Exploring the 1960s: 45 Intriguing Facts and Incidents

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1Civil rights protesters

Civil rights protesters

During the 1960s, many black civil rights protesters from Detroit were 'diagnosed' with schizophrenia (due to their 'hostile' and 'aggressive' behavior) and confined to asylums. Some protesters were locked up for more than 30 years and died in custody.

2. In 1963, Wendell Scott became to first African American to win a Nascar Race. Though being two laps ahead of the other cars, was ignored because the winner was to kiss a white beauty queen. He was awarded the trophy in 2010, 20 years after his death.

3. In 1965, Milton Olive III sacrificed his own life to save a group of soldiers by smothering a live grenade. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor award, becoming the first African American of the Vietnam War to do so.

4. During the 1960 campaign, John F. Kennedy's opponents said he had Addison's disease. His doctors released a cleverly worded statement saying that he did not have Addison's disease caused by tuberculosis, and the matter was dropped. He had Addison's disease caused by a rare autoimmune disease.

5. In 1964, two students attempted to kidnap the British Prime Minister Alec Douglas Home. The plot was foiled when he offered them beer. They accepted and abandoned their plot. This breach of security was only revealed in 2009.

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6Daniela Liverani

Daniela Liverani

A woman named Daniela Liverani in Scotland had frequent nosebleeds that she believed were due to a motorbike crash. She later found out her nosebleeds were because of something living inside of her. A month after the accident, while in the shower, she discovered that there was a 3-inch long leech living in her nostril.

7. In 1967, Van Morrison still owed his record company 31 songs to finish his contract, so he quickly wrote and recorded 31 nonsense songs with titles such as "Ring Worm", "You Say France And I Whistle", "Blow In Your Nose" and "Want A Danish?"

8. In 1961, a little girl named Michelle Rochon wrote a letter to John F. Kennedy asking if Santa Claus was okay during the Soviet's nuclear testing at the North Pole. Kennedy wrote back to her saying that he spoke with Santa and that he's okay.

9. In 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle demanded that all American military personnel leave France. American President Lyndon Johnson asked if that order applied to American soldiers in French cemeteries. 

10. 1964 Olympic champion Ewa Kłobukowska, failed the newly-introduced gender test before the European Cup in 1967 and was consequently banned from competing and stripped of her records. A year later, she gave birth to her first child.

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11Lead Masks Case

Lead Masks Case

In 1966, two men named Miguel Jose Viana and Manoel Pereira da Cruz climbed up a hill in Brazil, placed lead masks over their faces, and apparently killed themselves for unexplained reasons. The only clue left behind was a note that read, "16:30 be at agreed place, 18:30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for mask signal."

12. In 1960, Slinky inventor Richard James left his wife and their six children to join a cult down in Bolivia. His wife, Betty, took over and turned the failing company completely around. In 2001, Betty was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

13. In 1963, an East German soldier named Wolfgang Engels stole a tank and drove it through the Berlin Wall at top speed to try and escape.

14. In 1962, American journalist Mike Wallace's oldest son Peter went missing while exploring in Greece. Wallace flew to Greece alone, asked the question, followed his son's last known locations and found his body at the bottom of a hill where he fell while hiking.

15. In 1968, Billy Joel looped some random cables around his shoulder, put on a fake British accent, and pretended to be Jimi Hendrix's roadie to sneak into a concert. He wound up being convincing enough to actually be put to work as a stagehand during the show.

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16Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry

In 1963, San Francisco Giants Manager Alvin Dark joked, "they'll put a man on the moon before [Giants pitcher] Gaylord Perry hits a home run." On July 20, 1969, less than an hour after Neil Armstrong's historic moonwalk, Perry smacked his first career homer.

17. In 1969, a musician named Jim Sullivan recorded an album called “U.F.O.“, which featured strange lyrics about leaving his family and being abducted by aliens. Sullivan disappeared 6 years later without a trace, the only piece of evidence being his abandoned car found on a desert road.

18. During the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact soldiers, road signs in towns were removed or painted over to confuse invading troops—except for those indicating the way to Moscow.

19. In 1962, an intruder climbing the fence at a Minnesota air base set off the "sabotage alarm" in all bases in the area. In one base, due to wrong wiring, the Klaxon was sounded ordering nuclear-armed aircraft to take off, and the pilots believed World War 3 has started. The original intruder was a bear. 

20. In 1966, Paul McCartney penned a song under the name Bernard Webb to see if he could produce a hit without his name. It was recorded by Peter and Gordon and reached #14 on the charts.

21Ted Kaczynski

Ted Kaczynski

In the 60s, the CIA sponsored a Harvard study where an undergraduate student was humiliated and subjected to "brutalizing psychological experiments". The student who had the worse reaction to the experiment was Ted Kaczynski who later became the Unabomber.

22. In 1966, Ronald Reagan wrote Jelly Belly a thank you letter for "keeping the state gov running smoothly" as the jelly beans worked as an alt. to smoking, allowing them to get through meetings and make decisions.

23. In the 1960s, Pirate Radio boats in international waters would broadcast pop & rock to 10's of millions of British listeners. The BBC, which until then mostly catered to classical tastes, was forced to restructure and meet the demand for these genres.

24. In the 1960s the New York-based Anarchist group "Black Mask" disrupted cultural events by handing out made up flyers of art events to the homeless with the lure of free drinks

25. In 1969, in response to one of the largest ever anti-war demonstrations, Richard Nixon wanted Army helicopters to hover over protesters and blow out their candlelit vigil.

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