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


US-20 The Second Longest Road Trip

January 9, 2019


Originally the second longest highway, US-20 became the longest US-numbered route in 1964, by virtue of California eliminating US-6 southwest of Bishop, California. Highway US-20 spans 3,365 miles from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon. Like US-89, US-20 technically is split in two parts because the route through Yellowstone National Park is not signed. This 80-mile gap is not counted in the US-20 length given above. Roadtrip-'62 ™ saw a few of the sights at the Boston end in my article on US-1. Originally, US-20 began in Boston at the State House, but it has since been moved west to the intersection of Beacon Street at Commonwealth Avenue.

Historic US-20 Route Sign
Historic US-20 Sign (From Historic US Route 20 Association. Visit them, become a member, and help them to promote travel along the original 1926 alignment of US-20.)

For much of its length, US-20 is roughly parallel to the I-90 freeway, which is the longest Interstate Highway, but unlike many routes, US-20 was never shortened by the states it passes through. As we leave Boston, the route follows the old Boston Post Road and passes by Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. This inn is the oldest continually operated inn in the United States. It’s currently operated by a non-profit organization and is still offering dining, lodging, and space for special events. The inn exists today largely because of the efforts of Henry Ford, who also created Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and helped with the development of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. These sites and others reflected Mr. Ford’s deep interest in preserving American history. He purchased the inn and an additional 3000 acres of adjacent land in 1923 and created a living museum, adding eight new buildings and other antiques to the site. In 1926, after engineers determined that heavy truck traffic on US-20 was damaging the inn’s foundations, he paid for design and construction of a mile-and-a-half-long bypass road. When complete, he sold it to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $1 and reportedly never cashed the check. This bypass is still US-20 today. The mill on the property was constructed by Henry Ford and opened in 1929. Between 1952 and 1967, it ground cracked wheat flour for Pepperidge Farm breads!

Richard's Wild Irish Rose Wine Red Label
Richard's Wild Irish Rose Wine Red Label (Photo from online auction.)

Through New York, US-20 runs roughly parallel to the New York State Thruway. But it does not go through any of the major cities along the way, except Albany, New York. We pass well south of Utica, Syracuse, and Rochester and along the northern edge of the Finger Lakes Region. There are small cities along our route at each of the five lakes. The area is well-known today as a wine region, with specialty brands and wind tasting available along the way. It was also a wine region back in 1962, with Canandaigua Wine Company being the best known company. They had been in business since 1945 and created their big breakthrough product in 1954: Richard's Wild Irish Rose dessert wines. Through a unique franchising arrangement, this brand fueled growth right through 1962. At that time, Canandaigua Industries doubled its gross sales in just two years. The company has continued to grow through acquisitions and is now Constellation Brands, the world's largest wine and spirits distributor.

At Buffalo, New York, we meet Lake Erie, which we will travel along the shore of for the next 190 miles to Lakewood, Ohio. Lake Erie I part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, a series of locks, canals, and river dredging that allow ocean-going ships to penetrate the heartland of North America all the way to Duluth, Minnesota; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada; and Chicago, Illinois. Buffalo is near the Welland Canal portion that allows ships to bypass Niagara Falls. The full St. Lawrence Seaway was opened to navigation in 1959 and you can read more on the Roadtrip-'62 ™ A Sailing We Shall Go page. Strangely, shipbuilding in Buffalo, which had been a major industry since 1812, shut down in 1962 with the closure of the American Ship Building Company. I say strangely because I would have expected that shipbuilding would have become more viable with improved access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sculptures on the lawn of Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Sculptures on the lawn of Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (Photo by Mark Hogan at Flickr, licensed under Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.)

Also in Buffalo is the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, whose second building was opened in January, 1962. This new wing designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of New York, who was a designer of significant skyscrapers of the era. It is an elegant, modernist glass and marble structure which contrasts with the original Greek Revivalist building. The new wing was completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the parent organization of the gallery. Major funding came from Seymour H. Knox, Jr., which is why the former Albright Art Gallery was renamed the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The museum tries to collect acquire key works from a wide variety of artists and styles. It not only includes Impressionistic and Post-Impressionistic styles, but also early twentieth century art movements such as cubism, surrealism, and constructivism. You can find pop art, and other styles popularized around 1962 by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. And outdoors on the grounds are sculptures from 1962, “The Cry” by Isamu Noguchi and “Directional I” by Lyman Kipp.

In West Springfield, Pennsylvania, we meet our US-6 roadtrip, or more precisely, US-6N. This is a spur from the main highway and its end point at US-20 is actually where the main US-6 route once ended! That was before US-6 was given a number of extensions that finally pushed it to become the longest US-numbered route, overcoming our US-20 for many years. We’ll meet the main US-6 route at Euclid, Ohio and travel together with it for about 30 miles to the west side of Cleveland, Ohio. Through the Cleveland area, there were two signed routes for each of these highways back in 1962. We could use either US-6ALT or US-20ALT in addition to the regularly signed routes. You can see all the sights of the Cleveland area on three Roadtrip-'62 ™ pages. One covering the eastern part beginning at Euclid, one for central Cleveland, and one covering the western part ending at Rocky River.

Dunes and Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park Postcard
Dunes and Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park (Postcard from online auction.)

Highway US-20 heads inland and eventually US-6 crosses it again at Fremont, Ohio. Amazingly, we will meet it once more in Gary, Indiana! Between Fremont and Perrysburg, Ohio, US-20 dates back to the late 1830s, when it was opened to help settle the Western Reserve lands of Ohio. Some of the stone mile markers still exist along the route. At Perrysburg, we cross several highways including our US-23 roadtrip, because of its location similar to Chicago, at the end of one of the Great Lakes. At one time, we would have hit US-23, US-24, US-25, US-68, and come within a couple of miles of US-223. Today, all are gone except for US-23 and US-24. Perrysburg itself is an odd place: the only city other than Washington, D.C laid out by U.S. government surveyors, in 1816. Sounds like an old-fashioned Congressional earmark project to me.

Speaking of Chicago, we reach the outskirts at Portage, Indiana. Portage is near the west end of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The east end of the park, which was authorized by Congress in 1966, is near Michigan City, Indiana. Though this park is too new for our roadtrip, the Indiana Dunes State Park opened in 1926. It’s surrounded on all four sides by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, creating a huge natural area in the midst of urban sprawl. We can enjoy swimming, hiking trails, and the dune landscape at the three miles of beach along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. Also at Portage, we come within less than a mile of meeting US-6 again!

Dolphins at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois
Dolphins at Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is the most confusing nest of US-numbered highways anywhere in the nation! Just listing the routes that meet US-20 sounds confusing. In 1962, I found US-12, US-14, US-30ALT, US-34, US-41, US-45, US-54, and US-66. And there were the business routes US-12BUS and US-20BUS besides. Our trip could use the US-20 route through the suburbs or the US-20BUS route that went downtown. My favorite thing to do in Chicago is to go directly downtown, park in the underground Grant Park garage and walk the city. Within walking distance of the garage are shopping on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum of Natural History, the Buckingham Fountain Flower Gardens, Lake Michigan shore, more shopping in the State Street area, festivals at Millennium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago. There are probably some smaller places of interest nearby too. More than enough for 2-3 days, right downtown! Pick a hotel and stay right in the center of it all: there are many that were here in 1962 and still in business. The historic Palmer House or Silversmith Hotel are just a couple.

Julien Dubuque Bridge, Dubuque, Iowa
Julien Dubuque Bridge, Dubuque, Iowa (Photo by Dirk Hansen at Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.)

At the west side of Illinois, US-20 crosses the Mississippi River on the Julien Dubuque Bridge into Dubuque, Iowa. We’re about half way across the country now and it’s a good place to reflect on how US-20 came to be. Before the US-numbered highway system was adopted in 1926 after a couple of years of planning. I discuss the planning and background in more detail on another page, including the old auto trail organizations. These groups worked with cities, tourist attractions and merchants to promote various routes for long-distance automobile travel. One group created the Yellowstone Trail as a preferred way to travel from the east to Yellowstone National Park, beginning in 1912. The Yellowstone Trail Association began small but eventually promoted, "A good road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound". Indeed, in the end it reached from Plymouth, Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington, via Yellowstone National Park. The trail was very well marked from Chicago to Yellowstone along what we will now travel as US-20, but was only marked in short sections east of Chicago. Once the US-20 signs went up in 1926-1927, the older trail signs began to come down. Today, the Historic US Route 20 Association is installing markers along abandoned parts of the highway.

In 1962, US-20 was just a 2-lane road across the farmlands of Iowa, with only two short stretches of divided 4-lane highway outside of Dubuque and near Moville. And these were relatively new, having been constructed in 1958 and 1959, respectively. Ever since, some Iowans have worked to get a four-lane highway on the US-20 alignment. In the 1990s, the Iowa Department of Transportation established a list of six priority corridors where highways would be expanded from two lanes to four lanes, but even then US-20 did not make the list. Traffic counts were deemed too low due to the sparse population. But in recent years, traffic counts on a section near Rockwell City, Iowa have shown a significant increase in traffic from 2,500 vehicles a day in 2012 to 7,500 vehicles daily in 2018. In the face of this rise, the state continued building divided sections and in 2015 committed to complete the final 30.5 miles. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Holstein, Iowa on October 19, 2018 and you can now drive from Dubuque to Sioux City on a four lane divided highway comparable to I-80 in the south. We will drive as much of the old two-lane as possible.

Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sioux City, Iowa
Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sioux City, Iowa (Public domain photo by Brian Kell at Wimimedia Commons.)

Sioux City, Iowa has a couple of attractions we could have seen in 1962. The Sioux City Art Center began as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in 1937 when community supporters received a Federal grant. The museum began acquiring their permanent collection the next year, focused primarily on artists from Iowa and the greater Midwest. Federal assistance ended in 1940, but the city voted to continue funding the Art Center. It now houses more than 1,000 works in a wide variety of mediums and styles, though the heart of the permanent collection is artists from the Upper Midwest, many of whom have ties to Sioux City. Pieces by Thomas Hart Benton, Salvador Dalí, Claes Oldenburg, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Dale Chihuly, and Grant Wood are included. A significant work by Grant Wood is one of his Corn Room murals. He painted four murals in 1927 for Omaha businessman Eugene Eppley for hotels in Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Sioux City. The one here was originally painted as a decoration for the Martin Hotel dining room in Sioux City. Though it still existed in 1962, we would not have seen it because it had been papered over in the early 1950s and forgotten. In 1979, historian Leah Hartman interviewed Carl Eybers, who had been Wood's assistant in painting the mural. This led to its being rediscovered and removed from the hotel and conserved by the Sioux City Art Center. It is now on permanent display. After occupying four temporary locations over the years, the Art Center built a new permanent location and moved in 1997.

On a bluff overlooking the Missouri River valley stands the Sergeant Floyd Monument. This 100-foot sandstone obelisk commemorates the burial site of U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only man to die on the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition, which passed though Sioux City. He was buried here but over the years, the gravesite along the Missouri River bank eroded. When Floyd's expedition journal was published in 1894, new interest was sparked and his remains were moved and a small monument built. The current monument was constructed in 1901 and his grave was moved again to this site on 23 acres overlooking the river. In 1960, the monument was recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior as the first National Historic Landmark. We leave Sioux City on the Sergeant Floyd Memorial Bridge, which also carries I-129 and US-75 over the Missouri River. The river becomes shallower beyond Sioux City and there are several dams in both South Dakota and North Dakota, placing the navigational head of the Missouri River here. Highway US-20 continues west across the increasingly drier prairies of Nebraska.


Discussion of artifacts at the Museum of the Fur Trade, Chadron, Nebraska.

In the far western part of the state at Chadron, Nebraska, is the Museum of the Fur Trade. This museum, which was here in 1962, is on the site of James Bordeaux’s trading post. The sod-roofed post was established for the American Fur Company in 1837 to conduct business with American Indians who spent their winters in the area. It lies only 60 miles south of the Black Hills in South Dakota in the only hilly, forested region in Nebraska. The museum was established in 1953 next to the old trading post. Having fallen into ruins after trading halted in 1876, the post was reconstructed on its original foundation in 1956 and opened that year. The Museum of the Fur Trade is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the North American fur trade and achieves that goal by displaying over 6,000 authentic artifacts. The museum displays over 800 guns that were manufactured between 1640 and 1911 in England, Belgium and the United States. It also has unopened cans of gun powder dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, specialized weapons, paints, pigments, blankets, cloth, decorative items, tools, and more. There is also an Indian Heirloom Garden of authentic Indian crops. Most of the seeds to begin the garden were obtained directly from the Indians over 125 years ago by Oscar H. Will, a pioneer Dakota horticulturist. After harvest, seeds are saved annually and replanted, and surplus is sold in the gift shop. The gift shop also offers real animal pelts including raccon, bobcat, wolverine and more.

Through Wyoming, US-20 is mostly paired with other US-numbered routes, as there are few roads through the middle of the state for long-distance highways to take. Our route meets US-26 at Orin, Wyoming and travels with it for 162 miles to Shoshoni, Wyoming. It then meets US-14 at Greybull, Wyoming and we travel together for the 107 miles to Yellowstone National Park. In my opinion, the most interesting place on US-20 is Yellowstone National Park! Someday, Roadtrip-'62 ™ will have to do an entire post on Yellowstone. The next 80 miles through the park are not technically US-20, but when we come out the other side at West Yellowstone, Montana, we are back on that highway. Shortly, we cross the Continental Divide at Targhee Pass and enter Idaho at 7,072 feet. I stayed just down the road in Island Park, Idaho the last time I visited Yellowstone and thoroughly enjoyed the great mountain scenery of the area.

Breeder Reactor-I, Idaho National Laboratory, Atomic City, Idaho, 1951
Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, Idaho National Laboratory, Atomic City, Idaho, Landmark where usable electricity was first generated from nuclear energy in this 1951 experiment. (Photo from Idaho National Laboratory at Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.)

Route US-20 passes the Idaho National Laboratory or the former Atomic Energy Commission near Atomic City, Idaho (how fitting). Known today as the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, its primary function back in the 1950s and 1960s was the testing of nuclear reactor design. Various organizations have built more than 50 reactors here, including the first that created a usable amount of electricity from nuclear power. Another pioneering reactor was the power plant for the world's first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. Although many are now decommissioned, the site had the largest concentration of nuclear reactors in the world. That first electricity generated from nuclear power happened in 1951 and provided only enough power for four 200 watt light bulbs. Later, it came to power the entire site and after perfecting the design, a sister reactor provided electricity to the entire nearby town of Arco, Idaho in 1955. Today you can get tours of part of the laboratory. Many other firsts in reactor design were made here, including in the first reactor to achieve a self-sustaining chain reaction using plutonium instead of uranium as the major fuel component, in 1963. Unfortunately, this was also the site of the world's first fatal atomic accident on January 3, 1961. Three operators were killed when manually removing a control rod, creating high levels of radiation in the building. The men were so heavily exposed to radiation that their hands had to be buried separately with other radioactive waste, and their bodies were interred in lead coffins.

lava flows, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
Cooled, rippled lava flows at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho (Public domain photo from the National Park Service.)

Nearby is the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, a vast expanse of ancient lava flows roughly the size of the entire state of Rhode Island. The area was established as a National Monument in 1924 and expanded significantly in 2000. It encompasses three lava fields along the Great Rift of Idaho, a still-active volcanic area. The park contains more than 25 volcanic cones along with almost every variety of basaltic lava, lava tubes (a type of cave), and other volcanic features. The most recent volcanic eruptions ended about 2,100 years ago and were likely seen by the Shoshone tribes. Their legend tells of a serpent on a mountain angered by lightning, who coiled and squeezed the mountain until liquid rock flowed, fire shot from the mountain and it exploded. There is a visitors center at the start of a seven-mile loop road which provides numerous opportunities to explore the park, including trails to take you over, under, and around the volcanic features.

West from Craters of the Moon, maps from 1962 show our route as TEMP US-20. The intended route was not fully paved yet, but US-20 was moved north off of US-26 in later years. We cross Oregon through a true desert between Burns and Bend, before reaching the western terminus at Newport, Oregon, at an intersection with US-101, within a mile of the Pacific Ocean. Newport is largely a city of beaches and tourist shops, with a crab fishing fleet thrown in. In fact, the city bills itself as “The Dungeness Crab Capital of the world!” The tourist trade is more laid back today then in the past, when during the early 1900s, Nye Beach was the top tourist attraction on the coast. It had hot sea baths, taffy stores, agate shops and more. There are two lighthouses on the beaches you can visit. Oregon’s tallest and second oldest active lighthouse is the 93-foot-tall Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which was completed in 1872.

Tufted Puffin in tide pool, Oregon coast
Tufted Puffin in a tide pool on the Oregon coast

The beaches are quite varied, with something for everyone. You can surf, go clamming, watch the gray whales migrate offshore in either December or March, wander among secluded sand dunes, look for sea life in the tide pools, or bird watch on the cliffs or shore. You might see common murres, pigeon guillemots, or tufted puffins like my friend in the photo. And when you’re done, visit the shops and restaurants and check out the art deco buildings of the Deco District, which is Newport's downtown. If you head out of town to the south on US-101, you’ll cross the Yaquina Bay Bridge. It is one of eleven major bridges on the Oregon Coast Highway designed by Conde McCullough and it replaced the last ferry crossing on the highway in 1936. With the main arch being 246 feet above sea level, over 600 feet between piers, and only two lanes wide, it seems that nothing is supporting you out there! Highway US-101 travels the Pacific Coast past a lot more breathtaking scenery, which we’ll see on a future Roadtrip-'62 ™ journey. See you down the road!


Merry Christmas from 1962!

December 11, 2018


When I think about Christmas in 1962, I realize that I had just recently turned 10 years old. So, what do I remember as a 10-year old at Christmas? We always went to grandma’s for dinner, and because I love stuffing I remember that hers was different than my mom’s, and in my opinion it was not as good. Grandma lived just across town, so we didn’t take a Roadtrip-'62 ™ style trip “over the river and through the woods” to get there. But I remember driving around town, on some night around Christmas, to see the outdoor lights and wishing we had some of our own. I remember having recently watched “Magoo’s Christmas Carol”, which debuted on December 18, 1962. Though Christmas is a religious holiday, the things that many of us remember most are more commercial. The sights, sounds, food, gifts, decorations, and more give a feeling to Christmas when we’re young that we try to recreate to some extent the rest of our lives. Of course you remember family gatherings, but it’s within the context of the commercial products that created the space for them to happen.

Kenner Girder And Panel Sets, from Sears 1962 Christmas Catalog
Kenner Girder And Panel Sets, from Sears 1962 Christmas Catalog (Scan by Todd Lappin at Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.)

Being just 10 years old, mostly I remember toys! For weeks before Christmas, I would scour the Sears, Ward’s, Penney’s and even the Alden’s catalogs, enjoying the toy sections and making my wish lists. Somewhat surprisingly as I look back, I usually received one really nice item from my list along with other miscellaneous toys. Maybe this was the year I got a Kenner Girder And Panel Set! This popular toy was first produced by Kenner in 1957 and was fully mature by 1962, with several different sets available. I had the Bridge and Turnpike Set because I was in love with roads, and I believe one of my brothers had the standard Girder and Panel Building Set. They stopped producing the toy around 1968, probably about the same time I quit playing with it. Kenner was bought out a couple of times and by 1974 was owned by General Mills, the cereal and cake mix company. (The 1970s were an era of strange corporate structures called conglomerates, which mostly did not work out.) They restarted the Girder and Panel line and made them until 1979. The trademark lapsed after that and Irwin Toys of Toronto, Canada picked it up in 1992. Irwin made some sets for a few years, mostly for Canadian distribution. After another run between 2005-2016 by Bridge Street Toys of Boston, the toy has again been discontinued. I picked up a set of theirs at a rummage sale a few years ago for fun and it’s a good reproduction.


A toy we could get for Christmas in 1962 that’s still around today is the Etch-A-Sketch. I had one around that year, though I am not certain when we got it. These drawing toys are made in Bryan, Ohio, which we drove through on our US-6 roadtrip. I still have one, again purchased at a rummage sale a few years ago. I also had a toy cap gun, perhaps a new one for 1962, and plenty of Kilgore roll caps to shoot in it. You can find more info about all sorts of toy guns available for a 1962 Christmas at my Toy Guns from 1962 page.

Christmas also brought many inexpensive, generic toys beside cap guns. Plastic trucks and boats, and sandbox shovels and buckets are some that I remember. Some were quite likely made by American Plastic Toys, which began making such toys in 1962. They are still around, now operating five plants in Michigan and Mississippi and still making all of their components and toys in the United States from domestically sourced plastic. The company now makes over 125 plastic toys including furniture, garden toys, kitchen toys, workbench toys, vehicles and boats, pails and shovels, sand toys, riding toys and wagons, and sports toys.

Milton Bradley’s Password game, first edition, 1962
Milton Bradley’s Password game, first edition from 1962

Games were always a popular Christmas present for our family, as they could be shared by the five kids. One of my favorites was always a deck of cards. Not your typical playing cards; a deck of Ed-U-Cards. The variety of games and pictures seemed endless, as did the hours of play they afforded. Learn more about the fun at my Ed-U-Cards history page. One new board game was added to our collection each Christmas, and the 1962 game may well have been Square Mile by Milton Bradley. It debuted that year and was one of my all time favorites! Square Mile apparently did not age well, because it hasn’t been sold in many years. The game was a real estate development game, where the rudiments of real investment decisions were part of the play. You started with raw land and it was worth more as highways and railroads moved in, as zoning was upgraded, and other nearby development became denser.

A game I never had, but just recently bought at an antique store is Password. This also debuted in 1962 and was based on a popular television game show. The show was created for the highly successful Goodson-Todman Productions, who also produced What's My Line?, To Tell the Truth, and I've Got a Secret. The show began in 1961 on the CBS network and the original daytime run ended in 1967, with a prime time run airing simultaneously from 1962 to 1967. Both the daytime and prime time versions performed strongly in the ratings for those five years. The show was broadcast in black-and-white, as were many TV shows of the day, as CBS' New York studios had not made the full switch to color equipment. It was hosted by Allen Ludden and featured two teams of two players: one celebrity player and a contestant. One player gives a word clue to the other member of the team, who has to try to guess the secret word. The play of the home boxed game is exactly the same. As I mentioned, Milton Bradley Company sold the first home version of Password in 1962. They eventually released 24 editions of the game through 1986, tying it with Concentration as the most popular of Milton Bradley's home versions of game shows. It’s a little surprising to me that the boxed game was so popular, as you really don’t need any special equipment to play. It can all be done with paper and pencil!

Collage of Christmas record albums from 1962
Collage of Christmas record albums from 1962

Of course, I also remember Christmas music. Other than humming some of the songs from “Magoo’s Christmas Carol” though, I have a hard time remembering just what songs I heard in 1962. Some likely candidates are “Jingle Bells”, “White Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, “The Christmas Song”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town”, "Frosty the Snowman", and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". There were versions of all these songs on the radio, but I don’t recall what artists I would have heard then, because I’ve heard so many different versions since. And of course there were religious Christmas songs on the air, like "What Child Is This?", "Carol of the Bells", "The Little Drummer Boy", "Joy to the World" and “Adeste Fideles”. I’m sure I heard Tennessee Ernie Ford’s version of “Adeste Fideles” because my grandmother was a fan of his. And though "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" was first released in 1958, it was popular enough in 1962 to hit #39 on the Bilboard Hot 100 chart. So I’m sure I would have heard it in 1962…over and over and over.

Besides Tennessee Ernie Ford, perhaps my grandmother or mother had some other Christmas record albums. For Christmas 1962, albums were on the market by Bing Crosby (I Wish You A Merry Christmas), the Everly Brothers (Christmas with the Everly Brothers ), Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns (Twas the Night Before Christmas), The Four Seasons Greetings (The Four Seasons Greetings), Dick Leibert (The Sound Of Christmas On The Radio City Music Hall Organ), Ray Conniff (We Wish You A Merry Christmas), and an all-time favorite, The Chipmunks (Christmas With The Chipmunks). When first released in 1958, “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles chart, becoming The Chipmunks' first (and only) #1 single. It is also the only Christmas record to reach #1 on that chart, and the last Christmas song to reach #1 on any US singles record chart! The song was also included in the 1962 album "Christmas With The Chipmunks" and remains popular today.

1962 Lucky Strike Cigarettes Christmas magazine  advertisement
1962 Lucky Strike Cigarettes Christmas advertisement (from magazine)

Christmas advertising is always something special. As I’ve hunted around for things from 1962, I’ve seen some fun ads. How about Santa dropping into a snow white Corvette as part of the “Let Hertz Put You In The Driver’s Seat” campaign? Or food ads that show the delicious recipes for Christmas goodies like fudge, cakes, Chex mix, egg nog, Jello dishes, and every kind of Christmas cookie imaginable! Many food companies offered holiday cookbooks with new recipes. There were also lots of ads with headlines like “Joy Bringer Specials”, “Santa’s Village”, “Toyland”, and “Annual Christmas Sale”. And of course, there were thousands of ads for toys. But the strangest Christmas ad I’ve ever seen from 1962 is the one pictured above. It’s a magazine ad exhorting you to give Lucky Strike Cigarettes for presents. And they even came in a special holiday decorated box!

1962 Coca-Cola ad drink coaster
1962 Coca-Cola ad on a drink coaster

One of the most memorable Christmas advertising campaigns was for Coca-Cola. Over about a 30 year period, our collective image of Santa Claus was strongly influenced by the Coca-Cola Santa. The first of these Santas appeared in 1931, in magazine ads. Through 1964, artist Haddon Sundblom created over 40 of these paintings of Santa for the beverage. He referenced the verse in the well-known Clement Moore 1822 poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and later cartoonist Thomas Nast’s drawings to come up with his depiction of Santa Clause as a warm, friendly, pleasantly plump, red clad man delivering toys. Besides the advertisements, these images have continued to be used on store displays, billboards, posters, and calendars. Many of those items are now popular collectibles. And because the images still resonate so well with the public, the United States Postal Service (USPS) chose them for its 2018 Christmas stamps. USPS chose four of the images for what it calls the Sparkling Holidays stamps, now available for postage. Four stamps show a cropped image of Santa’s head, while one shows the complete picture from 1963, including the Coca-Cola bottle.

vintage 1962 Christmas decorations
vintage 1962 Christmas decorations

And finally, here’s a few vintage 1962 Christmas decorations from my collection. The buildings are cardboard and were sold in dime stores like Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, W.T. Grant’s, and McCrory’s. They were made in Japan, which was typically the source of inexpensive goods like China is today. The lights are in the shape of candles and are a real nuisance to get on a tree! You have to slide the two wires over a branch and then crimp them with a wooden bead, all while trying to maintain the “candle” upright. After all, it wouldn’t look much like a candle if it were sideways or upside down. Time to relax with some egg nog or maybe a Coke after that! Here’s wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Roadtrip-'62 ™.

1962 Christmas card with first United States Christmas stamp
Christmas card with first United States Christmas stamp, issued in 1962 (photo from online auction)

Powering the Nation in 1962

November 27, 2018


This week Roadtrip-'62 ™ will take a quick look at some news about the supply of electricity in 1962 across the United States.

Indian Point Energy Center, Buchannan, New York
Indian Point Energy Center, Buchannan, New York (Photo by Daniel Case at Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

We weren’t worried about global warming or carbon dioxide emissions back in 1962, so few “green” improvements to our electricity systems were made. The major change in air pollution sources of that time was in the coming use of nuclear power for electrical generation. A report from the Atomic Energy Commission (forerunner of today’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission) estimated that by the year 2000, nearly half of the United States’ electricity would be generated by nuclear power. The actual percentage was only about 20% by 2017, showing that the use of nuclear power was far too optimistically viewed back in 1962. They had good reasons though. For example, the first power generated by plutonium instead of uranium went online that year. This was a good development because it meant that low grade uranium and thorium ores not suitable for reactor use could be upgraded in existing reactors to a useable fuel, plutonium. Additionally, the nations first nuclear reactor operated by consumer-owned utility went online in 1962, at Hallam, Nebraska. It was one of eight plants began producing power that year; five of them constructed by the Atomic Energy Commission under their demonstration program. These included the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchannan, New York, which we passed on Day 6 of our US-6 roadtrip. Everyone was so smitten by atomic power that Con-Ed was drawing up plans for a nuclear reactor right in New York City!

United States coal consumption, 1948-2008
United States coal consumption, 1948-2008 (Public domain image from US Energy Information Administration.) Red line is electrical power generation, showing decline in recent years.

But instead of nuclear power, burning coal has continued to be the largest source of our electricity. In 1960, we burned 176,685,000 short tons of coal for our power. Though we are declining from the peak use in 2007, we still use 664,749,000 short tons today, or close to four times as much coal as in 1960. Coal-fired plants currently produce about 30% of our electricity, with 32% coming from natural gas, about 7.5% from hydropower at dams, and other renewable sources providing 9.5%. I have said a lot more about coal on my "Ol' King Coal" page, so I won’t repeat it here. I could not find any evidence of wind or solar power for electricity generation, but one minor source of renewable energy was tapped in 1962; natural geothermal steam from geysers. Pacific Gas & Electric had two plants in production in northern California.

Hydroelectric generation was the only other major source of “green” power in 1962. Annual production of hydroelectric power reached about 190 billion kilowatt-hours in 1962, which is more than double the hydroelectric power production of 1950. This is because the two decades from 1951-1970 were the peak for completion of new dams in the United States. During 1962, 37 dams were completed, though not all were for electricity generation. Below is a sampling of the hydroelectric dams completed that year. The largest owner and operator of hydroelectric power plants in the United States today is the US Army Corps of Engineers. They oversee 75 plants with nearly a third of the nation's total hydropower output.

Walter F. George Lock and Dam, Chattahoochee River, Alabama and Georgia
Walter F. George Lock and Dam, Chattahoochee River, Alabama and Georgia (Public domain photo from the US Army Corps of Engineers.)

The Corps of Engineers completed the Walter F. George Dam and Lake on the Chattahoochee River between the states of Alabama and Georgia. The lake is sometimes referred to as Lake Eufaula and extends 85 miles along the border. Highway US-82 crosses the lake on a causeway at Eufaula, Alabama, just north of the midpoint, and US-421 runs along the Alabama side.

Heading north, the Tuckertown Dam was built by the former Carolina Aluminum Company on the Yadkin River in North Carolina to produce power for aluminum smelting. It is one of four dams in the Alcoa Yadkin Project, so named because Alcoa Aluminum took over from the former company. Alcoa Power Generation owns most of the land surrounding the lake, which is still mostly undeveloped. The site is about 6 miles east of US-52 from Richfield, North Carolina.

Leesville Lake was constructed by the Appalachian Power Company on the Roanoke River in Virginia. It is a pumped storage facility, which actually uses power to pump water uphill to nearby Smith Mountain Lake during periods of low power usage. Then, during hours of peak demand, the power plant produces hydroelectric by normal downriver flow. Consequently, the lake experiences water level fluctuations of 1 to 10 feet per day! It’s located about 5 miles off US-29, southwest of Alta Vista, Virginia.

Sebec Lake was completed Bangor Hydro-Electric Co on the Sebec River in Maine. This is a small facility, with a dam only 15 feet high and a generating capacity of 867 KW. In addition to providing some power, this dam provides an important barrier to invasive species, preventing them from reaching upstream areas. Peaks-Kenny State Park is on the south shore of the lake and is located about 30 miles west of US-2 from Howland, Maine and 35 miles east from US-201 at Bingham, Maine. It was still privately owned in 1962.

Gianelli Powerhouse at San Luis Dam, Los Banos, California
Gianelli Powerhouse at San Luis Dam, Los Banos, California (Photo by Kjkolb at Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the .)

Dams generally take a long time to build. San Luis Dam (also known as the B. F. Sisk Dam) in California began with a groundbreaking ceremony in August of 1962. It was not completed until 1968 and was filled for the first time in 1969. At the groundbreaking ceremony near Los Banos, California, 15,000 people gathered to watch President John F. Kennedy and California Governor Pat Brown give the signal that detonated the first explosive charges at the site. The dam is the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States, meaning that much of the water it holds is pumped in from streams that do not run through this valley. It is an example of a multi-purpose dam, with a main purpose of capturing and redistributing water for agriculture, and only a secondary purpose of electricity generation. San Luis Dam is unusual because it has another, smaller reservoir located directly in front of it, the O'Neill Forebay. Water from this reservoir is pumped uphill for storage behind San Luis Dam during periods of low demand and released to generate additional electricity during periods of high demand.

Natural Gas was also a significant source of electric power generation in 1962, supplying about 25%. The major decline in power production has been in oil-fired plants, which accounted for about 33% of electricity in 1962 and almost none today. Oil just became too expensive to burn because it is used for so many other things, like our Roadtrip-'62 ™ journeys! See you next time on the road.

Reddy Kilowatt coloring book
Reddy Kilowatt coloring book "The Wonder-World of Electricity", 1966. (Photo from Jordan Smith, The Cardboard America Archives, used by permission.) Reddy Kilowatt was the face of electricity throughout the 1950s and 1960s, often seen in promotional items from your local electric company.

Fun Sites on a US-19 Road Trip

November 13, 2018


Like our US-23 trip, US-19 travels from an inland sea, to the ocean. Highway US-19 runs about 1386 miles, from Lake Erie at Erie, Pennsylvania to the Gulf of Mexico at Memphis, Florida. The highway was extended to its southern terminus of Memphis in 1954, when the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened. It has had essentially this same route since, so we would have seen the same places in 1962. Like many of these old roads, most of the route from Eire to near Waynesville, North Carolina has been paralleled by interstate freeways. But unlike many, it has not been shortened: the US-19 signing remains up. This is another highway that splits into east and west segments, which Roadtrip-'62 ™ discussed for route US-11. The segments of US-19E and US-19W occur in Tennessee and North Carolina. To make matters more confusing for following the route, there is also a US-19ALT in North Carolina.

New beach house, Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania, late 1950s postcard
New beach house at Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania, late 1950s (postcard from online auction)

Highway US-19 begins south of downtown Erie, Pennsylvania, at US-20. A place we could have enjoyed in town in 1962 is Presque Isle State Park, about 5 miles west of the end of US-19. It was established as a state park in 1921, using lands that had largely been used in public service for over two centuries. During colonial times, the land was home to forts of the French, British, and finally the Americans. During the War of 1812, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's Great Lakes fleet was partly constructed and based here. In 1873, one of three navigation lights was built, with a red brick house for the lightkeeper’s residence. Today, the Presque Isle Light is still operated by the United States Coast Guard, flashing its light to warn ships of the sandy Presque Isle peninsula that juts into Lake Erie. The lighthouse is open to public tours during the summer months. The peninsula is mostly sand, and is constantly being reshaped by waves and wind. Since the 1950s, it has also been significantly reshaped by man by dredging in the adjacent bay. This work expanded the park with 3 million square yards of dredged sand, giving the park a pleasure boat marina. Other park facilities were constructed and a nature preserve set aside in 1957, so we would have seen a new park in 1962. The claim to fame of Presque Isle State Park is the beaches: they are Pennsylvania's only surf beaches!

Junction signs for US-6, US-6N, US-19, Mill Village, Pennsylvania
Junction signs for US-6, US-6N, and US-19 near Mill Village, Pennsylvania

Our US-6 roadtrip met US-19 just west of Mill Village, Pennsylvania. As the two routes traveled together for the next 23 miles to the outskirts of Meadville, Pennsylvania, you can read about it on those pages. We visit Cambridge Springs to stop at National Wildlife Refuge, Saegertown for lunch at Eddie’s Footlong Hot Dogs, and Meadville, home of Channellock pliers and tools.

Tulip display, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, Pennsyalvania
Tulip display at entrance to Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, Pennsyalvania (Publicity photo from Phipps Conservatory, by Paul Wiegman.)

North of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US-19 splits off a truck route, US-19 TRUCK, which joins the I-279 freeway for some distance. Both US-19 and US-19 TRUCK travel through the west side of Pittsburgh. The routes cross over each other just south of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and then rejoin south of the city in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. To see some great gardens and art, leave US-19 and head east into town. The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was opened in 1893 and encompasses 15 acres, including a 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct garden areas. The original building was presented as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh from philanthropist Henry W. Phipps. Many of the original plants came from the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago when that exhibit closed. Besides plants, there is also artwork including sculptures, chandeliers and more. The orchid collection is wonderful, with plants I never would have guessed were orchids because they don’t all fit the typical types you can buy at your local nursery. The room known today as the East Room was known as the Cascade Garden in 1962, when it featured a cascade of water in a channel of step-sized drops surrounded by cascades of flowered terraces. And, not only are the interior and exterior gardens beautiful, but the site occupies the edge of a hill overlooking the Panther Hollow valley and a historic neighborhood on the other side.

New River Gorge Bridge and walkway, Virginia
New River Gorge Bridge and walkway down to bottom of gorge (No, I didn’t walk all the way down there!)

Continuing south, US-19 crosses West Virginia. Near the middle of the state it crosses the New River on the New River Gorge Bridge, the world’s fourth longest single-span steel arch bridge. The bridge was opened in 1977 and the New River Gorge National River recreation area below it was established in 1978. Obviously, both are too new for our 1962 journey. What we can see in the area though, are remains from the coal mining towns along the river that were here back around 1962. To do that, we need to take old US-19, which today is WV-41. Before the New River Gorge Bridge was constructed, US-19 followed the very roundabout route of today’s WV-41 between Mt. Nebo, West Virginia and Beckley, West Virginia. The old road crossed a bridge near water level at Prince, which is still open today. The bridge was built in 1931 and operated as a toll bridge until 1946. So if you want, you can add an extra 10 miles of slow, winding but very scenic, 2-lane roads, and travel the way we would have in 1962.

We can visit three of the coal mining ghost towns along old US-19 in the New River Gorge: Quinnimont, Prince, and Terry. The main line of the C&O Railroad was completed through the gorge in 1873, and the first shipment of coal left Quinnimont later that year. Quinnimont was the first mining town of New River Gorge. At its height of about 500 inhabitants, the town had two churches and two schools, due to the segregation of its black and white communities. The New River Gorge once had over 60 coal mining camps or towns, approximately one every 1/2 mile along the gorge. But by the 1950s, most of these coal towns were abandoned due to the closing of the mines they were built to support. The coal mine at Kaymoor was one of the largest and most productive, and therefore hung on longer. Even it closed in 1962. At Quinnimont, today we can see the CSX railroad yards, the two formerly segregated church buildings, remnants of the iron furnace, and a granite monument to honor Colonel Joseph Beury as the first mine operator to ship coal from the New River fields.

Railroad bridge over New River, Prince, West Virginia
Railroad bridge over New River at Prince, West Virginia (Public domain photo from National Park Service.)

Prince still has an Amtrak station, the former C&O Railroad brick station opened in 1946. It is an acclaimed example of the Art Moderne style of architecture. Old US-19 (WV-41) is one of the few major automobile routes crossing the New River within the New River Gorge. As a result, the community is one of the more populous of the inhabited communities in the gorge. A relatively large number of vacation homes have been built along the New River near Prince. Prince dates to 1870, built at a junction of a railroad branch line. It grew in the 1890s, when the Royal mining company built a tipple and a battery of 78 coke ovens. No mine was here, but coal was transported from a mine on the other side of the New River to the tipple in buckets suspended on a wire cable that spanned the New River. The town occupied one of the best locations for a town, and its general store, the Prince Store, outlasted all other company stores in the New River Gorge, closing in 1984.

odd numbered US-routes, Tennessee and North Carolina, showing US-19
Tangle of odd numbered US-routes crossing Tennessee and North Carolina, showing US-19 crossing all the others. (Custom map by Milne Enterprises, Inc.)

At Abingdon, Virginia, we hit US-11. Generally, we should not cross other north-south, odd-numbered routes, but these mountains have limited good locations for roads. As a consequence, we cross a couple others in a short distance, running along with US-11E to Johnson City, Tennessee. Near Bluff City, Tennessee, US-19 splits into two, with US-19E heading south through Elizabethton, Tennessee and then North Carolina. We traveled most of US-19W on our US-23 roadtrip because it meets US-23 just north of Johnson City. You can read about that section, running to southwest of Erwin, Tennessee, on that page. Highway US-19W then finally crosses into North Carolina and the two parts of US-19 reunite near Bald Creek. Shortly after, we meet US-23 again. This time it stays with us for the next 41 miles, all the way to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Highway US-19E covers about 76 miles between the division points, while US-19W covers only 63 miles. Confusing? That’s why I have the map above.

Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee, North Carolina
Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina

At Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, US-19 leaves US-23 while US-19A travels with it to Dillsboro, North Carolina. You can read about that portion on Day 14 of our US-23 roadtrip. I’m traveling US-19 to one of my favorite places, Cherokee, North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee sits just a few miles from the main park entrance on the south side of the mountains, and provides easy access to many of the most scenic spots. Excellent hiking, mountain vistas, waterfalls, a working grist mill, and a pioneer farm museum are just a few of the sites in the park that you can visit from Cherokee. The Cherokee Tribe also hosts several tourist attractions, including the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and an outdoor drama, Unto These Hills, which debuted in 1950. There are also some souvenir shops and restaurants that have been here since 1962. And, you can even stay in a 1960s era motel if you wish; there are several still in good condition. I’ve read good reviews of the Pink Motel and several years ago I stayed at the Pioneer Motel. If you do stay in town, remember to drive out to either the high school or the pioneer farm museum at twilight to see the local elk herd!

Nantahala River, Patton’s Run Overlook, Nantahala Gorge, North Carolina
Nantahala River from Patton’s Run Overlook, Nantahala Gorge, North Carolina

Highway US-19A meets back with US-19 just a few miles west of Cherokee, at Ela, North Carolina. Another favorite spot of mine in these mountains is the Nanthahala Gorge on the Nantahala River, which US-19 travels right through! There are several river rafting outfitters and a wooden observation deck at a waterfall where we enter the gorge on the north end. The Appalachian Trail also crosses the highway at this point. The river has a variety of rapids and cascades for the next nine miles and rafting the white water has become very popular. Our direction on US-19 faces upriver, so we get to watch the rapids and rafters, kayakers, and canoeists heading towards us. Besides the water, I enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by the mountains as we drive. The area is part of the Nantahala National Forest. The National Forest Service operates the Ferebee Memorial Picnic Area on the river near the center of the gorge: I recommend having your picnic there and enjoying the views. If you want a hike, there is a suspension footbridge across the river leading to a trail on the opposite bank. There are several very scenic waterfalls along the unpaved Wayah Road, which runs east from the point where US-19 exits the gorge. I’ve seen fishermen along that part of the river, which has been named one of the 100 Best Trout Streams in America by Trout Unlimited. It is even used for competitions, clinics, and practices held by the US Men's and US Youth National Fly Fishing teams.

The south is the home of overlapping US-numbered routes, and so we hit US-23 once again at Atlanta, Georgia. Route US-19 enters on the north side of the city, passing by the Brookwood Hills Historic District. This is an area of approximately 90 acres and more than 250 residences developed between 1922-1930. The pleasing curvilinear street system was designed by civil engineer O.F. Kauffman clearly shows the influence of Frederick Law Olmstead, with whom Kauffman who had previously worked. The homes are generally large and of brick, in a semi-rural setting, and reflect the full range of early 20th-century architecture including Tudor, Colonial, Neoclassical, Bungalow, and Cottage styles. This beautiful historic district is complimented by a large recreation area and two landscaped entrances to the subdivision. It’s well worth a drive around before you get back onto US-19. We then go through the heart of downtown and leave with US-41 for Florida.

Old style US-19 red route marker used in Florida
Old style US-19 red route marker used in Florida (Public domain drawing by Jeff at Wikipedia.)

If we had been traveling in Florida during 1962, we would have seen red US-19 signs. These signs were allowed by the 1956 manual that governs highway signs in the United States, the “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices”. Only a few state used colored signs, so you may never have seen them. Besides Florida, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Arizona, and Mississippi had a full range of colors, usually a different one for each numbered route. Kansas and Louisiana used green signs for all of their US-numbered routes. By the 1980s, the signing manual had changed, settling on a standard black-and-white sign, and states started phasing out the colored shields. Florida officially ceased producing colored US-route markers in 1993, but old stocks were used until they ran out. The last of the old colored signs were posted in 1996, so you might find a few faded signs somewhere around the state.

A highlight of US-19 in Florida for me is Weeki Wachee Springs. It’s one of Florida’s oldest roadside attractions, entertaining audiences since 1947. The area around the springs was nearly uninhabited in 1946, when former Navy frogman Newton Perry scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a new business. He was interested in the natural springs, one of the deepest natural underwater caverns in the United States. The springs discharges over 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water a day. The name is a version of a local Seminole Indian word for little spring or winding river, which may have referred to the Weeki Wachee River that flows from the spring 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Though the spring is deep, the area near the surface had been used to dump old cars and other junk. Newton had that cleared out and created a basin in the limestone for performances. He developed the method of breathing from hoses supplied by compressed air, which gave the “mermaids” the appearance of free swimming that would never have been achieved wearing air tanks. He then built the first underwater theater, which had only 18 seats, and found local pretty girls to train in his breathing method.


In case you can’t make it to Weeki Wachee, here’s the 1961 video “Beauty in the Deep” showing the performance.


After all the preliminary work, Newton had a business. The girls performed much of the same show we could see in 1962 or today. They drank and ate under water, performed ballet moves, and just generally looked good swimming in mermaid and other costumes. In the early days, as an advertising gimmick, the girls would also attract traffic out on US-19 wearing their bathing suits. By the 1950s, Weeki Wachee became one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. It was bought in 1959 by the American Broadcasting Co., which operated the ABC television network and had also been the main bankroll for Disneyland! They constructed the current 400 seat theater, moving it deeper underwater to allow greater scope for the underwater shows. ABC also developed themes for the underwater shows with elaborate props, lifts, and music. Performances expanded to storylines such as an underwater circus, mermaids and pirates, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, and Peter Pan. By the time I first saw Weeki Wachee in the early 1970s, they had eight shows a day, sold-out crowds, and employed 35 mermaids who came from all over the world!

As with many old tourist attractions, eventually tastes changed and so did the attraction. In 1982, Weeki Wachee added a waterpark, Buccaneer Bay. You can now swim in the waters from the springs yourself. You can also go canoeing and kayaking and take a glass-bottom boat tour. The State of Florida purchased the property in 2001 to ensure the preservation of the springs’ freshwater supply and leased it the Florida State Parks to operate in 2008. That brings us just about to the end of US-19, which is just across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south of St. Petersburg, Florida. I guess I’ll watch a Gulf of Mexico sunset now and see you on another Roadtrip-'62 ™ journey down another highway next time.

Original Sunshine Skyway Bridge, US-19, Tampa Bay, Florida, circa 1962 postcard
Original Sunshine Skyway Bridge, US-19, Tampa Bay, Florida, circa 1962 (postcard from online auction)

Inventing the Future in 1962

October 30, 2018


As I’m sure you’ve noticed in these articles, a lot of things that happened in 1962 still affect us today. Here’s a few of the inventions from that year that continue to make a big impact today. A few of these innovations were mentioned in the AT&T video at the end of my Roadtrip-'62 ™ post on the Seattle World’s Fair – Century 21 Exposition. At the Bell Pavilion, the company demonstrated call waiting and call forwarding. We take these for granted but they were new ideas in 1962! Also demonstrated were touch-tone phones…remember that nearly all phones were rotary dials back then. Bell also showed a pager, called the Bell Boy. These 8-inch, brick-like devices were not too practical, but they knew the paging concept was important. To use them, the device received a phone call and gave you a tone. You then had to find the nearest phone booth and call the party back, as it was not a cell phone. At least there were pay phone booths everywhere: restaurants, public building lobbies, gas stations, motels, and even street corners. (How else could Clark Kent change to Superman just about anywhere?)

Interior, 1962 Chevrolet Impala, with lap safety belts
Interior of 1962 Chevrolet Impala showing old style lap safety belts. (Photo from an online auction.)

One invention of that year has had a major life-saving impact: the familiar 3-point automobile safety belt. While seat belts were first offered by American car manufacturers Nash in 1949, and Ford in 1955, these were simple lap belts with the buckle in the center. This style of belt had serious issues with causing internal injuries during a crash and that is part of why they were not widely adopted. A three-point safety belt had been patented in 1951 by two Americans, but their design still had the buckle in the middle and was not adopted. But in 1962, the United States Patent Office issued Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin a patent for his three-point automobile safety belt. Sweden’s Volvo Car Corporation had hired Mr. Bohlin four years earlier as their first chief safety engineer. One of his first projects was to improve the safety belt. He designed a three-point system in his first year with the company. It significantly reduced injuries by effectively holding both the upper and lower body in place. Volvo introduced it on its cars in 1959 and filed for a US Patent, which was granted three years later.

Unfortunately, the three-year wait between patent filing and grant was not unusual at the time, as we’ll see later. The year 1962 set a new record for patents granted, at 55,000, but the backlog of waiting applications was nearly the same at the end of the year as it was at the beginning, at 200,000. At any rate, Volvo then released the new seat belt design to other car manufacturers, and it is now the worldwide standard. Though the design has been improved over the years, the basic engineering is still Mr. Bohlin’s. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 made seat belts a mandatory feature on all new American vehicles beginning with the 1968 model year. A study done in 1967 of 28,000 accidents found that when used, the lap and shoulder belt combo reduced the risk of injury or death in accidents by as much as 75 percent. It also showed that drivers not wearing belts died in crashes at all speeds, but no one wearing belts in accidents below 60 mph died. Maybe the lower speeds had a lot to do with it, but it’s sometimes amazing that entire families were not wiped out more often in 1962. My family had 6 kids in a car with no seat belts and the youngest one was on my mother’s lap!

First integrated circuit, Jack Kilby, 1958, Texas Instruments.
First integrated circuit, created by Jack Kilby in 1958, is comprised of a transistor and other components on a slice of germanium and is only 7/16-by-1/16-inches. (Photo courtesy of Texas Instruments.)

Another thing we take for granted today is the amazing array of small electronic devices. These all use integrated circuits of semiconductor crystals, which did not yet exist before 1962. Some of the basic ideas had been around since 1952, when British radio engineer Geoffrey Dummer formulated the principle of an integrated circuit, but industry had not found a way to use them together. The point was to place electronic components into a solid block with no connecting wires. Transistors had continued to allow devices to become smaller throughout the 1950s, but the reliability of the discrete components in them reached theoretical limits and there was also no improvement in the connections between the components. The breakthrough came in 1958 from three people from three different US companies solving three fundamental problems. Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments patented the principle of integration and created the first prototype integrated circuits. Also that year, Kurt Lehovec of Sprague Electric Company invented a way to electrically isolate the components on a semiconductor crystal. Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor invented a way to connect the components and improved the insulation. Finally, Fairchild Semiconductor created the first operational semiconductor integrated circuit in 1962. But since Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments held the earlier patent, they started a patent war. By the time the case was settled in 1966 through a cross-licensing agreement, the firms of Westinghouse, Raytheon, Hughes Aircraft, and even NEC of Japan had engaged in the battle. Many other firms have since licensed the technology and many others produced integrated circuits (ICs) without licensing, so that now almost everything we pick up has some ICs inside.

Kentucky Fired Chicken ad, Kenny King’s Family Restaurants, Elyria, Ohio, 1962
Kentucky Fired Chicken in ad for Kenny King’s Family Restaurants, Elyria, Ohio, 1962 (Photo from Dan Brady at Brady's Lorain County Nostalgia, used by permission.)

One of my wife’s favorite patents from 1962 is for Kentucky Fired Chicken! More technically, though Colonel Harland Sanders had been producing his chicken since 1940, he didn’t file for a patent until 1956. He filed the 1962 application to improve on the method, as the original patent had not yet been granted due to government backlog. To quote the application, “Generally the process contemplates the deep-fat frying of chicken under accurately controlled conditions of temperature, pressure, time, sizes of serving pieces, and amount and composition of breading used, for the purpose of producing superior taste, texture and appearance in the finished product.” It turns out that cooking chicken this way is rather complicated, due to the need to control the temperature, pressure, and moisture content all at the same time. It is still actually fried, as it is cooked in grease, and the method locks in juices and prevents the coating from drying out.

Other food ideas from 1962 include the Taco Bell restaurant chain. The first location was opened by founder Glen Bell in Downey, California. It was a walk-up window food stand with outdoor seating. Due to its small size and lack of drive-thru service, it closed in 1986. Other entrepreneurs have since used it for their taqueria shops over the years, but it’s been vacant since 2014. Due to development plans, Taco Bell moved the building to a new location at corporate headquarters 45 miles away in Irving, California in 2015. Both Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell are now owned by the same corporation, Yum! Brands, Inc., which also owns Pizza Hut. And even Pizza Hut has a 1962 connection. The Hawaiian pizza, a generic food that was also created in 1962, is served at Pizza Huts. In fact, you can get pineapple on your pizza almost anywhere, but the idea was not well received when Greek-Canadian Sam Panopoulos first served it at his Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. He had experience in preparing Chinese dishes, which often mixed sweet and savory flavors, and had pineapple in his restaurant, so he experimented with adding pineapple to a pizza. The Hawaiian pizza has stabilized as including ham, though other variations exist.

Post Crispy Critters cereal box, 1962
Post Crispy Critters cereal box from 1962, the year it was introduced. (Photo from Post advertising.)

McDonald’s entry into the food history of 1962 is the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. It was the first non-hamburger sandwich served at McDonald’s. It was created by a franchisee in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lou Groen. His restaurant was located in a heavily Catholic neighborhood and his business fell off greatly on Fridays, when Catholics did not eat meat. So he searched for something else to serve them and settled on fish after noting other restaurants in the area that did alright on Fridays by serving fish. Mr. Groen experimented and settled on a breaded halibut patty, which he presented to Ray Kroc of McDonald’s management. They argued over the new menu item and Mr. Kroc had Mr. Groen find a lower priced fish. Atlantic cod was substituted, with Mr. Groen adding a slice of cheese for extra flavor. Mr. Kroc agreed to have a contest to see if the product would sell, pitting it against his own creation of the Hula Burger, which consisted of a slice of pineapple on a cold bun. (Was everyone getting a discount on pineapple in 1962?) The Filet-O-Fish won handily, selling over 350 sandwiches on Good Friday of 1962, and has been around ever since. Mr. Groen ended up being a very successful franchise owner, eventually owning 43 franchises by the time he retired in the 1980s.

Our grocery store shelves were also enriched by 1962 introductions. Planters introduced Dry Roasted Peanuts, which were seasoned with their own proprietary spice blend. Post Cereals introduced Crispy Critters, which was a sugar frosted oat cereal with pieces shaped like miniature animal crackers. Later versions had colored animals. The cereal faded in popularity and was eventually withdrawn, perhaps in the 1970s, but an attempt to re-introduce it was made in 1987. I used to drink a lot of PDQ, a granular beverage mix that was also introduced in 1962 by the Krim-Ko Corporation. It differed from products like Nestle’s Quik, which were a powder, in that PDQ dissolved instantly. It originally came in chocolate, but by 1965 they added eggnog flavor, which I loved. It was also great sprinkled on ice cream because it added crunch. Even the candy counter displayed new 1962 creations. Ferrara Pan created Lemonheads in 1962, and later in the year added Apple Heads, Grape Heads and Orange Heads. And the Phoenix Candy Company brought out Now and Later. They made taffy, which tended to melt in summer or become brittle in winder, and the new candy was their way to ship taffy products year round. The name Now and Later was meant to suggest that you could eat some now and save the rest for later.

LED replacement tail lights for 1962 Chevrolet Nova
LED replacement tail lights for 1962 Chevrolet Nova (Photo from online advertising.)

Going back to electronics now that we’ve had lunch, dinner, and dessert, the LED was also invented in 1962. The light-emitting diode (LED) is a solid-state, semi-conductor device that directly converts electricity into light. Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the first visible-spectrum LED while employed at General Electric. Scientists had realized that the semiconductors used in transistors emitted light but it was not sharp enough to use for much. Mr. Holonyak’s innovation was to combine the crystal of gallium and arsenic with phosphorous to produce a light in the visible spectrum. That first LED was a red light but yellow and green soon followed. The first major use of these was for calculator and computer displays in the 1970s. Because of the direct conversion of energy, LEDs are the most efficient lighting form, especially as efficiencies have improved over the years. For example, a 60-watt or 100-watt incandescent bulb has an efficacy of 15 lumens per watt but current LED replacement bulbs have an average efficacy of 85 lumens per watt. Additional colors have also been created and replacement of all types of older incandescent lighting really took off after the creation of white LEDs.

Today we think of virtual reality in terms of computers and other electronic gear, but there was work in this field as far back as 1962 and earlier, using other technologies. Morton Heilig invented the Sensorama Machine 1957 and received his patent in 1962 (seems that everyone was backlogged). It was a booth for up to four people that provided the illusion of reality through the use of a 3-D movie projector augmented with smell, stereo sound, seat vibrations, and wind in the hair. The movie projector relied on a special movie camera to create the dual images, similar to the Cinerama system using three cameras and screens that I mentioned in an article on US-16. Mr. Heilig expected his invention to have uses in training, though it never caught on. However, if you’ve been to theme parks, you may have seen some variation on the idea. The Bug’s Life Theater at Disneyland’s California Adventure uses all the elements of Sensorama on a theater-wide basis for its presentation of “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”.

corroded 1962 Pepsi can missing pull tab
Corroded 1962 Pepsi can, showing missing pull tab.

It seems like little things we run into everyday were all brand new in 1962! For instance, the pull-ring tab for beverage cans was invented by Alcoa aluminum and first marketed by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It evolved into the now-familiar pop-top opening some years later after concerns of all the litter caused by tossing away the pull-rings after they came off the cans. The Philips Company of the Netherlands invented and released the first compact audio-cassette in 1962. Until then, tape recording used large reel-to-reel tapes. The Corning Company invented a chemically strengthened glass it began marketing under the Chemcor brand in 1962. Though it is resistant to breakage, dents, and scratches, it failed to find much of a market until mobile computing devices become popular almost 50 years later. Now modified further, it is known as Gorilla Glass and used on your iPhone. Other 1962 patents include powder coating of metals to replace painting, a sensor for the fat content of bacon to enable accurate slicing of same-weight pieces, and the Wash ‘n Dri. The Wash ‘n Dri was the first of the pre-moistened paper towels folded into a foil packet that let you wash up on the go without a wash cloth and water. These were given away by the thousands to Kentucky Fried Chicken customers to clean up after their Finger Lickin’ Chicken dinners! I guess they were invented just in time.


So, everything around me comes from 1962 somehow! I’ll use my iPhone full of solid state semiconductors and a Gorilla Glass screen to check out fast food restaurant locations, while standing under an LED streetlight, then clean up with a Wash ‘n Dri, and drive away on the next Roadtrip-'62 ™ journey buckled up in a seatbelt, while chomping on Lemonheads and listening to some cassette tapes! What a future!

Wash 'n Dry Towelette package, 1962
Wash 'n Dry Towelette package from 1962 (Photo by Allen at Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.)

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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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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Buy yourself some of the great music of 1962!

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