THE BLOG
11/02/2012 03:11 pm ET Updated Jan 02, 2013

Baby Boomer Time Capsule: October 29 - 31

Hello, Chet. Hello, David.

On October 29, 1956, The Huntley-Brinkley Report began on NBC and revolutionized television news. Chet Huntley, based in New York, reported the main stories of the day. David Brinkley, based in Washington, D.C., gave pointed, wry commentary on political news. They started with fifteen minutes and by 1960 held the number one spot for evening news.

What was so different? TV news usually consisted of an anchor that read copy, while Huntley-Brinkley provided the news with personality and intelligence. TV news previously tended to use newsreels, while Huntley-Brinkley used NBC cameramen at the sight of the action. Eventually, Huntley-Brinkley presented programming news specials and broke into established programs with fast-breaking important news. They rivaled newspapers, radio, and news magazines to make TV more than a supplemental news source. The show ran until July 31, 1970.

The signature signoff, "Good night, David. Good night, Chet." helped to make them into recognizable personalities.

For more information, read Huntley-Brinkley Report by Jesse Russell and Ronald Cohn.

Clarence Birdseye: Give Peas A Chance

On October 30, 1952, Birds Eye sold the first frozen peas. When Clarence Birdseye was a young man, he traveled to Labrador, Newfoundland, and happened to see Inuits quick-freezing fish. This set his brain working, because freezing meats, fruits and vegetables was usually a slow process that formed large ice crystals, which affected the texture and taste of the food. Birdseye experimented and found ways to place packaged food between refrigerated metal plates to rapidly freeze them and maintain flavor and freshness. In 1929, Birdseye sold his patents to General Foods, who created the Birds Eye frozen foods division. After World War II, Americans had freezers and were happy to enjoy pre-packaged seasonal foods year-round.

This contemporary ad for Birds Eye frozen peas maintains Birdseye's original message of freshness and convenience.

For more information, read Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man by Mark Kurlansky.

From Dodging to Ditching Brooklyn's Trolleys

On October 31, 1956, Brooklyn, New York, ended its streetcar service. That doesn't sound monumental, but the decline of streetcars in favor of buses and automobiles came after years of contention between big business and local government. Trolleys were a relatively inexpensive light transit above ground that connected neighborhoods and allowed people to move to areas where they could commute to work.

Starting in the 1930s, National City Lines (NCL) and subsidiary Pacific City Lines (PCL), both owned by General Motors, Standard Oil of California, Firestone Tire and Phillips Petroleum, preferred to promote their buses and supplies and began acquiring control of light transit companies across America. NCL and PCL would then dismantle the trolley systems and replace them with their buses. This became the Great American Streetcar Scandal. In 1949, the Federal District Court of Southern California convicted NCL and PCL for this conspiracy of acquisition. The scandal helped to inspire the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The ruling came too late, though, to save Brooklyn's trolleys, which were rapidly disappearing.

Trolleys also did not fit into the vision of Robert Moses, New York City's master-builder. Moses saw highways and growth in the suburbs. Besides, people loved cars.

The Brooklyn Dodgers, who got their name from being "trolley dodgers" to get out of the way of the streetcars, left Brooklyn, too. They moved to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.

The old Brooklyn trolleys.

For more information, read Brooklyn Streetcars, New York (Images of Rail Series) from the Branford Electric Railway Association.


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This time capsule is dedicated to those of us born between 1946 and 1964.

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