Originally created 07/25/99

A look at the 20th Century: 1957



Economic strength and prosperity at home, fears of communist domination abroad and school desegregation enforced by the U.S. Army were among the high-water marks of 1957.

Cars had grown fins, 13-year-old Bobby Fischer became a chess champion and Jack Kerouac's On the Road gave a name to the Beat generation in 1957.

On the first day of the year, Egyptian President Abdul Nasser signed a document proclaiming that the West wouldn't be allowed to have a military base near the Suez Canal. Great Britain had maintained a base there and had sought to reoccupy it.

A fire broke out during class Jan. 3 at John S. Davidson Elementary School at 1114 Telfair St. in Augusta, forcing 290 teachers and students to evacuate. The roof and second floor burned for 45 minutes. No one was hurt.

In response to increasing Soviet influence in Syria and Egypt and rising tensions in the Middle East, President Dwight D. Eisenhower went before Congress with a special message Jan. 5. In a series of proposals later known as the Eisenhower Doctrine of Communist Containment, he asked Congress to approve additional military and economic aid for the Middle East.

"The occasion has come for us to manifest again our national unity in support of freedom and to show our deep respects for the rights and independence of every nation -- however great, however small," he told Congress. "We seek not violence, but peace."

After receiving harsh criticism for his actions in the Middle East war in 1956, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigned Jan. 9. He was succeeded by Harold Macmillan.

Transportation officials announced Jan. 28 that Augusta would be a stop-off along a major interstate highway to be built five miles northwest of downtown. The highway, part of Eisenhower's national interstate road system, became Interstate 20 and today links Columbia with Atlanta through Aiken, Richmond and neighboring counties.

The United Nations called on Israel on Feb. 2 to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and other territories it had taken from Egypt in the 1956 Mideast war. Israel refused, demanding instead that U.N. officials take steps to protect Israel. The United States threatened economic sanctions against Israel, and Israel withdrew its troops March 1 as U.S. aid to the country resumed.

Hurricane Audrey pounded the Gulf Coast from Texas to Alabama on June 25-28, killing 390 people.

South Carolina's U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat, broke the record for filibustering Aug. 30 by speaking for more than 24 consecutive hours in an attempt to block a civil rights bill intended to protect citizens' right to vote.

In September, Central High School, a jewel of the Little Rock, Ark., public schools system, was supposed to begin the academic year under racial desegregation. The U.S. Supreme Court had thrown out "separate but equal" doctrines three years before and nine black students planned to attend classes Sept. 3.

But the day before, Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus ordered his state's National Guard to monitor the school. When the Little Rock Nine showed up for classes at the 2,000-student campus, National Guardsmen refused to let them enter. A judge ruled against the governor and the National Guard on Sept. 20. Three days later, the nine students again tried to enter but they were turned back by an angry white mob.

Finally, Eisenhower overcame his earlier reluctance to use federal authority to enforce racial desegregation in public schools. He dispatched 1,000 U.S. Army paratroopers and ordered 10,000 National Guardsmen to Little Rock to escort the students through the mobs. The federal troops stayed at Central High for days.

Soviet radio made a broadcast Oct. 4 that sent political tremors through the West. The Soviet Union announced it had launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. The small satellite, which resembled a shiny bowling ball with long antennas, held an ominous twofold significance for U.S. leaders: The United States was behind the Soviets in the space race, and any country with rockets that could launch a satellite into space could also deliver nuclear warheads anywhere on the planet. The United States would stay behind in the space race for the rest of 1957, while the Soviets launched a dog into space aboard Sputnik 2 in November.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Archie J. Old Jr. completed the world's first nonstop round-the-world jet flight Jan. 18. He led three Boeing B-52 bombers around the world, a distance of 24,325 miles, in 45 hours 19 minutes at an average speed of more than 500 mph.

Actor Humphrey Bogart, who played the leading man in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, died Jan. 24, ending an 11-month battle with cancer. Joseph R. McCarthy, the former Republican senator from Wisconsin whose anti-Communist purges eventually brought him a congressional censure, died May 2.

1957 was a milestone in the entertainment industry. West Side Story premiered on Broadway, introducing audiences to dance and subject matter the likes of which people had never seen in a musical. A collaboration between choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, author Arthur Laurents and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, the musical retold the story of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of Brooklyn street gangs.

On March 16, the Howdy Doody Show successfully launched a television spinoff: the Gumby Show, created by Art Clokey.

The film An Affair to Remember premiered in theaters, listing Lester Copley as author of the script. The film was actually written by Lester Cole, one of many Hollywood writers working under false names after being blacklisted during the McCarthy era as Communist sympathizers.

The Three Faces of Eve premiered in 1957. The movie anonymously profiled the life of Augusta-area resident Chris Sizemore, who was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. According to her biographers, she was so distraught over how she was portrayed in the film that she left Augusta three days before the film premiered.

The year also brought America The Seventh Seal, Peyton Place, Twelve Angry Men, Old Yeller and Bridge on the River Kwai, which won the Academy Award for best picture. The year also brought films such as The Amazing Colossal Man, The Beginning of the End and I Was a Teenage Werewolf.

Wham-O Manufacturing Co. introduced an Earthling variety of flying saucers. Wham-O's Frisbee, a plastic flying disk, was modeled after pie plates used by Connecticut-based Frisbee Pie Co., which children had used for years as throwing toys.

Time line

Jan. 1:

Egyptian President Abdul Nasser proclaims there will be no Western control of the Suez Canal, despite British protests.

Jan. 5:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower presents the Eisenhower Doctrine to Congress, calling for additional military and economic aid to the Middle East to contain Communist influence.

Jan. 9:

British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigns. He is succeeded by Harold Macmillan.

Jan. 24:

Actor Humphrey Bogart dies of cancer.

Jan. 28:

Officials announce that a major federal highway will be built about five miles northwest of downtown Augusta.

Feb. 2:

The United Nations calls on Israel to remove its troops from the Gaza Strip and other territories it had taken from Egypt. Israel refuses.

March 1:

Caving in to economic threats from the United States, Israel removes its troops from Egyptian territories.

May 2:

Joseph R. McCarthy, the former U.S. senator from Wisconsin whose anti-Communist purge efforts led to the term "McCarthyism," dies.

June 25-28:

Hurricane Audrey hits the Gulf Coast.

Sept. 3:

Arkansas National Guardsmen bar nine black students from attending all-white Central High School in Little Rock.

Sept. 20:

A judge orders Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus and the National Guard to allow the nine black students to attend Central High, but angry mobs still bar the students from the school.

Sept. 25:

A thousand U.S. Army paratroopers and 10,000 National Guardsmen under orders from President Eisenhower escort the Arkansas Nine into the Little Rock high school.

Oct. 4:

The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into orbit. The Soviets take an early lead in the space race, leading to fears of Communism in the United States.

Staff Writer Todd Bauer died Friday. This was one of his last stories written for The Augusta Chronicle.