Where we're always on the road, and it's always 1962! TM
A 2-day strike in the London underground, or subway, began on February 4th, 2014. The work stoppage was called over the planned closure of many ticket offices. British Prime Minister David Cameron noted that the ticket offices are little used nowadays: because of advance fare purchases, only 3% of journeys involve ticket offices. However, the union representing the ticket agents notes the change will result in the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs. This reminded me of another strike on the London underground back in 1962. The strike jammed roads and busses at that time, but the British handled it in civilized fashion. Authorities allowed motorists to park their cars wherever they liked for one day only, and waiting for crowded busses was very orderly, as shown in this photo.
In the United States, 1962 was a year of many labor strikes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 211 work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers that year, compared to only 19 during 2012. In 1962 those involved nearly 800,000 workers, compared to less than 150,000 in 2012. I think that’s an interesting comparison of the strength of labor unions. Other transportation related strikes in the U.S. included the Order of Railroad Telegraphers against the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. This had national impact that resulted in President Kennedy forcing a settlement. There were also 3 airline strikes in 1962, against Eastern, Pan American, and Pacific.
1962 London Subway Strike (photo from the Daily Mail)
Many of the strikes of 1962 were the result of technology displacing manual labor. One of the major strikes of 1962 was the New York City newspaper strike, where the workers won a huge wage increase but several of the newspapers went out of business. The International Typographical Union was striking to try to stop modernization, as Linotype machines were replacing manual typesetters all over the country. New York's seven daily newspapers were closed for 114 days and this had a much larger impact than it would today because newspapers were the main news source back then. Attendance at funerals declined as people did not know when their friends died, Broadway went dark, charities lost donations, and of course shopping shriveled because advertisements were not delivered. Cleveland, Ohio also suffered a newspaper strike, and one of its papers went out of business shortly thereafter. The union for that paper, the Cleveland Newspaper Guild failed to obtain a closed union shop.
Other major labor stoppages included the United Steelworkers Union against United States Steel, Bethlehem Steel, and at least five other major firms. This strike took also required Presidential action to settle because of its national impact. The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee struck against lettuce farmers in California. Other strikes that attempted to stop technology were at oil refineries. Shell Oil’s Woodriver, Illinois refinery suffered a strike that year, as did American Oil Company's Texas City, Texas refinery. Threatened automation there led to a year-long strike by 2,000 workers. Technology won out there too, as the company and many other oil and chemical firms were able to reduce their workforces dramatically.
Shell Woodriver, Illinois Oil Refinery Strike (from eBay auction)
The MAD Frontier cover, featuring Alfred E. Neuman in a rocking chair, was MAD’s take-off on then President Kennedy’s New Frontier programs. The phrase was used during Kennedy’s 1960 campaign and came to symbolize his agenda. Pictures of the President in his rocking chair were well known at the time because President Kennedy often sat in a rocking chair to help relieve pain from back injuries. He received the injuries when playing college football and was reinjured during World War II. The issue has no real parodies of the New Frontier programs, it was just a way to get people to notice it on the newsstands. After Kennedy was assassinated in late 1963, MAD changed the image to a covered wagon.
The MAD Frontier (Scan from Grand Comics Database.)
The 2014 Superbowl just finished, in bitter cold weather in New Jersey. But the National Football League Championship was played in even colder weather in 1962. There was no such thing as the Superbowl yet, and the Championship game was played in Yankee Stadium on December 30, 1962. Temperatures during the game were in the low teens and a raw wind with sustained speeds of 31mph was blowing steadily. Despite the cold, there were 64,892 fans watching through ski masks and scarves. People who attended remember that no one sat down but they all stood, stamping their feet and clapping hands just to avoid frostbite! Fifths of whiskey freely made their way up and down the rows to warm the fans. Other Fans tore up wooden benches in the bleachers and set fire to them for warmth! The Green Bay Packers beat the host New York Giants 16-7.
The halftime show was far different then, consisting primarily of the performance of the Cardinal Dougherty High School marching band from Philadelphia. The poor band members recall, "Our uniforms were so tight, you couldn't even get a slip on under them. We didn't have any thermal underwear. We were so cold that when we finished our pregame performance we were all crying." The horns remained mute due to the cold: lips might freeze to the metal mouthpieces.
Green Bay Packers and New York Giants logos from 1962 (from NikeBlog)
The most recent day of our ROADTRIP-‘62 TM journey down US-6 traveled through Bryan, Ohio, where we found the home of the Etch-A-Sketch at Ohio Art. The town also boasts an old time candy manufacturer, the Spangler Candy Company. They make both Dum-Dums and one of my favorite suckers, Saf-T-Pops. Travel with me and see what else I found in the farm country of northern Ohio and Indiana.
Ever wonder what happened to the old department store in your hometown? You might find it at The Department Store Museum. This blog has information about stores all over the country, including some along our US-23 and US-6 roadtrips. I’ve used it for research on the Lion Store in Toledo, Ohio among others. Also some nice photos of old credit cards and bags from department stores. Stop by and shop!
Former Parson’s department store, Ashland, Kentucky (from Highlands Museum & Discovery Center, used by permission)
If you're new here, discover what Roadtrip-'62 TM is all about and why it's always 1962 here.
Day 12 of my virtual roadtrip down US-23 found us enjoying the mountain scenery of western Virginia. We can watch the rhododendrons as we drive through Jefferson National Forest, stop at Natural Tunnel State Park, and cross the Appalachian Trail. Or hike the trail if that’s your style!
We visited the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut back on Day 5 of our US-6 Roadtrip-‘62 TM. The Wadsworth is the oldest public art museum in the United States, founded in 1842 by Daniel Wadsworth. In part because of this early start, the collection has items from all over the world and time. Currently and through May 4th, they are showing a new stop-motion animated film by filmaker Allison Schulnik. I’m a fan of stop-motion animation and if you are too, I hope you get a chance to stop by The Wadsworth.
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. (photo by Daderot at Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)
Find more about just how important newspapers were, and where else you could get the news in 1962. You couldn’t get it from the internet, but you could get news at a movie theater!
Sylvania Sentinel Herald (used by permission of Sylvania Area Historical Society)
Since we started with news from England this week, let’s end with music from that country. Matt Munro sings “Softly As I Leave You”, originally composed by Antonio De Vita with lyrics in Italian by Giorgio Calabrese. Matt’s version is the best known of many, reaching number 10 on the British charts in 1962. He began his singing career with talent contests, but won so many that he was eventually barred from competing and was given his own radio show under his birth name, Terry Parsons Sings.
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Our front page changes almost weekly, so you may have missed some fun stuff if you don't check in frequently. Check the Home Page Archives for all the previous iterations of our front page. Discover links, videos, roadtrip suggestions, and lots of news from 1962!
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In the latest post, we visit another new state, Illinois, as we skirt the edge of the Chicago metropolitan area.
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Events Calendar: happening for over 50 years!
Modernism Week, Palm Springs, California - February 13-23, 2014.
Weather for Palm Springs, California in 1962, from the National Climatic Data Center: