This bloody lockdown gives a fellow far too much time to think. I turned 64 last month and over the following few days I had too much time to think about that too. So here are some of my aimless musings from those days.
World War II ended on the 8th of May 1945, 10 years and ten months before I was born. That’s hard to imagine isn’t it. Three years before I was born Stalin died. The year 1956 was the year of my birth meaning I was a living breathing human on this earth that year so what was happening then? The Suez crisis was causing petrol rationing in Britain and the first C.N.D. Marches took place at Aldermarston. The Rock and Roll dance craze swept the World and Prince Ranier of Monaco married Grace Kelly.
It seems strange given recent news about Islam that Pakistan only became an Islamic Republic in 1956 and it was that same year that Alabama Bus segregation laws were declared illegal by the US Supreme Court. US H-Bomb tests continued at Bikini Atoll while Premium Bonds were introduced in England to encourage saving. Soccer star Pele joined Brazil’s Santos team at the age of 15 in June 1956 and 52 people died when the Italian passenger liner S.S. Andrea Doria collided with the Swedish liner S.S. Stockholm on July 25th off Nantucket Island, Mass.
Rocky Marciano retired in 1956 as the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world with a perfect record and Elvis Presley entered the US music charts for the first time, with “Heartbreak Hotel,” the first of 170 hit singles from the man. The cinema smash hits included The King and I, Guys and Dolls, Trapeze, High Society and Around the Word in Eight Days. Bill Haley and the Comets were rocking around the clock.
Martina Navratilova was born on October 18th and Bo Derek on November 20th, 1956. The first hard disk was invented by IBM, an absolutely huge 5 megabytes of storage. Black-and-white portable TV’s sets hit the market in the US, the first Transatlantic Telephone Cable went into operation and the first commercial videotape recorder, the VR-1000, from Ampex Corp went on sale. Tefal started producing non stick Frying Pans and an Oral Vaccine developed against polio by Albert Sabin was passed for use. Nuclear Power England opened its first power station at Calder Hall, Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House and Nikita Khrushchev in the Kremlin.
There is much more of course but I was amazed that yours truly had lived through all of that in my first year. This morning I read that Hungary will overturn their recognition of transsexuals. It’s mad to think that in 1956 that same Hungary was invaded by the Soviet Union and several other Warsaw Countries. How times have changed.
But then I began to think of my Father and what he must have seen. He was born on the Cavehill Road, Belfast in 1908 so he was 3 years of age when they launched the Titanic down the road from his home and Edward VII was the British King. He was 6 years old when World War 1 broke out and only 10 when it ended. He was 21 when the Wall Street crash took place and Great Depression began and he turned 31 when the Second World War was declared. Six years after that the Americans detonated the Atomic bombs over Japan and my Dad was 37 by then. I was only 13 when my Dad died in 1969 aged only 61. Being a staunch northern republican it is merciful that he wasn’t around for the thirty years of the Troubles that came afterwards. Oddly though in the years after his death my Mother often said to me that Daddy always predicted that Northern Ireland would explode into violence because of social inequality and sectarianism. He apparently also predicted the rise of the IRA who he said would hijack the civilian strife to their own ends.
Live for the day and plan for tomorrow is all very well but sometimes it can be interesting to think back.