Thinking About the ’60s: The Things We Knew Then

In this '60s quiz, what was so vivid then seems faded now — but see if you're part of the problem or part of the solution


Vivid Then, Fading Now?

1. James Forman was
a. ’68 Olympic heavyweight champion
b. national director of the Congress of Racial Equality
c. a Czechoslovakian film director
executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee 

2. In Easy Rider, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson sit around the campfire one night. Fonda turns Nicholson onto grass. They discuss
a. why grass is groovier than booze
b. UFOs
c. Mardi Gras
d. the commune Fonda and Hopper visited

3. What was the Kerner Commission report? Whatever happened to Kerner?

3a. What was the Walker Report? What­ever happened to Walker?

4. Malcolm X was shot in
a. the Abyssinian Baptist Church
b. the Apollo Theater
c. the Audubon Ballroom
d. the Cotton Club

5. Who sang “A White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell”?
a. Bull Connor
b. Malcolm X
c. Louis Farrakhan
d. Chubby Checker

6.What was the name of the policeman who spotted Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald shot President Kennedy?
a. Patrolman J. D. Tippit
b. Patrolman M. N. McDonald
c. Lieutenant Paul Bentley
d. Captain Will Fritz

7. When Lyndon Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress and announced “we shall overcome,” he was
a. exhorting the American military to win the war in Vietnam
b. introducing the 1965 Voting Rights Act
c. announcing the War on Poverty
d. predicting the outcome of his forth­coming gall bladder operation 

8. Here is the first verse and part of the chorus of a song that rocketed to the top of the charts in August 1965. The blank words are the title.

The Eastern world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullet loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’?
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again, my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the  —   —   —

9. When James Baldwin wrote The Fire Next Time, he was reporting on
a. his childhood as a boy preacher in Harlem
b. the week he spent with civil rights workers in Mississippi
c. his encounter with Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad
d. meeting Richard Wright in Paris

10. In 1969, the rock world was full of rumors that Beatle Paul McCartney had died. Name one or more pieces of Beatie lore that fed those rumors.

11. One of the defendants at the 1969-70 Chicago Conspiracy trial was bound to a chair and gagged. His or her name was
a. Abbie Hoffman
b. Bobby Seale
c. Huey P. Newton
d. Bernardine Dorhn

12. Who brought federal conspiracy charges against Dr. Benjamin Spock?
a. John Mitchell
b. Nicholas Katzenbach
c. Guy Goodwin
d. Ramsey Clark

13. When Abbie Hoffman and his Yip­pie friends went to Wall Street in 1967, they
a. organized a Be-In so that stock brokers could show their opposition to the war in Vietnam
b. tried to levitate the Dow
c. applied for jobs as investment bro­kers so they could finance the revolution
d. threw dollar bills onto the floor of the Stock Exchange to show their con­tempt for the capitalist system

14. When Jerry Rubin went to Wall Street in 1980, he
a. organized a Be-In so that stock bro­kers could show their opposition to American support for the contras
b. tried to levitate the Dow
c. obtained a job as a Wall Street secu­rities analyst because he had realized “that money is power.”
d. searched for the dollar bills that Abbie Hofftnan had thrown 

15. If you heard someone say “I can’t leave home without a passport” you were
a. being arrested by the FBI en route to Cuba
b. suspected of harboring Black Pan­thers in your house
c. at a Living Theater performance
d. part of an apocalyptic faction of the New Left, preparing for the inevitable roundup of radicals in Amerika 

16. Who or what was the Big O?
a. Oscar Robertson
b. Odetta
c. Ondine’s
d. Jacqueline Onassis

17. What 1960s celebrity described him­self as an “erotic politician”?
a. John F. Kennedy
b. Jim Morrison
c. Norman Mailer
d. Ed Sanders

18. Hum the theme from “A Man and a Woman”

19. The results of the Democratic Par­ty’s 1968 New Hampshire primary sur­prised the nation. The popular vote was won by
a. Lyndon Johnson
b. Hubert Humphrey
c. Eugene McCarthy
d. Robert Kennedy

20. In “Dear Landlord,” Bob Dylan rec­ollects a bargain he made with his land­lord. He sings:
a. “I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul.”
b. “I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.”
c. “I’ll be your baby tonight.”
d. “If you don’t underestimate me, I won’t underestimate you.” 

21. If you were riding on a subway in 1965 and saw a poster that read “He’s fresh and everyone else is tired,” you were looking at an ad for
a. John Lindsay and the new breed of politicians
b. Joe Namath and the new Jets
c. Tom Wolfe and the new journalism
d. The Green Berets and the new army

22. The Stonewall uprising took place
a. after Harvey Milk was assassinated in San Francisco
b. after Anita Bryant launched her campaign against gays in Dade County
c. after the police raided a gay bar in Sheridan Square
d. after the Supreme Court upheld a Georgia law outlawing homosexual activi­ties between consenting adults 

23. In 1968, what political figure lost credibility by saying that he or she had been “brainwashed” in Vietnam?
a. Jane Fonda
b. Daniel Ellsberg
c. Curtis LeMay
d. George Romney

24. How did Benjamin Braddock make sure that no one would chase Elaine and him when they fled the church in the last scene of The Graduate?

25. If you sought out Owsley in 1967, you were
a. in Da Nang, looking for the Vietnamese War equivalent of Kilroy
b. imitating the hero of V
c. trying out a new children’s band-aid
d. in San Francisco, trying to score LSD

26. Match the character with the novel
Stephen Rojack On the Road
Yossarian The Golden Notebook
Anna Wulf An American Dream
Dean Moriarty I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
Billy Pilgrim Catch-22
Deborah Blau Slaughterhouse-Five

27. If you were in a discussion of “Notes on Camp,” you were talking about
a. articles that discussed the phenome­nal success of Allan Sherman, with his song “Hello mother, hello father, here I am in Camp Grenada?”
b. Susan Sontag’s attempt to describe a new sensibility, which embraced the artificial and the exaggerated
c. Stewart Brand’s celebration of the new fad for health food, backpacking, and outdoor living
d. Hannah Arendt’s assertion that Adolph Eichmann exemplified the banality of evil 

28. When Jean-Paul Belmondo meets Jean Seberg in Breathless, she is
a. reading Under Milk Wood
b. selling the Paris edition of the Her­ald Tribune
c. interviewing the director Jean­-Pierre Melville at a press conference
d. buying tickets to a Bogart movie

29. The space capsule in which John Glenn orbited the earth was named
a. Freedom 7
b. Aurora 7
c. The Eagle
d. Friendship 7

30. When they were tried in Harrisburg, what had Father Philip Berrigan and Sis­ter Elizabeth McAlister been indicted for?

31. Was Mary Quant
a. an English fashion designer who popularized the miniskirt
b. a member of the group Peter, Paul, and Mary
c. the head of the advertising agency that conceived the Braniff campaign
d. the sister of the hero of The Turn of the Screw, which was widely read in En­glish courses in the ’60s 

32. In the movie Bonnie and Clyde, after the couple robbed the Mineola bank they hid out in the movies, watching a black-­and-white musical. The song they heard was
a. “We’re in the Money”
b. “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”
c. “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”
d. “It’s Only a Paper Moon”

33. In 1971, Jill Johnston was one of four women to appear on a Town Hall platform with Norman Mailer to debate feminism. She
a. joined Germaine Greer and Diana Trilling in denouncing Mailer as a sexist
b. wrestled Mailer to the ground
c. invited Mailer out for a date
d. made out on the platform with two women friends from the audience

34. Who said, “the only position for women in the movement is prone?”
a. Stokely Carmichael
b. Mark Rudd
c. Norman Mailer
d. Joe Namath

35. Who said “Violence is as American as apple pie”
a. the Underground Gourmet
b. H. Rap Brown
c. Sam Peckinpah
d. General William Westmoreland

36. Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half-crazy and that’s why you want to be there;
Who wrote this song?
a. Judy Collins
b. Donovan
c. Laura Nyro
d. Leonard Cohen

37. Who coined the phrase “limousine liberal”?
a. Democratic mayoral candidate Mario Procaccino
b. Ronald Reagan
c. John Lindsay
d. Barry Goldwater
[Archivist’s note, 2020: Due to a production error back in 1988, three possible answers were omitted, so we have added our own choices from back in the day.]

38. In the 1969 World Series, Ron Swo­boda made the legendary catch that gave the New York Mets the momentum to beat the Baltimore Orioles. Who hit the line drive?
a. Davey Johnson
b. Frank Robinson
c. Brooks Robinson
d. Boog Powell

39. Who said he was “skeptical of the ability of black revolutionaries to achieve a fair trial anywhere in the United States”?
a. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party
b. William Kunstler, radical lawyer
c. Kingman Brewster, Yale president
d. Ramsey Clark, former attorney general 

Thanks to Todd Gitlin, Jean Strouse, Connie Brown, Geoff Cowan, Jack New­field, Linda Perney, Howard Price, and Ruth Rosen for help with the questions. 


1. d. (Answer b, James Farmer, was the National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality.)

2. b

3. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, popularly known as the Kerner Commission, argued that America was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white-separate and unequal.” Illinois Governor Otto Kerner later went jail for mail fraud, income tax evasion and lying to a grand jury.

3a. The Walker Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence argued that there had been a “police riot” during the 1968 Democratic Convention. Illinois Governor Daniel Walk­er later went to jail for bank fraud.

4. c

5. c. Louis Farrakhan, whose given name was Gene Walcott, was a calypso singer in the early 1960s.

6. a. When patrolman J.D. Tippit spotted Oswald on East 10th Street in Dallas, Os­wald shot him. Patrolman McDonald and Lieutenant Bentley were among the police­man who arrested Oswald in the Texas Movie Theater. After Oswald was taken to the police homicide office in downtown Dal­las, Captain Will Fritz questioned him into the night.

7. b.

8. “Eve of Destruction,” sung by Barry McGuire.

9. c.

10. According to Peter Brown and Steven Gaines, in The Love You Make, (1) on Octo­ber 12, 1969, Detroit disk jockey Russ Gibbs claimed that he received an anonymous phone call saying that Paul was dead; (2) if you play the last few bars of “Strawberry Fields” slowly, you hear sounds that can be deciphered as John singing “I buried Paul”; 3) the Sergeant Pepper cover was said to depict Paul’s funeral, with the Beatles standing around his freshly dug grave; (4) the cover of Abbey Road was alleged to be a funeral procession with Paul — barefoot be­cause he’s a corpse — out of step with the other Beatles; (5) on the Abbey Road cover, the Volkswagen license plate in the back­ground reads 28 IF, which was said to mean that if Paul had lived he would have been 28.

11. b. 

12. d. Ramsey Clark, attorney general un­der Lyndon Johnson in 1967 and 1968. In January, 1968, the Justice Department con­vened a grand jury which brought charges of conspiracy to “counsel and abet young men to violate the draft laws” against Dr. Spock, the Rev. William Sloan Coffin, and others.

13. d.

14. c.

15. c. The Living Theater was determined to break down the barrier between actors and audiences. In their play “Paradise Now,” actors made their way through the audience, talking to people until they got a response to their statements that they weren’t free.

16. a. 

17. b.


19. a. Johnson won 48 per cent of the popular vote. McCarthy won 42.2 per cent (though when Republican crossover voters were counted, Johnson’s margin of victory was much smaller). Prior to the primary vote, the polls had predicted McCarthy would get 20% at most. The media declared McCarthy the overwhelming winner and sent Johnson on the road to his announce­ment that he wouldn’t seek a second term.

20. d. 

21. a.

22. c. 

23. d. 

24. Benjamin used a cross as a crowbar to make sure the church door was bolted shut, with Elaine’s parents and friends trapped inside.

25. d.

26. Stephen Rojack An American Dream, Yossarian Catch-22, Anna Wulf The Golden Notebook, Dean Moriarty On the Road, Bil­ly Pilgrim Slaughterhouse-Five, Deborah Blau I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

27. b.

28. b.

29. d. 

30. Father Berrigan and Sister McAlister were two of the seven people indicted for conspiring to raid local draft boards, bomb federal heating systems, and kidnap Henry Kissinger.

31. a. 

32. a. 

33. d. 

34. a. Carmichael was bantering about one of the most important essays in the history of the woman’s movement — a letter by Mary King and Casey Hayden, both SNCC workers, which argued that women in the civil rights movement were often forced into subordinate roles.

35. b. 

36. d. 

37. a. 

38. c. 

39. c. Brewster made the statement in the summer of 1970, before Bobby Seale and other Black Panthers were tried for conspir­acy to murder fellow Panther Alex Rackley near New Haven. ■

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 25, 2020