While researching topics for ROADTRIP-'62 ™ , I sometimes came across information that didn’t fit anywhere. Like one of my favorite authors, Jules Verne, who used to keep items on index cards, for reference when writing his science fiction stories, I’ve kept everything! Here are 62 bits and pieces of information from 1962 that didn’t fit anywhere. They’re presented in no particular order. I hope you find something you enjoy, and maybe even use as a starting point to do your own research.
There was no cable TV in 1962! The first pay-TV test in the United States happened in Hartford, Connecticut this year. About 300 families tested paying $1 to tune in one of last year’s movies, "Sunrise at Campobello." FCC chairman Newton Minow said the outcome of the experiment would be of importance to the entire communications industry.
On October 1, 1962, James Meredith became the first black student at the University of Mississippi, at Oxford, Mississippi, requiring 3000 US Army troops to put down riots protesting his entry.
On March 2, 1962, the Philadelphia 76ers' seven-foot tall basketball center Wilt (the Stilt) Chamberlain scores a record 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks. He went on to become the first man to score over 4,000 points in a year.
On July 28, 1962, Mariner I is launched to explore Mars but falls into the Atlantic Ocean.
This year was the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, which resulted in freeing all slaves in the United States during the Civil War.
Along our route of US-23, Saginaw, Michigan removed the last 20 houseboat homes from the Saginaw River in July 1962. They were finally banned for violations of electrical, building and health codes, including reports of residents dumping sewage directly into the river. Due to previous houseboat-bridge crashes, residents had been required to obtain a permit from the police chief to live on the river. This method of living had avoided property taxes, because you had no real estate.
A handful of games that debuted in 1962:
Square Mile by Milton Bradley – one of my all time favorites!
McHale’s Navy Game by Transogram, based on a TV show
Flintstones Big Game Hunt by Whitman, based on a TV show
The Price Is Right by Lowell, based on a TV show
Roger Maris Action Baseball by Pressman, featuring a sports celebrity
1962 was the first year that Chrysler didn't come out with a new DeSoto automobile. Sales had already fallen to less than half their 1955 levels and Chrysler had announced the discontinuance in 1960. They basically built the 1961 models mostly because they still had parts on hand. My father drove an older DeSoto model for awhile when I was young, and after it quit running, it remained parked in our driveway for us to play in for a couple of years!
After his record setting year of 1961, where he hit 61 home runs, New York Yankees star Roger Maris only knocks 33 out of the park this year.
George Romney, current presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s father, was elected the first Republican governor of Michigan in 14 years. Former Vice President Richard Nixon ran a failed campaign for governor of California against Edmund “Pat” Brown, the father of the current governor of that state, Jerry Brown.
Nobel Prize in Peace went to Linus Pauling, who had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1954. He is the only man to win two undivided Nobel Prizes. In chemistry for 1962, the prize went to Max F. Perutz for work on the structure of globular proteins.
Along our route of US-23, Marion, Ohio reviews a proposal to annex 190 acres lying south of the city and on both sides of US-23. Most of the land is cemetery property or land owned by Community Memorial Hospital, but it also includes the President Harding Memorial and vacant land where a new Holiday Inn is under construction.
Bill Cosby has been quoted as saying he began standup comedy in 1962.
On June 25, 1962, by a vote of 6 to 1, the Supreme court banned prayer in public schools.
Bowling failed to become a professional spectator sport when the National Bowling League suspended operations. One championship was held in 1962, between the Detroit Thunderbirds and Twin City Skippers.
Smog was so bad in Great Britain that it was credited with killing over 100 people, the worst since 1952.
Recreational Mathematics Magazine reported that 571 Fibonacci numbers had been worked out on an IBM 7090 computer. The Fibonacci numbers are a sequence that continues to infinity, defined as the series beginning with 1 and adding the previous number to obtain the next number in the series (0,1,2,3,5,8,13, etc.) Nowadays, you can calculate beyond 100,000 Fibonacci numbers right on your home computer with a simple program.
Along our route of US-23, we could have had our Impala serviced at ABW Chevrolet in Jackson, Georgia. They were located in the heart of downtown but today there is no Chevy dealer in Jackson. The nearest one is 18 miles away in McDonough, Georgia.
In addition to Kmart, Walmart, and Target opening their first stores in 1962, the first Kohl's store was started by Max Kohl that year in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin store was very successful and before long Max Kohl decided to open other stores. Today there Kohl's stores in 47 states.
Frank Lee Morris and two brothers, John and Clarence Anglin, escaped from Alcatraz Penitentiary on June 11, 1962. A few weeks later, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy says the government will soon close Alcatraz because it’s much more expensive to feed prisoners there than at any other federal prison.
In NFL action, the Green Bay Packers won their second straight National Football League championship, defeating the New York Giants. Back in 1962, we still had a second pro league, the American Football League, where the Dallas Texans were champions over the Houston Oilers.
The 7.25 mile Mont Blanc tunnel under the Alps, between France and Italy, was completed. The roadway would not be completed for another three years. It now carries as much as one-third of Italy’s freight to northern Europe.
Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans show is exhibited in Los Angeles in 1962.
Along our route of US-23, Pine Oaks Golf Club opened in 1962 in Johnson City, Tennessee. This 18-hole municipal golf course designed by Alister MacKenzie is still open for us today.
I discovered that a great way to date advertising, packaging and mail is to just look for the ZIP Code! Because ZIP Codes began in 1963, 1962 was last year without them. It also appears that the US Post Office may have changed from 5-day to 6-day per week deliver in 1962. Congress didn’t require Saturday delivery until 1983, so eliminating it now should not be such a big deal. Residential deliveries were only 2-days per week until 1950!
It was a relatively quiet year for hurricanes and typhoons, with the most dangerous hurricane killing only 27 people on Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. A more destructive typhoon killed 150 people in the Philippines.
A handful of top songs from 1962:
Return To Sender -- Elvis Presley
He's A Rebel -- The Crystals
Ahab The Arab -- Ray Stevens
Venus In Blue Jeans -- Jimmy Clanton
Wipe Out –- The Surfaris
Unchain My Heart -- Ray Charles
Green Onions –- Booker T. And The MGs
United States farms were so productive that more crops were produced than the previous year, despite the fact that fewer acres were planted than any time since 1909.
Golfer Jack Nicklaus turned pro this year, winning the National Open and the biggest portion of the 1962 purses. He even beat Arnold Palmer at the Oakmont, Pennsylvania Open, though Palmer was still the overall master of the sport.
In 1962, Corning invents an ultra-strong glass that fails to find a market…until mobile computing devices become popular almost 50 years later. Now known as Gorilla Glass, it is resistant to breakage, dents, and scratches.
Riots broke out in West Berlin, Germany after the first anniversary of the Berlin Wall, when Soviet guards killed a man on the East side of the wall and let him bleed to death while horrified West Berliners watched.
In the world of flowers, the 1962 National Daylily winner was “Bess Ross”, with large petals, yellow with a rusty center.
Greece, which recently nearly brought ruin to the European Union, joined its forerunner, the Common Market, in 1962. In a strange foreshadowing of events of 2011, one of the first things to happen was for Greece to receive a loan from the other Common Market members. Great Britain had not yet joined the European Common Market and the year was filled with speculation over when and under what terms they might finally become a member.
Automobile battery failures will become less common after 1962, as alternators are standard on all models except Studebakers next year. The older technology generators did not charge a battery at speeds of less than 25mph.
Let’s hope our new health care law doesn’t create the same problems that Canada’s law did in 1962. There, doctors went on strike to protest the new plan. The strike continued for 23 days, and in the end doctors won back the right to treat patients outside of the government plan.
A handful of TV shows that debuted in 1962:
"The Jetsons" - cartoon
Julia Child’s "The French Chef"- instruction
"McHale’s Navy" - comedy
"The Beverly Hillbillies" - comedy
"Match Game" - game show
"The Andy Williams Show" - musical variety
A tragedy occurred at Binghamton General Hospital in Binghamton, New York, when salt was accidentally used instead of sugar in infant formula. Six infants died as a result.
Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 to win the 1962 World Cup in soccer.
Digital computers like we use today were still in development back in 1962. Instead, analog computers that basically performed mathematical calculations were still finding markets, as at the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, where engineering students were supplied with such units.
Along our route of US-23, there were very few McDonald’s restaurants in 1962. Just 4 miles west of US-23 in Saginaw, Michigan was the third McDonald’s ever opened. It opened in 1955, as one of the early franchises of the original McDonald brothers. This location still has a McDonalds! Another was located in Jacksonville, Florida at 6552 Beach Blvd. During this year, a new McDonalds in Denver, Colorado, on our US-6 roadtrip, becomes the first ever with indoor seating.
The Trans-Canada Highway was completed across Canada, after 12 years of construction. This was the first completely paved roadway across Canada, from Atlantic to Pacific.
Christmas is on a Tuesday in 1962.
Unemployment in the United States was much lower than today, ending the year at only 5.6%. Some economists theorized that 4% was as low as practical. Some labor unions negotiated work weeks as low as 25 hours.
Instant, pre-cooked bacon was perfected in 1962! It didn’t catch on for a long time, but is now a staple because we’re in such a hurry to eat. Besides refrigerated, pre-cooked bacon is also sold in a shelf-stable variety that can be stored at room temperature.
The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not ratified until 1964, but it was proposed by Congress to the states in 1962. The amendment prohibited the requirement of paying a poll tax to vote in federal elections. Poll taxes were created in many southern states after the Civil War as a measure to prevent African Americans from voting, and there were still 5 states with such taxes in 1962.
Telstar, by the Tornados, a British band not to be confused with an American surf music band, The Tornadoes, was the first number one record on the American charts by a British rock group. Even music of 1962 hailed the magic of space travel.
Along our route of US-23, Waycross, Georgia was temporarily without a minor league baseball team. The Georgia-Florida League, which included the Waycross Bears, had died off in 1958. It was revived in 1962 as a four-team circuit and the next year the Waycross Braves joined for the league’s final season.
Nuclear testing in the atmosphere by the United States ended in November, 1962. It had been carried on from time-to-time since 1945. After the Russians broke a temporary moratorium in late 1961, the US ran a series of tests from Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean known as "Operation Dominic." One negative consequence of these tests was the creation of a new radiation belt in the upper atmosphere. This interfered with satellite communications for years afterwards. After all this activity, in 1963 the United States Senate ratified the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned atmospheric tests.
The Soviet Union continued it long dominance of weight lifting, winning four gold medals at the world championships in Hungary. The US and Hungarian teams tied for second place.
Coal was actually mined in Antarctica in 1962! Scientists dug up about 200 pounds from near the South Pole, and brought it back to the US for study.
Household cleaner Mr. Clean made its debut in 1958. Within the first six months of the introduction, Mr. Clean became the top seller. In 1962, Mr. Clean grew to a 40-oz size and the character was given a first name, becoming Veritably Clean, as a result of the "Give Mr. Clean a First Name" promotion.
On February 14, 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy gives "A Tour of the White House" on television with host Charles Collingwood. Over 46 million people tune in on two networks simultaneously.
Excerpt from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's "A Tour of the White House" on CBS television
The age to receive Social Security was lowered from 65 to 62, helping to set up the problems we have with the system today of paying out too much money.
A handful of new words that came into use in 1962:
Corner back – a defensive halfback in football
Beacher – someone who frequents a beach
Fiber optics – a branch of photography designed to take pictures not aligned with a camera’s lens. This useage of the phrase is of course obsolete now, as it refers more specifically to the actual glass fiber that bends the light out of a straight line.
Retrofire – to fire a retrorocket in a spacecraft
Splashdown – the landing of a space capsule in water
Telstar – the communications satellite of AT&T that made transoceanic television possible. Notice all the space oriented words!
Weather girl – the woman who handles the weather report on television
In November, 2011, the United States dismantled the last of the most powerful nuclear bombs it ever built, known as the B53. This bomb was first built in 1962.
A handful of Broadway shows from 1962:
"Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" – a drama widely recognized as the best play of the year
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" – a musical
"The Affair" – a drama
"Stop The World – I Want to Get Off" – a musical
Along our route of US-23, Paintsville, Kentucky held its first Kentucky Apple Festival in 1962. It’s still going strong on the first full weekend in October, with live music, carnival rides, a parade, a car show and more.
1962 seemed to be the year of The Twist! Chubby Checker’s song returned to the Billboard charts as the #1 song for the year less than a year after its original run to #1. This double climb to the top has made it the #1 song of the rock music era for some analysts. Other artists also recorded songs about the dance, with seven other twist songs becoming hits in 1962. These included Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee & The Starliters, Slow Twistin' by Chubby Checker, Twistin' The Night Away by Sam Cooke, Dear Lady Twist by Gary U.S. Bonds, and Twist, Twist Senora by Gary U.S. Bonds.
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, one of my favorite books, became 100 years old in 1962. What began as stories told to a family friend was published three years later, in 1865. I read the Alice books annually for several years when I was young, probably beginning in 1962.
Kodak introduced a new 35mm version of its Kodachrome film in 1962, 2.5 times as fast as their Kodachrome II. Today, Kodak no longer makes Kodachrome at all, producing their last roll in 2009. Another old-line film maker, Polaroid, introduced an instant color film…which is also gone today.
I drank gallons of Kool-Aid! I don’t remember this green flavor: we mostly drank the red ones, grape, and orange. The smiling pitcher was originally trademarked in 1956, but redesigned in 1962.
So there’s bunch of stuff from 1962. I hope it helped to immerse you in the ambiance of the year. I’ve worked up a thirst for some Kool-Aid, but I’ll still be here next week, as ROADTRIP-'62 ™ comes to the end of the journey.