The Year Was 1960

Tiros.bmpThe year was 1960 and the U.S. and Russia were in a “space race.” An outgrowth of the Cold War, the two super powers had already sent up satellites, and plans were underway to send men into space, and eventually to land on the moon.

The first weather satellite, Tiros I, launched on 1 April 1960 and changed weather forecasting forever. Nine more satellites followed within months giving meteorologists a view of cloud cover. The addition of infrared sensors later would allow for the tracking of temperatures around the globe.

The world had long since embraced the automobile, and in 1960, nearly 57 percent of U.S. households owned an automobile [Excel link], with another 21 percent owning two or more. More than 63 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, versus nearly 37 percent in rural areas.

Television was also now mainstream with nearly 90 percent of U.S. households owning a television set (52 million televisions). Fifteen years prior, it is estimated that there were fewer than 10,000 sets in the U.S.  Viewers watched new television shows hitting the airwaves such as The Flintstones, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Bugs Bunny Show. While Bugs had been around for many years, he was on primetime TV in 1960.

The Civil Rights movement was taking shape and in Greensboro, North Carolina, four black college students staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter where they were refused service. They were joined by other black students in the following days and the protest soon spread to other southern cities. Six months later, that same Woolworth’s restaurant served its first black customer. While not all of the sit-ins were successful, some other protests had similar results.

In September of 1960, Hurricane Donna, nicknamed “Deadly Donna” struck Florida and continued with hurricane strength winds all the way up the eastern coast of the U.S. to New England. The storm claimed fifty lives and caused $387 million in damages.

Do you remember 1960? Add your memories to the comments section of this post.

Image: Showing of TIROS in the old Supreme Court Chamber on April 4, 1960. Left to Right: Senators Young, Cnnon, Anderson, and Mr. William Stroud of NASA, Project Manager of the TIROS I (From the Library of Congress Photo Collection.)

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

17 thoughts on “The Year Was 1960

  1. I was a physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami during the hurricane. We were bringing all the little ladies who were pregnant and expecting to deliver in the next week into the hospital. Taxis were lined up along with all the private cars to get them into the building. Evey bed in the hospital was full and we had kids sleeping on floors. I remember standing on one of the verandas and watching garbage can lids and coconuts flying through the air. Delivered a lot of babies those two nights!
    Don

  2. My mother and my grandmother were driving my brother and I north to school in Georgia from Miami. Gramma became too concerned about leaving her house empty so we returned (made my brother late to school….)and spent the night listening to the wind howl and the rain pour. If you looked out the windows you could see the electrical lines sparking on the wet road. I’ll never forget the sight of a huge old oak tree laying on the ground with it’s — 20 foot? — root structure totally exposed, once we resumed our journey north. That was probably the first major hurrican that I was old enough to remember, and probably why strong winds still make me slightly nervous. (Of course, after 40 years away the threat of hurricanes haven’t stopped my from coming back home to Florida!)

  3. 1960 was the year I started first grade at the same school my father and his brothers and sisters attended from 1st-11th grades. I can still smell my first box of crayons, that white goopy paste we used and tempura paints. I was in heaven. The wooden floors were highly waxed and smelled of polishing oil and the cafeteria smelled of foods that didn’t seem to be edible. But best of all was Dick and Jane! I read everyone I could get my hands on.
    1960 will always be special particularly when I open up a new box of crayons.

  4. I remember Hurricane Donna very well. I was beginning my first year as Library-Teacher in Brevard County, FL. Great for me I was living in West Melbourne on Minton Rd so all we got was lots of flooding on the road. I have a picture of me wading back from the mailbox with two letters in my hands. Of course school was out for the day and I spent the entire day alphabetizing cards for the card catalog. Now 47 years later and I am still in Florida living on A1A and loving the hurricane season. It is all like an adventure in my life.

  5. September, 1960, was my freshman year at the University of Georgia, the first quarter African-Americans attended. Charlene Hunter (whose married name is Gault, and now a prominent news correspondent) was enrolled in the Journalism School as I was and housed in the same dormitory as I. I’ll never forget the riots that occurred outside our building when students stormed the doors, police threw tear gas bombs, and we residents were locked into our rooms every night. The terror I felt must have been nothing compared to what emotions that one lone African-American girl had, wondering what would happen next. Similar things occurred at the other black student, Hamilton Holmes’, building.

    It seems ironic every time I see one of the Georgia football heroes being interviewed now, because he is usually black. We’ve all come a long way.

  6. I was a Senior in HS in the fall of 1960 and remember the year well. Sock Hops, Car Clubs, cruising Main Street and matching sweater sets were all in vogue. American Graffiti was alive and well. Sock Hops were Friday night, Drive-in Movies were Saturday night. Wearing your boyfriend’s HS ring on a chain around your neck told everyone you were taken. Cherry Cokes at the counter in the Malt Shop was the item of choice. My collection of 45′s was vast, but not nearly as large as my grandchildrens’ collection of CD’s today! Teachers wore dresses, “nylons” and high heels; students dressed neatly for school. Backpacks would have been nice, but were non-existent. Carrying stacks of books back and forth to school on the school bus was expected.
    1960 seems so long ago, but in another sense seems like yesterday! Thanks for the memories!

  7. We were a military family stationed at Scott AFB in Belleville, Ill. At night when my husband worked at the base, I would go to bed and watch the satellites pass by. They always were in the same area, at the same time and you could actually see them moving

  8. I gradutated from High school in Houston, Texas– San Jacinto High School. It was the good times and the worst of times– yet as I recall it as the beginning of liberation for women in this country—

  9. I remember the election of that year. My parents were for Nixon and my sister was fond of John Kennedy. I was too young to have an opinion either way.

  10. GEEZ…….I WAS IN HIGHSCHOOL IN ILLINOIS. MY GRANDPARENTS MOVED TO NORTH FLORIDA IN A RETIREMENT VILLAGE. WE CAME DOWN TO VISIT. I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER THE CHURCH SIGNS IN THE SMALL SOUTHERN TOWNS WARNING THAT IF JOHN KENNEDY WAS ELECTED THAT THE POPE WOULD BE RUNNING THE COUNTRY. MY FAMILY THOUGHT THAT WAS RATHER FUNNY BUT THE OLD TIMERS IN THE SMALL SOUTHERN TOWNS WERE SERIOUS. AND MOST KNEW NOTHING AT ALL ABOUT THE CATHOLIC RELIGION AND QUITE A FEW WERE CLAN MEMBERS. TIMES HAVE CHANGED. I LIVE THERE NOW. BUT THE OLD WAY HANGS ON.

  11. In March 1960, Elvis Presley was discharged from the Army and returned home to Memphis. His train came through Radford, Virginia, where I was a freshman at Radford College, which at that time was attended by 3,000 young women–”Radford Ladies” according to the Dean of Women.

    The campus was notified that Elvis’ train would slow down as it passed the Radford railroad station on Sunday, March 6, and the campus was agog. As unbelievable as this sounds, I decided not to witness that historical event because I had a term paper to write. My roommates and friends thought I had lost my mind.

    Hundreds of “Radford ladies” waited at the train station. They were not disappointed. The train slowed down and Elvis stood at the back of the caboose, smiling and waving. In the rush to see Elvis in person, the crowd surged toward the railroad tracks. I heard about girls pushing and shoving, and in general, not acting like “Radford Ladies” at all. There were reports of broken arms and broken or lost eyeglasses and cameras, not to mention lots of scrapes and bruises.

    In a way, I was glad I hadn’t walked down to the railroad station!!!

  12. Most of 1960 I was pregnant with my first child. Nikita Khrushchev was at the United Nations that summer, pounding his shoe on the desk. I was afraid that I would be delivering in a bomb shelter. When I called my doctor that I had gone into labor in October, he told me to go to the hopital, that he had to go to a PTA meeting and talked about bomb shelters. Needless to say, I don’t think he mae it to the PTA meeting.

  13. I had arrived from ireland in 1959 at the age of 3, with my parents and 2 brothers. started kindergarten in 1960 and lived in rochester ny until 1962 ,at which time we returned to ireland. often wondered what would have been had we not returned. got great memories though !

  14. July 31, 1960 – The day I was married to my husband Richard 48&1/2 years ago. We experienced Hurricane Donna while living with another newly married couple in Oneco, Florida. My husband and I grew up in Florida so this particular hurricane did not alarm us until we saw the results after it passed. Today we are more mindful of the damage a hurricain can do especially after the past few years of extremely disasterous hurricanes hitting Florida and the Gulf Coast.

    BTW – Our Manatee High School’s Bradenton, Florida, football team was and still is the HURRICANE’S.

  15. I was’nt born until a year after this happened

    therefore, I officially (and authoritatively)

    disqualify myself from commenting on this subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>