; How She Died by New York-born novelist Helen Yglesias (née Bassine), 57; Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York by New York-born TV comedy writer-novelist Gail Parent (née Kostner), 32; The Flame and the Flower by Louisiana-born novelist Kathleen (Erin) Woodiwiss (née Wingrove), 33, pioneers the bodice-ripping erotic historical novel; Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen by Cleveland-born novelist Alix Kates Shulman, 40; The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton; The Exorcist by New York-born novelist William P. (Peter) Blatty, 44; The Osterman Weekend by Robert Ludlum; The Day of the Jackal by English novelist Frederick Forsyth, 34. Watership Down by English novelist Richard (George) Adams, 52, whose subjects are rabbits; The Chocolate War by Leominister, Mass., author Robert (Edmund) Cormier, 47.
The Polaroid SX-70 system unveiled in April produces a color print that develops outside the camera while the photographer watches.
The film-less electronic camera patented by Texas Instruments is the first of its kind and will lead to digital cameras for civilian use. The National Space and Aeronautics Agency (NASA) converted in the 1960s from analog to digital signals in its space probes, and the U.S. Government’s spy satellites have been using digital imaging.
Vietnamese Associated Press photographer Hyunh Cong “Nick” Ut, 21, captures an image of 9-year-old Kim Phan Thi Kim Phuc fleeing naked and in tears down a road 25 mileswest of Saigon June 8 after she was napalmed in an offensive launched by Hanoi (he takes her to a hospital, where she will recover after 14 months of treatment); The Tree Where Man Was Born and Birds of North America by Eliot Porter, now 70, whose Kodachrome nature pictures have gained worldwide renown.
Television: The Night Stalker 1/11 on ABC with California-born actor Darren McGavin, 49, as journalist Carl Kolchak, New York-born actor Simon Oakland, 49, as his editor in a science-fiction thriller (to 3/28/1975; it will be followed by The Night Strangler; see 1974); Sanford & Son 1/14 on NBC with Redd Foxx (John Elroy Sanford), 44, as Fred Sanford, Dennard Wilson as Lamont (to 9/2/1977); Emergency! 1/22 on NBC with John Gage as Los Angeles County paramedic Randolph Mantooth, Kevin Tighe as paramedic Roy De Soto, songwriter Bobby Troup as neurosurgeon Joe Early, singer-actress Julie London (Troup’s wife), as Nurse Dixie McCall (to 7/3/1979; 132 1-hour episodes); Maude 9/12 on CBS with Bea Arthur (to 4/29/1978); The Waltons 9/13 on CBS with Richard Thomas, Connecticut-born actress Michael Learned, 33, Ralph Waite, Will Geer, and Ellen Corby (née Hansen), 59 (to 8/13/1981); The Bob Newhart Show 9/16 on CBS with Oak Park, Ill.-born comedian Newhart, now 43, as Chicago psychiatrist Bob Hardy, Suzanne Pleshette as his schoolteacher wife, Emily (to 8/26/1978; 142 episodes); M*A*S*H 9/17 on NBC with Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Switt (as “Hot Pants” Hoolihan), Gary Burghoff (as “Radar” O’Reilly), Larry Linville, and McLean Stevenson (to 2/28/1983, 251 episodes, with Mike Farrell replacing Rogers, Harry Morgan replacing Stevenson, David Ogden Stiers replacing Linville).
Actor William Boyd of “Hopalong Cassidy” fame dies at South Laguna Beach, Calif., September 12 at age 74.
Oscars: Best Picture winner The French Connection; Nominees: A Clockwork Orange; Fiddler on the Roof; The Last Picture Show; Nicholas and Alexandra.
Films: John Boorman’s Deliverance with Jon Voight, Lansing, Mich.-born actor Burt Reynolds, 36, Ned Beatty, author James Dickey; Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie with Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran (Colette Stéphane Jeanmaire Dacheville), 39, Bulle Ogier; Peter Medak’s The Ruling Class with Peter O’Toole, Alastair Sim; Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Sleuth with Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine; Martin Ritt’s Sounder with Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks. Also: Billy Wilder’s Avanti! with Jack Lemmon; Claude Sautet’s César and Rosalie with Romy Schneider, Yves Montand; Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers with Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin; Peter Medak’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg with Alan Bates, Janet Suzman; Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy with Jon Finch, Barry Foster, Barbara Leigh-Hunt; Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather with Marlon Brando, East Harlem, N.Y.-born actor Al (Alfred) Pacino, 32, James Caan, Los Angeles-born actress Diane Keaton (Diane Hall), 23; Cliff Robertson’s J. W. Coop with Robertson, Geraldine Page; Bob Rafelson’s The King of Marvin Gardens with Jack Nicholson, Chicago-born actor Bruce Dern, 36, Ellen Burstyn; Jacques Demy’s The Pied Piper with Donovan (Leitch), Donald Pleasence; Herbert Ross’s Play It Again, Sam with Woody Allen, Diane Keaton; Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs with Dustin Hoffman; Joseph Anthony’s Tomorrow with Robert Duvall, Olga Bellin; François Truffaut’s Two English Girls with Jean-Pierre Leaud; Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid with Burt Lancaster.
Jerry Damiano’s pornographic film Deep Throat starring Bronx, N.Y.-born porn star Linda Lovelace (originally Linda Susan Boreman), 22, opens June 11 at the New Mature World Theater on Times Square, celebrities such as Warren Beatty, Truman Capote, and Sammy Davis Jr. help make it chic to see, and although explicit in depicting sex acts it attracts middle-class women as well as men.
Popular songs: “American Pie” by New Rochelle, N.Y.-born singer-songwriter-guitarist Don McLean, 26; “Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield (title song for film); “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Ewan MacColl; “Simple Song of Freedom” by Bobby Darin; You Don’t Mess Around with Jim (album) by Philadelphia-born singer-songwriter-guitarist Jim Croce, 30; “Operator” by Jim Croce; Honky Chateau (album) by Elton John; “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy; Some Time in New York City (album) by Yoko Ono and John Lennon includes their song “Woman Is the Nigger of the World”; Anticipation (album) by New York-born rock singer-composer Carly Simon, 27; The Divine Miss M (album) by Honolulu-born singer-comedienne Bette Midler, 26; Linda Ronstadt (album) has a Los Angeles backup group (Don Henley, 25; Glenn Frey, 23; Bernie Leadon, 25; Randy Meisner, 26) that will evolve into The Eagles; Will the Circle be Unbroken (album) by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Roy Acuff, now 69; Georgia-born soul singer-songwriter Milly Jackson records “A Child of God” and “Ask Me What You Want.”
Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson dies at suburban Evergreen Park, Ill., January 27 at age 60; jazz vocalist Jimmy Rushing at New York June 8 at age 68.
Dallas beats Miami 24 to 3 at Miami January 16 in Super Bowl VI. The Dallas Cowboys have been coached since their inception in 1960 by Tom Landry, now 46, who has had winning seasons since 1965 and now wins his first Super Bowl championship, pacing the sidelines in business suit and fedora hat; former Navy quarterback Roger Staubach has played for him since 1969 (after 4 years of service in the navy, including a year in Vietnam), leads the team to victory, and is named Most Valuable Player. The Cowboys introduce the first professional cheerleaders—seven scantily-clad women with full figures who attract far more attention than the high-school girls who previously cavorted at Cowboys games. Texas writer Molly Ivins, now 28, will write in the Progressive, “There’s no denying that what those girls do is dress up in costumes that would do credit to a strip-tease artiste and then prance about in front of hundreds of people shaking their bums and jiggling their tits.”
Stan Smith wins in men’s singles at Wimbledon, Billy Jean King in women’s singles; Ilie Nastase, 26, (Romania) wins in men’s singles at Forest Hills, King in women’s singles.
The Olympic Games at Sapporo, Japan, and Munich attract a record 8,512 athletes from a record 121 countries. Soviet athletes win the most gold medals (gymnast Olga Korbut, 17, wins three plus a silver), Modesto, Calif.-born swimmer Mark Spitz, 22, wins a record seven gold medals, Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson wins the gold medal in his class (he will win it again in 1976 and 1980), but the games at Munich are marred by the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the hands of Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists organized by Mohammed Daoud Mohammed Auda, 35.
The U.S. Supreme Court refuses June 19 to lift the immunity from antitrust laws granted by Congress to major league baseball in 1922, saying that the matter should be resolved by Congress. The court bypasses a direct ruling on the merits of former St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Curt Flood’s 1969 challenge to the so-called “reserve clause,” rejecting his suit in a 5-to-3 ruling.
The Oakland Athletics win the World Series, defeating the Cincinnati Reds 4 games to 2.
Former Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson is honored at Cincinnati October 4 at the opening of the World Series to mark the 25th anniversary of his entry into major league baseball but dies suddenly at Stamford, Conn., October 24 at age 53; Pittsburgh Pirates player Roberto Clemente has got his 3,000th hit in the regular season but is killed December 31 at age 38 in the crash of an overloaded DC-10 outside San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Bobby Fischer becomes the first American to win the world chess title. Now 29, Chicago-born player Robert James Fischer became the youngest U.S. chess champion at age 15, returned to tournament play 2 years ago after dropping out for a year (he charged that the Federation Internationale des Echecs was letting Soviet players monopolize the matches), and defeats Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky 12½ games to 8½ at Reykjavik, Iceland, in July, winning a record purse of $250,000; the event focuses unprecedented world attention on chess.
Atari (the name is equivalent to check in the Japanese game go) is founded by Utah-born computer-games inventor Nolan Bushnell, 27, and his friend Ted Dabny with an investment of $250 each to manufacture and market “Pong”—the first commercial video-arcade game (see Spacewar, 1962). Beside it is a dark wood cabinet holding a black-and-white cathode-ray screen and the instruction, “Avoid missing ball for high score.” Drop in a quarter, the machine “serves” a ball automatically from one side of the screen, a white blip darts about the screen, and the player uses controls to hit the blip with his ball. Bolting a coin box to the outside, Bushnell installs the game in Andy Capp’s tavern, a Sunnyvale, Calif., pool bar, in the fall. He takes consulting jobs with electronics firms to raise money, persuades a local bank to give him a $50,000 line of credit, puts together a team of techies who work 12 to 16 hours a day assembling Pong machines (using Motorola TVs) while listening to Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin records, and sells about 10 machines per day, mostly to distributors who handle pinball machines and jukeboxes. He will find a venture capitalist to back him and will sell 6,000 “Pong” games at more than $1,000 each (see 1975).
The annual All-American Soap Box Derby at Akron, Ohio, admits girls for the first time since its founding in 1933. Founder Myron E. Scott, now 65, criticizes the decision, Chevrolet ends its sponsorship, and a nonprofit organization takes over.
Nike Inc. is founded by Portland newspaper publisher’s son Philip H. Knight, 33, and his former Oregon University track coach William J. “Bill” Bowerman, 61, who since 1964 have been importing Japanese-made running shoes (see New Balance, 1962). Having coached at Oregon for 24 years, won four NCAA track and field championships, and had 19 Olympians, including distance runner Steve Prefontaine, Bowerman coaches this year’s U.S. Olympic track team, but Prefontaine finishes fourth in the 5,000 meters and Bowerman will retire from coaching next year. Knight received his MBA from Stanford in 1962 after producing a business plan for a proposed running-shoe company. Blue Ribbon salesman Jeff Johnson has come up with the name Nike (for the Greek goddess of victory), designer Carolyn Davidson has received $35 for devising the “swoosh” logotype, Bowerman has developed a “waffle sole” and added padding, Knight and Bowerman obtain endorsements from athletes, customers buy 250,000 pairs of Nikes, cheap labor in Korea and Taiwan produces the shoes, and by 1990 Nike will be the world’s largest sneaker company, overtaking West Germany’s Adidas and making Knight a billionaire as the growing market for athletic shoes attracts dozens of competitors.
Boston entrepreneur James S. Davis, 28, buys the mail-order running-shoe company New Balance from the Kidd family with backing from his Greek-born father and will soon challenge Nike, Brooks, and other athletic-shoe companies by offering width-sized shoes at premium prices.
L’eggs brand hosiery is introduced by the 71-year-old Hanes Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C., whose management will spin L’eggs off as a separate entity.
Physical culturist Charles Atlas dies at Long Beach, N.Y., December 23 at age 78.
Reputed Mafia leader Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo is gunned down April 7 during a birthday party at Umberto’s Clam House in New York’s “Little Italy.” Six other men with alleged gangland connections meet with violent deaths in 11 days.
Angela Davis goes on trial for having helped the Soledad brothers shoot their way out of a San Rafael, Calif., courtroom in 1970; an all-white jury at San Jose acquits her June 4.
Capital punishment is unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a 5-to-4 decision handed down June 29 in Furman v. Georgia, a case involving a convicted black rapist sentenced to death. The ruling that the death penalty represents “cruel and unusual punishment” spares 600 men and women on death row and brings the United States into line with 37 other countries (in Europe, only France and Spain still have legal execution). The record will show that capital punishment does not deter violent crime, but later Court decisions will permit executions under some circumstances.
Congress gives unanimous approval to an anti-drug bill, appropriating $80 million to counter the growing menace of heroin abuse (see 1971); focus of the measure is on the demand side, with two-thirds of the money going to treatment programs (the amount will soon be increased to $600 million). Turkey has agreed to stop growing opium poppies, and Mexico has agreed to cooperate in interdiction efforts (see Drug Enforcement Agency, 1973).
The first rape crisis centers open at Ann Arbor, Mich., Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., under the aegis of the National Institute of Justice Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
architecture, real estate
New York’s World Trade Center opens its first offices in one of two 110-story towers designed by Troy, Mich., architect Minoru Yamasaki, 58. Soaring 1,368 feet (118 feet higher than the 1,250-foot Empire State Building of 1931), the Trade Center will remain the world’s tallest building until 1974. Tenants of offices on lower floors move in even as work continues on the upper floors.
San Francisco’s pyramid-shaped Transamerica Corp. building is completed to designs by William L. Pereira Associates. The 48-story tower dominates the city’s skyline.
The median sales price of a new one-family U.S. home is $29,700, and 64.4 percent of Americans own their own homes.
Tropical storm Agnes strikes the eastern United States from June 10 to June 20, creating what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calls the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Parts of Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York are declared disaster areas as rivers overflow their banks, crippling transportation, destroying crops, buildings, bridges, and roads, isolating communities, forcing thousands to flee their homes, and killing 134.
The Susquehanna River breaks through its dikes June 23, flooding the Wyoming Valley and creating havoc in the Wilkes-Barre area.
The San Diego Zoological Society opens a Wild Animal Park on a 1,800-acre site in the San Pasqual Valley northeast of the city (see zoo, 1916). A five-mile monorail system allows visitors to observe various habitat groups from regions as diverse as Asia, East Africa, South Africa, and Australia.
Amendments to the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water) signed into law by President Nixon October 18 sets a 1977 deadline for the installation of the “best practicable” pollution control equipment for treating fluid waste discharges and sets a 1983 deadline for the installation of the “best available” equipment. Designed to make the nation’s rivers and streams safe for fishing and swimming, the new legislation has been passed in response to growing indignation at polluters, who now find it illegal to discharge material into navigable waterways without a permit. Congress appropriates $18 billion for assistance grants to help municipalities build sewage treatment facilities, but the massive correction action has the handicap of statutory ambiguities that must be resolved in the courts.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act signed into law by President Nixon October 22 bans killing of polar bears except by Alaskan natives and forbids imports of tuna caught in nets that encircle dolphins swimming together with tuna in parts of the Pacific. Such nets have been suffocating as many as 500,000 dolphins per year, and while the legislation will sharply reduce the toll by U.S. fishermen the numbers killed by foreign boats will increase dramatically.
William Ruckelshaus of the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces an almost total ban on domestic use of DDT by December 31 after the insecticide has been shown to cause cancer in test animals. It is clearly being stored in fatty tissues, and although scientists disagree on DDT’s long-term effects there is good evidence that it is reducing bird populations by causing females to lay eggs with thinner shells. Secretary of Agriculture Earl L. Butz and former Secretary Clifford M. Hardin have warned that restrictions on pesticides such as DDT will have a catastrophic impact on farmers.
The worst drought since 1963 withers Soviet and Chinese grain crops, forcing Moscow either to import grain or reduce livestock herds and thus risk the political consequences of reduced meat supplies (see Poland, 1970). Secretary of Agriculture Earl L. Butz visited the Crimea in April and suggested to the Soviet minister of agriculture Vladimir V. Matskevich that the Ukraine’s rich black soil be irrigated, but the Soviet budget has allocated few rubles for agricultural progress.
food and drink
Quaker Oats introduces Quaker 100% Natural cereal—the first mainstream granola breakfast-food product (the Center for Science in the Public Interest will blast 100% Natural as having nearly four grams of saturated fat per half-cup serving, even more than a McDonald hamburger). Heartland Natural Cereal is introduced by Pet Incorporated (formerly Pet Milk Co.). Kellogg prepares to introduce Country Morning, and General Mills will follow suit with its own heavily sugared version of Granola, made by Lassen Foods of Chico, Calif.
Nissin Foods (USA) introduces Top Ramen, a bag-type product containing fried noodles with a soup packet (see Oodles of Noodles, 1976). The company opens a production facility, one of the first major Japanese facilities in the United States.
Steve’s Homemade Ice Cream has its beginnings in a Somerville, Mass., scoop shop opened by entrepreneur Steven Herrell, who will sell his superpremium ice cream business in 1977 for $80,000 (see Häagen-Dazs, 1959; Ben & Jerry’s, 1978).
Snapple Fruit Juices are introduced at New York by Unadulterated Food Products (it will be renamed Snapple Beverage Co.), started by local entrepreneurs Hyman Golden and Leonard Marsh, both 40, in partnership with Arnold Greenberg, 50, who has been operating a health-food store in St. Marks Place (Golden and Marsh, brothers-in-law, have had a window-washing business). The company will grow in the next 20 years to have 26 plants bottling nearly 60 all-natural Snapple varieties, carbonated and noncarbonated, many containing 100 percent real fruit juice, for distribution nationwide.
President Nixon evades charges that he accepted a campaign contribution of more than $200,000 from McDonald’s chairman Ray Kroc and has reciprocated by opposing any increase in the minimum wage. McDonald’s makes extensive use of teenage labor in its operations. Kroc has established Hamburger University at Elk Grove, Ill. Students learn how to clean grills, how to flip hamburgers, and how to know when a hamburger is done (when it turns brown around the edges), and receive the Bachelor of Hamburgerology with a minor in french fries.
McDonald’s opens 368 new restaurants and introduces the Egg McMuffin, created by Herb Peterson. It will be served throughout the chain by 1976, making McDonald’s the first major fast-food chain to offer breakfast items.
The Popeyes fast-food chain has its beginnings in the Chicken on the Run restaurant opened in a New Orleans suburb by entrepreneur Alvin C. “Al” Copeland, who initially sells traditional mild fried chicken to the downtown luncheon crowd, finds it hard going, and experiments with spicier Cajun recipes. Renaming the place after the character Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle played by Gene Hackman in the 1971 film The French Connection, Copeland soon has customers lining up for his New Orleans-style fried chicken; by 2005 the chain will have 1,118 restaurants in the United States and 27 foreign countries.
Now you have a son, Elias William Robb Rector with which to share your life and times…
Happy Birthday, Matthew!
3 thoughts on “Turning 40”
Nice idea, TomTom, but holy schnikee, wouldn’t a simple link to the Wikipedia page have sufficed??? Anyway, what *I* want to know is where you were living, who you worked for, and what you were doing in 1972, and add that to the timeline. Close any big accounts? Buy any cool cars? Were you in the room for the birth, or were you still forced to stay in the waiting room with the other dads, minus the video cameras, etc.?
OK, E…you are right. 40 years — and about 7 hours ago EST as I write this — Matt was born on my 24th birthday, January 13th, 1972. His very pregnant Mom gave me a birthday party with family and friends in our little apartment in Columbus, on Wednesday, January 12th. I was a management trainee with a retail furniture store at the time, (having recently graduated from college), and worked many evenings and weekends, so she had to have my party on Wednesday. Around 10:30pm, as we were cleaning up after the party, her labor pains began, and we rushed to the hospital. Matt was born about six hours later: a very short labor for the first. (He made up for it in his teen years by giving us the pain we missed out on then…LOL)
a rectorsite mention: i am fully realized