It seems we may be living through a year of big changes. Some years pass and little seems to have changed. While, in hindsight, others marked the beginning of new eras. After a long lull, no doubt, 2001 reshuffled the deck.
To me, 1974 was a standout year of change. What follows is my list of some of the most important events of that year:
Jan. 2: President Nixon signed a bill mandating a 55 mph speed limit in order to conserve gasoline.
Feb. 4: Patty Hurst was abducted; eight days later the Symbionese Liberation Army told the Hurst family it had to give $230 million in food aid to the poor.
Feb. 11: The Devil in/and Miss Jones prank was staged at the Fan District's Biograph Theatre (814 W. Grace St.). The story was covered by the national media; for background click here.
Mar. 2: Nixon was named by a federal grand jury as a co-conspirator in the Watergate cover-up.
Apr. 8: Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record with his 715th round-tripper. Later we found out about the death threats Aaron had received leading up to his feat.
Apr. 15: Patty “Tania” Hurst helped her captors rob a bank at gunpoint. Nobody knew what to make of it.
Apr. 27: Initially, the Cherry Blossom Music Festival riot at City Stadium (now U of R Stadium) pitted Richmond’s police force against music lovers who objected to the harsh tactics of policemen trying to arrest pot-smokers. Then it spread. During the four-hour melee that ensued police cars were set afire and many heads were busted. Once again, Richmond made national news; for background, click here.
May 15: A.H. Robins Co. yielded to pressure from the feds to take its contraceptive device, the Dalkon Shield, off the market.
July 1: Argentina’s President Juan Peron died. His wife, Isabel, took over in his stead.
July 27: The House Judiciary Committee voted 27-11 to impeach Nixon. Three days later the Supreme Court said Nixon had to surrender tape recordings of White House meetings that had been sought by the Watergate investigation’s special prosecutor.
Aug. 8: Nixon resigned in disgrace; President Gerald Ford was sworn in. Millions of hippies stayed too long at the party to celebrate Nixon's downfall.
Aug. 12: The Biograph Theatre closed to be converted by a 24-hour-a-day construction crew into a twin cinema in four weeks.
Sept. 8: Ford pardoned Nixon, which all but sealed Ford’s defeat when he ran for reelection in 1976.
Oct. 29: Muhammad Ali regained the world heavyweight boxing crown he had lost by refusing to be drafted into the army in 1967. In Zaire, Ali defeated then-champion George Forman by a knockout in eighth round.
Nov. 13: Yasir Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, addressed the UN with a pistol strapped to his waist. Supporters of Israel cringed.
Dec. 12: Georgia governor Jimmy Carter announced he would run for president. Nobody noticed.
To read Part One of this series click here.