What a week! I’m pretty sure I say this at the end of every week, but it always rings true. This week brought good news and bad news, sun and rain (depending on where you live), and a whole lot of nostalgia, memories, and reflecting on historic events.
The first weeks of June always make me think back to high school — specifically, the end of the school year and the start of a long, hot summer. In elementary school, that meant bike rides and running through the sprinklers in the front yard with the neighbor kids. As a teenager, it meant going to the movies, going to the mall, and going anywhere my younger brother wasn’t going.
The start of summer also meant babysitting and part-time jobs and growing up. I didn’t know it then, but summer would, for me, become one of the clearest markers of the passage of time. With each year, summers seem to whip around faster and faster. Honestly, it feels like Christmas was just yesterday. The speed of time and the pace of life is perhaps why I love revisiting historic events and nostalgic memories from the past. They make me think of the people I’ve known, the places I’ve been, and the lessons I’ve learned. And they always, always make me smile.
Below are historic events and major pop culture moments that happened this week in history between 1903 and 1978. Which ones do you remember?
Grease lightning was the talk of the town.
Olivia Newton John and John Travolta sang and danced their way into movie musical history with the release of Grease in 1978. It was an immediate box office hit, and it went on to become the highest grossing musical of all time. It also went on to show up at every prom and wedding in America — because the hand jive really is “the one that [we] want… ooh, ooh, ooh, honey.”
Pepsi-Cola was trademarked… and the soda wars began.
A lot was going on at the turn of the 20th century, but I’d argue that the launch of Pepsi-Cola was among the era’s biggest events. Why? Because it kicked off the “Which is better, Coke or Pepsi?” debate that has still not been resolved. (I’m a Coke gal myself.) While this probably wasn’t the intention of Caleb Davis Bradham, the druggist who trademarked Pepsi-Cola in 1903, its a legacy he’s not likely to shake.
Hee Haw made America say “yeehaw!”
The comedy sketch and country music show Hee Haw premiered this week in 1969. I remember watching this with my grandparents as a kid — co-host Buck Owens was from Bakersfield, a city just outside my hometown, which was a point of pride for all of us living in California’s Central Valley — and marveling at the characters’ voices and costumes. Minnie Pearl was especially captivating, and after visiting Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and learning about her back story, I find her all the more extraordinary.
Aretha Franklin taught us how to spell — and command — respect.
The Queen of Soul’s rendition of “Respect” hit #1 on the charts in June of 1967. Written and originally recorded by Otis Redding two years earlier, Franklin’s version went on to become her signature song, earning two Grammys and winning a spot on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, among other accolades.
A long yellow tarp was on every kid’s front lawn.
Who among us doesn’t remember the Slip ’n Slide? Launched in 1961, it was the summer toy that brought all the kids to the yard (and probably to the ER). One of the Wham-O toy company’s all-time bestsellers, I remember begging my mother to not only buy my brother and me a Slip ‘n’ Slide, but also to let us spread it across her lush green lawn. When I finally did get the chance to Slip ‘n’ Slide — on the lawn of a friend of a friend — I promptly sprained my wrist. Wham-O, indeed!