A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge – W is for Watergate

WBLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

WATERGATE

 

 Early on the morning of June 17, 1972, a crime with astronomical political fall-out is committed and five men are arrested.  Their crime was breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office-hotel-apartment complex in Washington, D.C.

Watergate Hotel

Watergate Hotel

The political fall-out, the resignation of the President of the United States; however on the day of the arrest, the connection to Richard Millhouse Nixon was unknown.  These men were caught with burglary tools, cameras and film, and three pen-size tear gas guns. At the scene of the crime, and in rooms the men rented at the Watergate, sophisticated electronic bugging equipment was found. Three of the men were Cuban exiles, one was a Cuban American, and the fifth was James W. McCord, Jr., a former CIA agent. That day, the suspects, who said they were “anti-communists,” were charged with felonious burglary and possession of implements of crime.

Conspirators

On June 18, however, it was revealed that James McCord was the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee.

PHOTO: Electronics expert and former CIA agent James W. McCord was arrested in connection. Metropolitan Police/AP Photo

PHOTO: Electronics expert and former CIA agent James W. McCord was arrested in connection. Metropolitan Police/AP Photo

The next day, E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, was linked to the five suspects.  In July, G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President, was also implicated as an accomplice.

E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy

E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy

In August, President Nixon announced that a White House investigation of the Watergate break-in had concluded that administration officials were not involved. In September, Liddy, Hunt, McCord, and the four Cubans were indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of breaking into and illegally bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters.  If you know anything about Watergate, you know that it did not end there.

W is also for Woodward and Berstein and Washington Post

In September and October, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post uncovered evidence of illegal political espionage carried out by the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President, including the existence of a secret fund kept for the purpose and the existence of political spies hired by the committee. Despite these reports, and a growing call for a Watergate investigation on Capitol Hill, Richard Nixon was reelected president in November 1972 in a landslide victory.

Reporters Bob Woodward, right, and Carl Bernstein, whose reporting of the Watergate case won them a Pulitzer Prize, sit in the newsroom of the Washington Post in Washington May 7, 1973. (AP Photo)

Reporters Bob Woodward, right, and Carl Bernstein, whose reporting of the Watergate case won them a Pulitzer Prize, sit in the newsroom of the Washington Post in Washington May 7, 1973. (AP Photo)

In January 1973, five of the Watergate burglars pleaded guilty, and two others, Liddy and McCord, were convicted. At their sentencing on March 23, U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica read a letter from McCord charging that the White House had conducted an extensive “cover-up” to conceal its connection with the break-in. In April, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and two top White House advisers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, resigned, and White House counsel John Dean was fired.

watergate_graphic

On May 17, 1973, the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair.

Senators Howard Baker (R-TN) and Sam Ervin (D-NC) cast votes during the Senate Watergate Committee hearings of 1973. Seated behind the senators is the committee deputy counsel Rufus Edmisten, whose oral history interview is included in the collection of the U.S. Senate Historical Office. (Photo courtesy Senate Historical Office.)

Senators Howard Baker (R-TN) and Sam Ervin (D-NC) cast votes during the Senate Watergate Committee hearings of 1973. Seated behind the senators is the committee deputy counsel Rufus Edmisten, whose oral history interview is included in the collection of the U.S. Senate Historical Office. (Photo courtesy Senate Historical Office.)

One week later, Harvard Law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor.

Archibald Cox sworn in, 5/25/73

Archibald Cox sworn in, 5/25/73

During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of White House advisers Ehrlichman and Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon re-election committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

19730730_Newsweek-The_Nixon_Tapes

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes–official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff–was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.

L JaworskiPublic confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.

I can remember where I was when President Nixon resigned even though I wasn’t even a teenager yet.  I was at Girl Scout Camp in New Jersey and one of counselors had us sit in the camp pavillion and listen to his resignation on the radio.  I know at the time, I didn’t really understand what the Watergate Scandal was all about.  Years later I enjoyed the movie All the Presidents Men.

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z – V is for Variety Shows

V

A 1970’s Time Capsule

POP CULTURE

VARIETY SHOWS

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The variety television show was not invented in the 1970s; however in the 1970s, the genre was very popular but almost non existent in the decades that followed.  For me, the 1970s was a decade of some really great variety shows so in my opinion the genre went out with a blast.  Here are a few.  Some of these premiered before the 1970s but if they had any time in the 1970s, I included them.

The Ed Sullivan Show (1948 – 1971)

Ed_Sullivan
The Ed Sullivan Show (Toast of the Town) is an American TV variety show that ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan.  Some of the greatest acts were presented to American on this show.  I think one of the most well known performances on the show was the Beatles when they first came to the United States.  It is not the 1970s but I’m showing it anyway.

The Carol Burnett Show (1967 – 1978)

If I was to list my top female comedians of all time, Carol Burnett would only come second to Lucille Ball.  The Carol Burnett Show was an American variety/sketch comedy television show starring Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner. In 1975, frequent guest star Tim Conway became a regular when Waggoner left this show due to a mutual agreement with the producer about the series not having reruns. In 1977, Dick Van Dyke replaced Korman for much of its final season. The show originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967, to March 29, 1978, for 279 episodes, and again with nine episodes in the fall of 1991. The series won 25 prime-time Emmy Awards.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968 – 1973)

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (often simply referred to as Laugh-In) is an American sketch comedy television program that ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to March 12, 1973, on the NBC television network. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and featured, at various times, Chelsea Brown, Johnny Brown, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Richard Dawson, Moosie Drier, Henry Gibson, Teresa Graves, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Larry Hovis, Sarah Kennedy, Jeremy Lloyd, Dave Madden, Pigmeat Markham, Gary Owens, Pamela Rodgers, Barbara Sharma, Jud Strunk, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin and Jo Anne Worley.

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour/ The Sonny & Cher Show (1971 – 1977)

Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour 1976

Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour 1976

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour is an American variety show starring American pop-singer Cher and her husband Sonny Bono. The show ran on CBS in the United States, when it premiered in August 1971. The show was canceled May 1974, due to the couple’s divorce, though the duo would reunite in 1976 for the identically-formatted The Sonny & Cher Show (a title sporadically used during the run of the Comedy Hour), which ran until 1977.

Donny & Marie (1976 – 1979)

season 2

Donny & Marie was an American variety show which aired on ABC from January 1976 to January 1979. The show starred brother and sister pop duo Donny and Marie Osmond. Donny had first become popular singing in a music group with his brothers, The Osmonds, and Marie was one of the youngest singers to reach #1 on the Billboard Country Music charts (with “Paper Roses”, in 1973).   Donny and Marie (18 and 16 years old, respectively, when the program premiered) were the youngest entertainers in TV history to host their own variety show.

Hee Haw (1969 – 1992 really?)

Hee_Haw
Hee Haw is an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural Kornfield Kounty as a backdrop. It aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 before a 21-year run in local syndication. The show was inspired by Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, the major difference being that Hee Haw was far less topical, and was centered on country music and rural culture. Hosted by country artists Buck Owens and Roy Clark for most of the series’ run, the show was equally well known for its voluptuous, scantily clad women in stereotypical farmer’s daughter outfits and country-style minidresses (a group that came to be known as the “Hee Haw Honeys”), and its corn pone humor.

Saturday Night Live (1975 – Present)

Original 1975 SNL Cast

Original 1975 SNL Cast

Saturday Night Live (abbreviated as SNL) is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC’s Saturday Night. The show’s comedy sketches, which parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members. Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest (who usually delivers an opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast) and features performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”, properly beginning the show.
More recently, do you think “The Fey Effect”  helped keep McCain out of the White House?
There were other variety shows that aired in the 1970s.  Did I miss your favorite?

A to Z on the Music Charts

Record and released in 1971, Don McLean’s Vincent became a number one hit on the UK charts.  Although it only reached number 12 on the US Charts it stayed in Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks.

 

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

 All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.

A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z – U is for US Bicentennial

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BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

Bicentennial logo commissioned by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.

Bicentennial logo commissioned by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.

On July 4, 1776, the United States celebrated the 200 Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The Bicentennial was more than the celebration of one day. It was a series of celebrations and observances during the mid-1970s that paid tribute to historical events leading up to the creation of the United States of America as an independent republic.  As with most events of this magnitude, a bureaucracy was form.  Congress created the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission July 4, 1966 and plans for the celebration ten years hence got underway.  Initially, the Bicentennial celebration was planned as a single city exposition (titled Expo ’76) that would be staged in either Philadelphia or Boston but after 6½ years of tumultuous debate, the Commission recommended that there should not be a single event, and Congress dissolved it on December 11, 1973, and created the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration (ARBA), which was charged with encouraging and coordinating locally sponsored events.

I played the clarinet in a locally run marching band (not connected with a school) and I remember significantly more parades that year. The one event I especially remember is when we were on the field where fireworks were being set off, we played the Star Spangled Banner during the fireworks display.  It made your whole chest rumble.

I know that all my readers are not from the United States so this event may not have a lot of significance for you.  In the big picture, the United States is just a babe compared to how long other countries have been in existence.  If our 200th Birthday had significance to you, I’d love to hear what you remember about the Bicentennial.

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#sundayphotofiction #atozchallenge extra – And Though The News Was Rather Sad

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A 1970s Time Capsule #AtoZchallenge @aprilatoz – T is also for Test Tube Baby

TBLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

On July 25, 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown.

Lesley and Peter Brown with Louise Joy Brown (first test tube baby)

Lesley and Peter Brown with Louise Joy Brown (first test tube baby)

The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.

Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier.

Patrick Steptoe (1913 - 1988) and Dr Robert Edwards in 1979. The colleagues founded Cambridge’s Bourn Hall, the world's first IVF clinic, in 1980.

Patrick Steptoe (1913 – 1988) and Dr Robert Edwards in 1979. The colleagues founded Cambridge’s Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic, in 1980.

Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.

louise_brown

The Browns had a second daughter, Natalie, several years later, also through IVF.

The Browns: Peter, Louise, Natalie and Leslie

The Browns: Peter, Louise, Natalie and Leslie

In May 1999, Natalie became the first IVF baby to give birth to a child of her own. The child’s conception was natural, easing some concerns that female IVF babies would be unable to get pregnant naturally. In December 2006, Louise Brown, the original “test tube baby,” gave birth to a boy, Cameron John Mullinder, who also was conceived naturally.

Brown with husband Wesley Mullinder and son Cameron, Born December 20, 2006

Brown with husband Wesley Mullinder and son Cameron, Born December 20, 2006

Today, IVF is considered a mainstream medical treatment for infertility. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world have been conceived through the procedure, in some cases with donor eggs and sperm.  This made be wonder how many famous or infamous personalities were test tube babies.  I could only find one, Charlotte Homes, Miss England 2012.  Maybe it just isn’t made known.

Charlotte Holmes, Miss England 2012

Charlotte Holmes, Miss England 2012

Next I wondered how many famous or infamous personalities conceived children by IVF?  The answer is many so here are a few of them.

Brook Shields

Brook Shields

Courteney Cox

Courteney Cox

Celine Dion

Celine Dion

Marcia Cross

Marcia Cross

Mark McGrath of Suger Ray

Mark McGrath of

A 1970s Time Capsule from #atozchallenge – T is Also for Title IX

T

BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

TITLE IX

Be sure to visit my Pop Culture post today as well.

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi When President Nixon signed Title IX into law in 1972, few anticipated the legislation's impact.

AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi
When President Nixon signed Title IX into law in 1972, few anticipated the legislation’s impact.

On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signs into law the Higher Education Act, which includes the groundbreaking Title IX legislation. Title IX barred discrimination in higher education programs, including funding for sports and other extracurricular activities. As a result, women’s participation in team sports, particularly in collegiate athletics, surged with the passage of this act.

title-9-2

Two years ago on this date in my first week of blogging, I wrote specifically about Title IX.  The Act is also referred to as the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 (Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235).  It is more than just sports related.  More women could get a higher education because of this act.  Besides being best known for Title IX, this act also modified government programs providing financial aid to students by directing monies directly to the students without the participation of intermediary financial institutions.

Senator Bayh exercises with Title IX athletes at Purdue University, ca. 1970s.

Senator Bayh exercises with Title IX athletes at Purdue University, ca. 1970s.

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Brian_Rea_TITLEIX

A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge – T is for Triple Crown for Secretariat

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BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

POP CULTURE

Be sure to visit my News and Noteworthy posts today as well here and here.

There have been 12 Triple Crown winners in history.  The famous story of Secretariat captured our hearts in the 2010 Disney film.secretariat-sm

On June 9, 1973, with a spectacular victory at the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat becomes the first horse since Citation in 1948 to win America’s coveted Triple Crown–the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. In one of the finest performances in racing history, Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, completed the 1.5-mile race in 2 minutes and 24 seconds, a dirt-track record for that distance.

Secretariat wins Triple Crown Secretariat didn't just win the 1973 Belmont to cap the first Triple Crown in 25 years. Big Red redefined greatness in horse racing. Another colt, Sham, was still close as they headed toward the backstretch, but Secretariat broke free and continued to pull farther and farther ahead. The 31-length victory and track-record time of 2:24 marked Secretariat as the greatest horse of his generation.

Secretariat wins Triple Crown
Secretariat didn’t just win the 1973 Belmont to cap the first Triple Crown in 25 years. Big Red redefined greatness in horse racing. Another colt, Sham, was still close as they headed toward the backstretch, but Secretariat broke free and continued to pull farther and farther ahead. The 31-length victory and track-record time of 2:24 marked Secretariat as the greatest horse of his generation.

Secretariat was born at Meadow Stables in Doswell, Virginia, on March 30, 1970.

Secretariat as a baby in the fall of 1970 at The Meadow Stable in Doswell, Virginia

Secretariat as a baby in the fall of 1970 at The Meadow Stable in Doswell, Virginia

He was sired by Bold Ruler, the 1957 Preakness winner, and foaled by Something Royal, which came from a Thoroughbred line known for its stamina. An attractive chestnut colt, he grew to over 16 hands high and was at two years the size of a three-year-old.

Top: Bold Ruler, the sire. Middle: Secretariat his son.. Bottom: Somethingroyal, Secretariat's dam.

Top: Bold Ruler, the sire. Middle: Secretariat his son.. Bottom: Something Royal, Secretariat’s dam.

He ran his first race as a two-year-old on July 4, 1972, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Aqueduct in New York City. He came from behind to finish fourth; it was the only time in his career that he finished a race and did not place. Eleven days later, he won a six-furlong race at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, and soon after, another race. His trainer, Lucien Laurin, moved him up to class in August, entering him in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, which he won by three lengths. By the end of 1972, he had won seven of nine races.

Trainer Lucien Laurin

Trainer Lucien Laurin

With easy victories in his first two starts of 1973, Secretariat seemed on his way to the Triple Crown. Just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, however, he stumbled at the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct, coming in third behind Angle Light and Sham. On May 5, he met Sham and Angle Light again at the Churchill Downs track in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat, a 3-to-2 favorite, broke from near the back of the pack to win the 2 1/4-mile race in a record 1 minute and 59 seconds. He was the first to run the Derby in less than two minutes and his record still stands.

Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby 1973

Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby 1973

(Above: Ron Turcotte with Penny Chenery and Secretariat's trainer, Lucien Laurin, after winning the Kentucky Derby on 6 May 1973.)

(Above: Ron Turcotte with Penny Chenery and Secretariat’s trainer, Lucien Laurin, after winning the Kentucky Derby on 6 May 1973.)

Two weeks later, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, Secretariat won the second event of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. The official clock malfunctioned, but hand-recorded timers had him running the 1 1/16-mile race in record time.

ecretariat" Preakness Stakes photo #1 1973 signed by jockey "Ron Turcotte"

ecretariat” Preakness Stakes photo #1 1973 signed by jockey “Ron Turcotte”

On June 9, 1973, almost 100,000 people came to Belmont Park near New York City to see if “Big Red” would become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat gave the finest performance of his career in the Belmont Stakes, completing the 1.5-mile race in a record 2 minutes and 24 seconds, knocking nearly three seconds off the track record set by Gallant Man in 1957. He also won by a record 31 lengths. Ron Turcotte, who jockeyed Secretariat in all but three of his races, claimed that at Belmont he lost control of Secretariat and that the horse sprinted into history on his own accord.

This June 9, 1973 file photo shows Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, reacting after her horse won the Belmont Stakes, and the Triple Crown.

This June 9, 1973 file photo shows Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, reacting after her horse won the Belmont Stakes, and the Triple Crown.

Secretariat would race six more times, winning four and finishing second twice. In November 1973, the “horse of the century” was retired and put to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Among his notable offspring is the 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner, Risen Star. Secretariat was euthanized in 1989 after falling ill. An autopsy showed that his heart was two and a half times larger than that of the average horse, which may have contributed to his extraordinary racing abilities. In 1999, ESPN ranked Secretariat No. 35 in its list of the Top 50 North American athletes of the 20th century, the only non-human on the list.

triple-crown-winners1

The link below is the source of the following chart of the 12 Triple Crown winners so far.  There have been three in the 1970s.

Triple Crown Winners of Horse Racing

List of US Triple Crown Winners
Year Winner Jockey Trainer Owner Breeder
1919 Sir Barton Johnny Loftus H. Guy Bedwell J. K. L. Ross John E. Madden
1930 Gallant Fox Earl Sande Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud Belair Stud
1935 Omaha Willie Saunders Jim Fitzsimmons Belair Stud Belair Stud
1937 War Admiral Charley Kurtsinger George H. Conway Samuel D. Riddle Samuel D. Riddle
1941 Whirlaway Eddie Arcaro Ben A. Jones Calumet Farm Calumet Farm
1943 Count Fleet Johnny Longden Don Cameron Fannie Hertz Fannie Hertz
1946 Assault Warren Mehrtens Max Hirsch King Ranch King Ranch
1948 Citation Eddie Arcaro Horace A. Jones Calumet Farm Calumet Farm
1973 Secretariat Ron Turcotte Lucien Laurin Meadow Stable Meadow Stud
1977 Seattle Slew Jean Cruguet William H. Turner, Jr. Mickey and Karen L. Taylor, Tayhill Stable/Jim Hill, et al. Ben S. Castleman
1978 Affirmed Steve Cauthen Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm Harbor View Farm
2015 American Pharoah Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Ahmed Zayat Zayat Stables

A to Z on the Music Charts

Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) by Rod Stewart reached number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 on November 30, 1976 and remained for eight weeks.

A to Z At the Movies

Tied with Blazing Saddles as the top grossing film of 1974 and number 15 for the decade, The Towering Inferno had several major stars and was one among many films in the disaster movie genre of the 1970s.

The Towering Inferno, 1974

The Towering Inferno, 1974

A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge – T is for Three Mile Island Nuclear Disaster

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BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR DISASTER

Be sure to visit my Pop Culture post today as well.

At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat.

Are you familiar with the film, the China Syndrome starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas which was about a nuclear disaster?  When the film was first released on 16 March 1979, nuclear power executives soon lambasted the picture as being “sheer fiction” and a “character assassination of an entire industry”. Then twelve days after its launch, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurred in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

 

Three_Mile_Island_nuclear_power_plant

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.

After the cooling water began to drain out of the broken pressure valve on the morning of March 28, 1979, emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However, human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released.

Three Mile Island nuclear energy accident radiation contamination Although this photo suggests the confusion and consternation that reigned in the Three Mile Island control room early Wednesday morning, it was taken later, probably on Friday. Credits: Courtesy of Metropolitan Edison Company

Three Mile Island nuclear energy accident radiation contamination
Although this photo suggests the confusion and consternation that reigned in the Three
Mile Island control room early Wednesday morning, it was taken later, probably on
Friday. Credits: Courtesy of Metropolitan Edison Company

By early morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. In the meltdown scenario, the core melts, and deadly radiation drifts across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of people.

tmi-2

As the plant operators struggled to understand what had happened, the contaminated water was releasing radioactive gases throughout the plant. The radiation levels, though not immediately life-threatening, were dangerous, and the core cooked further as the contaminated water was contained and precautions were taken to protect the operators. Shortly after 8 a.m., word of the accident leaked to the outside world. The plant’s parent company, Metropolitan Edison, downplayed the crisis and claimed that no radiation had been detected off plant grounds, but the same day inspectors detected slightly increased levels of radiation nearby as a result of the contaminated water leak. Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh considered calling an evacuation.

Credit: Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Archives After the accident at Three Mile Island, fears about a meltdown and devastating release of radioactive gases gripped the eastern United States. It was the job of Harold Denton, Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (standing on the left), to inform Governor Thornburgh and President Jimmy Carter about discovery of the hydrogen bubble at the top of the reactor pressure vessel, and the possibilities of a meltdown. When President Carter arrived on Sunday morning, April 1, experts still did not know whether the bubble would explode.

Credit: Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Archives
After the accident at Three Mile Island, fears about a meltdown and devastating release of radioactive gases gripped the eastern United States. It was the job of Harold Denton, Director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (standing on the left), to inform Governor Thornburgh and President Jimmy Carter about discovery of the hydrogen bubble at the top of the reactor pressure vessel, and the possibilities of a meltdown. When President Carter arrived on Sunday morning, April 1, experts still did not know whether the bubble would explode.

Finally, at about 8 p.m., plant operators realized they needed to get water moving through the core again and restarted the pumps. The temperature began to drop, and pressure in the reactor was reduced. The reactor had come within less than an hour of a complete meltdown. More than half the core was destroyed or molten, but it had not broken its protective shell, and no radiation was escaping. The crisis was apparently over.

Two days later, however, on March 30, a bubble of highly flammable hydrogen gas was discovered within the reactor building. The bubble of gas was created two days before when exposed core materials reacted with super-heated steam. On March 28, some of this gas had exploded, releasing a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. At that time, plant operators had not registered the explosion, which sounded like a ventilation door closing. After the radiation leak was discovered on March 30, residents were advised to stay indoors. Experts were uncertain if the hydrogen bubble would create further meltdown or possibly a giant explosion, and as a precaution Governor Thornburgh advised “pregnant women and pre-school age children to leave the area within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility until further notice.” This led to the panic the governor had hoped to avoid; within days, more than 100,000 people had fled surrounding towns.

Photo by L-R: Director of the U.S. Nuclear Agency Harold Denton, PA. Gov. Dick Thornburgh, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter visit the control room of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Middletown, Pa on April 1, 1979. (Photo: AP Photo),Anonymous

Photo by L-R: Director of the U.S. Nuclear Agency Harold Denton, PA. Gov. Dick Thornburgh, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter visit the control room of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Middletown, Pa on April 1, 1979. (Photo: AP Photo),Anonymous

On April 1, President Jimmy Carter arrived at Three Mile Island to inspect the plant. Carter, a trained nuclear engineer, had helped dismantle a damaged Canadian nuclear reactor while serving in the U.S. Navy. His visit achieved its aim of calming local residents and the nation. That afternoon, experts agreed that the hydrogen bubble was not in danger of exploding. Slowly, the hydrogen was bled from the system as the reactor cooled.

At the height of the crisis, plant workers were exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation, but no one outside Three Mile Island had their health adversely affected by the accident. Nonetheless, the incident greatly eroded the public’s faith in nuclear power. The unharmed Unit-1 reactor at Three Mile Island, which was shut down during the crisis, did not resume operation until 1985. Cleanup continued on Unit-2 until 1990, but it was too damaged to be rendered usable again. In the decades since the accident at Three Mile Island, reactors have come online but not a single new nuclear power reactor has been licensed in the United States until February 2012 when a plant in Georgia was granted a license.

A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – S is for Star Wars

S

A 1970’s Time Capsule

POP CULTURE

Be sure to visit my News and Noteworthy post today as well.

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

 

It is May 25, 1977 and a film from creator, George Lucas opens in theaters.  This movie from 20th Century Fox would become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon.  It was followed by the similarly successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983); these three films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy. A prequel trilogy was later released between 1999 and 2005, which received a more mixed reaction from critics and fans in comparison to the original trilogy. All six films were nominated for or won Academy Awards, and were commercial successes, with a combined box office revenue of $4.38 billion.  In 2012, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at USD $30.7 billion, including box-office receipts as well as profits from their video games and DVD sales.  The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 and in 2015, the first of three new movies, The Force Awakens was released.

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In case there is anyone out there in our galaxy or one that is far far away, here is the plot of the first film.

  • In the beginning, the Galactic Empire is nearing completion of the Death Star space station, which will allow the Empire to crush the Rebel Alliance, an organized resistance formed to combat Emperor Palpatine’s tyranny.
  • Palpatine’s Sith apprentice Darth Vader captures Princess Leia, a member of the rebellion who has stolen the plans to the Death Star and hidden them in the astromech droid R2-D2.
  • R2D2 along with his protocol droid counterpart C-3PO, escapes to the desert planet Tatooine.
 R2-D2 and C-3PO, escapes to the desert planet Tatooine.

R2-D2 and C-3PO, escapes to the desert planet Tatooine.

  • The droids are purchased by farm boy Luke Skywalker and his step-uncle and aunt and Luke accidentally triggers a message that was put into the droid by Princess Leia.
Luke triggers a message from Princess Leia

Luke triggers a message from Princess Leia

  • The message hologram from Princess Leia asks for assistance from the legendary Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke later assists the droids in finding the exiled Jedi, who is now passing as an old hermit under the alias Ben Kenobi.
Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi

Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi

  • When Luke asks about his father, whom he has never met, Obi-Wan tells him that Anakin Skywalker was a great Jedi who was betrayed and murdered by Vader.
  • Obi-Wan and Luke hire the smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to take them to Alderaan. This was Leia’s home world and eventually they find that it has been destroyed by the Death Star.

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  • Once on board the space station, Luke and Han rescue Leia while Obi-Wan allows himself to be killed during a lightsaber duel with Vader; his sacrifice allows the group to escape with the plans that help the Rebels destroy the Death Star.
  • Luke himself (guided by the power of the Force) fires the shot that destroys the deadly space station during the Battle of Yavin.

 

A phenomenon in itself, the film score by the legendary John Williams is unforgettable.

Composer, John Williams conducts Star Wars

Composer, John Williams conducts Star Wars

All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.

A 1970s Time Capsule from #AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – S is for Son of Sam

SBLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

SON OF SAM

Be sure to visit my Pop Culture post today as well.

The saga of the “Son of Sam” killer ended, Wednesday, August 11, 1977 when police arrested a man identified as David Berkowitz, 24, who they believe is the .44-caliber killer who took six lives in New York City in more than a year. (AP Photo)

The saga of the “Son of Sam” killer ended, Wednesday, August 11, 1977 when police arrested a man identified as David Berkowitz, 24, who they believe is the .44-caliber killer who took six lives in New York City in more than a year. (AP Photo)

 

It’s July 29, 1976 and the so-called “Son of Sam” pulls a gun from a paper bag and fires five shots at Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti of the Bronx while they are sitting in a car, talking. Lauria died and Valenti was seriously wounded in the first in a series of shootings by the serial killer, who terrorized New York City over the course of the next year.

Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti, first victims of the Son of Sam

Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti, first victims of the Son of Sam

Once dubbed the “.44 Caliber Killer,” the Son of Sam eventually got his name from letters he sent to both the police and famed newspaper writer Jimmy Breslin that said,

“…I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt, prowling the streets looking for fair game. The weman are prettyist of all [sic]…”

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The second attack came on October 23, 1976, when a couple was shot as they sat in a car in Queens. A month later, two girls were talking on a stoop outside a home when the serial killer approached, asked for directions, and then suddenly pulled a gun out and fired several shots. Joanne Lomino was paralyzed from a bullet that struck her spine, but her friend was not seriously injured.

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The Son of Sam attacked again in January and March of 1977. In the latter attack, witnesses provided a description of the killer: an unattractive white man with black hair. After yet another shooting in the Bronx in April, the publicity hit a fever pitch. Women, particularly those with dark hair, were discouraged from traveling at night in the city.

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When the Son of Sam missed his intended victims in another murder attempt in June, vigilante groups formed across New York City looking for the killer. His last two victims were shot on July 31, 1977, in Brooklyn; one died. Then, police following up on a parking ticket that had been given out that night discovered a machine gun in a car belonging to David Berkowitz of Yonkers, New York.

David Berkowitz, AKA Son of Sam

David Berkowitz, AKA Son of Sam

The following video is interviews with citizens about the fears everyone felt during the the time of the murders.

http://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/deranged/videos/deranged-david-berkowitz-fear-in-nyc.htm

When questioned, Berkowitz explained that “Sam” was his neighbor Sam Carr–an agent of the devil. Sam transmitted his orders through his pet black Labrador. Years earlier, Berkowitz had shot the dog, complaining that its barking was keeping him from sleeping. After the dog recovered, Berkowitz claimed that it began speaking to him and demanding that he kill people.

The following video is about Berkowitz in the courtroom.

http://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/deranged/videos/deranged-son-of-sam-inside-the-courtroom.htm

In an unusual sequence of events, Berkowitz was allowed to plead guilty before claiming insanity and was sentenced to over 300 years in prison. In prison, he later claimed to be a born-again Christian.

David Berkowitz Photo: Andres Serrano)

David Berkowitz
(Photo: Andres Serrano)

 

All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.