Wednesday, November 20, 2013


You might be wondering about this rather short headline. Well, I got an email from a friend. The email contained a link: www.whathappenedinmybirthyear.

When you click on that the screen will fade into black. Then you insert your year of birth and hit the question mark.

And things begin to happen. (without the pictures I added)

I am of the good year of 1952. And see what was going on at that time:


In 1952, the world was a different place.

There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo.

In 1952, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was This Is Cinerama. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.

Remember, that was before there were DVDs. Heck, even before there was VHS. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.

image Do you know who won the Oscars that year? The academy award for the best movie went to The Greatest Show on Earth. The Oscar for best foreign movie that year went to Forbidden Games. The top actor was Gary Cooper for his role as Marshal Will Kane in High Noon. The top actress was Shirley Booth for her role as Lola Delaney in Come Back, Little Sheba. The best director? John Ford for The Quiet Man.

In the year 1952, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time was The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain. Oh, that's many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it?

In 1952... West Germany has 8 million refugees inside its borders. Elizabeth II is proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom at St. James's Palace, London, England. In the Hague Tribunal, Israel demands reparations worth $3 billion from Germany. The Treaty of Taipei is signed between Japan and the Republic of China to officially end the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Diary of Anne Frank is published. The United States Army Special Forces is created. A British passenger jet flies twice over the Atlantic Ocean in the same day. Martial law is declared in Kenya due to the Mau Mau uprising. The first successful surgical separation of Siamese twins is conducted in Mount Sinai Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio.

That was the world you were born into. Since then, you and others have changed it.

image The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Fran├žois Mauriac. The Nobel Peace prize went to Albert Schweitzer. The Nobel prize for physics went to Felix Bloch and Edward Mills Purcell from the United States for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith. The sensation this created was big. But it didn't stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn't it?

The 1950s were indeed a special decade. The American economy is on the upswing. The cold war between the US and the Soviet Union is playing out throughout the whole decade. Anti-communism prevails in the United States and leads to the Red Scare and accompanying Congressional hearings. Africa begins to become decolonized. The Korean war takes place. The Vietnam War starts. The Suez Crisis war is fought on Egyptian territory. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others overthrow authorities to create a communist government on Cuba. Funded by the US, reconstructions in Japan continue. In Japan, film maker Akira Kurosawa creates the movies Rashomon and Seven Samurai. The FIFA World Cups are won by Uruguay, then West Germany, then Brazil.

Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15? In the Heat of the Night. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?


In 1952, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song Wheel of Fortune by Kay Starr topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.

The wheel of fortune
Goes spinning around
Will the arrow point my way?
Will this be my day?

There's a kid outside, shouting, playing. It doesn't care about time. It doesn't know about time. It shouts and it plays and thinks time is forever. You were once that kid.

When you were 9, the movie Hercules in the Haunted World was playing. When you were 8, there was Pollyanna.

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... it's 1952. There's TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV is Kukla, Fran and Ollie. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There's The Ed Sullivan Show on now. That's the world you were born in.

Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards? The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1952. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? Diet soft drinks. Optical Fiber. The Fusion Bomb.

I work here nights parking cars
Underneath the moon and the stars
Same ones that we all knew
Back in 1952

That's from the song 3rd Base, Dodger Stadium by Ry Cooder.

In 1952, a new character entered the world of comic books: Astro Boy. Bang! Boom! But that's just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1952, Christopher Reeve was born. And Dan Aykroyd. Douglas Adams, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.
It's 2013.

The world is a different place.

What path have you taken?


  1. I was 10 years old in 1952... turned 11 during the last month of that year. My life was totally different than a kid born that year. It's really interesting to me how different each of us view our lives... my brother is 2.5 years older than me... my sister 4 years older than me... but when we talk about the very same event, we each remember it and see it very different. I guess that's what makes us all so fascinating to each other... just to hear about each other's experiences.

  2. Such a great time we had back then and life was so much different for all of us.
    Great memories.


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