Here’s what was going on in the world in May 1961.
- Betting shops became legal in the United Kingdom, permitting UK residents to place bets, through a bookie, on horse races without going to the track.
- Former British diplomat George Blake was sentenced to 42 years imprisonment for spying, one year for the life of each of the 42 British agents who died after Blake had betrayed them. Blake had been the U.K.’s vice-consul in South Korea before being captured during the Korean War and spending three years in an internment camp, and was later caught passing secrets of the British Navy to the Soviet Union. He escaped London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison on October 22, 1965, and eventually settled in Moscow.
- At 9:34 am, Alan Shepard became the first American in space as Freedom 7 lifted off from Cape Canaveral. Shepard’s rocket, first of the Mercury program, reached an altitude of 115 miles without achieving orbit, and was recovered 19 minutes later by the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain.
- Tottenham Hotspur F.C. defeated Leicester City 2-0 in the 1961 FA Cup Final before a crowd of 100,000 at Wembley, becoming the first team in the 20th century to win the English league and cup double.
- The Nirenberg and Matthaei experiment was performed by Heinrich Matthaei. The Poly-U-Experiment enabled recognition and understanding of the genetic code. This is considered the birthdate of modern genetics.
- The Soviet space probe Venera 1 became the first man-made object to make a “fly-by” of another planet by passing Venus. The probe had lost contact with Earth a month earlier, however, and did not send back any data.
- Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev “quite unexpectedly” accepted a suggestion from U.S. President John F. Kennedy that the two leaders meet at a conference in Vienna to discuss the future of Berlin. Three weeks later, Kennedy and Khrushchev would shake hands in Austria on June 3.
And here’s what was keeping Peggy busy:
Sunday 30th April 1961
David (birthday). To Lotties.
Have had a very pleasant afternoon with the Lottes – home with two tired children about 8.30. Philip still has a slight cough & runny nose.
Monday 1st May 1961
Heard today that Christopher & Karen both have whooping cough! – poor kids. We were with them on Saturday so am wondering if our two will catch it. Letter from Edna today, also one from Joan & Mur.
Tuesday 2nd May 1961
Little Karen Roberts was taken to hospital today with whooping cough. Very rough day – we’ve been to the village this afternoon. Letters from Dad & Mother – in – law – so I’ve plenty to answer now.
Wednesday 3rd May 1961
Nice sunny morning but a cold afternoon. Nothing of any import has happened. Gillian spent an hour doing her dolls washing this morning & I’ve had to iron it this afternoon. Am reading a good book – this months club – “Night without end”
Thursday 4th May 1961
Philip has started playing up in the evenings – cries as soon as I mention bed. He was really upset tonight. Haven’t done anything exciting today – bit of baking Very heavy thunder storms this evening.
Friday 5th May 1961
I’ve had an ache in my jaw all afternoon – just like toothache but the tooth doesn’t seem to be a bad one. Miserable me! I’m going to bed early.
Saturday 6th May 1961
Still aching – even though I’ve taken aspirin galore! We went to the dentist this morning but he ?cack couldn’t understand it as the tooth there is quite sound – So I have to suffer in silence. Have been to bed this afternoon leaving Cyril and the children watching the Cup final.
Sunday 7th May 1961
To Molly & Ted
Tooth still aching
Have had a good day at Watford – arrived 10.30 – left at 6.25! Children behaved well, mostly – I took them out for a couple of hours while Ted & Cyril had a snooze: Was nice seeing Molly & Ted again.
Monday 8th May 1961
Have done well today – I’ve had a much bigger wash than usual – its all dry & ironed (3.10pm) and I’ve also had a roast lunch!! Always such a lot to do after a day out! My jaw is still aching – but not nearly as bad as it was. Gale force winds.
Tuesday 9th May 1961
Had a surprise parcel this afternoon – with a nice coat for Gillian to grow into from Mrs Mac. Have just sent off a £1 for it. Not quite such a windy day today – and the children have been very good. We’ve been up to the village and my face still aches!!!
Wednesday 10th May 1961
Tried without success to get my tooth extracted – or at least an appointment this week. No luck – so it looks as though I must live with it a bit longer. Am wondering if my face spots are impertigo. Hope not.
Thursday 11th May 1961
I had a bad night. Really think I’ll have to go to the Doc tomorrow & see what’s wrong with my face!! Quite warm & Gillian is in a summer frock – & me. & Phil is in short sleeves. We’ve been for a walk to the village.
Friday 12th May 1961
Went to the Doctor this morning & my neuralgia turns out to be an attack of shingles in the mouth!! So am taking tablets. Not infectious but there is a remote possibility that the children may get chicken pox from it. Very hot day – deck chairs & tea on the lawn with the Roberts.
Saturday 13th May 1961
Very hot again – all been to L’head & Gillian now has the pool on the lawn. We all had our tea outside today – it has been so warm Philip loved playing in the pool & wasn’t a bit worried about the water! Shouldn’t think he will be any trouble on the beach – just as long as there is some water & sand he’s happy. Cyril has put in three rows of sprouts & some tomato plants.
Sunday 14th May 1961
Nice day again but not so hot as yesterday. Anne impressed us by coming over for an hour this morning. We took her back about midday so had a very late lunch. Have made sausage rolls & cheese straws for Mr. ?Gears cocktail party tomorrow.
Monday 15th May 1961
We took a picnic out on the Heath this afternoon but it turned out so cold I was glad to get home. Gillian insisted on having the picnic though! No letters.
Tuesday 16th May 1961
Fine day but still a cool wind We’ve been to the village this afternoon & after tea I mowed the lawns. Had to put the nippers in the bath again – they get so filthy. Letters from Joan, Mur & Mother – in – law today. My shingles are still with me – making my lips very sore.
Wednesday 17th May 1961
Blustery day – and quite cool. Hope it warms up for Friday as we’re thinking of taking the children to the coast for the day. Have done two days work in all – upstairs – & a big wash (which I’ve just ironed – 3pm) AND a toast lunch! Letter from Maggie.
Thursday 18th May 1961
Am feeling worn out. I took the children by bus & tram to Kingston & had both their hair cut! What an effort that journey is!! – and I was foolish enough to wear my best shoes. Philip very tired as he missed his sleep.
Friday 19th May 1961
We’ve had a lovely day out today – left here at 845 arrived W(est). Wittering at 10.45 after a couple of stops en route. Sun didn’t come out but it was warm – no wind. We cooked our lunch – and had a paddle. Philip loved the sea. Home at 4.30.
Saturday 20th May 1961
Have had a very busy day – washed (boiled) & ironed – Cleaned the house and baked. – Cyril went to L’head early & was home by 9.40 – he has had a very busy & hard day in the garden – the front is looking smart now – all ready for the Smiths next week!