Exploring the 1960s: 45 Intriguing Facts and Incidents


26Berlin Wall tunnel

Berlin Wall tunnel

In 1964, a group of college students used garden spades to tunnel under the Berlin Wall into East Berlin, allowing 57 people to escape to the West. The students moved enough dirt to fill four eighteen-wheeler big rigs; one of them went on to design tunnels professionally.

27. In 1969, an experimental book named The Unfortunates was published. It shipped as a 'book in a box' consisting of 27 unbound sections with the first and last chapter specified. The remaining sections range from a single paragraph to 12 pages in length and are designed to be read in any order.

28. In 1967, Sweden switched from left-hand driving to right-hand driving. All vehicles had to come to a complete stop at 04:50, then carefully change to the right-hand side of the road and stop again before being allowed to proceed at 05:00.

29. In 1966, French teen pop star named France Gall did not know her huge hit song (she thought was about a lollipop) had a risqué double meaning. Upon learning this, she went into hiding for weeks.

30. In 1968, an astronomy student, a dental student, and a bass player formed a band called 'Smile.' By 1970 the Smile faded, and in 1971 they renamed the band to Queen.

31Brian Blessed

Brian Blessed

In 1963, Brian Blessed saw a woman in labor in a park. She recognized him from TV series Z Cars and said “please Mr. Blessed, I’m having a baby.” He not only delivered the baby but he bit through the umbilical cord.

32. In 1967, Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees. He played 8 of the 29 dates, then flipped off the audience, threw down his guitar, and walked off.

33. In 1968, NBC quit the coverage of the AFL match between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets in the final minute to broadcast the television film, Heidi. Oakland scored two touchdowns in that minute to win the game 43–32 in a legendary comeback.

34. In the 1960s, American preacher Solomon Burke was once booked to sing at a KKK rally. It was only when he showed up that the organizer noticed that he was black.

35. In 1962, comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for using the word "schmuck" on stage. "Schmuck" is a Yiddish swear word for "penis", and is considered deeply offensive in Yiddish speaking communities.

36Lemon Grove mummies

Lemon Grove mummies

In 1966, two American teenagers found two child mummies in a cave in Mexico, smuggled them back to California, and ditched them in a friend's garage until the friend's mother discovered the mummies 14 years later.

37. In 1969, General Motors Holden (Australia) produced a concept car complete with climate control, a rear-facing camera and in-car navigation.

38. In 1963, there was a Canadian band called "Four Niggers and a Chink". They broke up in 1969 and then got back together in 1990. In 1990 they went by "Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers."

39. In 1968, a school teacher named Jane Elliott divided her class by eye color to teach them about discrimination. The kids got discriminatory pretty quickly.

40. In 1967, British politician Ming Campbell beat O.J. Simpson in a 100m sprint race at Stanford University, with a time of 10.2 seconds.

41John Lennon

John Lennon

In 1969, a 14-year-old boy named Jerry Levitan managed to sneak into John Lennon's hotel room with a reel-to-reel recorder and Lennon actually agreed to be interviewed by him. The recording still exists.

42. In 1966, American automotive designer Carroll Shelby gave Bill Cosby a custom Cobra. It was so fast, Cosby couldn't control it and gave it back. The next owner lost control and drove it off a cliff.

43. In 1962, a group of scientists wanted to study the effects of LSD on elephants. They injected an elephant with 3,000 times the normal dose given to humans because they assumed elephants would be much less sensitive to LSD than humans. The elephant died in 100 minutes.

44. In 1965, American actor Kris Kristofferson was given the assignment to teach English literature at West Point. Instead, he decided to leave the Army and pursue songwriting. His family disowned him because of this decision and they never reconciled with him.

45. In 1963, Colonel Sanders appeared on What's My Line... but not as a celebrity guest. His company already had over 900 outlets worldwide, but the panelists didn't recognize him or his line of work at all.