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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Social Chat > Other Mysteries > A6 Murders

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  #1  
Old 09-17-2010, 07:53 PM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Default The 1961 Landscape

I thought it would be useful to have a thread where we could explore and recall the social and political landscape within which the events of August 1961 were located and perhaps add our own thoughts and experiences.

Like the JtR events - the A6 murder was received and made sense of in terms of the social and political climate of the time. There was unrest about the death penalty and a strong civil rights movement was growing - partly in tandem with similar movements in the USA. Some of the people who campaigned for and with the Hanratty family were involved in other campaigns and as the west moved slowly but firmly and further along the path of what would become known as The Cold War - there seemed to be a yawning gap between he safe plodding old political and social system and a kind of New World view.

1961 began on a Sunday. In many ways it was going to be an important year politically. The 'young' President - JFK - was sworn in signalling a new Democratic Government in the USA but over in Europe political storm clouds gathered as Berlin was divided by a huge wall that would keep families and friends apart for almost thrity years.

Rock and Roll in its embrionic form was fading - Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochrane were dead and Elvis was turning to ballads but in small garages and sheds all over the UK - groups of boys were strumming cheap guitars and crashing around on drums in imitation of their US rock and roll heroes. In a few short years some of those boys would emerge to appear on our radios and screens with their own blend of rock and roll and blues renditions.

As the year 1961 dawned - I was a little over three years old. My older sister was already a teenager - soon to be courting her future husband (and still married to this day). My brother was fast approaching his teens so my early years were filled with the music of those days - as far as my very-straight-laced parents would allow.

I grew up in a late Victorian terraced house in what I consider to be a working class home where my father was a milkroundsman and supplemented his income with gardening and carpentry jobs. My mother was a typical housewife. They were good people who wanted us children to have the education they could not have had beyond the age of 14. They were very good people but sadly - both of them died before the 1960s ended and I often wonder what they would have made of today's world. I well recall my poor mother's outrage at my sister's fondness for Elvis and - horror of horrors- The Rolling Stones!

We had no luxuries at home. No television (too expensive to rent and in any case - immoral) - therefore - like many families at that time - we listened
to the radio. No fridge! No fridge? My own children can hardly comprehend the idea of no fridge. But then - my mother went shopping daily so we used up fresh food on the same day. There was no extra money to buy things for future use. Also - our kitchen had a 'cold room' - a sort of dark - stone-lined cupboard where milk could be stored during the day. No telephone. Hardly anyone in our street had a telephone.

So - 1961 dawned and as it was a Sunday you could be sure that my parents would NOT have been hung over from the events of the previous night. To be sure - we would have dressed very smartly on Sunday 1st January 1961 and made our way down the street to the little Baptist chapel at the bottom of our road for the Sunday morning service. Yards away - where the street ended - was a huge field where the old local dairy (Hitchmans) used to graze their horses. There was a path that ran around the field beside a brook called The Ching and at the end of the path was famous 'Stow' - Walthamstow Stadium - a greyhound track. I used to lay awake at night listening to the roar of the crowds and the muffled sound of the loud speaker. My parents forbade my sister and brother to 'go to the dogs' as it was called - but my brother was drawn to the crowds - the lights - the excitement and the promise of easy money.

Did Hanratty or Alphon ever visit 'the stow'?

Do you have a 1961 journey?

Last edited by Limehouse : 09-17-2010 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 09-17-2010, 08:53 PM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Default Film of the year - 1961

I feel sure Hanratty would have taken on of his girls to see Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Audrey Hepburn proved to us all that you could be a loose woman as long as you were beautiful - looked fabulous in slacks and you could dangle out of a window strumming a guitar and singing in a breathy voice with a towel wrapped round your head.

A spin-off of the film was the soundtrack Moon River - composed by Henry Mancini. It was a huge hit for smooth-voiced Danny Williams and was the sort of song that my mother approved of. She would not though have approved of the behaviour of Holly Golightly.
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Old 09-17-2010, 11:11 PM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Thanks Julie,
Liverpool in 1961 was stirring into life! The Beatles---friends of mine had sisters who went to a party thrown by Brian Epstein in Southport to launch his new proteges to fame!They still sang at the Cavern--- I even saw them there when I was still at school, they played during the intermission, all very neat and tidy with black drain pipes and Elvis haircuts----The Mersey Beats were bigger names with George Melly in the lead [I am older than you you see ]!
The Rolling Stones came to Birkenhead in 1962--very different-swearing and scruffy and very punk like at that point!
But Liverpool was buzzing with art school kids,shop girls, coffee bars [Kardomah and Wimpy] poets and we all bought drain pipe denim jeans and sat in our baths in them for at least 2 hours to make absolutely sure they were skin tight and faded [ if not faded enough we used kitchen sink bleach to get the right look]. "v" necked short sleeved white t shirts--think Brando " in on the water front ---were the must haves to complement the look or tartan shirts over them and you always dabbed some paint on your jeans and tore them a bit too and if you could you "borrowed" a leather or suede jacket from a friend if you really wanted to impress.
If you didnt do drugs yourself you got contact stoned anyway in the clubs-----everybody else did.
I wasnt much interested mind in what my mum and dad did--- it wasnt anything I was interested in thats for sure.
That was Liverpool anyway.Everybody dressing themselves to the nines and going out clubbing.

Last edited by Natalie Severn : 09-17-2010 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 09-18-2010, 09:17 AM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Hi Norma

Liverpool sounds a whole lot more exciting than our dreary suburb of London! There were a few pubs around Walthamstow and Leyton where it was known you could hear 'underground music' and i know for sure my sister frequented them against my parents' orders - but 'going up west' to the nightlife in central London was almost unheard of.

Somewhere in a back street in Walthamstow or Tottenham in 1961 five or six guys were trashing around with cheap instruments creating their own kind of sound - a kind on London stomp. They went on to become The Dave Clark Five and I believe their first 'gigs' would have been at the Tottenham Royal.

I well remember the fashions my sister adapted from bits and pieces bought from the local street market. She favoured shortish skirts (just above the knee in reality but they got shorter as the 60s progressed!) and round necked little tops. She longed for a suede jacket and managed to scrape the money together from helping my dad on the milk round and begging for birthday and Christmas money instead on gifts.

Everyone born thinks 'their time' is a special time - that something significant was taking place or about to take place. However - I do really feel that those times were a turning point. When my sister was born there was still another seven or eight years of rationing to go and many cities were being re-built following a hugely destructive war. This created almost full employment and thus a little more money for many working class families. Instead of having to hand over almost all of their wages to the household - many young people still at home had money in their pockets to spend on records and clothes and other accessories. This in turn created a market and so on.

However - despite the budding music and fashion industries that were to put such a British stamp on the world and create a more colourful British society - storm clouds were gathering. Cuba's leader declared that it would become a communist state. The USSR welcomed this moved but America was obviously far from happy. In Europe the communist east would be separated from the west by a wall - but there was also a metaphorical barrier - The Iron Curtain - a frightening term for a little girl to keep hearing floating from the radio in the back parlour. The grown-ups talked in low growly voices with much head jerking and gesticulation - the kind of tone and body language they used for unthinkable topics such as cancer - death and 'perverted sex'. Another war was coming. A war that would 'finish us all off'.
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Old 09-18-2010, 05:43 PM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Yes, Julie Liverpool was full of music and dance and to see Liverpool football play from the Kop was a dream come true -as was seeing Lester Piggott in action at the Chester races.I can"t say I was into British politics of any kind much then as I went to live in France for a year and then Canada--both completely different experiences from what I had known in England.In the fifties my dad took me every week -sometimes twice a week to the local picture house and it started me off on a long love affair with film -especially American films like Douglas Sirk made but the block busters too---Ben Hur type of thing.But in Paris Jean luc Goddard had a different take and when Jean Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg made Breathless it overtook everything in film for me up to that point!And then Bob Dylan came into our lives-and some of us were never the same again!

Last edited by Natalie Severn : 09-18-2010 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 09-18-2010, 09:53 PM
RonIpstone RonIpstone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Limehouse View Post
I feel sure Hanratty would have taken on of his girls to see Breakfast at Tiffanys.
I very much doubt it. The film was first released in the USA on 5 October 1961, the day that Jim discovered he was wanted for the A6 murder. I would doubt that it would have made its way to the UK before Jim's arrest six days later, but I would assume his position as A6 prime suspect would have prevented him from taking his girlfriends to the flicks.
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:10 PM
Stephen Thomas Stephen Thomas is offline
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Hi Norma

Nice idea for a thread. Things were so different then as you well know. Back then ANYBODY could get a job in Britain or Western Europe or the USA. In the early 60s when I was a teenager my Dad who was an old time Socialist said to me that the Western economies were doomed to be buggered because out in the Far East people would work 16 hours a day for a bowl of rice, which I thought was a rather outlandish idea back then but that's basically what's happening now.

Hi Limehouse

Great posts here, thanks. Born in 1945, I was there too.
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:53 AM
Natalie Severn Natalie Severn is offline
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Thanks Stephen---Julie"s idea and I think it puts the moment the A6 Murder happened into some kind of socio/political economic context-which funnily enough I was talking about the need for just now, with reference to the JtR murders.
Your background sounds much like mine ,Stephen ,although when I read the link to Alexi Sayle Ron supplied above ,I thought he could have been talking about my own parents---though my Dad was more of a Christian Liberal type of person devoutly saying his prayers throughout his life, bless him, while mum was an admirer of Stalin.But she was full of good intentions though and a hugely inspiring mother.But I loved my nan for being non political and the salt of the earth.
Norma

Yes, Stephen,its looking very much like that now!

Last edited by Natalie Severn : 09-19-2010 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:40 PM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonIpstone View Post
I very much doubt it. The film was first released in the USA on 5 October 1961, the day that Jim discovered he was wanted for the A6 murder. I would doubt that it would have made its way to the UK before Jim's arrest six days later, but I would assume his position as A6 prime suspect would have prevented him from taking his girlfriends to the flicks.
Hi Ron

I was just making a general observation about the liklihood of Hanratty enjoying Breakfast at Tiffanys with a girlfriend. Obviously - if he was banged up before the film reached these shores he could have taken anyone to see it.

To be honest - I started this thread as an escape from the pedantry and bickering surrouding the events. It's just a place to discuss the period within which the events were located.

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Old 09-19-2010, 02:46 PM
Limehouse Limehouse is offline
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[quote=Natalie Severn;147666]Yes, Julie Liverpool was full of music and dance and to see Liverpool football play from the Kop was a dream come true - QUOTE]

Oh - thanks for mentioning football Norma! What can I say about London football back then? The mightly Spurs becoming the first club to win the double - League and FA Cup in the same season (1961-1962).

I am a great football fan and was a regular at my three favourite London clubs (Spurs - West Ham and Leytopn Orient) - but that was long after 1961. These days - having been in Peterborough for 22 years - I of course follow POSH (Peterborough United).

Like yours - my father took me to the local cinema quite regularly (The Regal - Highams Park). Ben Hur was a great favourite of mine and for years afterwoods Charlton Heston was always 'Ben Hur' to me. He was a childhood hero! Mind you - I don't follow his political line!
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