What Happened in My Birth Year

In 1967, the world was a different place.

There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo.

In 1967, the year of my birth, the top selling movie was The Jungle Book. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.

Remember, that was before there were DVDs. Heck, even before there was VHS. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.

The academy award for the best movie went to In the Heat of the Night. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to Closely Watched Trains. The top actor was Rod Steiger for his role as Police Chief Bill Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night. The top actress was Katharine Hepburn for her role as Christina Drayton in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The best director? Mike Nichols for The Graduate.

In the year 1967, the time when I arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time was The Arrangement by Elia Kazan. Oh, that's many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it?

In 1967... The Doors' self-titled debut album is released. The New York Times reports that the U.S. Army is conducting secret germ warfare experiments. Segregationist Lester Maddox is sworn in as Governor of Georgia. The Parliament of the United Kingdom decides to nationalize 90% of the British steel industry. The United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom sign the Outer Space Treaty. The Chinese government announces that it can no longer guarantee the safety of Soviet diplomats outside the Soviet Embassy building. A Soviet nuclear test is conducted at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, Eastern Kazakhstan. Pope Paul VI issues the encyclical Populorum Progressio. The Surveyor 3 probe lands on the Moon. Montreal, Quebec, Expo 67, a World's Fair to coincide with the Canadian Confederation centennial, officially opens with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson igniting the Expo Flame in the Place des Nations. Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu are married in Las Vegas. The Greek military government accuses Andreas Papandreou of treason.

That was the world I was born into.  

The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Miguel Ángel Asturias. The Nobel prize for physics went to Hans Albrecht Bethe from the United States for his contributions to the theory of nuclear reactions, especially his discoveries concerning the energy production in stars. The sensation this created was big. But it didn't stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn't it?

The 1960s were indeed a special decade. The Swinging Sixties saw the rise of counterculture. There was recreational drug use and casual sex. Many countries gained independence from their colonial rulers. Several governments turned to the left. In Britain, the Labour Party gains power. The Vietnam War continues. The Algerian War comes to a close. In the US, Hispanics fight to end racial discrimination and socioeconomic disparity. Feminism keeps rising. Art House films make it to theaters. The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones play their music. The US and Soviet Union come close to a military confrontation during the Cuba missile crisis. Nixon becomes US president. Man lands on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission of the United States. The first heart transplantation occurs. The first computer game, Spacewar, is created.

Progress, year after year. I wonder where the world is heading towards. The technology available today would have blown my mind in 1967. Do you know what was invented in the year I was born? The Automatic Teller Machine. Hypertext. The Quartz Wristwatch.

In 1967, a new character entered the world of comic books: Mr. Natural. Bang! Boom! But that's just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1967, Anna Nicole Smith was born. And Kurt Cobain. Julia Roberts, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.

All of this came from a brilliant little website called What Happened in My Birthyear.com


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