Boomers Born in 1961 Reach Age 60 This Year

Boomers born in the year 1961 will reach their 60th birthday this year. Time flies when you’re having fun! All boomers know that life is profoundly different today in many ways than it was in 1961. Here are some stats that present a picture of what our lives were like 60 years ago:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States, succeeding President Dwight D. Eisenhower
• There were about 184 million people in the U.S.; the population jumped by 28 million in ten years (thanks to the Baby Boomers!)
• To continue the Baby Boom, 1.5 million couples were married in 1961; the average age of a bride was 19-20 yrs. old, and the groom was 21-22 yrs. old.
The average annual income was $5,700
$1 in 1961 is approximately equal to $8.80 today
• The cost of a dozen eggs was 57¢
Milk was 50¢ for a half gallon
Ground beef was 52¢ lb.
It cost 41¢ lb. to buy a frying chicken
• If you wanted to mail a letter, a stamp cost 4¢
• Born in 1961? You share a birth year with Eddie Murphy (April 3) and George Clooney (May 6)
Alan Shepard became the first American in Space (May 5)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3cpyNZkWKU

President Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the moon and bringing him home by the end of the decade (May 25)
The Apartment won the Best Picture Academy Award
The Bullwinkle Show debuted
Tossin’ and Turnin’ by Bobby Lewis was the number 1 hit single of 1961
Disney released 101 Dalmations in theaters
• IBM introduced the Selectric typewriter

The Berlin Wall was constructed, further escalating the Cold War
Sprite was introduced by Coca-Cola to compete with 7-Up
Ray Kroc bought a small chain of hamburger restaurants from the McDonald brothers
President Kennedy sent in the first advisors into Vietnam
Marvel introduced The Fantastic Four comics
Roger Marris broke Babe Ruth’s record and hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees

If you were born in 1961, of course you learned about these things later in life. Yet more than half the Boomer Generation was born before 1961, and they have vivid memories of the year. Mister Boomer was in elementary school and remembers many things about 1961, including watching the inauguration of President Kennedy. The school he attended was big on observing American history-in-the-making, and wanted the students to follow the Space Program, beginning with Alan Shepard’s launch on May 5. A TV was rolled into the classroom for subsequent launches of Project Mercury and on to Project Gemini.

Mister B and his family were also big fans of Rocky & Bullwinkle, including the 1961 iteration of The Bullwinkle Show. Of course, he was not able to view the show in color. It was the mid-1970s before the family got a hand-me-down color television.

If you’ve been reading Mister Boomer for even a short time, then you know he definitely remembers hearing some top hits of 1961 on his transistor radio. Out of that tiny speaker, he heard Tossin’ and Turnin’, but also, I Fall to Pieces by Patsy Cline; Runaway by Del Shannon; Dedicated to the One I Love by the Shirelles; Take Good Care of My Baby by Bobby Vee; Travelin’ Man by Ricky Nelson, and many, many more.

Yet, in retrospect, what a good portion of boomers recall about 1961 is that there was a palpable change in the wind. Life as we had come to know it was about to be turned upside down. By the time the earliest-born boomers reached the age of 18 in 1964 — which was the final year of the Baby Boom — music, fashion, world events, Civil Rights, the Space Program, the Cold War, even what we ate, was about to change forever.

Were you born in 1961, boomers? If not, what do you recall about that momentous year?

Boomers Recall Events of the First Months of 1971

When TV commercials are using songs from the boomer era we would not expect to hear in that venue, it’s difficult for Baby Boomers not to have flashbacks. For example, currently Coldwell Banker is using Simon and Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound (1966); Square has Shape of Things to Come from Max Frost & the Troops (1968) in its commercial; and Geico is using Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations (1968), to advertise motorcycle insurance. All of those songs appeared more than 50 years ago. That got Mister Boomer wondering what was happening at this time of year, 50 years ago?

See if you recall these events that occurred between January and March of 1971:

  • January 1971
    Cigarette commercials were banned on TV, beginning midnight January 2, 1971. That allowed for advertising to be broadcast during the holiday football bowl games. The final cigarette commercial was broadcast at 11:59 pm on January 1st.
  • All in the Family premiered on CBS. While not highly-rated in its first season, one year later it was the most-watched show on TV.
  • Remember the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway in December of 1969? Show management hired the Hell’s Angels as security agents. Hell’s Angels member Alan Passaro was charged in the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter that day. On January 19, 1971, he was acquitted of the charges on the grounds of self-defense. Hunter was alleged to have drawn a revolver on Passaro.
  • George McGovern, then a Democratic U.S. Senator from South Dakota, was the first person to announce his candidacy for President of the United States in the 1972 election. Ultimately, McGovern won the Democratic Party’s nomination, but he lost the election by a landslide to Republican Richard Nixon, the incumbent president.
  • Speaking of U.S. Presidents, the boyhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, located in Abilene, Kansas, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The murder trial of Charles Manson and his three “family” followers ended with guilty verdicts in the Tate-LaBianca murders in August of 1969.
  • The Comics Code Authority eased restrictions on portrayal of certain fictional characters in comics, allowing for horror character depictions of vampires, ghouls and werewolves.
  • America’s first astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, was headed back up on January 31. As part of Apollo 14, this time he would walk on the moon.

 

  • February 1971
    Alan Shepard became the oldest man to walk on the moon (at that point). He surprised TV viewers on February 5 by driving two golf balls with a makeshift golf club as an illustration of the moon’s lower gravitational field.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sh9sn3cEx8
  • James Cash Penney, founder of the Golden Rule Store, which later became J.C. Penney department stores, died at the age of 95.
  • On February 15, the country celebrated the first Presidents’ Day. National legislation had established this new federal holiday, combining the two state holidays of Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and Washington’s birthday (February 22).
  • President Richard Nixon made his first recording on his secret taping system. He had installed nine microphones in the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. The world remembers how that system worked against him in the events surrounding the Watergate break-in one year later.
  • President Richard Nixon, that same month, proposed a program for national health care, called the National Health Strategy. Among its provisions, the act required employers to pay up to 65 percent of their employees’ health insurance, starting in July of 1973, and increasing to 75 percent by 1976. It also allocated $100 million through the National Cancer Act of 1971 for the research and treatment of cancer. The measure was passed in a bipartisan vote.

 

  • March 1971
    Future president and former Texas Congressman, George H.W. Bush, assumed the office of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
  • The first performance of Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin, occurred in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • In New York City’s Madison Square Garden, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier defeated former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 15 round bout decided on points.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives approved the proposal for the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, which would lower the national voting age to 18 years old. After previous unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate, the amendment went on to the states for ratification. It gained the quickest approval of any constitutional change in U.S. history, becoming effective on July 1. Boomers will recall this became an issue in 1968, when protestors of the Vietnam war pointed out, as the song said, young men were “old enough to kill, but not for voting.”
  • The Ed Sullivan Show aired its final show on March 28, after 23 seasons. It’s the TV show where boomers were introduced to The Beatles, on February 9, 1964.
  • A U.S. Army court-martial trial found Lt. William Calley guilty of 22 murders in the My Lai massacre of March 16, 1968 in Vietnam, and he was sentenced to life in prison. President Nixon altered the sentence to house arrest at Fort Benning, pending appeal. Ultimately, Calley was paroled in August of 1974.
  • Starbucks opened its first coffee shop in Seattle, Washington on March 30.
  • The final day of March, 1971, the first Eisenhower dollar coins were pressed at the San Francisco branch of the U.S. Mint.

Which of these events of 50 years ago stir a memory for you, boomers? Did you go on to give your grandchildren Eisenhower dollar coins?