March 5, 2019

50 Years Ago

Even if you weren’t alive in 1969, you likely remember some of these events.

Merle Poirier

January 20
Richard Nixon is sworn in as the thirty-seventh president of the United States. In his inaugural address he proclaims that Americans “cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another.”

30 1 5 8February 8
The last edition of Saturday Evening Post is published. It had begun publishing in 1869.

February 24
The U.S. Supreme Court in the Tinker v. Des Moines School District case rules that students have the right to express opinions at odds with the government.

March 10
James Earl Ray pleads guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr.

March 11
Levi starts selling bell-bottomed jeans.

March 28
Former president Dwight D. Eisenhower dies.

April 4
In Houston, Texas, Denton Cooley, M.D., implants the first temporary artificial heart.

April 6
Sir Wally Herbert, English explorer, reaches the North Pole on foot. He becomes the first man to cross the entire frozen surface of the Arctic Ocean.

April 17
A jury convicts Sirhan Sirhan of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

May 12
Winnie Mandela is detained under South Africa’s Terrorism Act and is placed in solitary confinement for 17 months.

May 15
A teenager known as “Robert R.” dies in St. Louis, Missouri, of an unknown medical condition. In 1984 it will be identified as the first confirmed case of HIV/AIDS in North America.2

May 27
Walt Disney World construction begins in Florida.

June 22
Judy Garland dies in London, United Kingdom.

June 28
The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement in the United States.

July 14
The $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills are officially removed from circulation in the United States.3

July 18
A car driven by Senator Edward M. Kennedy plunges off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, dies.

30 2 6July 20
Astronaut Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11) becomes the first man to walk on the moon.

August 8
Actress Sharon Tate and four other people are brutally murdered by Charles Manson and a group of his followers.

August 15
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair opens in upstate New York. An estimated 400,000 young people gather for the festival.

August 17
Hurricane Camille hits the Gulf Coast at Pass Christian, Mississippi, killing 256 people.

September 2
The first automatic teller machine in the United States is installed in Rockville Centre, New York.4

September 26
The Brady Brunch television series premiers on ABC.

November 10
Sesame Street, a children’s show, premieres on the National Education Television Network (later PBS).

November 15
The first Wendy’s fast-food restaurant opens in Ohio.

November 19
Apollo 12 astronauts land and men walk on the moon a second time.

December 14
The Jackson 5 appears on
The Ed Sullivan Show. Michael Jackson is 11.


  1. https://timelines.ws/20thcent/1969.HTML, unless otherwise noted.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1969_in_the_United_States
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
Merle Poirier
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