The 1960s

As Optimists continued waging a campaign against the illegal use of drugs, they resolved to wage a similar battle against pornography. At the 1960 International Convention, delegates passed a resolution urging all Optimist Clubs to conduct local campaigns to stop the increasing traffic in mail order pornography. To help Clubs wage these campaigns, Optimist International prepared a comprehensive anti-smut kit, providing step-by-step information on how a Club could alert its community to “the evil that was being spread by mail throughout the land.”

At about the same time, Optimist International began publishing a booklet called “A Boy Today, A Man Tomorrow.” Written by medical professionals, the booklet explained in simple terms what was called “the many mysteries of growing into manhood.” Clubs were encouraged to give it to health educators, doctors, nurses, teachers and parents in their communities. Within the first two years of its existence, more than 50,000 copies had been distributed, and by the 1990s it was estimated that several million copies of the little booklet had been put into circulation.

With the ever-increasing fear of nuclear war, delegates at the 1961 convention passed a Home Shelter resolution urging Clubs and communities to safeguard their homes and families against the threat of radioactive fallout with adequate home shelters. The resolution also asked Clubs to conduct programs of public information and education in their communities to point out the need for home fallout shelters.

Highlighting that 1961 gathering of Optimists was an address by former U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who had lost the most recent presidential election to John F. Kennedy. Speaking to the 2,500 Optimists and their family members, Nixon said, “I have spoken to many individual service club meetings, but Optimist has a certain lift to it. The name itself simply warms you up and brightens you as you get an invitation or as you see the Optimist banner on the wall of a service club meeting place.”

Optimists began the 1960s with an anti-smut campaign (above). Not long after, a booklet titled A Boy Today, A Man Tomorrow was first published. It is estimated that several million copies of the booklet were produced.

Addressing the 1961 Optimist Convention, Richard Nixon said, "I have spoken to many individual service club meetings, but Optimist has a certain lift to it."

A long-distance “conference call” from Omaha, Nebraska, became a highlight in the organization of an Optimist Club in Longview, North Carolina, in October of 1961. The Optimist Club of Longview, Hickory, North Carolina, became the 2,000th Club to join Optimist International and the long-distance call came from International President Raymond R. Rembolt, who was in Omaha visiting another Optimist Club there. The event celebrated the addition of more than a thousand new Clubs during the previous seven years.

The 2,000th Club, the Optimist Club of Longview, North Carolina, receives a congratulatory phone call from International President Raymond R. Rembolt.