The kid Drink Vendor in Beirut.
Suggested Man Of The Year: The little kid who made a bundle selling U.S. troops cold drinks in Beirut.

In Search Of Time’s Man Of The Year In 1958 – Past Daily Gallimaufry

The kid Drink Vendor in Beirut.

Suggested Man Of The Year: The little kid who made a bundle selling U.S. troops cold drinks in Beirut.

Bill Downs Commentary – CBS Radio – December 1958 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

As it always is, the end of just about every year brings a flood of reflections, what-if’s and ironies. 1958 certainly joins the ranks of the dim-distant past, and most likely very few, if any of these references will make any sense to you. But history buffs, or those playing Trivial Pursuit may find some of these references spot-on, interesting or delightfully obscure.

In this commentary, by veteran CBS News reporter/commentator Bill Downs, who was one of the “Murrow Boys” in World War 2 and was a very respected broadcast journalist, spends this 3 1/2 minutes contemplating what would make a worthy inclusion for Time Magazine’s Man Of The Year distinction. The Henry Luce in question (in case you didn’t know) was the publisher of Time Magazine and the originator of the Man Of The Year. 1958 was also year Elvis Presley was drafted into the Army. And since Rock n’ Roll wasn’t particularly liked by mainstream news media, the reference to the head of Presley’s Draft Board made perfect sense.

But you have to listen carefully to figure out all the obscure references as to who constituted a Man Of The Year. 1958 was also the year the world’s first nuclear-powered Submarine, The USS Nautilus to cross under the North Pole in March of that year. Hence, the reference to the sailor dragging aboard North Pole ice for the Admiral’s cocktail parties back home. And the reference to the kid peddling cold drinks to Marines wading ashore in Beirut had to do with the U.S. invasion of Lebanon in July of that year, and the bizarre sight of packs of children parading up and down the beach, hocking Cokes and 7-Up’s and making a bundle off the cash-laden troops.

Sometimes history is loaded with obscure references that, when looked at more closely, reveal a whole other dimension to the story and the event.

And to give you some idea, here is that broadcast of Bill Downs’ Commentary from CBS Radio in December of 1958.

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