1970 — 50 Years Ago
By Tom Morrow
The year 1970 was jammed with historic news. Below is but a few of the news stories that filled newspapers and airwaves.
The Apollo 13 Calamity
The Apollo craft was launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, but the planned lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module (SM) failed two days into the mission. The crew instead looped around the Moon, and returned safely to Earth on April 17. The mission was commanded by Jim Lovell with Jack Swigert as command module (CM) pilot and Fred Haise as lunar module (LM) pilot.
The crew performed an unbelievable series of make-shift tasks to get back to earth
An investigative review board found fault with preflight testing of the oxygen tank and the fact that Teflon was placed inside it. The board recommended changes, including minimizing the use of potentially combustible items inside the tank; this was done for Apollo 14. The story of Apollo 13 has been dramatized several times, most notably in the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” starring Tom Hanks as Lovell.
Through innovation and a lot of luck the three returned safely to earth. It should be noted today’s average “smart” phone has more computerization power than the entire Apollo space craft had.
Kent State Massacre Kills 4
The Kent State shootings (also known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre), were the shootings of 13 unarmed Kent State University students in Kent, Ohio, by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.
The killings took place during a peace rally against the expanding involvement of the Vietnam War into neutral Cambodia by United States military forces as well as the National Guard presence on campus. The incident marked the first time that a student had been slain in an anti-war gathering in United States history.
Some 28 National Guard soldiers fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.
The fatal shootings triggered immediate and massive outrage on campuses around the country. More than 4 million students participated in organized walk-outs at hundreds of universities, colleges and high schools, the largest such strike in the history of the United States. The student strike of 1970 further affected public opinion at an already socially contentious time over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.
French hero Charles de Gaulle dies at 80
World War II French leader and hero to his countrymen French President Charles de Gaulle passed away at the age of 80 on Nov. 22, 1970. He was a French army officer and statesman who led the Free French Forces against Nazi Germany during World War II, and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946, in London.
De Gaulle rewrote the Constitution of France and was elected President in 1958, a position he held until 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the early part of the Cold War era; his memory continues to influence French politics.
Noted vaudeville, burlesque, stripteaser, musical comedy star, author, film actress ,and playwright Rose Louise Hovick, better known as “Gypsy Rose Lee” died in Los Angeles at the age of 59, April 17, 1959.
She and her sister, film actress June Havoc, worked in their early life singing and dancing in burlesques and vaudeville but Louise’s singing and dancing talents were insufficient to sustain the act without June. Eventually, it became apparent Louise could make more money in burlesque, which earned her legendary status as an elegant and witty striptease artist.
Initially, her act was propelled forward when a shoulder strap on one of her gowns gave way, causing her dress to fall to her feet despite her efforts to cover herself. Encouraged by the audience’s response, she went on to make the trick the focus of her performance.
Other headlines included:
The Beatles break up
Right-to-vote goes to 18-year-olds
George C. Scott wins Oscar for lead role in “Patton.”
Cesar Chavez jailed for lettuce boycott
Singer Janice Joplin dies from drug overdose