The Tomato Patch: Bond, The Beatles and the unforgettable

Posted on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 11:08 am

By Greg Glassner

Editor Emeritus


One of the things I have noticed about being retired is that I read more of what turns up in my mailbox.

I subscribe to about a half dozen auto enthusiast magazines that I take out of my mailbox, cart home and peruse at my leisure. I usually flip through them that night and then set them aside for a second look. The downside of this is that most of them arrive in the same week of the month, so I have built up quite a backlog.

Then there are the free magazines that I receive from my car insurance company and through memberships in AARP, the American Legion, the Kiwanis club, etc. Since I don’t shell out extra money for these and their content was of limited interest, they often rode around in my SUV for a few days.

I’d eventually cart them into my office and add them to the pile on the left side of my desk. Sometimes I’d scan these publications for ideas for columns or editorials before they eventually made it to the dumpster – err… recycle bin.

Now that I no longer have an office with an oversized desk, I bring these free mailings home and stack them up on a rocking chair.

I even go through the AARP Bulletin more thoroughly now that I have plenty of time on my hands and may actually benefit from some tips on retirement. I guess this means I have begun my transition from being employed into being retired.

Which is how I was reminded of what happened 50 years ago. The year 1963, according to a recent ARRP article, was notable for a number of things, including the release of The Beatles’ debut album “Please, Please Me.”

Oh, I know, some of you younger readers are asking, “The who?”

To which I glibly answer, “No, child, ‘The Who’ was another group from the swinging ‘60s.”

I suppose nowadays the Beatles are more familiar as the composers of the melodies you hear played by string orchestras in elevators and hotel lobbies. Back in the 1960s, they were regarded as cutting edge in the music industry.

I was never that taken by the Beatles. My own musical taste, such that it is, had already turned toward the folk genre and I still have some dusty old Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Peter, Paul and Mary albums to prove it.

My younger sister, however, was among the screaming masses of teenage girls who adored the Beatles. She bought every album and had posters of John, Paul, George and Ringo taped to her bedroom walls.

I was more taken with another phenomenon of the 1960s. The first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” which opened in U.S. theaters May 8, 1963.

I was so impressed with the debonair, tuxedo-clad British spy first played by Sean Connery that I collected all of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels and flocked to the theaters for each new movie release.

When I bought a Sunbeam Alpine in 1965, I had it painted British racing green and drove around with a British cigarette dangling from my lips. Alas, the Sunbeam was no Bentley or Aston Martin DB5, I was no James Bond and no one really noticed this affectation.

Of course, 1963 was not all about pop culture.

The Equal Pay Act was signed into law on June 10, mandating that women draw the same pay as men performing the same job duties. (How’s that one going, gals?)

A number of civil rights milestones also occurred in 1963, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” which was delivered Aug. 28 at the Lincoln Memorial.

Nov. 22, 1963, Pres. John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. When the news first broke on TV, I remember I was playing a game of pool in the student union building on the Erie campus of Penn State, waiting for my carpool ride home.

It was, like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, or the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, one of those events you never forget.


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