Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers

Saturday, December 31, 2016

How Many of These New Year's Eve Hosts Do You Remember?

While it seems as if half of America is crammed into Times Square every December 31, the fact is the crowd represents a teeny, tiny fraction of the population. Most of us watch the New Year arrive on television. It's a tradition nearly as old as the medium itself.
To many, Dick Clark is the first name that comes to mind when discussing the broadcast history of the holiday. However, not only were there other icons before him, Clark was not even the first host of his own New Year's Rockin' Eve.
As another new year arrives, we thought we'd take a flip through the channels of the past and remember the many TV hosts of New Year's Eve history. 
With the advent of cable, the options proliferated greatly in the 1990s. We're going to stick with the classics, from the earliest days of broadcasting the ball drop to the dawn of the 1980s. 
Which host did your family watch? Who was your favorite?
To keep reading this article, click here.

In Memoriam: The TV Stars We Lost in 2016

This year was not kind to our pop culture icons. In the world of music, once-in-a-generation talents like David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen shockingly left us. We lost the first American to orbit earth in John Glenn, a former first lady in Nancy Reagan, and a sports icon in Muhammad Ali.

The television world said goodbye to some beloved actors and creators, as well. Sitcom stars, cartoon voices and captivating dramatic thespians passed away. Fans of the The Patty Duke Show were especially hard hit, as the show's father and daughter died within weeks of each other, as well as some notable boys from the sitcom. The Bradys lost a mother, and a superhero died.

Lest we forget these adored performers, here is a recap of the obituaries we have run in 2016. Alas, we could not include everyone. May they all rest in peace.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Friday, December 30, 2016

50 Years Ago: 8 Groundbreaking TV Shows from 1966

1966 was a big year for television. Industry titans like Andy Griffith, Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason reigned supreme. There was an impressive slate of newcomers too, with stars like Phyllis Diller, Gary Moore and Jean Arthur getting their own shows in competitive time slots. 
But you don't remember those ones, do you? Instead, it was the crop of underdogs that broke through to have high ratings and a lasting legacy. 
This past year year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of favorites like Star Trek, Batman and more. 
Here's why they were important. 
To keep reading this article, click here.

50 Years Ago: The Top 10 Movies

Characters that appeared on the silver screen fifty years ago like Batman and Alfie have returned to the box office in modern times. Yet neither Batman nor Alfie were among the top grossing films of 1966. Fantastic VoyageThe Endless SummerOur Man Flint and Fahrenheit 451 failed to crack the top ten, too.
Here are the ten biggest flicks of 1966. How many of them have you seen?
To continue reading this article, click here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

50 Years Ago: Some One-Hit Wonders of 1966

The thing with one-hit wonders is that they are rarely, technically, mere one-hit wonders. 
When a band scores a massive pop hit, the momentum is usually enough to get its follow-up single on the charts. When you rewind the pop clock all the way back to 1966, it gets even messier, as the industry was just so different, and certain acts scored regional hits.
Still, in hindsight, half a decade later, a band that managed to land a few songs in Billboard is remembered for that one defining, high-climbing song. The Top 10 national smash overshadows the rest as years pass. History tends to turn two-hit wonders into one-hit wonders.
Here are some of our favorite short-lived sensations of 1966.
To continue reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

50 Years Ago: 8 Great Sporting Events from 1966

Every year, records are broken in sports. Rules change, equipment improves and athletes get a little bigger, a little faster. 
Still, 1966 was a pretty landmark year in sporting. Barriers were smashed, historic games took place and the most dominating league in American athletics was born. There was even a major motion picture made about the first entry on our biggest sporting events from fifty years ago.
To continue reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Some Flashback Facts from the Year 1966

The year 1966 was an eventful year. 

Like any other year some events were good, some weren't. Some events were memorable and some events we prefer to just forget.

Here's a look back at some of the things in history and culture 50 years ago.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Exorcist Opens (1973)

On this day in 1973, The Exorcist, a horror film starring the actress Linda Blair as a girl possessed by an evil spirit, makes its debut in theaters; it will go on to earn a reputation as one of the scariest movies in history. 

The Exorcist was based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel of the same name, about the last sanctioned Catholic exorcism to take place in the United States, in the late 1940s. 

In the film, Blair played Regan, a sweet 12-year-old girl who begins suffering bouts of bizarre behavior. When her concerned mother (Ellen Burstyn), contacts a priest, he recommends performing an exorcism. Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller played the two priests who eventually conduct the exorcism at the home where Regan is living in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.

To keep reading this article, click here.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The 12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - The Toys KIds Had to Have in the 1970s

The digital age arrived in the Seventies. In the prior decade, children played with simpler toys. 
The hot presents of the 1960s included dolls, balls, kitchen appliances and soldiers. But as electronic pop music began to creep its way on the radio, and as androids populated television shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, kids turned to the future with their video games, robots and space men.
Still, the simple pleasure of a ball — or a single rock — retained its allure.
These popular toys made their debut between 1970 and 1979.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The 12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Toys Kids Had to Have in the 60s

Let's face it, kids just wanted to be little adults in the 1960s. From small kitchen appliances to baby dolls, the toys of that era were pretty mature.
Well, now the joke's on us. We would give anything to play with an Easy-Bake Oven again instead of cook dinner for our families. 
These were the toys every kid wanted to find underneath the tree Christmas morning in the 1960s. 
To continue reading this article, click here

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The 12 Ghosting Gifts of Christmas Past - 10 Toys Kids Had to Have in the 1950s

Before Santa was stuffing the latest electronics into stockings on Christmas Eve, he was gifting kids with simple treasures.T

The Fifties were a decade that saw some of the greatest and most enduring toys hit the market. Hula hoops, Barbies and Matchbox cars first found their way under the tree on Christmas mornings in the 1950s.

These were some of the most popular Christmas gifts back then. Do you remember waking up to any of these presents.
To continue reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The 12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Vintage Traditions

Christmas traditions have changed significantly over the centuries, which isn't such a bad thing, as that means we no longer have to put a boar's head on the table and eat pies made of mutton and raisins. Even within our lifetimes, popular practices of the yuletide season have come and gone.
Decorations from our childhood may no longer be trendy, but adhering to those traditions is what connects us to our family and our past. That's part of the fun of watching Christmas episodes of classic television shows — seeing how the holiday was celebrated in the mid-century. So as the calendar page again turns to December, let's take a look at Christmas traditions that were all the rage in the youth of Boomers. 
How many do you still use? Did we miss anything?
To continue reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Live-Action Specials from the 70s

The 1970s were a decade rich with variety shows and holiday specials. It's no wonder that when the Yuletide rolled around, every family-friendly pop star and crooner seemed to show up on TV with an hour of caroling celebrities. Everyone from Johnny Cash to the Captain and Tennille hosted holiday extravaganzas.
We've gathered a dozen of our favorites from the era. 
Did you watch any of these while trimming the tree?
To continue reading this article, click here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The 12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Memorable Holiday Episodes of TV Shows

Here are 34 of the best Christmas episodes of all-time courtesy of MeTV.

To check them out and see if yours made the list, click here.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The 12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Ranking the Nostalgic Holiday Specials

Why is it that we only watch a few classic Christmas specials every year? Well, according to a recent report from NPR, it might just be because a lot of them aren't that good.
Out of the hundreds of TV specials that have premiered every December since the 1950s, it seems like only a few consistently make it to primetime every year. Could it be that maybe we just want a dash of nostalgia along with our eggnog?
Now we are taking the best of the best, the Christmas specials from our childhoods, and ranking them here. Will Frosty melt under the pressure — or will the Grinch steal first place?
To continue reading this article, click here.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - A Charlie Brown Christmas

Most Christmas specials from the 1960s were based on classic pieces of literature or famous Christmas songs. A Charlie Brown Christmas broke that tradition by using famous cartoon characters to create an original story.
Before the special aired, it looked like it was going to be a disaster. Production was rushed and over budget. The network didn't like it. The animators feared they ruined the Peanuts brand.
None of their worries mattered, though, as A Charlie Brown Christmas became an instant classic. Celebrating its 51st anniversary this year, the special has become a holiday tradition for families around the country. 
To continue reading this article, click here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The 1960s produced some of the most revered holiday specials of all time, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Frosty the Snowman. But it all started with Rudolph. 
On this day 52 years ago, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer debuted in primetime on NBC. It has run every year since, making it a family tradition. Perhaps you watched this special as a kid, watched it with your kids growing up — or maybe even watch it with your grandkids now. 
To put it simply, it's just not the holiday season without this stop-motion special. The next time you watch it, remember these 10 facts. 
To continue reading this article, click here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It's a tradition for many families across the country to gather around the television during the holiday season and watch popular specials from yesteryear. Children who watched programs like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the 1960s watched it again with their kids as they grew older — and perhaps even watch them now with their grandchildren. 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! That means we've had five decades of Dr. Seuss' green monster shaking up Christmas.
When you watch the special this year with your families, impress them with these eight facts. 
To continue reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - #1's of the 70's

Ah, December! Snow is in the air (in most places), lights are on the trees and carols are playing in every retail store. Yet, the season is not all about Christmas songs.
In fact, the tune-topping Billboard's Hot 100 on December 25 is rarely a holiday number. 
In the 1970s, it was business as usual at the end of year. Or, well, disco as usual. Let's take a look and listen to the No. 1 hits during the Yuletide seasons of the decade.
Do you remember trimming the tree or ripping open presents to these smashes?
To continue reading this article, click here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

12 Gifting Ghosts of Christmas Past - Christmas Trees

Do you prefer a real tree or a fake tree? It's the Ginger versus Mary Ann debate of Christmas decorating. 
How you answer the question just might rely on the era in which you grew up. Throughout the 20th century, tastes in tannenbaums changed with the trends of the decades. The postwar era of plastics ushered in a new future of artificial evergreens. Trees changed colors with the times, as the flocking fad came and went.
Television played a major part in the evolution of the American Xmas tree, too. Let's take a brief stroll through the Christmas trees our our past. Which kind did your family have?
To continue reading this article, click here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

On This Date in Boomer History - Helen Reddy Helps Women Roar (1972)

On Dec. 9, 1972, the number 1 song in the country was Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman."

Nothing in her professional credentials suggested the Australian pop singer Reddy as a feminist icon prior to 1972. 

She’d made her way to the United States from her native Australia on her own to pursue stardom, and she’d paid her dues working on the periphery of the music business for a number of years before making a breakthrough.

To continue reading this article from the History Channel, click here.

Here is the song ...

And here are the lyrics.
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

Thursday, December 8, 2016

On This Date in Baby Boomer History - John Lennon Is Killed (1980)

There are many murderous memorial dates for us Baby Boomers that prompt us to remember exactly where we were when we first heard the tragic news. JFK. Martin Luther King. Malcolm X. Bobby Kennedy.

And many of us, including me, can add John Lennon to that list. I had just finished practicing with the band I was in at the time on Dec. 8, 1980 and was home watching Monday Night Football. The legendary Howard Cossel announced Lennon's death during the game.

Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman as the 40-year-old former Beatle was entering the luxury Manhattan apartment building where he lived with artist wife Yoko Ono. Lennon was rushed to the hospital, but died en route.

Lennon's death struck me particularly hard. He had always been my favorite Beatle and I knew immediately that not only would the Beatles never perform again, but Lennon's violent death signaled an official closing to an era that had once promised peace and love.

Encore 1
Howard Cossel delivers the news of John Lennon's death.

Encore 2
John Lennon's last interview in Rolling Stone, given just 3 days before he died.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On This Date in Baby Boomer History - The Man Behind the Disney Dream Is Born (1901)

On December 5th, 1901, Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and the Disney empire, was born.

There is perhaps no more universally beloved fictional character than Mickey Mouse. But it's hard to imagine Mickey inspiring such cuddly feelings if his name was Mortimer Mouse. Which, for all of Walt Disney's genius, was the name he was originally going to go with for the mouse that would become the centerpiece of his empire. 

But as we all know, behind every great man, there's a woman. Walt's wife, Lillian Disney, convinced him that Mickey might be a better name than the one she felt was too pompous. 

Meanwhile, Walt used the Mortimer name down the line, making him Mickey's rival.

And Mickey's land sprang from Walt watching a merry-go-round.

One day, Disney was watching his daughters ride the merry-go-round at Griffith Park in Los Angeles thinking the same thing as many parents in that exact same spot: This is colossally boring. 

It was right there that Disney says he had the inspiration for his theme park. He wanted an amusement park where both kids and parents could have fun. It was such a pivotal moment for him that he took the bench and put it on display at Disneyland's Opera House. Seems safe to say, he achieved his initial objective.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On This Date in Baby Boomer History - Elvis Begins Making Movies (1956)

On this date in 1956 Elvis Presley made his movie debut in Love Me Tender. 

Love Me Tender was originally going to be a smaller budget film called The Reno Brothers, and, in fact, the role of Clint Reno in the film was going to be a small part. Then they cast Elvis Presley and everything changed. 

Presley didn't get top billing in the movie, but he clearly had a huge impact, with the studios giving extra funding for the film, growing the size of his role, changing the title to the name of Elvis' hit song, and adding in several more musical numbers for the King. 

This would be the beginning of a long-running pattern of Presley wanting to do serious dramatic roles and the studios putting in a ton of songs for him to sing. 

The film was a hit and had already made back its money in the first weekend. 

Presley would go on to star in 31 movies (not counting another two concert documentaries). It would be the last time he didn't get top billing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

On This Date in Boomer History - The Wall Falls (1989)

For us Baby Boomers, the Berlin Wall was a visible symbol of fear, oppression, and the Cold War.

I think most of us assumed the wall, erected by East Germany in 1961, would forever separate the free section of Berlin from the communist section of East Berlin.

However, on this day in 1989, the wall came down.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was actually an accident.

On that fatefull day, Gunter Schabowski was placed in charge of announcing East Germany's newest travel rules, which entailed a new visa application process launching the following day that would allow certain people to go from East Berlin to West Berlin. Problem is, apparently nobody explained all this to Gunter Schabowski. 

When he got to the microphone, he announced that all travel visa restrictions would be lifted, because he thought that was actually what he was supposed to say. When asked when this would happen, a flustered Schabowski started leafing through his notes before giving up and saying, "As far as I'm aware, immediately." Well that was all it took for history to happen. 

When people came to the Bornholmer Street checkpoint to cross over to West Berlin, an officer named Harald Jager was caught off guard. Overwhelmed by the moment and not getting any help from the higher ups, Jager allowed people to cross over, following the apparent instructions of Schabowski. At that point, the floodgates were open, people started pouring over and down came the wall.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On This Date in Boomer History - JFK Elected (1960)

On Nov. 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy became the youngest man ever to be elected president of the United States, narrowly beating Republican Vice President Richard Nixon.

Kennedy was also the first Catholic to become president.

The campaign was hard fought and bitter. For the first time, presidential candidates engaged in televised debates. 

To continue reading this article, click here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

On This Date in Boomer History - Steve McQueen Dies (1980)

On this day in 1980, the actor Steve McQueen, one of Hollywood’s leading men of the 1960s and 1970s and the star of such action thrillers as Bullitt and The Towering Inferno, dies at the age of 50 in Mexico, where he was undergoing an experimental treatment for cancer.

During the 1960s, McQueen built a reputation for playing cool, loner heroes in a list of films that included the Western The Magnificent Seven (1960), which was directed by John Sturges and also featured Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson; The Great Escape (1963), in which McQueen played a U.S. solider in World War II who makes a daring motorcycle escape from a German prison camp; and The Sand Pebbles (1966), a war epic for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination. 

To continue reading this article, click here.

Friday, November 4, 2016

On This Date in Boomer History - The Iran Hostage Crisis Begins

On November 4th, 1979, the Iranian hostage crisis began as militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, captured 52 Americans, and held the hostage for the next 444 days.

You've likely seen or at least heard of Argo, the Ben Affleck movie based on the true story of CIA operative Antonio Mendez who saved six Americans who had evaded capture during the embassy attack and found refuge with Canadian diplomats. 

His plan involved pretending he and the six hideaways were part of a film crew, and that required taking the steps any genuine crew would. They had to set up an actual studio in case anyone called, and they needed an actual script to "shoot." They found the latter in an adaptation of the science fiction novel Lord of the Light. 

"I was thinking that, for operational purposes, the more confusing the better. If someone were to stop us, then it would be easy for us to overwhelm them with confusing conceptual jargon," said Mendez.

According to Mendez, his partner suggested calling it Argo. "It was the name of the ship that Jason and the Argonauts sailed in to liberate the Golden Fleece against impossible odds." 

Meanwhile, there was also a rescue attempt that didn't go so smoothly. 

It was called Operation Eagle Claw and involved eight helicopters flying from checkpoint to checkpoint before finally landing 50 miles south of Tehran and sending in CIA operatives to storm the embassy. The hostages would then be taken by helicopters to more helicopters and eventually freedom. In other words, it only involved about eighteen steps. And things went wrong on the first one. 

Weather and technology problems knocked out three helicopters, and the mission was aborted. When another crashed during the evacuation, the helicopters were abandoned. The end result: an embarrassing failure for the United States and Iran gaining a few new helicopters, some of which they still use to this day.

The United States and Iran finally reached an agreement to bring the captives back in December of 1980. Then Iran held the hostages there even longer. They waited all the way until when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president before letting the plane carrying the hostages take off for America. It's no secret that Iran hated President Jimmy Carter, and this was seen as sort of one final slap in the face of Carter before he left office. 

This timing even once prompted an investigation into whether Reagan and Iran had reached some sort of backroom deal before the election. After all, the crisis did plenty to wreck Carter's reelection hopes. That investigation found no evidence of any such deal, but it's still a conspiracy theory that's out there.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

On This Day In Boomer History - Godzilla Is Unleashed

On this day in 1954, the original film Godzilla (or Gojira as it was called in Japan) was released in in that country, unleashing a series of terrifying monster attacks that continue until today.

In the film, Godzilla symbolizes nuclear holocaust and has since been culturally identified as a strong metaphor for nuclear weapons.

"The theme of the film, from the beginning, was the terror of the bomb. Mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind," producer Tomoyuki has explained.

The film became popular enough to spawn 27 Toho sequels, three American re-productions, (Godzilla, King of the Monsters!,King Kong vs. Godzilla and Godzilla 1985) two American films (a 1998 American reimagining and a 2014 American reboot) and inspire countless ripoffs, knockoffs, imitations, parodies and tributes. 
Since its debut, Godzilla has morphed into a worldwide cultural icon.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

On This Day in Boomer History - The Internet Arrives (1969)

On October 29th, 1969, the internet got its start when the first host-to-host connection was made between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. 

Back in 1969, nobody thought the internet would become the lifeblood of our world the way that it has today. Back then it was more of a backup plan. 

The idea was that if there was ever a Soviet nuclear strike, we wanted a way to continue communicating with each other. As a result, it wasn't invented by Silicon Valley techies in their garage, it was made by the military's then-new division, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). 

They were more trying to create a phone system than anything else, but someone in the UK also had the idea that it would be helpful if you could send "packets" which contained data.

Tim Berners-Lee goes on the long list of people you may have never heard of that absolutely transformed the world. 

He's the guy who invented the World Wide Web in 1989. 

Contrary to what you may believe, the internet and the web are not the same thing. The web is the system many of us use to navigate the parts of the internet that we most frequently use on a daily basis. Think of it as the web linking websites and similar web resources out there, but not what you use when you download apps on iTunes.

Since then, Berners-Lee has worked tirelessly to expand the efficacy of the web and the amount of opportunity people have to use it. He was named one of the TIME 100, listing the most impactful people of the 20th century, and in 2004 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

Former Vice president Al Gore has taken so much flack for claiming he invented the internet, you probably believe he actually did it. 

The famous "I invented the internet" quote was part of a rambling monologue he gave essentially laying out his resume in an interview with Wolf Blitzer. 

Then came Declan McCullagh from Wired who saw what Gore said and decided to write about it, jabbing at Gore for claiming to create something that was launched in 1969, when Gore was 21 and nowhere near a position of any authority. 

After that, Gore's political opponents helped push the snowball down the hill until everyone was joking that Gore claimed he invented the internet and even now, over a decade and a half later, you probably still remember this being a thing.

But what Gore was trying to reference was a real thing he did that was incredibly impactful. He sponsored and pushed through Congress the 1991 High-Performance Computing and Communications Act. It was so much Gore's baby that it was known as the Gore Bill

The funding that bill provided had an impact on a number of things including the creation of the Mosaic Web browser. Said Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and a guy who worked on Mosaic, "If it had been left to private industry, it wouldn't have happened, at least, not until years later."
This article 1st appeared in Trivia Today.Com

Friday, October 21, 2016

This Is What We Were Doing Back Then - Wiffle Ball

Like many Baby Boomer males, I was obsessed with sports in my pre-teen years. I could cite statistics and standings for all my favorite Philadelphia pro teams. I played Little League baseball and City League basketball. I spent many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon playing fierce sandlot football games with teams from other neighborhoods.

But if I had to name the sport I spent the most hours playing as a youngster (lasting even into my teen years,) it would be Wiffle Ball.

For those you not steeped in Wiffle Ball culture, the plastic baseball was introduced in 1953, one year after I was born.

The ball was the result of the thousands of glass windows shattered by hardballs rocketed by bats from backyards directly into the window of yours or a neighbor's house.

In fact, the invention of the wiffle was actually inspired by a sideyard baseball game. David Mullaney, who had been a college and semi-pro pitcher, was watching his son and some friends play a pickup game.

Mullvaney began to experiment with coming up with a plastic toy ball that could be used in such games.

After experimenting with different materials, Mullvaney found that a ball made out of thicker materials and injection molded with eight oblong holes worked the best. You could even throw curve balls with such a design.

The name was inspired by the slang word for swinging at a pitch and missing - wiff.

Once the ball was introduced it became wildly successful and the Wiffle Company branched out into making plastic bats and other related logo items.

Unlike many play things of the 50s and the 60s, you can still buy wiffle balls and bats and relive your childhood passion. There are even local, regional, and national Wiffle Ball series.

Check out this vintage Wiffle Ball ad

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On This Day in Boomer History - The Cuban Embargo Begins

On October 19th, 1960, the United States imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba, a now senseless embargo that continues until this day.  

The embargo was imposed because of Cuban leader Fidel Castro's decision to turn the island less than 90 miles from the Florida coast into a Communist stronghold during the height of the Cold War years.

The US government adamantly opposed to trade with Cuba on any level ... well, except maybe one last time. Just before the embargo went into effect, President John F. Kennedy had his press secretary buy as many H. Upmann (his favorite brand) Cuban cigars as possible. That number turned out to be a whopping 1,200. But after that, no more trade.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

The times they are indeed changing.

In what most found to be a surprise, Bob Dylan, the folk/rock bard of the Baby Boom generation, was today awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for 2016.

The nobel committee declared that Dylan, 75, received the award "for having having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

As a Nobel winner, Dylan joins such illustrious American writers as Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner.

Here is a sample of what some were saying today about Dylan's prestigious award:
  • Why Bob Dylan deserves his Nobel Prize (Rolling Stone)
  • Celebrities and authors react to the announcement (Vulture)
  • Award stirs fierce social media reaction (CNN)

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Boomer Birth Years - 1947

Here are some of the big events that happened in 1947, the 2nd year of the Baby Boom.
  • The V-2 rocket is launched into outer space
  • The 1st widely reported UFO sighting is made near Mount Rainear, Washington; in perhaps the most famous UFO incident ever a downed extraterrestrial spacecraft is reportedly found near Roswell, New Mexico, launching the ongoing fascination with Area 51 and givernment coverups of alien encounters
  • The 1st practical electronic transistor is demonstrated
  • The Polaroid Corporation makes the 1st "instant camera.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

You Say It's Your Birthday: Ed Sullivan

On this date in 1901, legendary variety show star Ed Sullivan, the host of the long-running CBS Sunday night show The Ed Sullivan, was born.

You can make a strong argument that more than any other TV personality, Sullivan satisfied the Baby Boomers love of rock n' roll.  Ironically, Sullivan wasn't a fan of rock, but he was a fan of the huge ratings rock artists created for the show, which was mandatory Sunday night viewing in a majority of American homes with TV sets.

Here is some background on 4 of the most historic rock appearances in the show's long-running history.

Elvis Presley Debuts on TV 

Much of America tuned in for Elvis that February 1957 night, and presumably among those watching on TV was Sullivan himself. The host was still recovering from a car accident and so had to defer to a fill-in that night, actor Charles Laughton. 

The Beatles Invasion of America Begins

Reportedly 73 million people tuned in to watch the American February 1964 debut of the Fab Four which represented over a third of the country. So many people were busy watching the show that an interesting rumor grew out of it that seemed relatively plausible. The rumor: Crime in the United States actually dropped by a significant margin during that appearance. The rumor is believed to stem from a Washington Post article in which the reporter said that in the entire time The Beatles were on the air, not a single hubcap was stolen across America. It gained more legs when that line was reprinted by Newsweek. Apparently Newsweek didn't realize the line was a joke meant to insinuate that Beatles fans were all hubcap-swiping hooligans. The Washington Post ended up having to print a retraction, sighting a set of hubcaps that were indeed stolen that night.

Stones Agree to Censorship ...
The Ed Sullivan Show had an interesting role to play in that it both ushered in the era of Rock and Roll and also sought to protect the moral sensibilities of an older generation of viewers. So the show was the scene of many disagreements with bands and artists who wanted to be sexually suggestive. One such dispute arose with The Rolling Stones who had a song with the lyrics "Let's spend the night together". This line was considered quite racy at the time. Ed Sullivan said the line would have to be changed to "Let's spend some time together," which really doesn't fit the title of the song. The Rolling Stones complied and if you watch footage of that night, you can see Mick Jagger giving one heck of an eye-roll before saying the altered line

... But The Doors Don't 

Ed Sullivan also tried to censor The Doors, but it didn't work quite as well. A few hours prior to their going on the air, a producer instructed them that they were to drop the word "higher" from "Light My Fire" because of the drug connotations the word conjures.

The band agreed to omit the word, but when they went on air did no such thing. Jim Morrison left the line in and when the show was over, a producer told The Doors they were never coming on The Ed Sullivan Show again. Replied Morrison, "We just did the Sullivan show."