Oh, how the world has changed in 25 years.
Then, McDonald's bragged "Over a Billion Hamburgers Sold from Coast to Coast," now it's simply "billions and billions." The Chrysler Theater was on the air, the Weavers were on their farewell performance tour, and George Lincoln Rockwell and his American Nazi Party were peddling hate. In those days of the quickening civil rights movement, blacks still were referred to in newspapers as Negroes.
In 1963, "superb men's suits" sold in the Robert Hall clothing chain for $39.95, sirloin strip steaks went for $1.39 a pound, a quart of Dewar's White Label was $6.39. Snow tires on sale were $10.22, wheel balancing and mounting free. Joe Palooka and Terry and The Pirates were in the funnies and so was Pogo. Condoms were sold in gas station restroom vending machines or from under the counter in drugstores. Boys still blushed when they asked for them.
Tempus fugit. Time flies.
It stood still that day in Dallas when John F. Kennedy was killed. But the world that he knew - and that knew him - is a different world today.
Then, it cost $950 to send a kid to a state college, $1,907 to a private school - room, board and tuition. Now those figures are $4,445 and $11,330.
Northern Rhodesia of Kennedy's day is Zambia. Southern Rhodesia is Zimbabwe. The United Nations' 113 member states have grown to 159, the world's population from 3.2 billion to more than 5 billion, America's from 189 million to 244 million.
China, then an outcast, a technological pygmy, now bids to launch American satellites. The Soviet Union, which rattled the nuclear saber and blustered "we will bury you" in Kennedy's time, is working with the United States to reduce the number of horrible weapons.
At the time of Kennedy's Cuban missile crisis, the United States had 5,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviets only 300. Now each country has over 25,000.
Kennedy revived Depression-era food stamps as a pilot program; now 19 million people use them. The number of farms in the United States has fallen by more than 1 million, to fewer than 2.2 million.
Baseball's major leagues crossed the border to embrace Montreal and Toronto. Oakland, Seattle, San Diego and Atlanta got into the majors and so have Arlington, Texas, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, and Anaheim, Calif., home of Disney-land. The nation's game, however, is no longer played professionally in the nation's capital.
If you were shopping for early Christmas presents in 1963 you could choose from wood tennis rackets, home movie projectors, portable typewriters, most of which can still be gotten but who needs them in the days of graphite rackets, camcorders and laptop computers?
You couldn't buy a telephone then; you can now.
When people talked about using "calculators," they meant slide rules or adding machines. You could take the SS France to Europe, buy a VW bug, which everyone thought would be around forever. Cars from Japan? Don't be silly.
In 1963, Jack Nicklaus became the second golfer ever to make $100,000 - Arnie Palmer, of course, was the first. But that was before television invented Sunday afternoons. Last year Curtis Strange set the record for a single season, winning $925,941. Buddhist priests were dousing themselves with gasoline and setting themselves afire in Vietnam. Kennedy had sent in 16,000 advisers, the advance contingent for America's longest and most controversial war that saw 543,400 troops there at the high point. More than 58,000 young Americans lost their lives.
People have become famous who weren't born yet or were pre-schoolers when Kennedy was killed. Michael J. Fox, the actor; Amy Carter, the presidential daughter; Jose Can-seco, the World Series ballplayer; Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion; Carl Lewis, the runner; Greg Louganis, the diver. Among the teenagers of that day, Steven Jobs, the computer whiz; Albert Gore, the senator; Dan Quayle, the vice president-elect.
John Kennedy's federal budget proposal for 1964 envisioned spending $98.8 billion, a record, with $11.9 billion in red ink. The deficit built into in Ronald Reagan's 1989 proposal - $129.5 billion - is more than the entire Kennedy budget.
The debt ceiling was $315 billion. It is now _ hold your breath _ $2.8 trillion. That's 2,800 billion dollars. Or: $2,800,000,000,000.
Eastern Airlines reported a net 1962 loss of $14,895,365. What's changed there? In 1987, the airline lost $181.7 million. Standard of New Jersey had earnings of $84 million; now, as Exxon, its earnings are $4.84 billion.
Mary Haworth has left the advice column field to Ann and Abby, the Nash Rambler has gone the way of the Studebaker, the DeSoto and the dodo bird, and the United States population has moved inexorably west and south, so that between 1960 and 1980 its center moved from 6 1/2 miles northwest of Centralia, Ill., to one-quarter mile west of DeSoto in Missouri.
Lunch counters were still closed to blacks when John Kennedy was in the White House. To vote in most of the South, one had to pay a poll tax. Drinking fountains were labeled "white" and "colored."
In 1988, 6,829 elected officials across the nation are black, including 301 mayors and 429 judges of state courts. In 43 states, Martin Luther King's birthday is a holiday.
Only two of the Supreme Court justices of Kennedy's time, William J. Brennan and Byron White, still sit on the bench. And eight men who were serving in the Senate still are there, including Kennedy's youngest brother, Ted.
Around the world, a handful of national leaders who were in power in Kennedy's time remain. Fidel Castro in Cuba, Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay, King Hussein in Jordan, and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea. Bobby Kennedy is gone, but his son is in the House of Representatives. JFK's son, John Jr., who saluted bravely as his father's coffin passed, is a strapping, handsome 28-year-old.
In 1963, 77 percent of American homes had television sets; 98 percent do today. And three out of four homes had telephones; now 93 out of 100 homes have them.
More than half of all homes have video cassette recorders, which were virtually unknown then. Radios have multiplied: 156 million in 1963 and 530 million now. There is no change in older folks' complaints about the younger generation's taste in music.
Kennedy had committed the nation to going to the moon in the decade of the '60s, and it did, but when he died only six Americans had gone into space. Since then, 12 Americans have walked on the moon and, in all, 208 astronauts have been aboard 57 U.S. space flights. The Soviets have sent 138 cosmonauts on 65 flights. They have female astronauts, and so have we.
In 1963, there was no transplanting of hearts, but there was cocky confidence that virtually any infection could be controlled with antibiotics and chemicals. That was before toxic shock syndrome, Legionnaire's disease and now, the dread AIDS.
Tempus fugit. John F. Kennedy's beautiful young wife is a grandmother. The world has changed. The torch, as he said, has passed.