Abraham Lincoln – A Birthday In Cold War – February 12, 1958 – Past Daily Gallimaufry
– NBC Nightline – February 12, 1958 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
There was a time, not all that long ago, when Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated every February 12th – and Washington’s birthday was celebrated every February 22nd. As a kid, it meant two days off school during the month of February (unless either birthday fell on a weekend). Somehow, they managed to get rolled into one under the title “President’s Day” and its never really been the same ever since.
Both President’s birthdays were a very big deal during the Cold War era. It gave America a chance to go all-out with Patriotic flair – lots of flag waving and, in Lincoln’s case, lots of singing of Civil War era tunes (none of which seem to be remember now).
In 1958 we were smack in the middle of the Cold War. And despite attempts for a thaw, by way of a proposed Cultural exchange, it was getting off to a bumpy start. The news was reporting that as a way of letting us know Abraham Lincoln would be spinning in his grave over our seeming lack of commitment and the perceived threat from Moscow.
That was February 12th 1958 – and in the midst of patriotic blasts of Civil War era music, we were treated to the other goings-on in the world via this NBC Radio program, which was a sort of week-day version of the very popular Monitor program on the weekends.
Technology was making us less isolated and potentially better informed – that we could get a report about what was happening in Moscow this day in February, brought us a little closer together but it also made us a little more paranoid, because we were getting the news faster than ever before – so any change of mood or mixed signal and the shock waves moved with lightning speed.
But we were busy taking the day off and being suitably patriotic because we didn’t want Moscow to know we were having trouble sleeping at night, out of fear an Atomic Bomb would takes us out while we slept. We were celebrating Abraham Lincoln because he represented a slower time, a time things didn’t seem as fearful and hopeless as they did in 1958.
And that’s what people were listening to on their radios, this Lincoln’s Birthday – February 12, 1958 from NBC Radio.
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