Disasters and Space News

Published: 1974
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley takes a few minutes away from his job of President of the National League of Cities to get his blood pressure checked at the NLC’s 50th annual national convention on December 2, 1974 in Houston. The check was free to all convention goers and was furnished by Citizens for the treatment of High Blood Pressure, Inc. Nurse Karen Cearley (L), a member of the Texas Student Nurses Association, makes the check. The mayor made no comment on his pressure. (UPI Photo/Files)

They say the air hangs heavy, the sky turns yellow and there is an airy stillness. On the horizon, the black funnel seems to move hypnotically, slowly like a giant cobra, but in an instance it's a upon you with the sound of a thousand screaming locomotives splitting your head and the tornado charges through, lifting everything in its path. And so it was in the mid west in the spring of 74, on April 3rd, tornadoes sprouted from Michigan to Georgia, contributing to the worst tornado disaster in 49 years. The state police sergeant Robert Fox of Monticello, Indiana was there.

Robert Fox: The house began to tremble and began to shake. I looked out the back window in time, I have an out building, to see it just raise off the ground and explode. I have a six foot high redwood fence that disappeared before my eyes. It seemed last for maybe two to three minutes and I went out to my petrol car then and used the radio to advice the post that we have been hit by either a tornado or tremendous wind and the school, the gymnasium has been just demolished. I looked across behind my home where there are some businesses, I saw parts of the business still there and some of them gone. It was just a fantastic experience and something I will never want to go through again.

Ed Kirtz: The estimated tornado damage $1 billion, over 300 dead. The city that took worst beating was Xenia, Ohio. 35 died there and half the city was destroyed. The first crash of a mammoth 747 passenger plane happened in 1974. Miraculously 98 escape from the wreckage. One American survivor, Mrs. Peggie Oppenheimer of Baltimore told what happened.


Peggie Oppenheimer: As we started take off from Nairobi and to Johannesburg, it was a refueling stop here on our flight from Frankfurt and as the plane started to take off, it shook, it kind of bounced, it got may be several hundred feet off the ground and came down again and we were fortunate enough to be in a middle cabin and the door opened, the crew was fabulous, they got the chute down, they shut the door lock and we ran and then the plane exploded

Ed Kirtz: A DC-10 crashed just outside of Paris on March 3rd in the worst air disaster in history. All 345 persons aboard perished. A federal judge in Boston ruled the city's public school system was segregated, so he ordered the city to institute a plan to desegregate their school. The plan which involved busing student from one district to another met with violent protest. When the violence persisted, Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent asked President Ford to send in federal troops and to mobilize the national guard. While their presence was not needed as the simmering situation cooled down, one parent who took part in the boycott of the school system gave her view of the busing.

Unknown Speaker: In Boston, which has been known for centuries that it's own areas or neighborhoods which is what we are known for, each one is made up of ethnic cultural background and it just not here, that now in the 1974, they want to change all this.

Ed Kirtz: Some referred to Boston as the little rock of the north and Roy Wilkins head of the NAACP expressed the feelings of many who were in the favor of the desegregation plan this way.

Roy Wilkins: Boston ought to be ashamed, ought to be ashamed, ought to be ashamed. They talk about this being the cradle of the evolutionist's movement.

Ed Kirtz: Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court in a five to four decision ruled that busing pupils between a black in a city and in this case, the city was Detroit and white suburbs was improper and contrary to the tradition of local school control. An usual set of medical circumstances affected the wives of President Ford and Vice-President 12:05 nominee Nelson Rockefeller. Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller both had breast removed in an attempt to arrest the growth of cancer. For Mrs. Rockefeller it was necessary to have a second operation within one month of the first. It was Mrs. Ford's operation that caused many women in the country to have their precautionary breast examination which in turn contributed to a rise in the number of mastectomies performed in the country in 1974. In space, a trio of sky lab astronauts set a new endurance record when they managed to float around the earth for 84 days. Huston control talked to the astronauts when they first broke the old record a mere 59 days.

Huston Control: You guys just passed the world record mark, you are now the world champs. We are real proud to have been here the night you set it and real proud to have taken part in it since the day one.

Unknown Speaker: Thanks a lot Dick and all the guys are on a purple team, we appreciate all the good support you have been giving us through the days here and by going in there and get the rest of it.

Ed Kirtz: US scientists got a close look at the planet Jupiter as Pioneer 11 Spacecraft passed within 26,000 miles of the solar system's largest planet. With a half billion miles already recorded, Pioneer's trip is just half over as the 570 pound spacecraft continues its journey past Jupiter and onto the mysteriously ringed planet Saturn. Pioneer 11 and Saturn meet in 1979. While Pioneer streaked past Jupiter at over 100,000 miles an hour, there was a new phenomenon back on earth that didn't move as fast, but streaked just the same. Psychologists on the campuses where the new fad of streaking had its origin, passed it off as a way to relieve boredom, now that the students of the 70s were no longer involved in demonstrations and marches to advance social and political causes. Well, the idea of running nude caught on all over the world. Streakers were seen at the Vatican, ski jumping in Missoula, Montana, water skiing in Hong Kong and a bearish stockbroker startled Wall Street. They appeared on televised baseball games, the Johnny Carson show and the Academy Award show, but one of the most startled observers of a nude romp was the desk sergeant in St. Louis.

Unknown Speaker: They came tardy, really high stepping it, but when they hit the back door and we were at them, they took off, they were really streaking home like deer and as they ran through the back door, they pulled the door open, normally most people would push door open, but they pulled the door open. So they knew that door pulled towards the inside and myself and desk sergeant Mike Adams took off after them, gave them a short chase, but when they hit the cobblestone which was wet, one of the streakers took a tumble, so he could be readily identified with the strawberries on his rump.

Ed Kirtz: Three millions birds heading south on a migratory flight can be an incredible sight, but what do you do if those three million birds decide to land and take up nest in your backyard. That's exactly what happened to a farmer in Graceland, Maryland in 1974 with the screeching becoming unbearable and the possibility of disease spreading from the birds a solution was sought.


So what they did was fill the area with noises and fireworks. The combination of frenzy birds and a variety of weird sounds was a cacophony that could drive you mad. Well, it worked. The sound may not have driven the birds mad, but it did drive them away. Farmer Edgar Emerick explains.

Edgar Emerick: Well, the birds are confused, they are flying, straight eastern, then all of a sudden, they will run into a blast or noise or one of the exploders or one of the shot exploders and they are doing a completely about face and going another direction. You can tell it they are fairly confused.