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Where we're always on the road, and it's always 1962! ™

THE ROADTRIP-'62 ™ BLOG

I'm heading down a new road, so to speak. Instead of the long articles relating a roadtrip down a complete highway, I'll now be posting much shorter articles. And the scope will be wider, covering just about everything from the year 1962. This should allow me to post more often, and allow you to have more fun reading. I'm not sure just how often I will post something, but this page will always show the five most recent articles, with the newest at the top. Older articles will be archived at the Blog Archives page. I may even include articles from other people, so if you have something to say about 1962, please let me know. Topics will cover:

  • 1962 News of the World
  • 1962 News of the Nation
  • 1962 Local News
  • 1962 in Sports
  • 1962 in Entertainment and the Arts (including movies, TV, music, art, fashion, architecture, design, books, comics, and more)
  • 1962 in Science
  • Cars of 1962
  • Consumer Products and Retail in 1962 (including just about anything you could buy, plus the stores you could buy it in)
  • On the Road in 1962 (road and roadtrip topics, including things I typically covered on my long journeys)
   

A Look at Furniture Design in 1962

(April 18, 2017)

Everyone's seen these stackable plastic chairs, but did you know we could not have found one anywhere in 1962? It was under development that year, as various manufacturers tried to wed the curved, formed plywood furniture of the 1950s with newer, low-cost plastics. It was designed by Robin Day of Great Britain and first manufactured and sold in 1963. The design was named "Polyprop" and it's been estimated that over 14 million have since been produced! Just another measure of how our world has changed since 1962.

 
Polyprop chair by Robin Day, 1963
Polyprop chair by Robin Day, 1963 (cropped from “Miller’s Collecting The 1960s” by Madeline Marsh)

This got me to thinking about furniture in general for 1962. What was available? What was new? Who was designing the new stuff? How was it advertised and where could you buy it? So, let’s try to answer some of these questions. First off, though the Polyprop chair was still under development, there were plenty of other curvy, one piece chairs for sale in 1962. I’ll discuss Eero Saarinen’s tulip tables and chairs below, but there were still more. The already famous Eames Shell Chair was released in a rocking chair version in 1962, by the Herman Miller Company. There was also a curvy variation on the overstuffed armchair, called the Papa Bear Chair, from Hans J. Wegner and A.P. Furniture. The arms were reminiscent of the recently ended trend of taillight fins on cars. But perhaps the strangest chair I’ve seen that picks up on the curved aesthetic is the baby’s toilet training chair shown below. It’s a 1962 design made of curved beechwood by French manufacturer Baumann. Not only does it have the removable pot underneath, but it features a toy to play with while baby does his business.

 
Baby toilet training chair by Baumann, 1962
Baby toilet training chair by Baumann, 1962 (from online auction)

One way to measure things past is to look at what is collectible today. In mid-century modern furniture, one of my favorite blogs, Retro Renovation, found the following brands to be the most collectible. One factor they looked at was that vintage furniture was built to last, which means a lot of it is desirable because pieces are still in like-new condition after 50 years or more of daily use. Even upholstered pieces are still in demand because of their solid frame construction, though they may need reupholstering.

  • Broyhill Brasilia – This line launched in 1962. Its appeal is in the swooping designs that make it instantly recognizable. These decorative details are based on the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, who designed Brazil’s modernist capital city, Brasilia. Brasilia opened in 1960 and the architecture made immediate impressions internationally.
  • Heywood-Wakefield – This company, founded in 1897, featured curving lines, solid wood construction, and a unique champagne finish. It has proven so popular that it is still manufactured today, in the USA, so you can buy new old-style pieces. The new furniture is still made from Northern Yellow Birch, the same wood used for their vintage furniture.
  •  
    Drexel Declaration Furniture ad, 1961
    Drexel Declaration Furniture ad, 1961 (from online auction)
     
  • Drexel Declaration – The principal designer of this furniture line was Stewart MacDougall, who expressed his design philosophy as, “…to create forms that are not fashionable so much as timeless.” Instead of the curves of Brasilia, the Declaration line is characterized by clean, straight lines and little ornamentation. This line dates to at least 1961, as seen in the ad above.
  • Kroehler sofas – For decorating a retro living room, in any style including retro atomic, it is hard to go wrong with a Kroehler sofa. They were made with a durable frieze fabric, and in so many colors, shapes, and sizes that they match nearly every room. You can find them in one-piece, sectionals, squares, curved, with frilled skirts on the bottom, and just about any other style.
  • Eero Saarinen tulip tables and chairs – Eero Saarinen is of course known for his stylish buildings and projects such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri and Dulles International Airport Terminal in Washington DC. But he also designed perhaps the most famous shape in mid-century modern furniture, the curved pedestal tables and chairs. He has stated they were designed to, “…clear up the slum of legs in the U.S. home.” First released in 1956, they are still popular today as both antiques and new production furniture.
 
Living-dining area of Popular Mechanics’ House of Care-Free Living, 1962
Living-dining area of Popular Mechanics’ House of Care-Free Living (from Popular Mechanics, September, 1962)

Magazines helped popularize new styles. Trend setters included House Beautiful, The American Home, and general interest magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle, and Better Homes and Gardens. Even magazines like Popular Mechanics showed modern homes and furniture styles in articles on building your own home. The typical consumer bought furniture at a local furniture store. The only large chains selling furniture at that time were Sears, Montgomery Ward, and maybe Penney’s, and most towns did not have one of those stores. So local stores like Edwards Furniture Co. of Alice, Texas or Horning’s Furniture of Annville, Pennsylvania, both of which opened for business in 1962, were where you shopped. Some small towns like New Castle, Indiana even had several furniture stores at that time. These and many others thrived on the housing boom of the 1950s and 1960s, as did Godwin’s Furniture and Appliance in my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan. When they opened in 1948, they were so far out of the city that they couldn’t even get bank loans because they were considered a poor business risk! Like Edwards, they’ve since expanded into a small chain.

Modern styles of furniture showed up in many places in 1962, including of course advertising. But even toys were influenced. Mattel’s Barbie Dream House sold in 1962 featured cardboard versions of chairs, sofas, beds, dressers, and more that looked just mommy and daddy’s new furniture. The pieces were included in a fold-to-open cardboard box that looked like a modern ranch house exterior. Included were more details like record albums, clothes hangers, pillows, and a floor printed with a combination of floor tiles and carpets. Not doubt there were many hours of make-believe fun ahead for any girl who received this for a birthday present!

 
Mattel Barbie’s Dream House, 1962
Mattel Barbie’s Dream House, 1962 (photo from online auction)

For folks who wanted to save some money on furniture, or who needed a hobby, books were published on build-it-yourself modern furniture. Sunset Magazine published “Sunset Furniture You Can Build” in 1962, which featured 125 furniture projects including popular items like floating wall cabinets, patio furniture, chests of drawers, bookshelves and magazine racks, ottomans, a platform sofa, dining and kitchen tables, and even a Japanese style convertible garden. Designs were by some well-known designers of the day including Paul Kirk, who worked with Stewart MacDougall on the Drexel Declaration line, Alfred Pries, who designed the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor that opened in 1962, and John Lautner, who designed many mid-century modern homes in California and was likely well known to readers of Sunset Magazine.

 

Modern furniture also showed up in unusual places like postage stamps. For example, Romania released a set of 10 stamps showing Romanian handicrafts to commemorate a Sample Fair held in 1962. One of the stamps shows a curved chair and tulip-style lamp and another shows a tall vase that would have looked right at home with the furniture. You can find more about what appeared on the stamps of 1962 at the Roadtrip-'62 ™ 1962 – The Year in Stampspage.

 
Romanian stamps from 1962 featuring furniture
Romanian stamps from 1962 featuring furniture (photo from online auction)
   

US-10 Cruise: Ludington to Manitowoc

(April 12, 2017)

Let’s take another short roadtrip today, with a twist: though we will see the sights on land, most of the actual journey will be a cruise. We’re starting the day at Ludington, Michigan, where we find two US-numbered routes. Highway US-31 currently runs 1280 miles from just south of Mackinaw City, Michigan to Spanish Fort, Alabama. In 1962, it was a little longer on both ends. The north end went to the Mackinac Bridge and the south end went into downtown Mobile, Alabama through the Bankhead Tunnel. Our travel, though, will be on US-10. This route currently runs from Fargo, North Dakota to Bay City, Michigan. In 1962, it continued south to Detroit, Michigan, overlapping with our Roadtrip-'62 ™ US-23 trip for 30 miles. The route also used to run about 1700 miles farther west, ending at Seattle, Washington. Beginning in 1969, for about the next 20 years it was shortened west of Fargo as each segment of I-90 or I-94 freeway was completed.

 
Vista Villa Motel, Ludington, Michigan, ca. 1960s
Vista Villa Motel, Ludington, Michigan, ca. 1960s (photo from an online auction)

Before we take our cruise, let’s enjoy our day in Ludington. I’m starting from the Vista Villa Motel, where I stayed last night. It was opened with just 6 rooms in about 1957, and expanded to 14 rooms by about 1962. It’s even larger today with some newer rooms, and the whole place has been completely remodeled, creating a clean, comfortable motel that is priced generally lower than chains such as Super 8 or Holiday Inn Express. There are several older restaurants in town to choose from for breakfast, including Gibbs Restaurant, and the Kuntry Kubbard. I’m stopping at the Old Hamlin Inn, as it has won local awards for the best breakfast in town. The sign out front says they have been open since 1926, but that’s for their first location several miles north, on Hamlin Lake. The restaurant moved to the current building in 1942 and is still owned and operated by the same family. People say they have great homemade bread, so make sure you order a breakfast that includes toast. They close for part of the winter.

After breakfast, we’ll head straight through Ludington on M-116 from where US-10 turns left to the ferry docks. Note the location though, because we’ll be back here later. At the end of town, M-116 turns right to follow the Lake Michigan shore. Stearns Park, in front of you, is a favorite place for sunsets. We’ll follow M-116 (Lake Shore Drive) north to Ludington State Park. Lake Shore Drive is well named, as it allows you to see a good section of lakeshore after you leave town. The lake in the State Park, Hamlin Lake, and the lake you drive across the marsh of as you leave town, Lincoln Lake, were named for President Lincoln and his Vice Presidential running mate in the 1860 election, Hannibal Hamlin. This area was being settled and developed for lumber mills at about that time, and developer Charles Mears apparently was a supporter of these candidates.

 
Ludington, Michigan lighthouse
Ludington, Michigan lighthouse, seen from Stearns Park

At the big curves in the road, where you end up right on the lakeshore, there used to be a railroad crossing. Since the 1930s, Sargent Sand Company has held a permit to mine sand here. Though the sand is no longer transported by rail, the sand dunes just to the right of the road are still mined. This sand was used for many industrial purposes, including metal castings in the General Motors foundries in Saginaw, Michigan during 1962, one of the cities on our US-23 roadtrip. Eventually, the cost of owning and operating a railroad just for the sand shipments became too high, especially as metal casting needs declined. However, the mine has found a new life because the high quality sand here is used in oil fracking operations, which have boomed in recent years. If you look to the right as you drive by, you can see some of the mining equipment in the low areas between dunes. The property is surrounded by Ludington State Park property and Sargent Sand has sold a large part of its property to the state, but has retained about 400 mineable acres.

Ludington State Park is a beautiful park of about 5,300 acres of sand dunes, scenic shoreline vistas, ponds, marshlands and forests. After we enter Ludington State Park, we’ll have to make our most difficult decision of the day: which trails to hike. The problem is that there are so many beautiful trails. There is even a canoe trail, where you can rent a canoe for the day and explore the shoreline of Hamlin Lake and its islands, and portage to some smaller nearby ponds. I’ve done that but I prefer to hike. Another great trail is along the Lake Michigan shore, north to the Point Sable Lighthouse. It’s nearly two miles of unbroken sand and surf, with dunes on the inland side. Michigan is home to over 275,000 acres of coastal sand dunes. These sand dunes are constantly being reformed as winds blowing across Lake Michigan from the west move the existing sand and deposit new sand from the prairies.

 
Sand dunes across Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan
Sand dunes across Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park, Ludington, Michigan

From the parking lot, we’ll cross the road and the bridge over the Big Sable River. Beware of the geese here, as they can be aggressive if bothered. The bridge is adjacent to a salmon feeding station in the river, and feeding times for the salmon are posted. These fish are released into the river when grown, to stock the sport fishery in Lake Michigan. There used to be a Visitor Center across the bridge, but the roof caved in from a heavy snow load a few years back and the building has not been reopened yet. If you want to climb a sand dune, try the Skyline Trial, which can be accessed just off the Visitor Center Parking Lot. It’s a boardwalk trail, to prevent erosion of the dunes. I’m a little too lazy for the steep climb, so I’ll take the river walk. The Skyline Trail rejoins the riverwalk about halfway to Hamlin Dam, so I’ll meet you there.

Hamlin Dam is almost like a waterfall on the river. It was first built in 1852 by Charles Mears and his logging company, to hold logs in the lake and provide power for the sawmill. The Big Sable River was rerouted into its present course, to allow shipping to reach the dam. An entire town grew up around it, though nothing remains now. The dam broke a couple of times, but was rebuilt even after the lumbering was over because many cottages had been built around the lake and depended on the high water shoreline. Today the dam area is full of fishermen and the swimming beach is just on the other side.

 
boardwalk, Lost Lake Trail, Ludington State Park, Michigan
The author on the boardwalk of Lost Lake Trail, Ludington State Park, Michigan.

There are many more trails through various parts of the woods, but the best one, in my humble opinion, is the Lost Lake Trail. This trail uses a series of boardwalks to hop from island to island in Hamlin Lake, and make an easy loop of about 2¼ miles. I found that you can make it even longer and more interesting by either starting near the Visitor Center as we did, or by starting from the parking lot near the park store at Cedar Campground. If you start at the store, continue through the parking lot for the swimming area, staying near the lake, and you will find the Lost Lake Trail. Turn right at the first boardwalk and you’ll soon cross a bridge and head out to the islands. These islands are narrow strips of sand that were barely higher than the water level of the dammed Hamlin Lake, and give a feeling of wandering around in the lake at some points. I’ve seen deer, swans, frogs, beaver, herons, and even river otters on this trail! Swans are almost always on Lost Lake. Take your time, as I believe this is the prettiest part of the park.

As the trail finally turns away from Hamlin Lake, you have to climb partway up a dune and head slightly inland. At the trail junction you could take several other trails that criss-cross the wooded dunes in the park, but we’ll stay on Lost Lake Trail and head back towards the campground. As you approach the campground, the trail heads out over the shallow water of the lake on a boardwalk. This gives a great opportunity to watch fish in the shallows on the landward side. If the kids haven’t scared them all away, you may even see a turtle or frog. Signs along the boardwalk point out some of the wildlife to look for.

 
House of Flavors, Ludington, Michigan
House of Flavors, Ludington, Michigan (Photo by Doug Coldwell from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

At the south end of the campground, a bike trail crosses the roadway. Turn right on this trail and it will take you right back to your car. If you’re not fond of hiking, you can just stay out on the great beach all morning. Either way, we’ve pretty well spent our morning, so let’s enjoy the drive back to Ludington and find a late lunch. And I know just the place! The Park Dairy House of Flavors has both great food and a great hometown ice cream parlor atmosphere. They’ve been around since 1948, with the ice cream manufacturing and packaging plant right behind the ice cream parlor. In fact, House of Flavors is Michigan’s largest ice cream manufacturer under one roof. If you like fresh, this is the place! Try to leave room for desert, because their specialty apple sundae is well worth the extra calories.

After lunch, I’ll spend part of the afternoon shopping Ludington’s touristy downtown. Then, it’s off to Stearns Park, which we passed this morning. A half-mile walk out to the lighthouse at the end of the pier is great, especially when a stiff wind and waves are coming in. You can really feel the power of nature on those days. The park is also a great spot to watch sunsets, but since we’re not staying in Ludington tonight, we’ll have to see our sunset from the deck of the ferry instead. While we could not have played mini-golf at the Stearns Park back in 1962, because the Jaycees’ Miniature Golf Course was only opened in 1967, it’s still a nice retro thing to do. And, it supports local charitable organizations and causes. After our game, the sky is dimming a bit, so it’s time to head over to the ferry dock.

 
S.S. Spartan, docked in Ludington, Michigan
The S.S. Badger’s sister ship S.S. Spartan, docked in Ludington, Michigan, in the evening.

Highway US-10 is one of only two US-numbered highways with a ferry connection, the other is US-9, between Cape May, New Jersey and Lewes, Delaware. Highway US-10 used to officially be two separate parts, but in 2015, the S.S. Badger was officially designated as part of the highway. The S.S. Badger now actually has an image of a US-10 route sign on the ship! The ship began service in 1953 and was only 10 years old by 1962, so we could have enjoyed it then in its glory years. The S.S. Badger is the largest car ferry ever to sail Lake Michigan and is also the only coal-fired steamship still in operation in the United States. While the ship was built by the C&O Railroad primarily to transport railroad freight cars, it also ferried passenger cars and had superior passenger accommodations. It was completely refurbished in 1991 with a buffet-style dining area, private staterooms, and even a movie lounge so you can once again enjoy the cruise in comfort.

The S.S. Badger’s sister ship, the S.S. Spartan, is also docked here. Both ships, together with the S.S. City of Midland, made ferry runs for the C&O Railroad and its successor company Chessie System, between several cities on both sides of Lake Michigan until 1983, when the Chessie System ended its railroad car ferry service. The S.S. Badger is the last of the 14 ferries based in Ludington remaining in service and has been designated a National Historic Landmark, a registered historical site in both Michigan and Wisconsin, and the Badger's propulsion system was designated a mechanical engineering landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The ship has a reinforced hull for ice-breaking, allowing it to operate year round. Railroad ferries once ran from Ludington to Milwaukee, Manitowoc, and Kewanee, Wisconsin. When it was overhauled in 1991, all railroad car facilities were removed.

 
S.S. Spartan, docked in Ludington, Michigan
Passenger lounge on the S.S. Badger in the 1950s. Looks just like I remember it in the early 1970s. (Photo provided by S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Carferry, used with permission.)

The trip across Lake Michigan takes about four hours to cover the 62 miles from shore to shore, saving about 3½ hours compared to the trip by car around the bottom of the lake at Chicago. Besides passenger cars, the S.S. Badger's large deck space allows it to transport tour busses, commercial semi trailers and larger commercial loads. For example, it has moved wind turbine components over 150 feet long from Wisconsin. Motorcycles are also welcome. The ferry offers entertainment options and eating facilities on board, as well as passenger staterooms with sleeping berths. That’s where I will also spend at least part of the night, because I’m taking the evening cruise. When I last sailed this route in about 1974, I went in the daytime and enjoyed walking the deck, watching the lake, and sitting in the lounge when I wanted to get out of the sun. Tonight, I’ll enjoy the sunset from the deck before eating. See you tomorrow in Manitowoc, where I may write a Roadtrip-'62 ™ post about seeing the 1962 sights of that part of US-10.

   

Brands and Trademarks of 1962

(April 4, 2017)

Today, Roadtrip-'62 ™ looks at some brands and logos that we could have seen in 1962, but that have changed since then. Some have changed quite a bit, some have disappeared, and some are just tweaked. First up, three famous trademarks that were registered in 1962. I've shown the old versions in black-and-white, as we might have seen them in magazine ads back then.

 
Elmer's Glue trademarks, 1962 and 2011
Elmer's Glue trademarks, 1962 and 2011

Elmer's Glue-All was made by the Borden Company back then, a major brand of milk and other dairy products. We had our milk delivered by the Borden man, who drove a truck that still used large blocks of real ice to keep the product cool. During the summer, he was very nice and would chip ice off the blocks with an ice pick, to hand out to all the neighborhood kids gathered around his truck. Hard to imagine that chips of ice were such a treat! I suspect the glue was originally made by rendering, or from excess milk, either of which would provide byproducts that could be turned into glue. Synthetic glues like Krazy Glue were not yet invented. The glue was named after Elmer, the spouse of Borden's most famous trademark, Elsie the Cow. It's still made today, but by a company simply called Elmer's Products, Inc. And, Elmer's also makes Krazy Glue!

 
NBC Television trademarks, 1962 and 2011
NBC Television trademarks, 1962 and 2011

A version of the NBC Peacock logo was first used in 1956, as it became clear that the future of television was color. It was revised as shown above in 1962. The tips of the peacock’s feathers showcase colors, though few TV viewers had color sets at that time. Also, few shows were broadcast in color, as it was more expensive to do so. The peacock logo was originally used only with color broadcasts, along with the announcer stating, “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.” It became a part of NBC's main logo in 1979 and the only logo in 1986. At that time, it was redesigned in a more stylized form with the letters NBC added below. The letters and coloring have been slightly revised since then to give us the current version.

 
Target Stores trademarks, 1962 and 2017
Target Stores trademarks, 1962 and 2017

Target Stores were created in 1962 by the Dayton department store chain of Minnesota, to move the company into the new discount store field. Discount stores were a changing and booming field in 1962, and both Kmart and WalMart also entered the field that year. And a plethora of local discount stores, totaling about 1500, were opened then, an increase of as much as 35% over the previous year. You might wonder why these blossomed around the country in 1962. It had a lot to do with Congress finally repealing "fair trade" laws that set minimum retail prices on many goods. Instead of creating fair trade, these laws had allowed manufacturers to set high prices. The laws were left over from the World War II years and eliminating these laws opened the floodgates of innovation for discount stores and the vigorous competition that followed. The logo was simplified over the years, as has happened to many trademarks, to eliminate some of the red rings.

 
Pepsi (Pepsi-Cola) trademarks, 1962 and 2011
Pepsi (Pepsi-Cola) trademarks, 1962 and 2011

Pepsi's trademark has changed the most. The whole idea of the bottlecap is gone, probably because almost none of their product is sold with the old crown style bottlecaps. Twist-off plastic caps were not yet in use and though you could buy Pepsi and other sodas in cans, that was rare. The logo has been redesigned several times between 1962 and today, most recently just a couple of years ago when they even changed the shape of the waves. Only the blue and red colors remain.

 
Butterfinger candy bar wrappers, 1961 and 2017
Butterfinger candy bar wrappers, 1961 and 2017

Butterfingers were one of my favorite candy bars as a kid, even though they stuck to your teeth after you were done. I suspect that was the cause of several of my rear tooth cavities. Butterfinger was invented by the Curtiss Candy Company of Chicago in 1923, and made by them through 1990. Within those years, Curtiss was sold to Standard Brands in 1964, which merged with Nabisco in 1981. Nabisco’s candy business was shuffled around a couple more times in the 1980s but it stayed together until the Butterfinger and Baby Ruth candy bars brands were sold to Nestle in 1990. The package logos show this change, as the 1961 package has the Curtiss name and “C” in the center, while the current package has the Nestle name.

 
National Park Service trademarks, 1962 and 2011
National Park Service trademarks, 1962 and 2011

We’ve visited a lot of National Parks and other lands administered by the National Park Service on our US-23 and US-6 roadtrips, including Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Cape Cod National Seashore, Colorado National Monument, and Great Basin National Park. In 1962, the National Park Service registered its familiar symbol, which has changed little over the years. They eventually removed the department name and the buffalo's shadow, but otherwise we see the same trademark as in 1962.

If you’re interested in more information about old-time brands that are still around, check out my Vintage Products page. Or, for more info on brands we could have seen in 1962 that no longer survive, check out my You Can’t Buy That Anymore page. See you back here soon for more fun on Roadtrip-'62 ™!

 

All brand images and logos are trademarks of their respective owners. They are used here for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute any endorsement or other opinion of the products.

   

Holiday Inns in 1962

(March 21, 2017)

Just last week, I picked up this neat Holiday Inns 1962 Summer Directory! Let’s see what it tells us about that iconic motel chain and which Holiday Inns Roadtrip-'62 ™ could have visited in our favorite year.

 
Cover of the 1962 Holiday Inns of America Summer Directory
Cover of the 1962 Holiday Inns of America Summer Directory

Kemmons Wilson had the idea for Holiday Inns because of the frustrations he suffered on a family vacation from Memphis, Tennessee to Washington, D.C. in 1951. He found most accommodations to be cramped, uncomfortable, and expensive because they usually charged extra for each child. He measured and cataloged each motel along the way and came back with his idea of the perfect motel. He figured he would need to build 400 motels across the country, each just a day’s drive from another. He got started in his home city, opening four by the end of 1953, one on each main highway leading into Memphis. By 1962, Holiday Inns was undergoing major expansions nationwide, opening at the rate of two new motels every week!

Among the inns that were opened in 1962 was one in my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan. The chain appears to have been making a push into Michigan, as they were also opening new inns in Jackson and two in the Detroit area that year. The Saginaw inn followed their pattern of partnering with the Gulf Oil Company, including a new Gulf service station adjacent to the motel. Another feature of that partnership was that anyone with a Gulf credit card could charge their Holiday Inn stay to it. Unlike many Holiday Inns of that period, the Saginaw motel is still open, having been extensively remodeled in recent years and rebranded as the Davenport Inn.

 
Holiday Inn Magazine, March 1962, featuring Mickey
Holiday Inn Magazine, March 1962, featuring Mickey Mantle (photo from an online auction)

Holiday Inns also published a magazine for guests, the Holiday Inn Magazine. The cover of the March issue pictured baseball star Mickey Mantle, who also was the owner of a Holiday Inn. Several inns were part owned by celebrities hoping to cash in on their names. Mickey Mantle opened a Holiday Inn in Joplin, Missouri in 1962. At one time, the sign out front advertised, “See the Dugout and Mickey’s Trophies”. The Dugout was the name of the cocktail lounge / restaurant. The magazine has an article about the 2nd annual baseball player's party, which was held at this inn, complete with photos of Mantle, teammate Roger Maris, and other big league players. As you might expect, the magazine is just one a variety of memorabilia for sale from that motel featuring Mickey Mantle’s name and image.

The company was on such a roll in 1962 that they expanded briefly into other ventures, including Holiday Inn Records. The label was set up in the company’s hometown of Memphis in 1961. It released records during the years 1961-1962 by acts including The Rollercoasters, Jimmy Foster, Frank Starr, Kenny Lund, Rusty Curry, and Stan Daniels. After disappearing for a few years, the record label came back during 1968-1969 with different artists, including one whose name fit perfectly, Dolly Holiday. None of the records charted very high.

 
Typical Holiday Inn “Great Sign”
Typical Holiday Inn “Great Sign” (Photo by JMG717 at Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Perhaps the most remembered artifact from Holiday Inn’s older motels is The Great Sign”. This is the name the company gave to its gigantic, lighted roadside signs used during the original era of expansion from the 1950s to the 1970s. The signs could not be missed from the highway: they were 50 feet tall, included neon, chase lights, and a lighted star on top. Owner Kemmons Wilson loved the "Great Sign" so much that it was engraved on his tombstone. Though the majority of the signs were sold as scrap metal, a beautiful example is preserved at the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, another is at the National Save the Neon Signs Museum in Minot, North Dakota and one is outdoors at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

So, just what Holiday Inns could we have stayed at along our US-23 or US-6 roadtrips? According to the directory, the following inns were open for at least part of the year in 1962. Most of them have been demolished, so we could not make the trip using Holiday Inns. And, as the following list shows, there were almost no Holiday Inns west of the Missouri River in 1962. The chain had not yet expanded much in the west. Anyway, that’s all for today. Please join me soon for news and more fun from 1962, on Roadtrip-'62 ™.

 

Along US-23:

  • Saginaw, Michigan – still open as the Davenport Inn
  • Flint, Michigan - demolished
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan – still open as the Wyndham Garden Inn
  • Toledo, Ohio – most recently the Travel Inn, may be closed
  • Marion, Ohio – demolished
  • Columbus, Ohio – demolished
  • Kingsport, Tennessee – demolished
  • Asheville, North Carolina – still open as a Days Inn
  • Atlanta, Georgia – 2 inns, both demolished
  • Macon, Georgia – still open as the Macon Inn
  • Folkston, Georgia – demolished
  • Jacksonville, Florida – demolished

Along US-6:

  • Cleveland, Ohio – demolished
  • Gary, Indiana – demolished
  • Moline, Illinois – demolished
  • Des Moines, Iowa – 2 inns, both demolished
  • Lincoln, Nebraska – still open as Oasis Inn & Suites
  • Denver, Colorado – demolished
   
1962 Holiday Inn Directory Map
1962 Holiday Inn Directory Map
   

All photos by the author and Copyright © 2017 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.

All other content Copyright © 2017 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.

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Personalized MY M&M'S® Candies Huge Discounts on deals right NOW! Lonestar Comics Fabrics.com Make Anything
 

More Fun Stuff:

What's the weather in 1962?

Weather on February 22, 1962 for Adrian, MI, from the National Climatic Data Center:

  • Low = 30°F
  • High = 38°F
  • Precipitation = no data
  • Mean Wind Speed = 13mph

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Here's your chance to buy some actual stuff from 1962! Have Fun!

 

Please visit these sponsors, some of whom were open to serve you in 1962, and others selling great products from that year.

   A. T. Cross Company

Please visit these sponsors, some of whom were open to serve you in 1962, and others selling great products from that year.

Ball / Kerr Fresh Preserving Kitchen Aid

Your Ad Here

Smokey Bear is the longest running public service ad campaign in Ad Council history, running since 1944. At the beginning, Walt Disney loaned Bambi for use on a poster for one year, but that image proved so popular that it is still being used. The original message was slightly different, as "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires." I hope you enjoy this ad, similar to what you might have seen in 1962, and heed Smokey's message.

Smokey Bear Ad