2005-08-03 / Star Journal

Johnson Signs Historic Voting Rights Act In August 1965

The Beatles at Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965
www.beatles-discography.com/ The Beatles at Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965 Get into a conversation with a long-time Queens resident and you're likely to discover a subscriber of the Long Island Star-Journal , a daily paper that informed the community about local and world news until it folded in 1968. A banner across the Star-Journal masthead reminded readers that the newspaper's name came from the merger of the Long Island Daily Star (1876) and the North Shore Daily Journal--The Flushing Journal (1841).

A Titan 2 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-4 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.spaceflightnow.com A Titan 2 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-4 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Welcome to August 1965

On August 6, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the new voting rights bill. He disclosed that the Justice Department would certify states where voting discrimination existed and set in motion the machinery for federal voting examiners to begin registering voters. The bill also struck at a poll tax in Mississippi and literacy tests in several southern states. Dr. Martin Luther King predicted that his workers, reinforced with the new bill, would register more than 900,000 southern Negroes by the end of the month.

 Patty Duke as both Cathy and  Patty on the Patty Duke Show.www.cfhf.net Patty Duke as both Cathy and Patty on the Patty Duke Show. On August 21, astronauts Gordon (Gordo) Cooper and Charles (Pete) Conrad blasted into orbit on their eight-day Gemini 5 endurance flight on a Titan 2 rocket. They landed safely on the 29th. The flight broke the existing five-day endurance mark established by the Russians.

President Johnson asked Congress for an additional $1.7 billion to increase military strength in Vietnam. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara made it clear that this amount was only an interim increase. He said the money would provide financing for the Vietnam War only “through January.”

The family of Marine Lance Corporal Paul A. Devers of Jackson Heights, who was killed in action in Vietnam on August 10, received a telephone threat and profanity. Dever’s brother was leaving for the funeral when an anonymous caller threatened the family. Dever quoted the caller as saying: “I’m a card carrying Communist. I have a gun and I’m going to take care of all of you. Your brother was…..” Here the caller reviled the dead Marine for having fought in Vietnam. The bereaved mother, Mrs. Josephine Devers, declared: “I only pray the Vietnam outcome will be just, so that my boy and others will not have died in vain.”

In the pre-dawn hours of August 13, comedian Dick Gregory was shot and wounded in a burst of violence in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Gregory, who was attempting to mediate between police and rioters, was not seriously wounded, but the rioting there continued until National Guardsmen swept the lawless mobs from their path. The riots lasted four days, during which 17 persons died and 300 were injured. Fires caused $100 million in losses, and at some times 125 major fires burned out of control. This was the worst racially triggered violence in the nation’s recent history.

On August 14, the last ship to be launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard slid down the ways in a shower of champagne, spray and probably tears. Mrs. Bruce Solomonson, daughter of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, christened the U.S.S. Duluth, and at the same time sounded the death knell for the 164-year-old shipyard, which was scheduled to be closed by June 30, 1966. The closing, which was cited as an economy measure by the Defense Department, was criticized by many New York businessmen, who estimated that it would result in a $1.5 billion loss to the local economy.

City Comptroller Abe Beame ripped the financial practices of the World’s Fair Corporation. The Fair had only $1,212,253 in net assets and $27,761,228 in liabilities. Further, Beame questioned the Fair’s practice of making loans to exhibitors with financial problems. As of December 1964, there were $3,077,162 of these loans outstanding, of which the Fair’s management estimated that possibly $2,077,481 would be uncollectible.

Robert Moses’ reply to this was: “The Fair has done more for New York than other comparable event in three centuries.” (Even if so, when the final numbers were in, the 1964 Fair joined the 1939 Fair as a financial disaster.)

On August 15, for the second time in two years, Beatlemania invaded Shea Stadium. Fifty-six thousand people attended the concert. Before the carnage was over, 115 persons, mainly young girls, had to be given medical treatment for ailments such as skinned knees, sprained ankles and hysteria. Twelve persons were removed to the hospital, and police had to find friends and relatives of at least 20 lost youngsters. Several girls in the first aid room were crying hysterically because they didn’t get an opportunity to talk to either Paul McCartney or George Harrison. During the performance, about a dozen boys and girls raced onto the field and were quickly subdued by the more than 250 special police on duty for the performance. To add to their burden, police had to check out three bomb scares during the performance. The group was transported to and from the stadium in a Wells Fargo armored truck. On its return, the police had to remove one screaming girl from beneath the truck’s wheels as it pulled out of the stadium parking lot.

Former Astorian Patty Duke and the cast of her television show, “The Patty Duke Show,” were among the newest group of TV refugees from New York to emigrate to Hollywood. The only remaining major TV show produced in New York was “The Ed Sullivan Show,” but it was suggested that even Ed might leave soon. The problem for New York was old studios and the huge amount of time wasted in acquiring items for a production, some of which actually came from Hollywood anyway.

Playing at the movies were: “Von Ryan’s Express,” starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard; “What’s New, Pussycat?”, starring Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Woody Allen and Capucine; “Cat Ballou,” starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin; and “Help!”, starring the Beatles.

That’s the way it was in August 1965!

For more information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-728-0700 or visit www.astorialic.org.

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