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This Week in Boomer History: Jonestown ... ‘White Album’ ... JFK


Notable events from our shared experience

After followers of cult leader Jim Jones ambush an investigative delegation, killing five ( Rep. Leo Ryan, left, among them), more than 900 inhabitants of the cult’s Jonestown settlement in Guyana die in a mass suicide/murder on  Nov. 18, 1978.

On  Nov. 18, 1966, American Roman Catholic bishops declare an end to meatless Fridays, except during Lent. That’s after the practice has given rise to countless fish lunches in school cafeterias and the Filet-O-Fish at McDonald’s.

>> 10 Essential Boomer Albums

With the release of the White Album on Nov. 22, 1968, in Great Britain and three days later in the United States, the Beatles again revolutionize rock and roll. The two-disk set includes material as diverse as “ Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Revolution 9,” “Yer Birthday” and “ Julia.” In December, the album reaches No. 1 in both the U.S. and the U.K.


Lee Harvey Oswald shoots president John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at  Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Hours later aboard Air Force One, Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th president of the United States.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules 4-3 on Nov. 18, 2003, that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry in the state. The nation’s first legal same-sex marriage, between Marcia Kadish, 56, and Tanya McCloskey, 52, follows on May 17, 2004.

On Nov. 17, 1968, TV viewers brace for the conclusion of a closely fought football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets when NBC cuts to a scheduled broadcast of the movie  Heidi. (In the final minute, the Raiders score two touchdowns to win.) Fan outrage convinces networks to let future games conclude before postgame programming begins.

In the first issue of the conservative National Review, published Nov. 19, 1955, founder William F. Buckley Jr. asserts: “It is the job of centralized government (in peacetime) to protect its citizens’ lives, liberty and property. All other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress.”

William F. Buckley


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Images — Leo Ryan: 1973 Official Congressional Pictorial Directory; LBJ: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston; William F. Buckley: Alamy

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