As they’re unwinding our house, I feel like we’re peering back into time a little bit. Take off the paint, reveal multiple coatings of stucco, applied over decades. Under the stucco, mostly redwood beams, because there were so many redwoods here in 1957, when the house was built (and they thought that termites might not have much taste for it). A little bit like a housing anatomy lesson, seeing everything laid bare. At this moment, they’re working on the big plate glass windows in our living room — having a tough time getting the glass out — 50 years of glue, I suppose. Anyway, led me to think about what was happening in 1957 when the house was built. A few items that I came up with:

American Bandstand, Leave It To Beaver, Perry Mason premier
– Steve Allen was the host of “The Tonight Show”
– Dwight Eisenhower was president; the Cold War was getting colder
– Mao Tse Tung was in control in China
– 1st US attempt to launch a satellite fails: Vanguard rocket blows up
– Sputnik I & II were launched
– 1st electric portable typewriter placed on sale (Syracuse NY)
– 3 B-52s leave Calif for 1st non-stop round the world flights
– B-52 bombers begin full-time flying alert in case of USSR attack
– Althea Gibson became 1st black tennis player to win Wimbledon
– Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1957
– Little Rock HS integration happens; US Army is called in
– Buddy Holly & Crickets record “That’ll Be the Day”
– Hank Aaron was the NL MVP
– Giants move to SF; Dodgers move to Brooklyn. Everyone continues to hate the Yankees
– Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat; Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged
– The transistor was only 10 years old
– Ford introduced the Edsel; everyone was driving their ’57 Chevy anyway
– John & Kathy’s house was built

And a bunch of other stuff, including, you guessed it, turmoil in the Middle East, centered around Sinai. Here’s a piece of the Eisenhower Doctrine, announced in 1957:

The Middle East has abruptly reached a new and critical stage in its long and important history. In past decades many of the countries in that area were not fully self-governing. Other nations exercised considerable authority in the area and the security of the region was largely built around their power. But since the First World War there has been a steady evolution toward self-government and independence. This development the United States has welcomed and has encouraged. Our country supports without reservation the full sovereignty and independence of each and every nation of the Middle East.

The occasion has come for us to manifest again our national unity in support of freedom and to show our deep respect for the rights and independance of every nation – however great, however small. We seek, not violence, but peace. To this purpose we must now devote our energies, our determination, ourselves.

Everything old is new again.


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