november 1958

Charles Wetzel saw a strange creature on the night of November 8th, 1958. He was driving home on North Main Street and came across where it crosses the Santa Ana River only to find it flooded. Wetzel claimed “It had a round, scarecrowish head like something out of Halloween. It wasn’t human. It had longer arms than anything I’d ever seen. When it saw me in the car it reached all the way back to the windshield and began clawing me. It didn’t have any ears. The face was all round. The eyes were shining like something fluorescent, and it had a protruberant mouth.” He also described it as having skin like scales. 

After running over the monster with his car, he quickly sped to the Riverside, California, police station where officers took a look at his vehicle. They noted claw marks on the hood and windshield of the car but the bloodhounds that searched it found nothing unusual. At least one other person claimed to have a run in with the Riverside Bridge Monster.

7

Atlas at sixty - America’s workhorse launcher celebrates sixty years of accomplishments, history.

America’s longest-flying booster family celebrated 60 years of heritage June 11, six decades after the rocket’s maiden flight. Although the flight of Atlas 4A was unsuccessful, it marked the beginning of a crucial role in America’s space history.

Three variants of the Atlas were developed to test out the vehicle’s systems; Atlas A, making eight launches from 1957-58, featured only the two outboard engines and was nearly two-thirds less powerful than the Atlas D. 

Atlas B, making ten flights from 1958-1959, featured three engines and numerous systems not present on the prototype Atlas V. The launch of the world’s first communications satellite - SCORE - on November 29, 1958, was the first space launch ever performed by the Atlas family.

Atlas C only flew six times from 1958-1959 as it tested out improvements made to its engines. 

The first Atlas variant to enter operational service was the Atlas D in 1959. Over 145 launches were made from 1959-1967 including nine made for NASA’s Mercury program. The Atlas Ds man-rated for Project Mercury were given a designation of LV-3B.

Atlas E was the first booster to have autonomous guidance systems; previous variants were radio controlled from ground stations. Forty-eight flights were made between 1960 - 1995.

Atlas F featured slight modifications to the booster’s launch umbilicals and improved guidance systems; the rocket flew 70 times between 1961-1981.

While many Atlas D, E, and F rockets were refurbished for use as launch vehicles following their end of service in 1965, various rockets were attached to the booster to create a two-stage space launch vehicle. Rockets such as Atlas-Able, Atlas-Agena, and Atlas Centaur lofted many of America’s famous satellites into orbit including the Ranger and Mariner probes, Agena docking vehicles for the Gemini program, and countless satellites.

In order to improve the vehicle beyond their original design parameters, the Atlas I vehicle was introduced in 1991 with improved engines and longer fuel tanks. Eleven flights were made between 1990-1997. Atlas II featured greater engine performance and even longer propellant takes and quickly fell into the workhorse Atlas launcher, making 63 flights - all successful - from 1991-2004.

With the development of the Atlas V underway, the Atlas III tested out numerous systems ahead of that rocket’s debut. The classic stage-and-a-half design was replaced with a single, Russian-made RD-180 engine. Six flights were made from 2004-2005.

The current member of the Atlas family, the Atlas V, became operational in 2002 right as other heritage launch vehicles were retired. As such, the Atlas V has become the new workhorse of the American launcher fleet, flying 71 missions as of June 2017.

Watch a video on the Atlas rocket’s history below. Video credit: ULA.

2

“A memento from 20 Forthlin Road one damp and foggy late-November night in 1958. At the end of a riotous recording session, Derek Hodkin helps John, Paul and George come up with a new name:

THE POLECATS

THE RAVENS

THE BLACKBIRDS

THE JACKDAWS

THE JAYBIRDS

The Ravens is the only name underlined, so it was probably favourite for a while, but the last of the five evidently sparked a new mode of thinking because, above all of them – in larger letters, dominant – Hodkin wrote JAPAGE 3. The Japage 3 had their debut at brother Harry Harrison’s wedding reception in the saloon bar of Childwall Abbey Hotel, 20 December 1958.” Lewisohn, Mark. The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Volume One: Tune In.

3

HAPPY 102ND BIRTHDAY TYRONE POWER | May 5, 1914 - November 15, 1958

“He was the most beautiful man I ever saw. No question.” — Anne Baxter

“Now there is a dream man!” — Dorothy Kilgallen

“Ty was the only movie star I ever had a crush on as a child. I told Ty that Patsy Lou Neal had once written him a passionate love letter and wondered why she had never received an answer.” — Patricia Neal

“He had an aura about him that set him apart from everybody else. I had an enormous crush on him and felt his feet never touched the earth.” — Coleen Gray

“Tyrone had maybe one little fault – he didn’t know enough to say no to someone like Mr. Zanuck. I’m sure he wanted Tyrone to belong to Fox, but it didn’t stop my love for Tyrone or Tyrone’s love for me.” — Annabella

“Power was the most agile man with a sword I’ve ever faced before a camera. Tyrone could have fenced Errol Flynn into a cocked hat.” — David Niven

“Ty was warm and considerate. He had a beautiful face.” — Gene Tierney

“Tyrone Power was the god of my adolescence.I would return to see his pictures over and over again. I would go first thing in the morning and stay through the last showing at night.” — Sophia Loren

“Working with Ty Power was exciting. In those days, he was the biggest romantic swashbuckler in the world. Murderously handsome! But what I loved most about Ty Power was his wicked sense of humor.” — Maureen O’Hara

“Tyrone Power was one of the genuine professionals among the actors I’ve dealt with. I suppose "craftsman” might be another proper term.“ — Henry King

"There was one absolutely gorgeous man in Hollywood I had admired from afar for several years. When I saw him in a nightclub or at a motion picture function, I would just stare. And when I was told that Twentieth Century-Fox wanted to borrow me for a film with this dream man, I nearly fainted. At last I was going to work with — and more than likely, be kissed by — Tyrone Power. Of course I tried to be very sophisticated, but privately, on the inside, I was very excited. As I began to know Ty, I decided the word "devil” certainly suited him. Not only was he more handsome off screen than on (and that took some doing), but he was one of the funniest men I ever met.“ — Dorothy Lamour

"Kissing Ty was like you’d died and gone to heaven.” — Alice Faye

“Oh, I just thought he was the most romantic, beautiful man I’d ever seen.” — Terry Moore

“I would have liked to have talked to him – I would have liked to hug him – I would have liked to just had a daddy. I think he watches out for us, and he’s still with us.” — Taryn Power

Vertigo - Extreme Makeover

Saw for the first time in the eighties, when one of the premium cable channels was running an ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ festival, probably due to this film having been recently restored. Not my favorite Hitchcock, and I often wonder why it is so often cited as his 'masterpiece’ (myself, I prefer 'Rear Window’ or 'Psycho’). For the most part it is a really slow moving, hypnotically plodding film, with Jimmy Stewart having a convenient case of 'Vertigo’ for no other seeming reason than it fits in with a crucial plot point. Otherwise it is a story of romantic obsession with only one decent scene near the end that really conjurs any thrills or suspense at all. My wife found it interesting to note how the 'accomplice’ ends up dead at the end, but the husband who actually did the killing seems of little or no consequence at all (how that got by the hayes office is beyond me – I guess we can assume he gets arrested after the final credits roll). One interesting relationship which is only really hinted at, is the one between Jimmy Stewart and his 'gal pal’ Barbara Bell Geddes, whose only purpose in the movie, is to seemingly be a sounding board for Jimmy Stewart when he’s feeling particularly frustrated.

3.5 stars out of 5

Released 1958, First Viewing November 1986

"He's going to kill me. He's crazy. He just killed a man!"

Photo: Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather

Deputy Sheriff William Romer pulled up just in time to foil a car theft and apprehend a fugitive. Six-foot-tall Joe Sprinkle was engaged in a wrestling match with 5'5" Charles Starkweather. A young girl, later identified as 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate, ran toward Romer, screaming that Starkweather was going to kill her and that he had just killed a man.

This was the beginning of the end for the two star-crossed lovers, 14-year-old Fugate and 19-year-old Charles Starkweather. The two had left  behind a trail of dead bodies from December 1, 1957–January 29, 1958. Fugate would claim she was kidnapped and was Starkweather’s hostage during the killing spree and Starkweather would say that she was a willing participant in the crimes. Eleven people were dead as a result of the killing spree, which began in Nebraska and ended in Wyoming.

It was the beginning of the end for the teenagers when Joe Sprinkle pulled up to offer Starkweather assistance. Starkweather had just killed 37-year old Merle Collison and was in the process of stealing his Buick in exchange for a Packard he stole from a previous victim.

Starkweather couldn’t figure out how to release the emergency brake on Collison’s Buick. Sprinkle had arrived on the scene alongside the highway. Starkweather asked him for assistance. It was too late when Sprinkle noticed Collison’s body stuffed in the back seat of the car. Starkweather pulled a shotgun on Sprinkle and Sprinkle tried to wrestle the gun away from him.

Cornered, Starkweather got into to the stolen Packard and fled. Fugate identified Starkweather and Romer called for help.

A road block was set up. Starkweather crashed through it and a high-speed chase ensued, ending in his capture.

Starkweather and Fugate met in 1956. She was 13-years-old and he was 18-years-old. Of course, her family did not approve of Starkweather, a high school dropout and James Dean wannabe who was too old for Fugate.

Starkweather was kicked out of his house by his father. Fugate crashed Starkweather’s father’s car when her boyfriend was giving her a driving lesson.

Starkweather got a job as a garbage man, but his true ambition was to be a bank robber. As he collected garbage on his route, he began to make plans for robberies.

Starkweather committed his first murder in November of 1957. He shot service station attendant Rorbert Colvert. Starkweather wanted to purchase a stuffed dog for Fugate but didn’t have enough money. Colvert refused to give him the plush dog on credit. Starkweather returned to the station with a shotgun, robbed the station and kidnapped Colvert. He drove Colvert to a deserted area, where he shot Colvert in the head.

The killing of Robert Colvert awakened something in Starkweather. He later said that he believed that the act of murder caused him to transcend himself and that be he began to think he was above the law.

On January 21, 1958, Starkweather went to Fugate’s home and, not finding his sweetheart there, shot and killed her mother and stepfather, Velda and Marion Bartlett. Starkweather then killed Fugate’s half-sister Betty Jean, age 2, by strangling and stabbing her.

Fugate arrived home at some point and remained in the house with Starkweather. A message was hung on the door that read: “Stay a way. Everybody is sick with the flu.” Fugate’s grandmother became suspicious and threatened to call police. Starkweather and Fugate fled.

The couple drove 15 miles away from their hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska to a town called Bennett. Starkweather went there to see a family friend, 70-year-old August Meyer. Starkweather shot and killed Meyer, then beat the old man’s dog to death. That same night, two teenagers, 17-year-old Robert Jensen and 16-year-old Carol King, crossed paths with the couple. The teens offered Starkweather and Fugate a ride. King was raped and both her and her boyfriend were shot to death and left in a storm cellar. Enraged with jealousy, Fugate reportedly mutilated King’s genitalia. Starkweather confessed to killing Jensen but said Fugate killed King.

The couple took Jensen’s car and headed to an upscale area of Lincoln, Nebraska, where they invaded the home of C. Lauer and Clara Ward. Clara Ward and the couple’s maid, Lillian Fencl were stabbed to death. C. Lauer was shot to death when he arrived home. Starkweather and Fugate stole the Wards’ 1956 black Packard, along with some valuables from their home.

After killing the Wards and their maid, an extensive search for the killers began. Police were on the lookout for a black Packard so Starkweather was eager to get rid of the car.

Starkweather came upon Merle Collison pulled over on the highway and fast asleep in his Buick outside Douglas, Wyoming. Starkweather woke Collison up by tapping on the window, then fired a warning shot through one of the windows and ordered Collison to get out of the car. Collison didn’t get out so Starkweather shot him to death.

At this point, Joe Sprinkle saw the cars pulled over and stopped to offer help.

Starkweather was only tried for the murder of Robert Jensen. He was sentenced to die by electrocution, a sentence that was carried out at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln on June 25, 1959.

Fugate was sentenced to life in prison on November 21, 1958. She would only serve 17 ½ years and was paroled in 1976.

Fugate was described as a “model prisoner.” After her release, she lived in Lansing, Michigan, where she worked as a janitorial assistant and medical technician. She is now retired. Fugate got married in 2007 to Fredrick Clair, who worked as a machinist and for the National Weather Service as a weather observer. The couple lived in Stryker, Ohio but eventually moved back to Michigan. On August 5, 2013, Fugate and her husband were involved in a car accident. Her husband didn’t survive. Fugate also had a series of strokes in her late 60’s, according to her stepson.

Sources:

Wikipedia

The Killing Spree that Transfixed a Nation: Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate, 1958″ by Lesley Wischmann, Wyohistory.org, a project of the Wyoming State Historical Society

THE KISSING CASE
On this date, October 28, 1958, two Black boys, 7-year-old James Hanover Thompson, and 9-year-old David “Fuzzy” Simpson, were among a group of children in Monroe, North Carolina, none more than 10, none younger than 6, were playing as young children do without much pattern or apparent direction. Most of the children were white.

One of the girls, Sissy Sutton, kissed Hanover on the cheek. When her mother overheard relaying the day’s events to her sister, she became livid. She called the other white parents, armed herself, gathered some friends, and went out looking for the boys. She intended to kill them. 

Mrs. Sutton went to Hanover’s home with her posse, not only to kill the boys but to lynch the mothers. They arrived almost at the same time as six carloads of police – nearly the entire police force of Monroe. Fortunately, no one was at home. 

Later that afternoon, a squad car spotted the two boys pulling a little red wagon filled with pop bottles. The police jumped from the car, guns drawn, snatched the boys, handcuffed them, and threw them into the car. One of cops slapped Hanover, the first of many beatings he would endure. 

When they got to the jail, the boys were beaten unmercifully. They were held without counsel and their mothers were not allowed to see them.

For several nights the mothers were so frightened that they didn’t sleep in their own house. Gunmen in passing cars fired dozens of shots into the Thompson home. They killed Hanover’s dog. Both women were fired from their jobs as housekeepers. Mrs. Thompson was evicted from her home. The Klan held daily demonstrations outside of the jail.

On November 4, 1958, six days after taking the boys into custody, local authorities finally held a hearing. The boys had still not seen their parents, friends, or legal counsel. At the hearing, the judge found the boys guilty of three charges of assault (kissing) and molestation. He ordered that the boys be incarcerated in an adult facility for black prisoners, and told the boys that if they behaved, they might be released at age 21. 

The state NAACP director didn’t want anything to do with the ‘sex case’ as he called it. Roy Wilkins, of the national NAACP, also declined to get involved. Eventually, it was the communists, the Socialist Workers’ Party, that came to the rescue. 

Joyce Egginton, a reporter for the London News-Chronicle traveled to Monroe, she sneaked into the prison where the boys were held, under the pretense of being a social worker. She also sneaked in a camera. On December 15, 1958, a front page picture of Hanover and Fuzzy in the reformatory, along with an article, appeared all over Europe. 

News organizations in England, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, all carried the story. The United States Information Agency received more than 12,000 letters expressing outrage at the events.
An international committee was formed in Europe to defend Thompson and Simpson. Huge demonstrations were held in Paris, Rome and Vienna and in Rotterdam against the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Brussels was stoned. It was an international embarrassment for the U.S. government.

In February, North Carolina officials asked the boys’ mothers to sign a waiver with the assurance that their children would be released. The mothers refused to sign the waiver, which would have required the boys to admit to being guilty of the charges.

Two days later, after the boys had spent three months in detention, the governor pardoned Thompson and Simpson without conditions or explanation. The state and city never apologized to the boys or their families for their treatment.

Buster Keaton: Film Editor, part 2

Robert Franklin:  Did you start cutting at that time?

Buster Keaton:  Yeah, I always cut my own pictures.

Robert Franklin:  Oh, did you?

Buster Keaton:  Oh yes, from the time I started making them.

Robert Franklin:  You just developed that skill yourself, too.

Buster Keaton:  Oh yeah, sure.  I just watched Arbuckle do it, and that’s all there was to it.

Robert Franklin:  Arbuckle did his?

Buster Keaton:  Oh yes, he cut his own pictures.

Robert Franklin:  This is another skill I guess that’s died out.

Buster Keaton:  Yeah.  We’ve lost that because soundtracks kind of have made that almost mechanical.  We used to study frames of pictures, for the love of Mike.


- From Buster Keaton Interviews, Ed. by Kevin W. Sweeney, interview with Robert and Joan Franklin, November 1958.