Class of 1965

 2005, 2010, 2015 Reunion Yearbook

Major Events of 1961-1965

Here's a starter list of 1961-1965 events, to serve as filler-fodder in the class book. -- Courtesy of the Class of '65 Reunion Co-Chairs, David A. Manalan and Stanley A. Wulf.


Shortly before leaving office, President Eisenhower severed all U.S. ties with Cuba.

In his inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy called on Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

President Kennedy established the Peace Corps.

America took a diplomatic bruise from the CIA's involvement in the Bay Of Pigs Invasion, an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Communist Cuba's dictator, Fidel Castro.

Another bruise came during the space race, as Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first man to slip from the bonds of Earth. Later in the year, the U.S. launched Alan Shepard, Jr. and Gus Grissom into space in separate missions.

President Kennedy ordered U.S. marshalls into Alabama due to violent clashes between a bi-racial anti-integration organization and integration advocates.

Wildfires destroyed nearly 500 plush homes in the Brentwood and Bel Air suburbs of Los Angeles.

As the Soviets broke an international moratorium against nuclear bomb testing, President Kennedy urged Americans to build fallout shelters.

Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway shot and killed himself.

The Threepenny Opera closed its 7-year run on Broadway after 2,600 performances.

Wagon Train usurped Gunsmoke as America's favorite TV western.

Allen Funt's Candid Camera moved to CBS-TV. The series had begun as radio's Candid Microphone and made its 1948 television debut on ABC."

Hit songs included Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean, Hit The Road, Jack by Ray Charles, and Running Scared by Roy Orbison.


CUBAN Missle Crisis. President Kennedy rejected the Soviet Union's proposal to withdraw its offensive weapons from Cuba if America did the same in Turkey. The U.S. Navy was ordered to sink any ships en route to Cuba with weaponry.

Lots of MIT students went to New Hampshire in case the bombs came.

John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

The World's Fair opened in Seattle with a "space age" theme, including the city's now-famous Space Needle and Monorail.

Marilyn Monroe died of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills in her Los Angeles mansion.

Incumbent Edmund Brown defeated Richard Nixon in his bid for governor of California.

The Beverly Hillbillies debuted on CBS-TV and shot straight to number one in the ratings.

Chubby Checker introduced America to its biggest dance craze of the century, The Twist. Other hits of the year included The Stripper by David Rose & His Orchestra, Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, and Telstar by the Tornadoes.


A hotline was established between Washington, D.C. and Moscow for dealing with hot issues like the Cuban Crisis.

The Hearst Corporation closed New York's Daily Mirror after unions got their pay raises following a 114-day strike.

A quarter-million people joined the civil rights March On Washington, at which Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary "I Have A Dream" speech.

20 weeks after civic leaders and civil rights groups negotiated an integration plan in Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb killed four children at a black church.

The U.S. Post Office implemented the Zip Code, which replaced zone designations in large cities and added 5 digits to all American addresses. Ethel Merman sang the official campaign jingle.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a motorcade procession in Dallas on November 22nd. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as chief executive hours after the assassination. American TV networks dropped all programming and advertising to cover the event. Top 40 radio stations began playing sombre choral music. Two days after president's murder, alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Municipal Building. A stunned audience watched the killing on live television as police were escorting Oswald to the county jail.

Little Stevie Wonder made his chart debut with Fingertips Part II, a harmonica instrumental. Other hits included It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To) by Leslie Gore, He's So Fine by the Chiffons, and the hootenanny hit, Walk Right In by the Rooftop Singers.

The release by small U.S. record label Vee Jay of the Beatles' singles Please Please Me and From Me To You went unnoticed. The day after Christmas, Capitol Records released I Want To Hold Your Hand to radio stations.


The British music invasion began with the Beatles' chart-topping I Want To Hold Your Hand and their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Their first major-label U.S. album, Meet The Beatles, became America's best-selling LP of all time within a week of its release. In April, the Beatles occupied the top five positions on the U.S. singles chart.

An earthquake near Anchorage with an estimated Richter scale magnitude of 8.6 killed 131 Alaskans.

The "long, hot summer" of civil unrest resulted in major riots in Harlem, Philadelphia, Chicago and Jacksonville.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was removed from the Communist Party and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev. Aleksei Kosygin was appointed premier.

The Futurama exhibit by General Motors was the most popular attraction at the World's Fair in New York. Lower-than-expected attendance caused many of the attractions to close before the end of the fair.

An unmanned U.S. spacecraft captured the first detailed pictures of the crater-ridden lunar surface.

Campaigning with his Great Society theme, President Johnson was elected to his first full term, in a landslide vote over Republican Barry Goldwater.

The Warren Commission determined that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone Kennedy assassin, and there was no conspiracy in the Dallas shooting.

40 people died in heavy flooding, blizzards and ice storms during December in the Pacific Northwest.

Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore received Emmys for best actor and actress, and their Dick Van Dyke Show was named best comedy series.

McDonald's Restaurants expanded into the eastern states and became a national chain.

Hello, Dolly! was Broadway's biggest hit.


America accomplished the first space walk as part of NASA's preparation for humans to reach the moon.

Four radicals were arrested after a thwarted attempt to blow up the Statue of Liberty.

Black Nationalist founder Malcolm X, who had been moving towards a stance of cooperation with whites, was assassinated by rival Black Muslims. Muslim headquarters in San Francisco and New York were torched two days later.

The Boston Celtics won their seventh straight NBA championship.

The world's first communications satellite, the ComSat Early Bird, was successfully launched, substantially improving the video and sound quality of network TV.

16-year-old Peggy Fleming charmed the world with her women's singles victory at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

Race riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles left 35 dead and caused $190,000,000 in damages.

Martin Luther King, Jr. led a five-day civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Over 5,000 were injured and 280 were killed when no less than 35 tornadoes ripped through six midwestern states.

President Johnson authorized the first bombing raids in the Viet Nam War, and began increasing troop levels dramatically.

Due to increasing anti-Viet Nam War protests, the federal government made it a crime to burn draft cards.

The northeastern states and eastern Canada were darkened by a 16-hour blackout, which was later blamed on a squirrel short-circuiting a power transformer in upstate New York.

Construction was completed on St. Louis' Gateway Arch.

Popular toys included the Tick Toy Clock, Mr. Machine, G.I. Joe and the Dick Tracy 2-Way Wrist Radio.

Nat "King" Cole died of lung cancer at age 45.

English pop and Detroit's Motown sound dominated the charts.

Julie Stratton: Julius Adams Stratton (1901-1994), President of MIT from 1959 to 1966, referred to by students as "Big Julie" (after the gangster of that name in Guys and Dolls).

Dean Wadleigh: Kenneth R. Wadleigh, Dean of Student Affairs from 1961-1969.

Nitrate Ring:Brown ring formed in a test tube, when testing for nitrate in qualitative analysis.

Integrate log x dx: See page background.

CRC Book: CRC Standard Mathematical Tables, published by the Chemical Rubber Company. Originally part of the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, an expanded version became available as a separate volume. Amazingly (to me), this book is still in print. However, I doubt that the tables of logarithms and trigonometric functions are used much any more.

Slide Rule: A standard working tool in the sixties. Those of us who owned Pickett and Eckel aluminum slide rules (in Eye-Ease tinted yellow) scorned those who owned Keuffel and Esser models, and vice versa.

The pucks don't bounce: In the fifties, some educational genius invented the "frictionless air puck," a circular metal puck with a CO2 cartridge. The CO2 created a thin layer of gas on which the puck could slide with almost no friction, allowing very good demonstrations and experiments of basic physics principles.

Cum (pronounced "cyoom"): Cumulative grade; average grade over the student's time spent at the Institute.

Avogadro's number: 6.0221367 x 10^23, the number of molecules in a mole.

Daughters of King Lear: All MIT students were required to take a certain number of "humanities" courses, and King Lear was required reading in the introductory courses. Oh, yeah... they were Goneril, Regan, and um, uh, er... I forget...

McCormick Hall: See "Talking McCormick."

Tool: MIT slang; v. "to study;" n. "one who studies a lot."

Bible: Collections of problems and quiz questions and their answers.

1700 down the drain: Annual tuition at MIT from 1962 to 1966 was $1700, possibly the only four-year period in history with no tuition increases. Spring tuition riots occurred whenever tuition was raised, and the (unimaginative) slogan "Seventeen hundred is too damn much" was a slogan during that four-year period, along with "IHTFP" and "Tech is Hell."

Copyright © 2002--2014 by John J. Xenakis, MIT Class of '65.      Xenakis Consulting Services, Inc.