1969 was a cool year. Maybe the coolest ever. I was nothing more than an innocent child and my idea of fun was playing football in the yard or blowing up things with fireworks.
Chevy came out with the 1969 Camaro Z28. I have no idea why that model only lasted one year. It probably was the most popular of all of the Camaros. 45 years later, Americans still drool over possible ownership of a 1969 Z28, including myself. This is probably my all time dream car.
Pontiac built the GTO Judge. Possibly the coolest of any of the Pontiacs ever built, and they built some really great cars back in the muscle car era. GM supposedly made only 6833 of these 1969 Judges and they are in pretty high demand these days so good luck finding an original one, and you will pay for it dearly. This is another car that is right up there with the 1969 Z28 in my book.
Not to be out done, the guys over at Mopar came out with a Charger that looked and ran spectacularly. The 1969 Dodge Charger was maybe the finest they ever made. That’s, of course, my own opinion and is always open for debate. But, it was a great car as were other Mopar models of this era, like the Plymouth Super Bee, and the Dodge Challenger, plus the fantastic Plymouth Barracuda. I personally like the 1971 Plymouth Cuda better than the 1969, but that is beside the point.
Good luck finding one of those, too.
1969 was way more than just about cool muscle cars. Although I cannot think of a better year in our history for incredible looking hot rods.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” were the words supposedly spoken by Neil Armstrong as he took his first step on the moon in 1969. Buzz Aldrin was right behind him and would become the 2nd man to walk on the moon.
Apollo 11 would be one of several moon missions.
Oddly, in 2014, there are still conspiracy theorists that believe it was all faked and filmed in some studio.
Woodstock also happened in 1969. It was the one single event that defined the time period more than any other. People still talk about it today some 45 years afterwards. Peace, love and rock n roll. Most of the big rock bands of the day were on hand to perform at a 3 day event that would become probably the most famous concert of all time.
In 1969, Vietnam protests ruled the nightly news. I remember coming in to the house as a lad and the news would be on and there was a fatality list pretty much every day. That always moved my heart because I just knew I was destined to go to Vietnam. Lucky for me, it ended when I was in high school.
Led Zeppelin released their first album titled Led Zeppelin in 1969. Then, later that same year, they released their second album, Led Zeppelin 2.
In January of 1969 the Beatles last public performance took place on the roof of Apple Records in London. The Beatles would make it through the 1960s, but not much longer afterwards.
Johnny Cash had hit songs Boy Named Sue, and Daddy Sang Bass. Glen Campbell had Galveston and Wichita Lineman.
Judy Garland, of the Wizard of Oz fame, died of a drug overdose in this year.
Ted Kennedy drove off of a bridge and killed a woman and got away with it.
The crazy Manson family killed Sharon Tate and others in California in 1969.
In 1969 we saw the first episode of Scooby Doo. The Brady Bunch first aired, making Marsha and Greg Brady and the rest of the Bradys household names.
The Miracle Mets won the World Series.
In Northwest Arkansas, Walmart would incorporate as Walmart Inc just right around the corner from where the #1 rated and undefeated Texas Longhorns would take on the #2 rated and also undefeated Arkansas Razorbacks in the latest version of the Game of the Century.
The defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes began the 1969 college football season at #1. They were an incredible team and mostly steamrolled everyone that they played that season. The Buckeyes averaged 46 points a game until they met the Michigan Wolverines in their first season coached by the famous Bo Schembechler. Michigan beat Ohio State 24-12 and not only won the Big 10, but they opened the door for the winner of the Texas vs Arkansas game to win the national championship.
Texas and Arkansas were bitter rivals.
Texas won the national championship in 1963. Arkansas won it in 1964, and Texas went on to beat Alabama and Joe Namath that year in the Sugar Bowl. Even though Texas and Arkansas were big rivals, their coaches Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles were good buddies and were so until the end. Arkansas fans despised the Texas Longhorns more than anything. One can still see upside down Longhorn stickers on cars up there occasionally.
Not to go into too much detail, but the Texas coaching staff led by Emory Bellard invented the Wishbone Formation right before the 1968 season. They had Super Bill Bradley at QB, but he wasn’t getting things done. Texas opened the 1968 season with a 20-20 tie with the University of Houston. Then, they lost in Lubbock to Texas Tech, 31-22. James Street replaced an ineffective Bill Bradley during this game and then started the rest of the year and into 1969, his senior season. James Street never lost a game as a starting college QB.
All was not lost for Bill Bradley, he went on to a successful career for the Philadelphia Eagles at Safety.
Texas entered the December 6th, 1969 game with Arkansas in the middle of an 18 game win streak. Arkansas entered the Big Shootout with a 15 game winning streak.
Arkansas was led by QB Bill Montgomery, WR Chuck Dicus, Fullback Bill Burnett, Defensive Back Jerry Moore who played in the NFL for several years, and LB Cliff Powell who later played in the CFL.
Arkansas dominated the first 3 quarters of the game, but only led 14-0. At the start of the 4th quarter, Texas QB James Street after being mostly bottled up all day broke a 42 yard run for a TD.
Texas went for 2 on an option left and Street kept the ball taking it across the goal line for 2 points. Arkansas up 14-8 with plenty of time left.
Arkansas had to give the ball up and hope to play the same successful defense that they had played all day.
Texas had 4th and 3 from their own 42 yard line and had been able to do little all day on offense. For some strange reason, Texas Head Coach Darrell Royal decided to throw it deep to the Tight End. The last play that I would have called in that situation, but that’s why he’s famous and I am not. James Street connected to Texas Tight End Randy Peschel for a first down at the Arkansas 13 yard line.
2 plays later, Texas Running Back Jim Bertleson scored from the 2 yard line tying the game at 14. Texas Kicker Happy Feller kicked the extra point and Texas had it’s first lead of the entire game, 15-14 with 3:58 left in the game.
President Richard Nixon came into the Texas locker room with a plaque proclaiming Texas was #1.
That did not sit well with Joe Paterno and Penn State. However, they chose to go to the Orange Bowl and play Missouri instead of taking on Texas in the Cotton. It doesn’t appear that Joe ever forgave Nixon for going into the Texas locker room afterwards.
Texas Defensive Back Freddie Steinmark was diagnosed with cancer right after this game and he attended the Cotton Bowl win over Notre Dame after having a leg amputated. Steinmark would lose his battle with cancer in the summer of 1970.
I never tire of watching Texas-Arkansas highlights and I wish I could get my hands on most any 1969 muscle car.
1969 was a special time no matter what world view you had. The world, and America, would never be the same again. Ever.