Memoirs, Or Shadows Of What Has Been
By Peter Landry

Chapter Thirteen, Lisa & Kara: Birth, 1961-2

Let's first do a little review of certain of the world events going on during the years 1961 and 1962.


At the first of 1961, just as Louise and I were getting under way with our married life, January 17th, President Dwight Eisenhower gave his final State of the Union Address to Congress. In a Farewell Address the same day, he warned of the increasing power of a "military-industrial complex." At the end of that month, Ham the Chimp, a 37-pound male, was rocketed into space in a test of the Project Mercury capsule, designed to carry United States astronauts into space. That May they sent Alan Shepard up and he become the first American in space. Then, on May 25th, President Kennedy announced that the goal of the United States was to put a man on the Moon before the end of the decade: The Apollo Program came into existence.

One of the last things that President Dwight Eisenhower did just before President Kennedy was sworn in was to announce that the United States had severed diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba. Kennedy did one better: he secretly supported The Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba which began on April 17th. The invaders were Cuban exiles backed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Castro's forces repelled these invaders and by April 19th it was all over. Before the year was out, Cuban leader Fidel Castro removed all doubt as to what he stood for. In a nationally broadcast speech, he announced that he was a Marxist-Leninist, and that Cuba will adopt socialism. Within a month of that, Pope John XXIII excommunicated Castro.

In 1961, Heinrich Matthaei, a German biochemist, was the first human to recognize and understand the genetic code. This was the birth date of modern genetics. In May the American civil rights movement was making headlines when Alabama Governor John Patterson declared martial law in an attempt to restore order after race riots broke out. It was, too, the year when Joseph Heller had his novel, Catch-22 published. The Berlin Wall was completed. In the early morning hours of July 2nd, 1961, Hemingway blew his brains out with his favorite shotgun.


In February, while aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes. American artist Andy Warhol featured his Campbell Soup Cans exhibit in Los Angeles. The Rolling Stones made their debut at London, opening for Long John Baldry. On August 5th, Marilyn Monroe was found nude in her bed, dead. She died from an overdose of sleeping pills and chloral hydrate. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring came out in 1962. With its criticism of the use of DTT, the book is given the credit for the modern environmentalists movement. However, Carson had her critics.

During these years most people, to one degree or an other, were worried about THE BOMB. Since 1949, one had reason to be, as the two main antagonists in the COLD WAR, both the United States and the Soviet Union, had the bomb. Through the years, not to be outdone, other countries built their own atomic bombs: United Kingdom, 1952; France, 1960; then, in 1964, China joined the club. Not only could any of these countries go to war and use them, there was the problem that an accident could happen with the result that everyone would start throwing atomic bombs at one another. There were regular hazards, for example, in 1950, a U.S. Air Force lost a B-36 bomber that carried an Mk-4 atomic bomb off the west coast of Canada. Later, in the same year, a U.S. Air Force B-50 Superfortress bomber, experiencing an in-flight emergency, jettisoned and detonated a Mark 4 nuclear bomb over Quebec (the device lacked its plutonium core).

On October 14th, 1962, US spy planes took pictures of Soviet missile silos in Cuba. Thus began: The Cuban Missile Crisis. A stand-off then took place between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was the closest that the world came to practically eliminating life on earth through an all out nuclear war. American warships stood between Cuba and incoming Russian ships. Then there was a stand down and the Russian vessels changed their course and the Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev announced, on October 28th, that he has ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. In a secret deal between Kennedy and Khrushchev, Kennedy agreed to the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey. The fact that this deal was not made public made it look like the Soviets had backed down.

Pregnant Louise & P, 1961

On August 1st, 1961, Lisa was born. I was working with Zellers at its Dartmouth store. What do I remember of that event? Not a whole lot. I remember consulting with the doctor (those were the days when one paid for medical services). What I wanted was to witness the event. No, No -- Cannot do that! As the doctor explained, in the delivery room things can get hectic. Sometimes the doctor had to make a cut (an episiotomy) and he then might have two patients including the father who fainted to the hard floor of the surgical suite. During the actual delivery, I would have to wait in the waiting room. These days, fathers are encouraged to be part of the event, but not back then. I was with Louise during her labour. A long process. It was agreed I should go home get some breakfast, maybe a bit of a nap and return within a couple of hours. As I was eating my cornflakes, a call came: Louise had delivered a girl. I got myself to the hospital. The doctor personally led me to the nursery so I might be introduced to Lisa for the first time. She looked wonderful in her nursery crib. The doctor then pointed out, rather matter of factually, that both her feet were turned in: Clubfeet. He assured me that there were treatments and that in time things would be OK. I asked the nurse to unswaddle her and show me her feet; that she did. Her little feet looked normal to me, and I was much relieved. Though there are different kinds, Lisa was to suffer from congenital clubfeet. The incidence is, one out of every 1000 births have a clubfoot, half of those will have both feet affected (such as Lisa's). Also, I came to find out that the condition is more common in boys than in girls. The cause of a congenital clubfoot remains unknown; it is usually not due to anything the mother did or did not do during pregnancy. For the first years of Lisa's life there were many trips to Orthopaedic doctors. Special straight last boots were fitted with an adjustable brace holding the shoes apart in a fixed position to stretch the in-turned feet, outwards. Also more than one surgery was carried out to transfer a ligament from the inside of the ankle to the outside, and visa versa. Lisa, not knowing anything else, really, never complained; and after a few years was running around just as fast as any other kid.

During August of 1962, still with Zellers, I was transferred to Truro as Assistant Manager. There was just the one Zellers at Truro located on Prince Street in the downtown area. The manager was a dapper fellow called Lee Glass. Until I could get things organized, I boarded with other boarders in a private home. Not too much time passed before I rented the upper half of a duplex at 56 Whitman Court which is a dead end street just off Prince street in the west end. Louise, then five months pregnant with Kara, and one year old Lisa came up from Halifax and we were soon back to being a regular family again.

On December 25th, 1962, Kara was born. She was born at the Colchester Hospital, Willow Street, Truro. If I remember this correctly, Lisa, about mid December, was sent to be with Louise's mother at Halifax to stay there until after Kara's birth. Kara was a Christmas day baby. Louise and I woke up Christmas day and she started with her labour contractions. We did not go directly to the hospital which was not far away from where we lived. The two of us were seated that morning in the living room in our home at 56 Whitman Court. Louise was going to open up her Christmas presents, and, did so, between contractions. We got to the hospital in time and Kara did not take long to come into the world; she was perfect.

Three of the movies that came out in 1962: First, and one of the classics of all times, there was David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia. It was based on the true story of a British Army Officer and his adventures in the Middle East during WWI. It starred Peter O' Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, and Anthony Quinn. It won the Best Picture in the 35th Academy Awards ceremony of 1963. The Manchurian Candidate was a film about a Korean War veteran who came home as a hero. What he did not realize was that he had been captured and brainwashed by the North Vietnamese. He had been programed to kill. It starred Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey. The third movie I refer to is To Kill a Mockingbird where a local lawyer (Gregory Peck) agreed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman.

In 1962, the Beatles came onto the scene with their first single, Love Me Do. Others: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka, The Stripper by David Rose, Route 66 Theme by Nelson Riddle, and I Left My Heart In San Francisco by Tony Bennett.

[Pictures, 1961-2]

NEXT: [Chapter Fourteen, Bathurst & Dana's Birth, 1964]


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2011 (2020)

Peter Landry