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


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)
  • More Fun From 1962! (everything else that sounds like fun, like special events and more pop culture)


Started Humming a Song from 1962

(April 17, 2018)

Ever find yourself cruising along the highway, when just like Bob Seger in his 1976 song “Night Moves” you’ve "Started Humming a Song from 1962"? Well of course I have; I’m often humming or whistling along with a song from 1962. Here at Roadtrip-'62 ™ we try to play nothing but songs from 1962! That year saw some big changes in music, as the British Invasion was just beginning with bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones forming. And 1962 was rich in all genres of music: rock, country, folk, classical, jazz, Broadway and movie, pop, easy listening, TV themes, R&B, blues, Motown, bluegrass, novelty, , religious, beat, surf and drag, and on and on. So turn up your pocket transistor radio and listen along with me as we cruise.

1960s Juliette pocket transistor radio
My 1960s Juliette pocket transistor radio

Just what song was Bob Seger thinking about when he wrote those lyrics "Started Humming a Song from 1962" anyway? Bob has stated in a 2011 interview that what he had in mind was The Ronettes’ song “Be My Baby”. Seems his memory is not too good though, because they didn’t record the song until 1963! The Ronettes got their start back in 1957 when Veronica Bennett started singing with her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousins Nedra Talley, Diane, and Elaine under the name “The Darling Sisters”. They even added a male cousin, Ira, to the group and signed up for a Wednesday night amateur show at the Apollo Theatre not far from their homes in New York’s Spanish Harlem. The show didn’t go well and afterward, Ira, Elaine, and Diane left the group. The remaining girls renamed themselves "Ronnie and the Relatives" and began taking singing lessons two afternoons per week. They began singing at local bar mitzvahs and sock hops and soon met a producer at Colpix Records, where they recorded four songs in June 1961. Both singles failed to chart on the Billboard Top 100 and the girls filled in as dancers at The Peppermint Lounge behind Joey Dee and the Starliters, who had started 1962 off with the #1 song “Peppermint Twist”. They became a permanent act at The Peppermint Lounge, dancing The Twist and usually singing a song. We see the newly renamed Ronettes during 1962 when Colpix issued the singles “Silhouettes" and "I'm Gonna Quit While I'm Ahead”.


Silhouettes, by The Ronettes, released in 1962. I remember the bouncier version recorded by Herman’s Hermits several years later, as that version came out in my teenage years.

Though I mentioned that many musical genres were available during 1962, the music most remembered is the Top 40 radio format. This broadcasting approach is credited to Todd Storz, who owned KOWH in Omaha, Nebraska with his father. In the early 1950s, he noticed that certain songs were played over and over on jukeboxes and figured that if people were paying to hear those songs that often, he could play them that often on the radio also. So he created a music format that focused on playing the top 40 songs as played on jukeboxes. Todd also pioneered the practice of surveying record stores to find which singles were the most popular in sales, adding those records to his format. He bought additional radio stations to spread his new format idea and in the mid-1950s Todd coined the term "top 40" to describe it. As rock and roll blossomed, the format proved easy to duplicate and teenagers loved to hear their favorite songs frequently, so Todd Storz’s format soon went national.

Another feature of Top 40 radio was the jingles used to keep the pace lively and continually promote their Top 40 countdowns. The PAMS company of Dallas, Texas created these jingles for radio stations across the country, becoming the largest supplier right through the 1970s. For example, during 1962, the majority of these promotional jingles used by WQAM of Miami, Florida were produced by PAMS. R.H. Ullman and Futursonic also produced these jingles, along with time and temperature reminders. Press the button to hear one of these jingles for the “Number 1 Tune in Miami this week” that was used on WQAM, 506-AM, during 1962. (From collection of Steven M. Geisler, used by permission.)

January 5-11, 1962 Top 40 list from San Diego’s WKDO
January 5-11, 1962 Top 40 list from San Diego’s WKDO. (Photo from John Fry, used by permission.)

And just how did listeners keep track of “Number 1 Tune in Miami this week”? By getting a copy of the list from the radio station, record store, or wherever else it was handed out. I remember getting these from a Kresge store when I was a teen, when I stopped in to buy the latest single. The list changed weekly and you could keep them on file and see the progress up and down the chart of your favorite songs and groups. I didn’t know at the time, but country music stations also used the Top 40 format and distributed weekly lists, like the one above from San Diego, California’s WKDO. In fact, there were also top 40 style charts published for R&B music and easy listening pop. Billboard magazine published all four lists, while competitor Cash Box appears to have published only one overall list. Music Vendor magazine also published a list. Here’s a sampling of information from all of these for the weeks of April 7 through April 28, 1962. (I couldn’t find lists for Cash Box’s country music and R&B music, or any lists from Music Vendor.)

  • Billboard Hot 100
    • April 7 - Johnny Angel - Shelley Fabares
    • April 14 - Johnny Angel - Shelley Fabares
    • April 21 - Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley
    • April 28 - Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley
  • Cash Box Top 100
    • April 7 - Slow Twistin' - Chubby Checker with Dee Dee Sharp
    • April 14 - Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley
    • April 21 - Johnny Angel - Shelley Fabares
    • April 28 - Mashed Potato Time - Dee Dee Sharp
  • Billboard Easy Listening
    • April 7 - Don't Break The Heart That Loves You - Connie Francis
    • April 14 - Don't Break The Heart That Loves You - Connie Francis
    • April 21 - Stranger On The Shore - Mr. Acker Bilk
    • April 28 - Stranger On The Shore - Mr. Acker Bilk
  • Billboard Hot Country & Western Sides
    • April 7 - She's Got You - Patsy Cline
    • April 14 - She's Got You - Patsy Cline
    • April 21 - She's Got You - Patsy Cline
    • April 28 - Charlie's Shoes - Billy Walker
  • Billboard Hot R&B Songs
    • April 7 - Twistin' The Night Away - Sam Cooke
    • April 14 - Soul Twist - King Curtis And The Noble Knights
    • April 21 - Soul Twist - King Curtis And The Noble Knights
    • April 28 - Mashed Potato Time - Dee Dee Sharp

As you can see, some music crossed over between genres. I remember that some radio stations played a range of genres, to try to have something for everybody. My parents usually listened to WKNX-1210 AM back then, and I heard everything above except maybe Charlie’s Shoes from the country list and Don’t Break the Heart That Loves you from the easy listening list. They were probably played too, but just not enough that I remember them. Stations like that, playing most musical genres, were pretty common back then, but began seriously splintering in the 1990s. As fully automated playlists became more popular to save stations the cost of live on-air staff, they focused ever more tightly on formats for specific markets and the wide array of genres that was previously broadcast began to disappear.


Elvis Presley performing “Good Luck Charm” from his 1962 single, which was #1 in early April.

One popular music broadcast that didn’t fit any genre was on television: Sing Along With Mitch. Looking back today, this was an unlikely show to have been a ratings smash, but it was. This series debuted as monthly specials in January, 1961 and was such a hit that the program went weekly after returning in the fall. The show ran on NBC on Thursday nights at 10:00pm Eastern time, during the 1961-1964 seasons. In the end, the show was still at the height of its popularity, but the show's audience skewed too much toward mature viewers and the advertisers were more interested in targeting the youth market. The odd feature of the show was that it was basically a sing-along, showcasing mostly old songs. The singers were not even the popular singers of the day, though a few appeared, but a large male chorale under the name "Mitch Miller and the Gang." The music was all Mitch Miller’s distinctive arrangements. Previous to the show, Mitch Miller had been a largely behind-the-scenes band leader and musical arranger. The sing-along portion of the show actually featured a forerunner of karaoke, with lyrics displayed at the bottom of the TV screen along with a bouncing ball to keep you on rhythm!

Classical music was a genre that, as today, struggled to find a place on radio in 1962. Most classical music seems to have been broadcast on stations in the nation’s largest cities, as they were the only places with large enough audiences to be profitable. Public radio, where most classical music is heard today, had not yet become a factor. One of the oldest stations with a classical format is WQXR in New York City, which went on the air in 1936. The station began on AM radio and later moved to the FM dial. In addition to recorded music, it also broadcast local concerts of classical music and this is where it became an early experimenter in stereo broadcasting in 1952. During some of its live concerts, it used two microphones positioned six feet apart. As part of complicated three-way deal in 2009, the station moved to a new frequency and became a non-commercial public radio station operated by New York Public Radio. As with most public radio, it still broadcasts classical music at some time during the day.

Karl Haas in his Detroit WJR studio, 1966
Karl Haas in his Detroit studio in 1966. (Public Domain photo from a promotional film "WJR: One of a Kind", by the Jam Handy Organization.)

Another big city classical station began broadcasting in 1962. WCLV, Cleveland, Ohio, was established as a commercial, classical station that year and has been on the air ever since. They also changed frequencies and became a non-commercial station, now owned by non-profit WCLV Foundation. Detroit, Michigan was another hotbed of classical music in 1962, being the home station for Karl Haas’ “Adventures in Good Music”. The show began in 1959 on WJR 760-AM in Detroit and became radio’s most listened-to classical music program after becoming nationally syndicated in 1970. The host, Karl Haas, was born in Speyer, Palatinate, Germany in 1913 and being Jewish, left Germany in 1936 with the rise of Nazism. His broadcast career began in Detroit in 1950, where he hosted a weekly preview of concerts performed by the Detroit Symphony. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcast just across the border, asked him to talk about the music on the air and eventually he began “Adventures in Good Music”. The show was awarded the Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting in 1962. Karl Haas was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997 and is the only classical music host who’s been so honored.


George Jones performing “She Thinks I Still Care” on the Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry television show, February 12, 1962.

Country music, then known as country and western, was a big music genre in 1962, just as it is today. So big that United Record Pressing opened a record manufacturing plant in Memphis, Tennessee in 1962. They have since grown to become one of the 3 largest record pressing companies in the world, and are still located in the same building. I mentioned above that I didn’t remember hearing Charlie’s Shoes from the country song list above, but there are others I do remember because they crossed over to radio stations that played a bit of everything. Here’s just a few of the country hits of 1962 that I recall; my local station seems to have had a thing going for Burl Ives! In just two years, the whole country would know him as Sam the Snowman on the Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special.

  • She Thinks I Still Care - George Jones
  • Wolverton Mountain - Claude King
  • Crazy - Patsy Cline
  • It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' - Johnny Tillotson
  • PT-109 - Jimmy Dean
  • Old Rivers - Walter Brennan
  • Funny Way of Laughin' - Burl Ives
  • A Little Bitty Tear - Burl Ives
  • Call Me Mr. In-Between - Burl Ives

And of course, who can forget “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs? This theme song for “The Beverly Hillbillies” was played everywhere, as the show was watched by everyone. And I’m sure it brought a lot of new listeners to country and bluegrass music during 1962 and afterward. Another phenomena that brought a lot of new listeners to the genre was Ray Charles, who released “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” in 1962, against the wishes of his record label who thought he would lose all his established R&B fans. But Ray had a childhood full of the sounds of jazz, blues, gospel and country, and they melded into his unique style. The album gave him his third #1 hit, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and became the biggest-selling album of 1962, occupying the top spot on the Billboard album chart for 14 weeks. In other country music news of 1962, Loretta Lynn was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and Roy Acuff to the Country Music Hall of Fame, becoming its first living member. Speaking of Loretta Lynn, she is one of the many country artists we discussed along our US-23 roadtrip episode “Country Music Along the Highway”.


Compilation of twisting dance scenes from the early 1960's with Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee & The Starliters.

Another award of note is Tony Bennett’s win of The Grammy Award for Best Record for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, which was a top-10 single in 1962. The year was also known as The Year of The Twist, starting off with a bang when Chubby Checker’s 1960 hit “The Twist” returned as the #1 song in January. Many other artists recorded songs about the dance during 1962, with seven others becoming hits. These included “The Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee & The Starliters, “Twistin' The Night Away” by Sam Cooke, “Twist, Twist Senora” by Gary U.S. Bonds, “Soul Twist” by King Curtis And The Noble Knights, and “Slow Twistin' “ by Chubby Checker himself with Dee Dee Sharp, trying to keep his dance craze going.

The Beatles were still just an obscure group in Liverpool, England in 1962. In 1961, they had recorded with Tony Sheridan as the Beat Brothers. During early 1962, they were rejected for a recording contract after an audition with Decca records in the England. The Beatles came to their final form later in the year when they fired drummer Pete Best and replaced him with Ringo Starr. They recorded "Love Me Do" during September and released it in October in England, and within two years would take the United States by storm. The Rolling Stones, now the world’s oldest rock band, also formed that year, playing their first concert on July 12, 1962 at London's Marquee club. And Bob Dylan released his first album “Bob Dylan”, which contained folk standards and only two original compositions. Dylan would hit it big next year with an album of original songs including "Blowin' in the Wind". The Beach Boys hit the charts a year before any of them, however, releasing the album “Surfin USA” in 1962. There were several memorable hits from the album, including the title track and “409”. Along with Dick Dale, they got the California surf and drag genre established.


Fusing jazz and pop, Dave Brubeck and Tony Bennett perform “That Old Black Magic” at the White House Seminar American Jazz Concert on the Sylvan Theater grounds, Washington, DC, August 28, 1962.

One genre that didn’t get a lot of radio airplay was jazz. Plenty was happening there, though, that would influence music for decades to come. Albums were released by Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz And Charlie Byrd, John Coltrane, Herbie Mann, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, and others. And jazz had its place at the 4th Annual Grammy Awards, where Stan Kenton won Best Jazz Performance – Large Group (Instrumental) for “Kenton's West Side Story”. The Newport Jazz Festival was in its 7th year by 1962, held at Freebody Park in Newport, Rhode Island. The 1962 Festival is documented in a film and featured the Oscar Peterson Trio, Roland Kirk, Duke Ellington, and the Count Basie Orchestra, among many others.

In an odd offshoot of jazz, the Swingle Singers formed in 1962 and presented their jazzed-up, be-bop arrangements of classical music to the world. This was an a cappella group that used only their voices instead of instruments to perform the music of Bach, Mozart, and even contemporary songs. They were formed in Paris and became very popular in the United States, winning Grammy Awards in 1964 and 1965. The group was a double-quartet, consisting of Alice Herald and Anne Germain on alto, Christiane Legrand and Jeanette Baucomont on soprano, Claude Germain and Ward Swingle on tenor, and Jean Cussac and José Germain on bass. Their breakout album, “Jazz Sebastian Bach “, was recorded in 1962 and released the next year. The group still exists, though none of the original members are currently singing with it.


The Swingle Singers performing “Largo from the Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F minor” by J. S. Bach, recorded in 1962.

For information on some other musical genres, I suggest you try Roadtrip-'62’s ™ page Christmas in 1962 for Christmas songs. Some of the Christmas songs that charted during 1962 were re-releases from earlier years though, like Jingle Bell Rock from 1957 and the Chipmunks’ Christmas song from 1960. You might also check Happy 50th Birthday 1962! for some great party music or US-23 From Sea to Inland Sea - Day 18 for R&B artists like Little Richard. Motown Records was pumping out records, but they still hadn’t differentiated themselves from standard R&B music. Artists like Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, and the Temptations were trying and missing at getting to the top of the charts. One of the highest charting of the Motown songs from 1962 is The Contours’ “Do You Love Me”, written by Motown’s founder Berry Gordy, Jr., which peaked at #3 on October 20.

So, if I were to start humming a song from 1962, what song would it be? Tough choice; there a lot of good songs that year and I remember many of them. So here’s my personal Top 62 from the year, taken from the weekly Billboard Top 100 lists and presented alphabetically by artist. And since I was only 9 years old, the list includes quite a few songs I remember my parents listening to. There’s also something you don’t see in modern playlists: a lot of instrumentals. Good musicians were still in demand back then. So now you know what I’m listening to as I take Roadtrip-'62 ™ to the next destination down the road!


Vince Guaraldi Trio performing “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” on their 1962 single. And yes, it’s the same guys who brought us the wonderful music of A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965.

table of favorite songs, 1962
Author’s favorite songs from 1962.

It's All Good Luck and Good Travel on US-13

(April 3, 2018)

Well, a few weeks ago we traveled west on US-12, so this week Roadtrip-'62 ™ heads back east to travel US-13. This highway runs from Morrisville, Pennsylvania to Fayetteville, North Carolina, 517 miles overall. It crosses through Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. And though it runs across the entire north-south dimension of Delaware, it crosses a mere 36 miles of Maryland. Highway US-13 crossed neither our US-6 nor US-23 roadtrip. But we did meet it in one other post, at Wilmington, Delaware, when I discussed route US-202.

Pennypack Creek Bridge, Frankford Avenue (US-13), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennypack Creek Bridge, Frankford Avenue (US-13), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Public domain photo from Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey.)

As US-13 travels through north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it crosses the oldest surviving roadway bridge in the United States. The Pennypack Bridge was constructed in 1697 (yes, over 300 years ago) and is a three span, twin stone arch bridge over Pennypack Creek. It was built to connect William Penn’s mansion and the cities of New York and Boston with the new city of Philadelphia and was an important link on the King's Highway. Parts of that highway from Trenton, New Jersey to Philadelphia are now US-13. The bridge was originally only ten feet wide but it was widened in 1893 to accommodate streetcars. It was widened again in 1950 to its current width, to better accommodate automobile traffic.

But an even more famous landmark in Philadelphia was also open for visitors in 1962. If you were driving US-13 through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, no doubt you would have stopped to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The bell weighs about 2000 pounds. It is made of 70% copper, 25% tin, and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver. It hangs from what is believed to be its original wooden yoke. At the time of the American Revolution and still in 1962, it hung in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. In 1976, the Liberty Bell was moved to a glass pavilion in href="" target="_blank" >Independence National Historical Park where it can be viewed by the public 24 hours a day.

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (public domain photo from Independence National Historical Park.)

After passing through downtown Philadelphia, US-13 runs within a few blocks of the Philadelphia Zoo, located on the west side of the Schuylkill River. This is credited with being the first true zoo in the United States, and was opened in 1874. It opened with 1,000 animals, which even today is a large zoo, as it currently has about 1,300 animals. In its early years, it also housed animals obtained from safaris on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, which had not yet built the National Zoo in Washington, DC. It started as about 11 acres but has grown to 42 acres today, and nearly all of the original buildings and exhibits have been replaced, mostly after 1962. But because of the landscaping, there is still a Victorian garden atmosphere in some areas. In keeping with the Victorian times when the Philadelphia Zoological Garden opened, it included a carriage house for the horses that visitors arrived on. The Philadelphia Zoo currently features a children's zoo, a paddleboat lake, and a rainforest themed carousel. Also on the grounds is The Solitude, an elegant English manor style house that was the home of William Penn’s grandson, John Penn. It was built in 1784 before the zoo existed, but was included in the land the zoo leased when it opened. The Solitude still sits within its original landscaping on the bank of the Schuylkill River.

Noah's Ark, Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, postcard, late 1950s
Noah's Ark, Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, postcard circa late 1950s (from online auction)

Before you leave Philadelphia, be sure to grab a real Philly Cheesesteak at one of the many restaurants serving this authentic local sandwich. For those who may not know what a cheesesteak is, you start with a long, crusty roll and fill it with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef. Melted cheese goes on top, generally Cheez Whiz, and often fried onions. Other toppings may include different cheeses, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup and hot or sweet peppers, but these are just frills and not part of the authentic cheesesteak. The sandwich began in 1930 when a South Philadelphia hot dog vendor named Pat Olivieri decided to put some beef and onions on his grill. The aroma attracted local taxicab drivers and Pat opened a shop selling his concoction on 9th Street in 1940, now known as Pat’s King of Steaks. Cheese was added about 20 years later, possibly by competitor Joe Vento. Cheesesteaks are now a Philadelphia civic icon, a tourist draw and a cultural obsession, and are often imitated around the world. Just a few of the many places to get an authentic cheesesteak are Pat’s King of Steaks, still owned and operated by the Olivieri family, and his long-time competitor across the street, Geno’s Steaks. John’s Roast Pork is another favorite, also opened in 1930 and known for using a seeded roll. Other long-time purveyors of the sandwich are Dalessandro’s Steaks and Cosmi’s Deli, which has been around since the 1930s. And Shank’s Original opened in 1962! The cheesesteak is literally everywhere in Philadelphia, in varying quality, at steak shops, delis, food trucks, pizzerias and even some high-end restaurants.

Delaware State Capitol (Legislative Hall), Dover, Delaware
Delaware State Capitol (or Legislative Hall), Dover, Delaware (Public domain photo by Joshua Daniel Franklin.)

Moving on to Delaware, we soon come to Dover, the state capital. The Delaware Legislative Hall was dedicated in 1933 after two years of construction. In keeping with the colonial history of the state, it is designed in a Georgian Revival style, built of handmade brick, and decorated with an 18th century style interior. Legislative Hall replaced the old State House, which has been restored to its 18th-century appearance and is now a museum located across from Legislative Hall on the mall. Besides formal chambers for the Senate and House of Representatives, it supplies office space for the Delaware General Assembly’s staff agencies. The building is quite a bit larger today than we would have seen in 1962, as it was subject to additions in the 1965-1970 period and again in 1994. Guided tours of Legislative Hall are given daily and include the Hall of Governors, which includes portraits of all of Delaware's governors.

South of Dover, US-13 is notable for being the main thoroughfare for the Delmarva Peninsula and though it has not been replaced by an interstate freeway, US-13 has been widened to a divided highway for almost the entire length of the peninsula. It’s most spectacular feature, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, did not exist in 1962, being opened to traffic two years later. In 1962 we would have crossed the bay via ferry service. The vehicle ferry had operated from the tip of the peninsula since the 1930s, moving US-13 across the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. It was operated by a private corporation, Virginia Ferry Corporation, with a fleet of large and modern ships. By the time the service ended in 1964, it was operating as many as 90 one-way trips each day, but there were still lengthy crossing delays due to heavy traffic and often poor weather. This was partly achieved after 1954, when the Virginia General Assembly acquired the private ferry corporation through bond financing. The Bay-Bridge Tunnel is one of only ten bridge–tunnel systems in the world, three of which are located in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. The 12-mile bridge–tunnel system saves drivers 95 miles of travel and ​1.5 hours when driving between Virginia Beach and the Delaware Valley area, all without going through the traffic congestion of the Baltimore–Washington, DC area. And it preserves ship traffic without the obstruction of bridge piers across the shipping lanes.

Northbound toll gate, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Northbound toll gate of Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia Beach, Virginia

After passing through Virginia, US-13 ends midway through North Carolina near Fort Bragg Military Reservation. Fort Bragg is the largest military installation in the world by population, with more than 50,000 active duty personnel. It covers over 251 square miles and is named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg. It is the home of the United States Army's XVIII Airborne Corps and the headquarters of the United States Army Special Operations Command. Camp Bragg was established in 1918 as an artillery training ground when the Army was seeking an area of suitable terrain, adequate water, rail facilities and a suitable climate for year-round training after the end of World War I. Due to the post-war cutbacks, the camp was nearly closed for good in 1921. By 1940, the population of Fort Bragg was 5,400 but ramped up to 67,000 the following year, as World War II approached. After the war, the 82nd Airborne Division was permanently stationed at Fort Bragg, and in 1951, the XVIII Airborne Corps was reactivated there. During the Cold War of the 1950s, Fort Bragg became a center for unconventional warfare with the creation of the Psychological Warfare Center and the 10th Special Forces Group. In 1961, the 5th Special Forces Group was activated at Fort Bragg, to train forces bound for Southeast Asia. President John F. Kennedy visited the fort that year and made the wearing of the Green Beret a part of official dress. In early 1962, the 326th Army Security Agency Company, which had been de-activated after the Korean War, was reactivated. Also in 1962, an operational contingent of that Company was relocated to Homestead AFB in Florida, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Despite it being an active military base, there are several tourist attractions on the site. I guess I should do something different and visit! We can choose from the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum, which tells the history of the 82nd, or the JFK Special Warfare Museum, which tells the history of the special forces and psychological operations. There are also some cemeteries on site, including the Longstreet and Shady Grove Churches and cemeteries, where many Civil War dead are buried. And you can sometimes watch paratroopers training at the Sicily Drop Zone. That’s something new for Roadtrip-'62 ™ , so I think I’ll try that! See you later in 1962.

United States Army paratroopers training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
United States Army paratroopers training in a jump at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Public domain photo by Jonas N. Jordan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library)

Putting for Fun - Miniature Golf in 1962

(March 21, 2018)

This week, we’re going to run all around the country and take a look at miniature golf. Mini golf has long been one of my favorites and it’s extra fun when played on a good roadtrip. Roadtrip-'62 ™ even has a connection to the game, as my previous business was ownership of a set of portable mini golf courses back in the 1990s. I rented these out for company picnics, festivals, and personal parties, along with a variety of other games and inflatable bounce houses. One of the places I bought mini golf equipment like clubs and score stands from was Witek Golf, which has been in business since 1946. But the game is much older than that: let’s look at some history of miniature golf.

Party Golf portable miniature golf course, 1988.
The author’s Party Golf portable miniature golf course, 1988.

Some people credit the first miniature golf course in the world to the Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, in 1867. The game was used as a women’s pastime because it was deemed more ladylike than regular golf, as the ladies did not need to swing with their arms above their shoulders. I’m not sure that a putting club qualifies as true mini golf though. The first acknowledged course in the United States was on the private estate course of James Barber of Pinehurst, North Carolina, who hired Edward H. Wiswell in 1916 to design a miniature course that duplicated the elements of a regular golf course. His course appeared in the pages of Country Life magazine in 1920 and captured national attention. It came at an opportune time, for the Roaring 20s not only had money flowing, but women were moving into new activities outside the home and after Prohibition began, men were moving away from drinking activities. Mini golf provided a new venue for fun and caused a full-fledged national obsession.

We can still find some remnants of that early mini golf boom. For example, Allison's Miniature Golf in Geneva On The Lake, Ohio, was established in 1924 and is now the oldest continuously open miniature golf course in the United States. Courses opened on vacant lots everywhere, and indoors at posh hotels. And where there were no vacant lots, people innovated: by 1926, someone had opened a rooftop miniature golf course on a New York City skyscraper! One problem with all the early courses was a lack of a durable playing surface: grass required constant care and soon turned into mud or dust from constant foot traffic. A mixture of ground cottonseed hulls and oil had been developed by Thomas McCulloch Fairborn in 1922 that was sold commercially and used by many courses, as appropriate outdoor carpet had not been invented. This surfacing was used by the Tom Thumb Golf company, which sold mass-produced concrete figures and obstacles such as gnomes, hollow logs, and miniature buildings. The Tom Thumb courses were a patented course design created by Garnet and Frieda Carter, owners of the Fairyland Inn in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They created a miniature golf course at their resort in 1926 and a few years later began selling the design and obstacles. By 1930, despite the Great Depression, there were over 3,000 Tom Thumb courses around the country, in addition to many thousands more home-built courses. In fact, miniature golf became a nationwide craze: songs and editorial cartoons were written to it, a new trade magazine for the owners, ”Minature Golf Management” was published, and a tournament was held which offered a $7,5000 prize!

Tom Thumb Golf course at Ocean View, Norfolk, Virginia, 1920s postcard
Tom Thumb Golf course at Ocean View, Norfolk, Virginia, 1920s (postcard from online auction)

It’s estimated that over 25,000 courses were open to play by 1930. Competition became tough in many places, with owners resorting to publicity stunts and increasingly unusual and grand obstacles. Replicas of geysers, natural wonders, Chinese and other cultural décor, and even the Taj Mahal were constructed. During the 1930s, essentially all of the features we see as typical mini golf were developed: buildings, water features, loop-the-loops, the 18th hole that returns the ball to the clubhouse, scoring tables, windmills, bridges, multi-hole greens, and landscaping. A miniature golf course was even constructed at the presidential summer camp in Camp David, Maryland for President Hoover’s family! In an attempt to control the mania, the United States Golf Association unsuccessfully tried to fold miniature golf into its rules and tournament system. But as the Depression deepened, people’s ability to spend even small amounts of money on entertainment started to dry up. Combined with over-saturation of courses, too many local regulations against noise, zoning and taxes, the bottom dropped out of the game by the end of 1931.

By the mid-1930s, miniature golf had died down, but it enjoyed a resurgence in the 1950s, as tourism ballooned along with interstate freeways, new motels, new suburbs, and increased income and leisure time. Owners began to split into two camps: those who built ever more unusual courses for pure fun, and those who built standardized courses for serious play. Putt-Putt Golf was founded in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1954. They grew into the largest chain of miniature golf courses, at one time having sites in courses in the United States, Australia, Indonesia, and even Lebanon. They opted for serious play, using short holes designed so that a hole-in-one can be scored on any hole with a skillful putt and a calculated bank shot because the metal rails facilitate accurate caroms. Obstacles are usually limited to small hills, metal baffles, pipes, and small water hazards. Because of their predictable play and need for skill, when ESPN broadcasts a miniature golf tournament, it is always at a Putt-Putt course. Many locations are now known as Putt-Putt Fun Centers and feature go-karts, bumper boats, indoor bumper cars, batting cages, laser tag, arcades, and snack bars in addition to mini golf. The franchise is much diminished from what we would have seen in 1962, as, there are Putt-Putt courses in only 14 states today, mostly in the south.

Rainbow Golf Gardens ad, Lorain, Ohio, 1930
Rainbow Golf Gardens ad, 1930. Rainbow Golf Gardens was located on US-6 in Lorain, Ohio, from 1930 to 1936. (Photo by Dan Brady at Brady’s Lorain County Nostalgia, used by permission.)

Lomma Enterprises was founded in 1955 in Scranton, Pennsylvania (also on our US-6 roadtrip) and went for the wacky courses with trick shots. This style of course became the norm, and today most mini golf courses include holes that are impossible to get a hole-in-one on. Most also have themes, such as a story book, jungle, space, or pirates, along with manmade mountains, lakes, caves and waterfalls. Besides franchised businesses, as with many things in the 1950s, there was also a strong do-it-yourself trend. Interesting courses could be constructed with not much more than concrete, carpet, and 2x4s, along with some nice landscaping. These simple courses were often located with mom and pop motels or public parks. All of this diversity has made miniature golf a truly American art form that continued to evolve after the 1960s. In the 1970s, entrepreneurs in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, gave a big boost to the themed course idea with Junglegolf. They were followed in the 1980s with Adventure Golf in Traverse City, Michigan and a chain of Pirate’s Cove adventure golf courses. Today’s indoor courses have also become more attention-grabbing with glow-in-the-dark features, LED lighting and other lighting effects.

Now that we know the history of miniature golf, let’s look at some of the courses we could have played in 1962 that are still around, in no particular order. Novelty Golf and Games of Lincolnwood, Illinois, has been open for over 60 years. It’s located just off the intersection of US-14 and US-41 and includes a classic burger, hot dog and ice cream shop called The Bunny Hutch. As with many mini golf businesses, it’s only open during the summer, from April through mid-October. They not only have two 18-hole courses, but also batting cages and a vintage game room. Another old-time course in the Chicago area is Par-King, which opened in 1955 in Morton Grove, Illinois. The country’s leading trade magazine has called it “Minigolf’s Taj Mahal” and noted it as the most elaborate 18-hole mini golf in the country. They have since moved to a spot on US-45 in nearby Lincolnshire, Illinois in 1977 and doubled the size. They also added even more elaborate obstacles and decorative items based on a Chicago area theme, including a 9ft-tall roller coaster hole and a model of the Sears Tower where the ball takes a ride up the elevator!

Cedar Point amusement park mini golf course, Sandusky, Ohio, 1960s postcard
Cedar Point amusement park mini golf course, Sandusky, Ohio, 1960s (postcard from an online auction)

Florida’s oldest mini golf course is Bayfront Mini Golf, just off US-1 in St. Augustine, Florida. It has been on the marina since 1949, offering scenic and historic views of the Bridge of Lions along with the golf. Even though the course is old, it has recently been renovated to restore it to its original look, without the waterfalls and other gimmicks commonly seen today. It’s a simple putting course with lovely hedges for landscaping. In keeping with its historic aspect, in 2013 the city began the process to place Bayfront Mini Golf on the National Registry of Historic Places. Another old-fashioned course is Farmington Miniature Golf & Ice Cream Parlor, family owned and operated since 1962. It is located in Farmington, Connecticut just 3 miles off our US-6 roadtrip, and includes a few traditional hazards like a windmill on its well-landscaped grounds. Another course that opened in 1962 is Memphis Championship Miniature Golf at Memphis Kiddie Park near Cleveland, Ohio. This course is a classic test of skill, with each hole designed to allow a skilled golfer to score a hole-in-one. The amusement park is about 3 miles off of US-42 and also has a mini roller coaster, train, and other rides.

Miniature golf courses were added to many amusement parks in the early 1960s. As noted on our US-6 roadtrip visit to Cedar Point, Ohio, their Cedar Classic Miniature Golf opened in 1961. Adventureland amusement park in East Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, opened in 1962 with a mini golf course. When opened, it included just a few rides like a carousel, small train, Little Dipper Coaster, and kiddie boats. It has since grown to thirty rides including two roller coasters and three water rides. Unfortunately, the mini golf course was replaced with Adventure Falls, a log flume water ride, in 2001. Even Disneyland added a mini golf course in 1961, though at the Disneyland Hotel and not in the theme park itself. The hotel had a putting green since 1956 and added a full 18-hole golf course, a driving range, and a unique 18-hole miniature golf course adjacent to the Disneyland Hotel. Of course, the mini golf course was outfitted with miniature copies of some of the theme park buildings such as Cinderella’s castle, and featured popular Disney characters. The driving range and miniature golf course were shut down in 1978.

Wellfleet Drive-In mini golf, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Wellfleet Drive-In mini golf, Wellfleet, Massachusetts

On both our US-23 and US-6 roadtrips, we passed several other courses that were around in 1962. A couple are still in business but most are not. Dinosaur Gardens, on US-23 in Ossineke, Michigan, has a miniature golf course in addition to concrete dinosaurs and a gift shop that boasts "Everything dinosaur!" Just a few miles off US-23, adjacent to Bay City State Park in Bay City, Michigan, there was a mini golf course and roller skating rink. There was also a Putt-Putt brand course on US-23 itself. Both are gone today but there is a new mini golf course across the street from the park, with a modern mountain and waterfall. Running east to west on our US-6 journey, we passed a course at Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where the Wellfleet Drive-In Theater added a course in 1962 that is still in operation with the original obstacles. The Family Drive-In Theatre in Kane, Pennyslvania opened in 1952 and includes a 9-hole mini golf course. Another old-style flat course is Putter-Port Mini Golf in Vermilion, Ohio. This classic course includes an old metal loop-the-loop hazard. Moline Mini-Golf was another of the old-style courses, near King Plaza in Moline, Iowa. It seems to have closed recently. And the Zeckendorf Plaza in downtown Denver, Colorado once included an outdoor skating rink reminiscent of New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, and a miniature golf course. The plaza and its surrounding buildings were completed in 1960 but replaced by other buildings in the late 1990s.

Besides the songs and other cultural artifacts of the heyday of miniature golf from the 1930s, the game continues to have unusual influences on pop culture. In 1962, Milton Bradley introduced a tabletop miniature golf game called Pivot Golf. It was invented by Marvin Glass and consisted of a bunch of tiny plastic replicas of typical mini golf obstacles like chutes. You putted by aiming a Golfer figure and pushing a button, causing the spring-loaded Golfer to swing his club and hit a ball toward each hole. Perhaps its strangest feature was that Lucille Ball endorsed it on the cover of the box! And apparently playing miniature golf helped you score with the girls, as Playboy Magazine’s Miss December 1962, June Cochran, mentioned in her magazine bio that she loves twisting, miniature golf, Corvettes, and shish kabob.

Pivot Golf game box top, by Milton Bradley, 1962 (from online auction)
Pivot Golf game box top, by Milton Bradley, 1962 (from online auction)

Time now for Roadtrip-'62 ™ to play some mini golf. I’m not going to get as crazy as Dan Caprera, who spent 78 days on a roadtrip adventure sleeping in his car, driving to Alaska, and traveling 20,681 miles across America playing mini golf, but I will be hunting for some more old-style courses. And first, I will check Dan’s ”America’s Best Mini Golf” guide for some ideas. His quest took him everywhere from the corn fields of Iowa to the schooners of Maine and he believes he found the best course in America, and the best course in each state and Washington, DC. There’s sure to be one near you!


More National News Headlines from 1962

(February 27, 2018)

In today’s look at the national news of 1962, Roadtrip-'62 ™ will compare some of the news of today with news of that year. We also looked at some headlines in our post . Big recent headlines have involved United States immigration policy, the Federal budget, passenger train crashes, mass shootings, and our ongoing military actions around the world. So, how do each of those situations compare to what happened in 1962?


Immigration in 1962

United States immigration statistics chart, 1900-2017
United States immigration statistics chart, 1900-2017 (Data from United States Census and American Community Survey.)

Annual immigration into the United States was actually very small in 1962, with only about 280,000 people admitted, compared to over 838,000 fifty years earlier. The 1962 figure was only about one-fifth of the 2016 figure of 1.49 million immigrants to the United States. And the number of foreign-born persons living in the country was also much smaller around 1962. Figures for 1965 (the closest I could find) state that only 5% of the population, or about 9.6 million people were foreign-born, compared to 13.5%, or 43.3 million in 2015. This is a huge increase, so it is not surprising that many people feel it has changed the whole of American society and culture. It is also just barely below the peak of 14.8%, which was reached in 1890, when the country still had the buffer of sparsely-settled lands in the west.

Immigration laws in effect in 1962 were largely passed after World War II and were very restrictive. For example, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 set quotas for aliens with skills needed in the US and increased the power of the federal government to deport illegal immigrants suspected of being Communist sympathizers. Many low-skilled workers came in though, under a 1942 agreement between the United States and Mexico known as the Bracero Program. This program allowed young male Mexicans to enter as guest farm workers on six-month visas each year. Between 1942 and 1964, as many as 4.6 million Mexicans came to work under the Bracero Program, with many workers renewing their visas or entering the program multiple times. However, many also stayed illegally, so in 1954 the Immigration and Naturalization Service began Operation Wetback to roundup and deport immigrants without proper documentation in selected areas of California, Arizona, and Texas along the border. The Bracero Program ended in 1964, sowing the seed of our current illegal immigration problem with Mexico

Clerks typing forms and fingerprint cards for applicants at Rio Vista Reception Center, El Paso, Texas
Clerks typing forms and fingerprint cards for applicants at Rio Vista Reception Center, El Paso, Texas. (Undated public domain photo from US Citizenship and Immigration Services History Library.)

The biggest immigration concern around 1962 was with people fleeing the newly Communist regime in Cuba. When Fidel Castro’s rebels overthrew the Cuban government in 1959, many Cubans moved to the United States in what they originally thought would be a temporary exile. By 1962, 119,922 people had arrived. Because of Cold War concerns about Communism, most Cubans who arrived were admitted under special humanitarian provisions citing Communist oppression in Cuba. These people were primarily of Cuba’s elite and maneuvered through the immigration system well, obtaining immigrant, student, and tourist visas, or entering the United States indirectly through countries such as Canada, where they applied for US visas. Also, about 14,000 unaccompanied minors arrived in the United States in 1960 and 1961 through a US program known as "Operation Pedro Pan.” In 1966, Congress passed the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act, which formally allowed a legal status to both new immigrants and those already present in the United States.

Besides the end of the Bracero Program and the amnesty for Cubans, other changes were on the horizon for immigration laws. The 1962 Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, which took effect the next year, provided that the United States would admit 1 refugee for every 4 who were accepted by the rest of the world in any one year. A companion bill permitted 23,000 non-quota aliens to enter from countries with oversubscribed quotas, split with 7,000 as skilled specialists and 6,000 as close relatives of US citizens, the beginning of chain migration. By 1965, the Hart-Celler Act repealed the national-origin quotas altogether and initiated a visa system for family reunification and skills.


The Federal Budget in 1962

chart of Federal spending by budget segment, 1962
Chart of Federal spending by budget segment, 1962. (Data from US Office of Management and Budget.)

The federal budget of 1962 was a record peacetime budget and at $101.3 billion, Congress became known as “the first $100 billion Congress”. It topped the previous year by $5 billion but was less than President Kennedy requested because foreign aid was cut, a $5.7 billion request for public schools was denied, and the Medicaid proposal was not passed. Congress sent more money to defense than the President requested, and spent nearly $1 trillion on infrastructure projects. They also raised federal employee wages almost all across the board. Congress also refused to establish a new Department of Urban Affairs and Housing. It should be noted that eventually, this new department was created, along with the Medicaid program and heavy expenditures of federal dollars for education throughout the states. By 2017, federal expenditures for health care, such as Medicaid, would account for 25% of the budget!

Even back in 1962 the deficit problem was recognized by the Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, Representative Clarence Cannon, “We are continuously and consistently spending more than we take in, much of it for non-defense purposes, and loading it on our grandchildren and their children’s children.“ Depending on which method was used in calculations, the 1962 fiscal year came in at a deficit of between $4.5 and $6.3 billion. History has shown that Representative Cannon was correct: the 2017 budget deficit was up to $666 billion, about 100 times that of 1962! And the total accumulated public debt is now $14.7 Trillion, which, assuming there will even be an attempt to pay it off, will last long into our grandchildrens’ childrens’ lives.


Passenger Train Crashes of 1962

Passenger train crashes have been in our news lately, and things were no different in 1962. Serious passenger train crashes were not rare worldwide, with one in Iran killing 49 people, one in Columbia killing 40, Romania had 32 fatalities in one incident, and Yugoslavia 24. There were also six deadly crashes in the United Kingdom (Great Britain), two in Italy, and single incidents in Japan, Netherlands, Argentina, France, Poland, and Mexico. Here in the United States, there were the following six accidents worth noting.


In May, 16 people were injured when a freight train derailed in Ravenna, Ohio due to a broken spring in a gondola car. The freight train hit a passenger train heading the opposite direction as it derailed. Video shows some of the aftermath and cleanup beginning at 4:21 in.


In March, the wreck of the North Coast Limited at Granite Lake, Idaho killed just 2 people, the engineer and fireman of the train. Apparently due to human error in determining setting of brakes for a curve, the lead locomotive left the tracks at between 75-80mph, tumbled through the air, slammed into some flat land below, and finally slid into a lake. Fortunately, this action caused the rest of the train to hit the curve at lower speeds, so the passenger cars slid to a stop without falling into the lake. The train's brakes were of a type that needed to be "set up" well in advance of reduced-speed zones, and this was a 30mph zone. There was an "advance warning reduce speed" ahead of the curve but too close to have any significant effect if the brakes had not already been prepared properly. As a result of this crash, the whole segment of track through this area was rebuilt in 1965 with gentler curves.

In June, another crash occurred for the North Coast Limited, this time at Evaro Hill in Montana. This crash unfortunately involved just about the worst in human error: both the engineer and fireman were drunk. This resulted in both men falling asleep, missing a required brake check and speed reduction as the train began coming downhill after reaching the summit under high throttle. The train speed increased to 87mph when it hit a curve that was supposed to be only a 30mph curve, resulting in four diesel engines overturning and careening down an embankment, dragging 15 of the train's 17 cars with them. Fortunately, only one person died, though 219 of the 350 passengers were injured and required hospital treatment.

Photos from ICC investigation of Woodside, NY train wreck, 1962
Photos from ICC investigation of Woodside, NY train wreck. (Public domain photos from Interstate Commerce Commission.)

The worst train wreck in the United States in 1962 was the Baseball Special that derailed near Steelton, Pennsylvania, which killed 19 people. Another 119 were injured when five train cars jumped off the track and the two cars that were carrying passengers landed in the Susquehanna River. Initial rescue work was largely done by volunteers who were first on the scene, and was somewhat hampered because the tracks were electrified and there were sparks flying. Some of the bodies were so mangled they had to be identified from fingerprints. The train was a special run to Philadelphia, taking fans to a baseball game. Later that evening at the game, a moment of silence was observed at Connie Mack Stadium for the crash victims. The game went on, with the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-2.

In August, there was a collision at Woodside, New York between a pile-driving crane and a passenger train on the Long Island Railroad. This resulted in the death of one passenger, and the injury of 31 passengers and 7 railroad employees. Railroad employees were the only fatalities in a train-truck crash in Chandler, Texas in November. In this incident, a freight train hit an oil tank truck, which exploded and further caused one of the six locomotives to explode. Three members of the train crew died, though the truck driver escaped with only second degree burns.


Mass School Shootings in 1962

Lauderdale Manors Elementary School 3rd Grade Class, 1962-1963, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Lauderdale Manors Elementary School 3rd Grade Class, 1962-1963, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Typical of elementary school classes of the day. (Photo from Fort Lauderdale High School Class of ’72, no restrictions known.)

Interestingly from a modern-day point of view, there were no mass shootings in the United States during 1962…or for at least the 20 years before that! In fact, the first mass shooting of the post-World War II era was a few years later, in 1966. In the first mass school shooting of the modern era, on August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman climbed to the top of an observation deck at the University of Texas-Austin and shot and killed 16 people and wounded another 31. But fifty-eight of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006! Today, we seem to have one of these tragedies about every month, so what’s different? Were guns outlawed in schools back then? No, in fact there were really no legal restrictions against bringing a gun to most schools, other than normal concealed carry laws. There were actually a few incidents of someone bringing a gun to a school and shooting a single person, as a result of some personal argument. Were there armed guards in schools to cut short an attack? No, most schools did not even have any unarmed guards and literally anyone could walk onto campus and wander around the buildings at will. Were the guns significantly different? No, there have been semi-automatic “machine guns” available for public purchase since at least 1921, with the most famous being the “Tommy Gun” preferred by gangsters during the Prohibition era.

I strongly suspect that what changed was us, society, the culture. Back then, if you had some grievance against an individual or even the world at large, you simply never thought of shooting a mass of random people at a school. It didn’t even occur to the insane, which you can argue is the mental state of every mass shooter. Somehow, sadly, the world is so complex today, and fame is so instant and pervasive, that madmen can make the illogical connections that they should take out their problems on the world at large and they will achieve a lasting place in society for doing so.


US Combat Troops Around the World in 1962

US forces in Vietnam, 1962, by Horst Faas
US forces in Vietnam, 1962 (Photo by Horst Faas, original publication and copyright unknown.)

On January 12, 1962, the first United States combat troops arrived in Vietnam. By the end of the year, we would have around 10,000 men on the ground in an effort to halt the advance of Communist guerrilla fighters from North Vietnam, who were estimated to control about three fifths of the rural areas of the country by the end of 1961. In effect, we had decided to prop up an ineffective and perhaps corrupt South Vietnamese government that a large part of the population did not want. Internal divisions in South Vietnam were actually quite evident even at the highest levels, for example when the country’s own air force bombed the presidential palace in February. But in the grip of our fears of the expansion of Communism, we would not recognize our mistake for another decade, after the deaths of tens of thousands of American soldiers. Besides Vietnam, we also sent troops to nearby Thailand. Their purpose was to help the Thai army secure their border with Laos, which was experiencing internal strife as various factions tried to take over the government.


Unlike today, when we have troops stationed in over 130 countries, back in 1962, we were active in very few countries. Of course, we still had forces in Europe, stationed in both Germany and Italy since the end of World War II in 1945, and also in Japan on the island of Okinawa since that same date. We had troops in Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Additionally, the United Nations had troops in the Belgian Congo, but I could not find whether US troops were part of the force. The force came from nineteen member nations, so it is likely we were involved. This seems to be the only country where the United Nations had troops during 1962. That’s it for US Army involvement around the world in 1962, and this is it for today’s installment of Roadtrip-'62 ™. Hope to see you soon for more!


All photos by the author and Copyright © 2018 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.

All other content Copyright © 2018 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.

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

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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.

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