In February 1964 I was five years old and in Kindergarten. My sister Wendy was eight and a much more worldly third grader. Her lifetime Beatles fandom had already begun. She wrote and rewrote a critical analysis paper on The Beatles from junior high through college -- it was an A paper every time. Which both pleased Wendy and amused/horrified her.
The Beatles hit American shores:
-- in between Project Mercury and Project Gemini. There were no American manned spaceflight in 1964.
-- Pan Am was the preeminent airline in the world. This was the era portrayed in the movie Catch Me If You Can.
-- the Boeing 707 and McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 ruled the skies. The Boeing 727 first entered service with Eastern in February 1964. My first plane ride would be in a United 727 a year and a half later.
-- the 1964 Malibu Chevelle was brand new and changed how cars looked. We got one in 1964. Two tone blue four door with the 307 engine. I knew the latter well because I used to have to polish the little 307 badges surrounding the front side marker turn signal lights.
-- Vietnam was winding up as Johnson took over from John F. Kennedy.
-- the original 12" Hasbro G.I. Joe was introduced in 1964. I got a United States Marine G.I. Joe either for my birthday or maybe Christmas that year. Yellow, er... blond and blue eyed like me. It would be a few years before all kids could a G.I. Joe that looked like them.
-- the Big Mac wasn't introduced until 1967 in Pittsburgh and wouldn't go national until 1968. In contrast, the Burger King Whopper is older than I am, coming out in 1957.
-- Star Trek was still 2½ years away, first airing on 6 September 1966. Dr. Who, however, dates back to 1963.
-- Jeopardy! would debut with Art Flemming on 30 March 1964, nearly two months after The Beatles took New York. The Twilight Zone ended in 1964.
-- Mary Poppins and From Russia With Love were top movies. Fifty years later and we just had the biopic Saving Mr. Banks and James Bond is still going strong.
-- the JFK half dollar was rushed into production and the first public distributions happened in Philadelphia in February 1964. The 1964 coins were the only circulated ones struck in silver. By 1965, U.S. silver coins would begin to be made of clad cupronickel.
-- the 1964 IXth Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, began on 29 January and ended on 9 February 1964 -- fifty years ago today.
February 1964. A very different era. And The Beattles on The Ed Sullivan Show was just one piece of it.
And I was there.