‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.
Lewis Carroll , Through the Looking Glass.
The year was 1956 – how long ago I hear you gasp. And are there really people alive today who can remember that far back? Well yes and I am one of them.
Several things that happened that year make the year stand out as a Year of Firsts.
I had left school the year before and celebrated my 18th birthday in 1956. The First Birthday now freed from the confines of school and so frightfully grown up and independent – although still living at my parents’ house as one did in those far off days. No flatting for us!
A few days before my birthday I became Engaged to be married. So, First Engagement. Nat King Cole sang ‘Too Young” but 2 eighteen year olds knew better. We had a great party inviting all our friends and relations, as I was the first one amongst the cousins to become engaged. I sported a very large 5 diamond ring and thought I was just the happiest girl in the world.
However, we were Too Young and the engagement fizzled out quite soon and the next year I met and married my Dashing Young Scotsman.
My fiance’s mother and stepfather were classical music aficionados while my parents were more light, contemporary musicals. So that year with his parents, I saw my First Opera at Covent Garden aka The Royal Opera House and my First Classical Music Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. And I shall be forever grateful to these two people for introducing me to both opera and classical music.
I had been very keen on ballet having studied for many years. So I had seen a couple of ballets but they took me on my First Visit to Saddlers Wells. At that time, Saddlers Wells was synonymous with the ballet. Since that time the The Royal Opera House has been home to both the ballet and the opera.
My fiance’s mother and step-father were vegetarians. This was very rare some 45 years ago and there were very few vegetarian restaurants. Fiance’s mother was very resourceful and always managed to find a vegetarian restaurant close by the venue. So then my First Visit to a Vegetarian Restaurant and my First taste of nut cutlets. One must remember that nobody was experimenting with vegetarian food then and it was bland, tasteless, uninspiring and uninviting. It certainly didn’t convert me to vegetarianism.
So in all 1956 stands out as a year of firsts and though I have moved on so far since those far off days, I still remember the visits to the opera, orchestra and ballet with those people. Incidentally, even though I broke off the engagement my ex-fiance, my Dashing Young Scotsman and I remained friends for many years. I wonder what happened to him.
But 1956 was not just a big year for me. Here are some of the other things (rather more world shattering and changing) that happened that year :
- John Lennon (15) & Paul McCartney (13) meet for 1st time as Lennon’s rock group Quarrymen perform at a church dinner.
- 85th British Golf Open: Peter Thomson shoots a 286 at Hoylake England
- Last Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus under a canvas tent
- Egypt seizes Suez Canal and British government sends 3 aircraft carriers to Egypt
- England retain cricket Ashes, Jim Laker 46 wickets in the series
- Tanks are deployed against racist demonstrators in Clinton, Tennessee
- Great Britain performs nuclear test at Maralinga Australia
- Stravinsky’s “Canticum Sacrum,” premieres in Venice
- First transatlantic telephone cable goes into operation (Scotland/Canada)
- England’s first large-scale nuclear power station opens
- 16th modern Olympic games opens in Melbourne, Australia
- Nelson Mandela & 156 others arrested for political activities in South Africa
- Japan admitted to UN
- Montgomery, Ala, removed race-based seat assignments on its buses
- Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog,” single goes to #1 & stays #1 for a record 11 weeks (for a single)
- Abigail Van Buren’s “Dear Abby” column 1st appears in newspapers
- Britain abolishes death penalty
- “My Fair Lady” opens at Mark Hellinger Theater NYC for 2,715 performances
- Soap operas “As the World Turns” & “Edge of Night” premiere on TV
- Grace Kelly marries Prince Ranier III of Monaco.
Do you have a year of particular memories, firsts or whatever that makes it stand out? I would love to hear from you.