History Articles

History of the Summer of Love – 1967: Part 4, Rock & Roll

June 2, 2024 /
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It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile


Rock & Roll in the late ’60s was exemplified when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S. on June 2, 1967. It was released in the U.K. the day before. No other rock & roll album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song, “A Day In The Life,” which urged:

I’d love to turn you on.”

In 1967, I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did not know it then, but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.

In 2017, Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer, Sir George Martin, released the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper.

In this final article in the series on the 55th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.


History of June

May 31, 2024 /
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junona, ny carlsberg glyptotek, copenhagen



June represents the year’s halfway point, the sixth of the twelve months of the Gregorian calendar, which we currently use in the West, and the earlier Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar, the namesake of July. Where do we get the name for June?


What’s In A Name?

Ovid, author of the bi-millennial best-selling magnum opus Metamorphoses — where he takes the Greek myths and gives them Roman names — suggests two possible etymologies.

  • The first and more likely origin is the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, who was referred to as Hera by the Greeks. She is the patroness of marriages, and most marriages happen during June. It was considered good luck to get married during June, though the good weather and school vacation could have something to do with it now.
  • Ovid also submitted that the month was named for Iuniores, Latin for “young people,” in the same way that May is named for “elders” or Maiores. And as we all recall from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” there was no J in Latin in the 1st century.


History of the Golden Gate Bridge: 87 Years Old

May 27, 2024 /
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This week, we celebrate the 87th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. On May 27, 1937, the bridge opened to traffic after taking over five years to build. I remember asking my father when I was young:

“Why isn’t the Golden Gate Bridge golden?”

He didn’t have an answer apart from his observation that it was expensive to paint.


Color of Golden Gate Bridge

He didn’t know that the steel for the bridge, which came from Bethlehem Steel foundries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, originally came coated with a red lead primer. Color studies by consulting architect Irving Morrow arrived upon what’s now become known as Golden Gate Bridge International Orange, a unique “red terra cotta” version of the International Orange standard. But there were other competitors, as pictured above. “Warm Grey” was a distant second choice. If you like the color, you can obtain it from Sherwin Williams, the supplier of “Firewood” (color code SW 6328).


History of Memorial Day: Where did it Begin?

May 27, 2024 /
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The city of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, an American village on the National Historic Register, claims to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, as do at least 24 other towns in America. I first visited this hamlet near State College, home of Penn State University, decades ago. Boalsburg’s claim goes back to a practice at the end of the Civil War. The town has a local museum and a history stretching over two centuries. The 19th-century feel of the village persists. A Memorial Day Festival is held there every year.

They have their own Facebook page and website.


Memorial Day Custom

Its claim is stated on a large sign near the center of town:

An American village on the National Register


The custom of decorating soldiers’ graves was begun here in October 1864, by Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller, and Elizabeth Myers.

Named for David Boal who settled here in 1798. Village laid out in 1808. Boalsburg Tavern built in 1819. Post Office established 1820. First church erected 1827. Home community of three United States ambassadors.


History of Towel Day: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

May 25, 2024 /
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May 25 celebrates Towel Day to honor Douglas Adams, the author of the five (or six) book trilogy Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Created in May 2001 to mark the passing of English science fiction humor author Douglas Adams, the day is set aside for fans of his writings to carry a towel throughout the day in honor of the author.


Why a towel? Stay tuned

Although it occurs on the same day as the anniversary of the premier of the first Star Wars movie – and the original radio version of tHGttG came out the year after Star Wars – Star Wars did not inspire The  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I met Douglas Adams about thirty years ago when he spoke at a special Sun Microsystems company event. I recall noting that he talked at 19,200 baud (fast Internet speed in those days), meaning he spoke English more quickly than any other person I had heard before.


History of Memorial Day: Why We Fight

May 25, 2024 /
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John Petro, S.Sgt

Staff Sgt, John Petro


As we celebrate Memorial Day, the world is different from what it was two decades ago. We have troops in countries that we didn’t have then, and after 9/11, we now remember why we fight.

The History Channel often re-runs the HBO series Band of Brothers, the TV adaptation of the Stephen Ambrose book about a company of soldiers from the landing at Normandy through the end of World War II in Europe.


Band of Brothers and Why We Fight

During WWII, my father crossed paths with Company E, featured in “Band of Brothers,” while liberating the Dachau Concentration Camp.

My father’s story was originally told in part on HBO’s website during the 2001 premiere (via Internet Archive) regarding the episode entitled “Why We Fight” about the liberation of Dachau and its many sub-camps.


History of Star Wars: Premiered 47 Years Ago

May 24, 2024 /
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The original Star Wars movie premiered on May 25, 1977.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

…in Berkeley, in November 1976, I picked up a new science fiction novel called “Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker” by George Lucas. I did not know then that it was ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster, a famous sci-fi writer, based on Lucas’ outline.

The following May, the movie initially debuted in only 40 theaters nationwide, with little of the advanced fanfare we are used to today. But word of mouth spread fast, and when I heard it was showing at the Coronet Theater in San Francisco, I went the first week it was out with my buddies—the line to get in stretched around the block, even during that first week.


History of Memorial Day: Which War?

May 24, 2024 /
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Memorial Day was not universally recognized as a shared American Holiday until after World War I. But that’s not how it started in the United States.

When did it begin?


Civil War and Memorial Day

Following the American Civil War, or the “War Between the States,” as it was known in the South, various locations began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and flags, as I’ve written previously. This started in the mid to late 1860s across the country, as almost every community had been touched by loss from the country-wide conflagration. Over 600,000 men and women had died, more than any war that Americans were involved in, including the combined losses suffered in WWI and WWII — because we were on both sides of the Civil War.


History of The Who’s Tommy: 55 Years Ago

May 23, 2024 /
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Fifty-five years ago today, on May 23, 1969, the British rock group The Who released the double-album rock opera Tommy in the U.K. Commercially, the record went Gold in the U.K. and Double Platinum in the U.S. It was released in the U.S. on May 17 or 19; reports vary.

Several songs were released as singles that charted in the Top 20 in both the U.K. and the U.S. It reached #2 on the U.K. charts and #7. on the U.S. charts. Its success signified a breakthrough for the band and elevated The Who to a world-class touring and studio band. The album has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, representing about a fifth of their total records sold.

The rock opera tells the disturbing story of the fictional Tommy Walker, an apparently “deaf, dumb, and blind boy” who, following a childhood trauma, ultimately becomes the reigning Pinball Wizard. Despite numerous failed attempts to cure him, he has a spiritual awakening and becomes a sensational religious leader.


History of Pentecost

May 19, 2024 /
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The Feast of Pentecost is taken from the Greek word πεντηκόστη, which means “the 50th,” referring to the fiftieth day after the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter.

  • In the Jewish calendar, this aligns with the harvest festival Shavuot, known as the “Feast of Weeks,” which occurs seven weeks (7 × 7 days) or 50 days (inclusive) after Passover. This year’s Jewish Pentecost begins at sundown on June 11.
  • In the Christian calendar, Passover played a part in several visits Jesus made to Jerusalem. Most famously, Pentecost, which followed Passover, marked the coming of the Holy Spirit as “tongues as of fire” upon the Disciples of Jesus along with the sound of rushing wind, as told in the New Testament Book of Acts Chapter 2. The year’s Christian Pentecost is May 19.


History of Mother’s Day: Ancient and Modern

May 10, 2024 /
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The person who initially was most active in opposing the celebration of Mother’s Day is the very person who started this holiday in the US.

How did that happen?

Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905, and in her honor, Anna held a memorial in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. She continued to campaign for national recognition of this day for all mothers through the assistance of John Wanamaker and the efforts of Bethany Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The first state to recognize Mother’s Day was her own, West Virginia, in 1910. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day the “second Sunday in May” in 1914.


History of VE-Day: End of WWII in Europe 79 Years Ago

May 7, 2024 /
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Seventy-nine years ago today, World War II ended in Europe with the Allies accepting the unconditional surrender from Germany on VE-Day.

Or did it?


May 7, 1945, VE-Day


SHAEF, Reims

Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in his Berlin bunker a week earlier on April 30, 1945, as I describe in my article on the liberation of Dachau.

At 2:41 AM on May 7, Allied General Dwight Eisenhower received the unconditional surrender of German General Alfred Jodi at Reims, France in a red brick building at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). It stipulated that hostilities were to cease at 11:01 PM the next day on May 8, 1945.