52 Years Ago…


What happened fifty two years ago in May, 1962…


May 1st… The Dayton Hudson Corporation opened the first of its TARGET discount stores in the St. Paul suburb of Roseville, Minnesota.

… The National Bowling League rolled its last game, with the Detroit Thunderbirds defeating the Twin Cities Skippers in three straight matches.


May 4th… Dr. Masaki Watanabe of Japan performed the very first arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear, a common injury for athletes. The patient, a 17-year-old basketball player who returned to playing six weeks later.


May 5th… Twelve East Germans escaped through a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.


May 6th… The USS Ethan Allen fired an armed Polaris A-2 ballistic missile, causing the first nuclear explosion from a ship. It occurred on Christmas Island, 1,200 miles from the launch site.


May 7th… Three officials of the Central Intelligence Agency met with U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and implored him to stop investigation of Mafia crime boss Sam Giancana. For the first time, the CIA revealed that it had offered $150,000 to several organized criminals to carry out a “hit” against Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The secret meeting would become public in 1975, with the release of the Rockefeller Commission’s report on an investigation of the CIA.

… Detroit became the first city in the United States to use traffic cameras and electronic signs to regulate the flow of traffic. The pilot program began with 14 television cameras along a 3.2-mile stretch of the John C. Lodge Freeway, between the Davison Expressway and Interstate 94.


May 9th… The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter, capable of lifting 20,000 pounds (over 9,000 kg), made its first flight.


… The Beatles signed their first recording contract, with Parlophone, after Brian Epstein persuaded George Martin to sign them, sight unseen.

… At the request of the U.S. Department of State, the Immigration and Naturalization Service agreed to issue a United States visa to Marina Oswald so that her husband Lee Harvey Oswald could return to the U.S.


May 11th… In accepting the Sylvanus Thayer Award, retired General Douglas MacArthur delivered his memorable “Duty, Honor, Country” speech to West Point cadets. The 82-year-old MacArthur delivered the 30-minute address from memory and without notes, and a recording of the remarks would be released as a record album later.


May 12th…  Archie Moore gave up his world light heavyweight boxing title to move up to the heavyweight class. His successor was Harold Johnson.

… Born: Emilio Estévez, American actor, to Martin and Janet Sheen, in Staten Island, New York.


May 14th…  Prince Juan Carlos of Spain married Princess Sophie of Greece in Athens. The two would become King and Queen when the monarchy was restored in Spain in 1975.


May 15th…  American reconnaissance satellite FTV-1126 was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base.


May 16th… Thalidomide was withdrawn from sale in Japan, bringing an end to the worldwide distribution of the morning sickness drug that had caused birth defects. Dainippon Pharmaceutical halted further shipments; about 1,200 “thalidomide babies” were born in Japan.

… Plácido Domingo played the role of Maurizio in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur for the first time, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.


May 18th…  Al Oerter became the first person to throw the discus more than 200 feet, setting a mark of 61.10 m (200’5″) at Los Angeles.


May 19th…  Marilyn Monroe made her last significant public appearance, singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” at a birthday party for President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. The event was part of a fundraiser to pay off the Democratic Party’s four million-dollar debt remaining from Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign. Monroe was stitched into a $12,000 dress “made of nothing but beads,” and wore nothing underneath as she appeared at the request of Peter Lawford; President Kennedy thanked her afterward, joking, “I can now retire from politics after having had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”


May 21st… Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev accepted the recommendation from his Defense Council to place nuclear missiles in Cuba.


May 22nd… Continental Airlines Flight 11 crashed on a farm near Unionville, Missouri, after the in-flight detonation of a bomb near the rear lavatory. All 45 passengers and crew on the Boeing 707 jet flight from Chicago to Kansas City, were killed. Contact was lost at 9:15 pm and the plane had disappeared from radar at 9:40 after leaving behind a 60-mile line of debris, including a briefcase with the initials “T.G.D.”; Thomas G. Doty, one of the passengers, who had been on his way to Kansas City to face criminal charges for armed robbery, had taken out $300,000 in insurance payable to his wife, and had bought sticks of dynamite at a hardware store, before carrying out the murder-suicide.


May 23rd…  The first successful reattachment (replantation) of a severed limb was accomplished by Dr. Ronald A. Malt at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Everett Knowles, a 12-year-old boy, had had his right arm severed at the shoulder by a freight train. A year after the limb was saved, Everett could move all five fingers and bend his wrist, and by 1965, he was again playing baseball and tennis.


May 24th… Project Mercury: Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule, then splashed down 250 miles off course. He was located and rescued by the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. Carpenter’s rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 7:45 am local time, went around the Earth three times, then began its return at 1:30. Instead of being tilted 34° toward the horizon, the capsule was inclined at 25° and overshot its mark, landing at 1:41 pm. Carpenter deployed a rubber raft and stayed afloat for another three hours before being spotted.

… The U.S. Embassy in Moscow renewed the passport of Lee Harvey Oswald and approved the entry of his wife and daughter into the United States.


May 31st… Died: Adolf Eichmann, 56, German Nazi and SS Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust, was hanged for his role in the extermination of 6,000,000 European Jews. The first execution in the history of modern Israel took place at 11:58 pm local time “on an improvised scaffold in a third story storeroom” at the Ramleh prison near Tel Aviv. The body was cremated soon afterward and Eichmann’s ashes scattered over the Mediterranean Sea.


And that’s the way it was, May, 52 years ago. And now for a video treat, here’s a young comedian by the name of Woody Allen, appearing on the popular American TV show, What’s My Line?


About jesswaid

Currently, I write police procedural novels with the stories taking place in Hollywood during the early 1960s; a period when I was a street cop there. I've moved to Mexico to be closer to my hobby of studying Mexican history. My friend and fellow author, Professor Michael Hogan, is my mentor. I am planning to write a three-part epic story that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century. What has inspired me was hearing about Los Ninos Heroes, martyrs of the Battle of Chapultepec. Also, my father was born in Concordia, Mexico and knowing his family history is an added incentive.

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