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The Memory of Old Jack
by Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry Wendell Berry
Author of The Memory of Old Jack

Date Berry Meanwhile ...
1934 Aug. 5: Wendell Erdman Berry born in Henry County, Kentucky to John Marshall and Virginia Erdman Berry; John Marshall Berry a lawyer and official with Burley Tobacco Growers Association Hitler and Mussolini meet in Venice; Gandhi suspends civil disobedience campaign in India; Sophia Loren born; FBI guns down John Dillinger outside theater in Chicago; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night; Academy Award goes to Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night; Wallace Stegner marries Mary Stuart Page
1936 Berry family moves to New Castle, Kentucky Hitler wins 99% of vote in German elections; Axis alliance between Hitler and Mussolini announced; FDR reelected by landslide; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind; Rudyard Kipling dies; Hoover Dam completed; Ford Foundation established; Life magazine begins publishing
1945   After 12 years of teaching, including six at Harvard, Wallace Stegner joins faculty of Stanford University as professor of English and director of creative writing program
1948 After 8th grade in New Castle School, Wendell sent to Millersburg Military Institute Gandhi assassinated; Congress enacts Marshall Plan; birth of Israel; Truman elected president; Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead; Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country; Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain; Babe Ruth dies; Eddie Arcaro rides Citation to Triple Crown victory
1952 Graduated from MMI, enters University of Kentucky Britain develops atomic bomb; Eisenhower elected president; Albert Schweitzer wins Nobel Peace Prize; Eva Peron dies; Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea; John Steinbeck’s East of Eden; Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
1953-54 While sophomore at UK, shares creative writing class with freshman James Baker Hall; the two become friends Vietnamese Communists occupy Hanoi, take Dien Bien Phu; USSR explodes hydrogen bomb; Sen. Joseph McCarthy continues hearings, goes on television, is censured; cigarette smoking reported responsible for lung cancer; Academy Awards go to From Here to Eternity and On the Waterfront; Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception; Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale; Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies; J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
1955 Meets Tanya Amyx, daughter of UK art professor Charlie “Bird” Parker dies; Albert Einstein dies; Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
1956 Receives A.B. from UK; attends summer seminars at Indiana University with Jim Hall; enters graduate study at UK in fall—along with former Stanford University student Ed McClanahan Soviet troops march into Hungary; Prince Ranier of Monaco marries Grace Kelly; revolutionary Fidel Castro lands in Cuba; Eisenhower/Nixon elected; transatlantic telephone service begins; Max Beerbohm dies; H.L. Mencken dies; Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, dies; Grace Metalious’ Peyton Place; Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady; Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” Don’t Be Cruel”
1957 In May, receives M.A. from UK and marries Tanya Amyx; in fall, begins teaching at Georgetown (KY) College; visits regularly with Ed and Kitty McClanahan (Ed still in graduate school); Jim Hall goes to Stanford University as graduate student USSR launches Sputnik I and II; John Glenn sets jet speed record in flight from California to New York; 13-year-old Bobby Fischer wins acclaim as chess player; Teamsters Union expelled from AFL-CIO; desegregation confrontation in Little Rock, AR; Jack Kerouac’s On the Road; Gore Vidal’s A Visit to a Small Planet; Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat; Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; Academy Award to The Bridge on the River Kwai; Humphrey Bogart dies
1958 Daughter Mary Berry born in May; in the fall, Wendell enters Stanford University as Wallace Stegner Fellow, where he will share seminar with Ken Kesey; Ed McClanahan begins teaching in Corvallis, OR De Gaulle elected president of France; Alaska enters union as 49th state; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) founded; Arnold Palmer wins first Masters Tournament; Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago; Leon Uris’ Exodus; James Branch Cabell dies; George Jean Nathan dies; Robert Penn Warren wins Pulitzer Prize for Promises: Poems 1954-56; “The Chipmunk Song,” “The Purple People Eater” are popular songs
1960 Nathan Coulter, novel U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers shot down over USSR; Adolf Eichmann arrested; Kennedy elected president; W.E.B. DuBois dies; Albert Camus dies; Harper Lee wins Pulitzer Prize for To Kill a Mockingbird; John Updike’s Rabbit, Run; Gore Vidal’s The Best Man; “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” is popular song
1961-62 In Europe (mostly Florence, Italy) on Guggenheim Fellowship Bay of Pigs invasion; Berlin Wall goes up; James Meredith begins classes at University of Mississippi under protection of U.S. marshals and soldiers; West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia win Academy Awards; J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey; Joseph Heller’s Catch-22; Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land; Ty Cobb dies; Ernest Hemingway commits suicide; Dashiell Hammett dies; e.e. cummings dies; William Faulkner dies; Hermann Hesse dies; Marilyn Monroe dies; “Moon River,” “Where the Boys Are,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” are popular songs
1962-64 Teaches freshman English at New York University’s University College in Bronx; in fall 1964, begins teaching creative writing at the University of Kentucky Cuban missile crisis; Martin Luther King Jr., arrested in Birmingham, AL; President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas; fighting escalates in Vietnam; first use of artificial heart in surgery; Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) wins heavyweight boxing title from Sonny Liston; Douglas MacArthur dies; Robert Frost dies; Aldous Huxley dies; Gore Vidal’s Julian; Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; movies Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day’s Night, Goldfinger; popular songs “Danke Schoen,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand”
1965 Moves to Lanes Landing Farm, Port Royal, Kentucky Race riots in Watts (Los Angeles) kill 35; Malcolm X assassinated in New York; Edward R. Murrow dies; W. Somerset Maugham dies; Albert Schweitzer dies; Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed; movie Dr. Zhivago; popular songs “King of the Road,” “Downtown”
1967 A Place on Earth U.S. bombs Hanoi; Six-Day War between Israel and Arab nations; China explodes first hydrogen bomb; J. Robert Oppenheimer dies; Carl Sandburg dies; Spencer Tracy dies; Woody Guthrie dies; Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape; Gore Vidal’s Washington D.C.; William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner; movies Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
1974 The Memory of Old Jack U.S. President Richard Nixon resigns; Israeli leader Golda Meir resigns; West German Chancellor Willy Brandt resigns; British Prime Minister Edward Heath resigns; India explodes nuclear device; gasoline shortages in U.S.; Soviet Union lands probe on Mars; Patty Hearst, kidnaped heiress, joins Symbionese Liberation Army; Charles Lindbergh dies; Walter Lippmann dies; Jack Benny dies; Duke Ellington dies; Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago; Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow; movies Chinatown, The Godfather Part II
1977 Resigns from University of Kentucky; The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture President Jimmy Carter pardons Vietnam-era draft evaders, tells Americans the energy crisis shows the need for “the moral equivalent of war” against wasteful consumption; Concorde begins flying between New York and Europe; space shuttle Enterprise makes first manned flight; SAT scores show steady decline between 1963 and 1977; Bing Crosby dies; Maria Callas dies; Elvis Presley dies; Groucho Marx dies; Wallace Stegner’s The Spectator Bird wins National Book Award; movies Star Wars, Annie Hall, Saturday Night Fever
1981 The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural Ronald Reagan inaugurated; Iran releases 52 American hostages; Prince Charles and Lady Diana are married; John Hinkley shoots Ronald Reagan; Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first female U.S. Supreme Court justice; Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) identified; IBM begins selling its version of the “personal computer” or PC; Walter Cronkite retires; Muhammad Ali retires from boxing; Natalie Wood dies; Hoagy Carmichael dies; Bill Haley dies; Bob Marley dies; movies On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark
1983 Standing by Words Shiite Muslim bombs in Beirut, Lebanon kill hundreds of American soldiers; U.S. invades Grenada; Reagan administration openly supports Nicaraguan Contra rebels; Marsha Norman’s ’Night, Mother wins Pulitzer Prize; Tennessee Williams dies; Buckminster Fuller dies; television’s The Day After and the last episode of M*A*S*H*; Slim Pickens dies; Gloria Swanson dies; movies The Big Chill, Educating Rita, Flashdance; Karen Carpenter dies; Ira Gershwin dies; Muddy Waters dies; popular songs “Thriller,” “Flashdance”; Sally Ride becomes first American female astronaut; compact disc makes marketplace debut; Pioneer 10 leaves the solar system; Meyer Lansky dies
1986 The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership Marcos driven out of Philippines; Duvalier flees Haiti; Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, Iceland; President Reagan admits secret arms deals with Iran; Bernard Malamud dies; Robert Penn Warren appointed first Poet Laureate of the United States; Carlos Fuentes’ The Old Gringo; L. Ron Hubbard dies; James Cagney dies; Cary Grant dies; Georgia O’Keeffe dies; Otto Preminger dies; Donna Reed dies; movies Blue Velvet, Crocodile Dundee, Howard the Duck; Benny Goodman dies; Challenger explodes during launch; 25,000 AIDS cases diagnosed in U.S.; Marlin Perkins dies; Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster
1987 Returns to University of Kentucky, teaching literature and education; Home Economics Rudoph Hess commits suicide in Spandau Prison; James Baldwin dies; Erskine Caldwell dies; Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities; Fred Astaire dies; Jackie Gleason dies; Andy Warhol dies; movies Fatal Attraction, Wall Street; songs “Bad,” “Graceland”; Bob Fosse dies; Liberace dies; the last wild California condor is trapped and sent for breeding in a local zoo; Microsoft stock share prices make Bill Gates, 32, a billionaire
1988 Remembering Solidarity strikes in Poland; Soviet troops begin leaving Afghanistan; Mikhail Gorbachev becomes president of Soviet Union; George Bush elected president of U.S.; Robert Heinlein dies; Louis L’Amour dies; Alan Paton dies; Toni Morrison’s Beloved wins Pulitzer Prize; Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses; movies Die Hard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit; Philip Glass opera The Fall of the House of Usher premieres in Louisville; Roy Orbison dies; songs “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” “Fast Car”; Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time; first transatlantic optical fiber cable; carbon dating places Shroud of Turin origin about 1330 C.E.; Internet computer virus infects 6,000 military computers; Richard Feynman dies; U.S. airlines ban smoking on short flights; McDonald’s opens restaurants in Moscow; Pan Am 747 blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland
1990 What Are People For? Washington, DC Mayor Marion Berry arrested for drug possession; Nelson Mandela freed from South African prison; Iraq invades Kuwait; East and West Germany formally reunified; Akihito proclaimed 125th emperor of Japan; Lech Walesa elected president of Poland; Malcolm Muggeridge dies; R.D. Laing dies; B.F. Skinner dies; Mapplethorpe photos exhibited in Cincinnati; Greta Garbo dies; Jim Henson dies; movies Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dick Tracy; Leonard Bernstein dies; Aaron Copland dies; Sammy Davis Jr. dies; Sarah Vaughan dies; “dolphin-safe” tuna fishing practices announced by American companies; Malcolm Forbes dies
 U N F I N I S H E D
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