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A nostalgic Black & White photo journey through America’s past

Nostalgia…. What a flood of memories many of these pictures bring to most adults and baby-boomers.  A little journey through our childhood via some incredible black and white photos gathered from the internet.  A brief description provided when available.  Sadly, I am unable to locate the source of these photos.

Beach party movies were an American 1960s genre of feature films created by American International Pictures (AIP) with their surprise 1963 hit, Beach Party, and copied by virtually every other studio.  The AIP story lines typically revolved around boyfriend and girlfriend Frankie (Avalon) and Annette (Funicello) trying to make one another jealous with newcomers, as they and their friends had adventures (on and off the beach), with someone breaking into song every few minutes. The main cast usually had running roles (though their character names sometimes changed from picture to picture), and with the exception of Muscle Beach Party, the villains of the story were usually biker Eric Von Zipper (played by comic actor Harvey Lembeck as a parody of Marlon Brando in The Wild One) and his inept gang the Rat Pack, or “Rats & Mice” (which included Alberta Nelson, of The Andy Griffith Show).
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The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the movements in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring voting rights in Southern states. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1954 and 1968, particularly in the South. By 1966, the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged the aims of the Civil Rights Movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from oppression by white Americans. Police and military were typically present during rights marches.
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Sharon Marie Tate (January 24, 1943 – August 9, 1969) was an American actress. During the 1960s she played small television roles before appearing in several films.  Married to film director Roman Polanski in 1968, Tate was eight and a half months pregnant when she and her unborn child were murdered in her home, along with four others, by followers of Charles Manson. Above is the photo of the coroners removing her body from the crime scene.
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Duck and Cover – I remember these vividly – was a suggested method of personal protection against the effects of a nuclear weapon which the United States government taught to generations of United States school children from the early 1950s into the 1980s, during the Cold War with Russia. This was supposed to protect them in the event of an unexpected nuclear attack which, they were told, could come at any time without warning. Immediately after they saw a flash they had to stop what they were doing and get on the ground under some cover—such as a table, or at least next to a wall—and assume the fetal position, lying face-down and covering their heads with their hands.  Additionally, we all knew where our local fall-out shelters were located.
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Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South with the aim of achieving freedom. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood phase of film making during the late sixties. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Registry in 1998.
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The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was a women’s professional baseball league founded by Philip K. Wrigley which existed from 1943 to 1954. With America’s entry into World War II, several major league baseball executives started a new professional league with women players in order to maintain baseball in the public eye while the majority of able men were away. Initial tryouts were held at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Salaries ranged from $45–$85 a week during the first years of play to as much as $125 per week in later years. Movie “A League of Their Own” was about this league and era.
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James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film,Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled Los Angeles teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were as loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955), and as the surly farmer, Jett Rink, in Giant (1956) – which is seen in picture above. Dean’s enduring fame and popularity rests on his performances in only these three films, all leading roles. His premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status.
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John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the crime but was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby before any trial. The FBI, the Warren Commission, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that Oswald was the assassin, with the HSCA allowing for the probability of conspiracy based on disputed acoustic evidence. Today, Kennedy continues to rank highly in public opinion ratings of former U.S. presidents.
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Lee Harvey Oswald (October 18, 1939 – November 24, 1963) was, according to four government investigations,[n 1] the sniper who killed John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. A former U.S. Marine who had briefly (October 1959 – June 1962) defected to the Soviet Union, Oswald was initially arrested for the shooting murder of police officer J. D. Tippit, on a Dallas street approximately 40 minutes after Kennedy was shot. Suspected in the assassination of Kennedy as well, Oswald denied involvement in either of the killings. Two days later, while being transferred from police headquarters to the county jail, Oswald was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in full view of television cameras broadcasting live. In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in assassinating Kennedy, firing three shots, a conclusion also reached by prior investigations carried out by the FBI and Dallas Police Department.
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Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as The Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically expressed through terrorism. Since the mid-20th century, the KKK has also been anti-communist. The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters and is classified as a hate group. The first Klan flourished in the South in the 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid 1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the civil rights movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to America’s “Anglo-Saxon” and “Celtic” blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism and claiming descent from the original 18th-century British colonial revolutionaries.[15] All incarnations of the Klan have well-established records of engaging in terrorism, though historians debate how widely the tactic was supported by the membership of the second KKK.
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Bus Segregation. Under the system of segregation used on Montgomery AL buses, white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front rows, filling the bus toward the back. Black people who boarded the bus took seats in the back rows, filling the bus toward the front. Eventually, the two sections would meet, and the bus would be full. If other black people boarded the bus, they were required to stand. If another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created. Often when boarding the buses, black people were required to pay at the front, get off, and reenter the bus through a separate door at the back. On some occasions bus drivers would drive away before black passengers were able to re-board.
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Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. On March 24, 1958, Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army as a private at Fort Chaffee, near Fort Smith, Arkansas. Captain Arlie Metheny, the information officer, was unprepared for the media attention drawn by the singer’s arrival. Hundreds of people descended on Presley as he stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the base. Presley announced that he was looking forward to his military stint, saying he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else: “The Army can do anything it wants with me.” Later, at Fort Hood, Texas, Lieutenant Colonel Marjorie Schulten gave the media carte blanche for one day, after which she declared Presley off-limits to the press. Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant on March 5.
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Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jr, amongst other famous guests at the Crescendo Club in Los Angeles, CA.
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Marilyn Monroe wore a white dress in the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy Wilder. The dress was created by costume designer William Travilla and was worn in one of the best-known scenes in the movie. The dress is regarded as an icon of film history and the image of Monroe in the white dress standing above a subway grating blowing the dress up has been described as one of the iconic images of the 20th century.
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How many people can fit in…. craze or fad.  Students and young adults would all squeeze in attempting records on how many people can fit in….
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John F Kennedy Jr saluting his father. For JFK Jr. Mon November 25, 1963 started out with his nanny, Maude Shaw, and sister Caroline singing “Happy Birthday” to him. The day that the nation buried his father was also his third birthday. While his mother and the Kennedy clan led the procession to the church John-John and his sister trailed behind in the limo. After the service Jackie standing with Caroline and John-John and close Kennedy members witnessed the casket being carried out of the church. It was here that TV coverage caught an emotional scene as Mrs. Kennedy whispered to JFK Jr. who then stepped forward and gave his best three year old salute to his father.
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The construction of Mount Rushmore National Memorial took about 14 years, from 1927 to 1941. Doane Robinson of the South Dakota Historical Society wanted a monument to be built in South Dakota in order to help the economy of the state by attracting tourism. In 1923, he proposed that this monument should be built from the granite cliffs in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota approved of the proposal, and federal funds helped the project. Robinson asked architect and sculptor Gutzon Borglum to sculpt and design the monument. Borglum decided to use Mount Rushmore for the sculpture, since it appeared the easiest of the cliffs to work on. Gutzon Borglum, having decided on the location of the sculpture, decided to make this monument of four Presidents of the United States. He chose the two most famous Presidents in american history, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. He chose Thomas Jefferson because Jefferson nearly doubled the size of the United States in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase (which included the land that became South Dakota). The last President Borglum chose was Theodore Roosevelt, suggested by President Calvin Coolidge (who insisted there be two Republicans and only one Democrat represented) because of Theodore Roosevelt’s introduction of the National Park Service. A few hundred workers, who were usually miners, sculptors, or rock climbers, used dynamite, jack hammering, and chiseling to sculpt the model from the mountain. A stairway was constructed to the top of the mountain first and ropes fixed. Workers were supported by harnesses attached to the ropes.
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Lex Barker (May 8, 1919 – May 11, 1973) was an American actor best known for playing Tarzan of the Apes and leading characters from Karl May’s novels.
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Batman is a 1960s American television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It stars Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin — two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City. It aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network for two and a half seasons from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. The show was aired twice weekly for its first two seasons, resulting in the production of a total of 120 episodes.
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The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. From 1962, the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the group later worked in many genres ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. The nature of their enormous popularity, which first emerged as “Beatlemania”, transformed as their songwriting grew in sophistication. They came to be perceived as the embodiment of ideals of the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. McCartney filed a suit for the dissolution of their contractual partnership on 31 December 1970. Legal disputes continued long after the band’s break-up, and the dissolution of the partnership did not take effect until 1975.
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Badfinger was a British rock band consisting originally of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans, active from 1968 to 1983, and evolving from The Iveys, formed by Ham, Griffiths and David “Dai” Jenkins in Swansea, Wales in the early 1960s. Joey Molland joined the group in 1969, following the departure of Griffiths. Picked up by The Beatles’ Apple label in 1968, in 1969 they adopted the name Badfinger. Initially drawing Beatle comparisons on account of some musical resemblance and individual Beatles’ mentorship , Badfinger had four consecutive worldwide hits over 1970-71 with “Come and Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney), “No Matter What”, “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue”, providing a seminal example of the post-’60s power pop genre. The Ham/Evans-penned Badfinger original “Without You”, an oft-covered song, became a “Billboard” #1 hit for Harry Nilsson, and later a #3 hit for Mariah Carey.
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Nancy Sandra Sinatra (born June 8, 1940) is an American singer and actress. She is the daughter of singer/actor Frank Sinatra, and remains best known for her 1966signature hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” – which you may play here:

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The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board, 35 people died. There was one additional fatality on the ground.
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moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. This includes both manned and unmanned (robotic) missions. The first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 mission on 13 September 1959. The United States’s Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon on 20 July 1969. There have been six manned landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings.
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Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was a Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India in 1950. For over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Following her death she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
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A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 darkly satirical science fiction film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel of the same name. The film, which was made in England, concerns Alex (Malcolm McDowell – pictured above), a charismatic, psychopathic delinquent whose pleasures are classical music (especially Beethoven), rape, and so-called ‘ultra-violence.’ He leads a small gang of thugs (Pete, Georgie, and Dim), whom he calls his droogs (from the Russian друг, “friend”, “buddy”). The film tells the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via a controversial psychological conditioning technique. Alex narrates most of the film in Nadsat, a fractured, contemporary adolescent slang comprising Slavic (especially Russian), English, and Cockney rhyming slang. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked the novel A Clockwork Orange 65th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
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Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963.  Thích Quảng Đức was protesting against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Ngô Đình Diệm administration. Many monks followed his ritual as seen above.
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Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the founder of one of the most famous fashion brands, Chanel. Her extraordinary influence on fashion was such that she was the only person in the couturier field to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
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The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones (guitars, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (vocals, harmonica) and Keith Richards (guitars). Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early lineup. The Rolling Stones raised the international regard for the primitive blues typified by Chess Records’ artists such as Muddy Waters, who wrote the song Rollin’ Stone after which the band is named.
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Sir Michael Philip “Mick” Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, actor and producer, best known as the lead vocalist of rock band The Rolling Stones. Jagger has also acted in and produced several films. On 12 December 2003, Jagger was knighted for Services to Music, as Sir Michael Jagger by The Prince of Wales. Mick Jagger’s knighthood received mixed reactions. Some fans were disappointed when he accepted the honour as it seemed to contradict his anti-establishment stance.
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Divine (19 October 1945 – 7 March 1988), né Harris Glenn Milstead, (pictured above with Mick Jagger) was an American actor, singer and drag queen. Described by People magazine as the “Drag Queen of the Century”, Divine often performed female roles in both cinema and theater and also appeared in women’s clothing in musical performances. Even so, he considered himself to be a character actor and performed male roles in a number of his later films. He was often associated with independent filmmaker John Waters and starred in ten of Waters’s films, usually in a leading role. Concurrent with his acting career, he also had a successful career as a disco singer during the 1980s, at one point being described as “the most successful and in-demand disco performer in the world.”
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Cabell “Cab” Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz singer and bandleader. Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular African American big bands from the start of the 1930s through the late 1940s. Calloway’s band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon “Chu” Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86. Pictured above leading the band at a New Year’s Eve ball.
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The “second-wave” of the Women’s MovementFeminist Movement, or the Women’s Liberation Movement in the United States refers to a period of feminist activity which began during the early 1960s and lasted through the late 1970s.
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Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Arabic: الحاجّ مالك الشباز‎), was an African-American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. His detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, antisemitism, and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history, and in 1998, TIME named The Autobiography of Malcolm X one of the ten most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.
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Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Dustin Hoffman (above, right) and then-newcomer Jon Voight (above, left) in the title role. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Bob Balaban, and Barnard Hughes; M. Emmet Walsh is an uncredited, pre-fame extra. The film won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is the only X rated film ever to win Best Picture.
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Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir film, directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne and starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston. The film features many elements of the film noir genre, particularly a multi-layered story that is part mystery and part psychological drama. It was released by Paramount Pictures.
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13 replies »

  1. These photos are amazing they capture what it was like to be a child in the 60s for me. I can almost imagine I see myself huddled beneath one of those desk in the picture. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. That was a time of excitement for the change that we all knew was inevitable, it was a wild time, and a fun time as well but somehow frightening because it promised infinite possibilities. Yes I am sure I see myself huddled beneath one of those desk. Thanks again!!!

  2. Of all, I guess I remember hearing Malcolm speak from a stepladder on a street corner in Harlem. Had to be around 1957, 58. The man had amazing strength in his ability to communicate.

    More so than Dr. King in my experience.

    • I’m a bit younger than you, but the one photo in this post I recall the most are the duck and cover bomb drills. We all knew where our local fall out shelters were. Now, looking back… like a desk is going to keep us safe if a nuke is dropped? I vaguely remember man on the moon… I have better memories of Apollo 13, tho.

  3. Wow! These are amazing. I am a child of the 60s and so most of these people, events and attitudes are part of me. The photo of the monk’s self-immolation caused a memory reaction — other images from the Vietnam war played in my mind like a slideshow: the gun to the head of the captured Viet Cong man, the naked girl who had been burned by napalm, the photos of My Lai, the body count on tv every night with Walter Cronkite — with images like those burned into our psyche, how did this country ever let Bush and Co.fool us into going to Iraq? We should be ashamed.

    I am currently reading Leap of Faith, Queen Noor’s memoir. She is describing her growing up and college years and your photos and her words are taking me back to the attitudes, passion, marches, demonstrations, turmoil of the 60s and early 70s. What a time. No wonder there was an explosion of art during that time. People spoke out however they could — painting, photography, music, film — those were the “words” of the artist. I have The Autobiography of Malcolm X on the shelf to read next.

    Thank you for this collection!

    • There are many things I miss about previous decades. Naturally not the hate, but I do miss the attitude that went along with the activism back then. Even though there is a lot of activism now, it’s just… different. Plus people had a sense of self-responsibility when I was growing up. That I really do miss. Now it’s everyone else’s fault if you screw up, gain weight from eating to many Big Mac’s, etc.

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