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)
5 Postcards from a US-31 Roadtrip
March 23, 2021
Today’s mini-trip on a US-numbered highway takes Roadtrip-'62 ™ to US-31, which currently runs 1280 miles from just south of Mackinaw City, Michigan to Spanish Fort, Alabama. In 1962, it was a little longer on both ends. The north end went to the Mackinac Bridge and before 1957, it went to the nearby Michigan State Ferry Docks. It shared this location with the beginnings of both US-23 and US-27, which I discussed in more detail on the first day of my US-23 roadtrip. The south end went into downtown Mobile, Alabama through the Bankhead Tunnel. From Mobile to Indianapolis, Indiana, much of the route runs near or together with a freeway, I-65. I have to confess that I have not driven any of the route south of Kentucky, but I have some favorite spots on the Michigan portion. The highway passes through five states, just missing Florida’s Panhandle corner by approximately 1000 feet.
While Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is well known for its spectacular sand dunes and sweeping Lake Michigan views, it’s too far from US-31 for my five-mile Roadtrip-'62 ™ rules. However, many other dunes are within the limit, including Ludington State Park, at Ludington, Michigan. You can hike up and down dunes for the entire day if you want, beginning with the low dunes on the south end and ending with miles of open high dunes on the north end. Trails abound and will also take you past the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, along the scenic Hamlin River for some salmon and waterfowl watching, and through some deeply shaded woods. My favorite trail is the Lost Lake Trail. This trail uses a series of boardwalks to hop from island to island in Hamlin Lake, and makes an easy loop of about 2¼ miles. I’ve seen deer, swans, frogs, beaver, herons, and even river otters on this trail! On the other hand, if you want to enjoy things from the water, you can rent canoes, kayaks, or paddleboats and paddle around Hamlin Lake on the canoe trail. Or just stay out on the great beach all day and enjoy the lovely sunset at night! If you would rather catch your sunset back in Ludington, head back to town at the end of the day and watch it with an ice cream cone from Park Dairy House of Flavors. They’ve been around since 1948 and have both great food and a great hometown ice cream parlor atmosphere.
Other sand dunes are all along the Lake Michigan shore and are also easy drives off US-31. You can find them at Lake Michigan Recreation Area in the Huron-Manistee National Forest just south of Manistee, Charles Mears State Park at Pentwater, Hoffmaster State Park at Norton Shores, Saugatuck Dunes State Park at Saugatuck, and Van Buren State Park at South Haven.
Near Lapaz, Indiana we cross US-6, which we last saw on day 18 of our roadtrip down that highway. Our next stop down US-31 is at Indianapolis, Indiana, the capital of the state. Here, we cross many US-numbered routes, which radiate like spokes on a bicycle wheel from downtown: US-36, US-40, US-52, US-136, and US-421. On the west side of town along US-136 is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the oldest motorsport tracks in the world. We’re stopping at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (IMSM). The museum was established in 1956, and moved to its current building in 1976. It houses both passenger cars and race cars, trophies, photographs, racing records, memorabilia, and fine art interpreting motorsports. The passenger cars lean toward those built in Indiana, including Duesenbergs, Marmons, and Stutzs. In addition to race cars, other vehicles that have set world land speed records are displayed, including motorcycles and dragsters. The museum displays about 75 cars at any given time, including the winning 1962 Watson Roadster driven by Rodger Ward.
Other sights to see in Indianapolis are the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, Garfield Park Conservatory, and Holliday Park. The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is a museum and memorial to the only U.S. President elected from Indiana. Harrison was the 23rd president of the United States and this building was his home. He and his wife Caroline built the house in 1874-1875 and lived here except when he was a US Senator and President. After Mr. Harrison’s death, his second wife rented the property out until 1937, when she sold it to the Jordan Conservatory of Music. The Conservatory maintained the artifacts and certain rooms as a museum, and offered tours by appointment only from the 1950s to 1974. After a renovation that year, it was opened as a full time museum.
I’ve visited the Garfield Park Conservatory several times. It’s an enjoyable stroll through their 10,000 square foot tropical rainforest and outdoor Sunken Garden and fountains. The original building was designed and constructed in 1916 and consisted of a palm house, two show houses, two plant houses, a propagating house, and a service building. In 1955, that aging wooden Conservatory was replaced with a welded aluminum-framed building. This art deco style building was the first aluminum building in the United States.
The “Races of Man” sculpture in Holliday Park was a mystery to me the first time I visited. I went to the park for their 3.5 miles of hiking trails and views of the White River and saw this looming overhead. The sculpture was not signed at that time, but I have since found it is part of the ruins of the St. Paul Building of New York City. It was moved here after demolition as part of a contest. These sculptures by Karl Bitter have sort of traveled back home, as they were carved of Indiana limestone.
At Sellersburg, Indiana (just north of Louisville, Kentucky), US-31 splits into two routes, US-31E and US-31W. These rejoin at Nashville, Tennessee. US-31W passes near both Fort Knox and Mammoth Cave National Park, while US-31E passes by the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site. It’s easy to see why highway planners could not decide which route to sign as US-31! Fort Knox is a United States Army installation in Kentucky, 30 miles south of Louisville. Though the name conjures the storehouse of gold used as movie plot devices, the United States Bullion Depository is actually a separate but adjacent facility. The army fort was first constructed in 1918 and has grown and changed missions several times over the years. Fort Knox is named after Henry Knox, the country's first Secretary of War. It mostly housed the US Army Armor Center and Armor School, used by both the Army and the Marine Corps to train crews on tanks. The last tank trained on was the M1 Abrams main battle tank in 2011. The United States Bullion Depository is a fortified vault building operated by the United States Department of the Treasury. It stores over half the country's gold reserves, with the remaining gold held in the Philadelphia Mint, the Denver Mint, the West Point Bullion Depository, and the San Francisco Assay Office. The Depository was completed in December 1936. Unfortunately for us, no visitors are permitted and they never have been.
Farther down US-31W, at Park City, Kentucky, is Mammoth Cave National Park, which has the world’s longest known cave system. Different cave tours use different cave entrances, some natural and other manmade. The Broadway Tour uses the cave's most famous entrance and a path used for nearly two centuries. The Cleaveland Avenue Tour requires a bus ride to another entrance. It’s sights include sparkling walls of gypsum and unique tube-shaped passages. For folks that have already heard enough cave tour guides’ bad jokes, the Discovery Tour is self-guiding! The Domes & Dripstones Tour begins in a sinkhole, passes through huge dome rooms, and ends in the dripstone section known as Frozen Niagara. It ascends and descends hundreds of stairs and several steep inclines. Besides the caves, there are over 80 miles of trails in the park for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails offer wildlife spotting, river views, sinkholes, cave-fed springs, cemeteries, and views of the historic entrances to Mammoth Cave and Dixon Cave. The cemeteries, and old church buildings, remain from the 30 small communities that were on the land before it became a national park in 1941. Some of the church buildings are open for viewing.
This is the farthest south on US-31 I have been and one of the first places I visited when I began working and had vacation time to spend. It’s a bit odd to see a replica of an ancient Greek temple in Tennessee, but Nashville has one! The Parthenon is a full-scale replica, complete with a full-scale replica of the Athena statue of the original. It’s here because Nashville was once known as the “Athens of the South”, so of course when Tennessee held a Centennial Exposition here in 1897, Nashville wanted to look like ancient Athens. As with all the buildings of the exposition, it was built to be temporary. But while the others were removed at the end of the celebration, Nashville’s citizens had grown so fond of The Parthenon that they kept it. As the exterior coating, sculpture, and decorative work were all made of plaster, they soon deteriorated and in 1920, the city began construction of a permanent replacement. Casts were made of the original marble sculptures dating back to 438 B.C., housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Great Britain, and the building was rebuilt from concrete and brick to last. The building was completed in 1931 but the great statue of Athena in the naos was not finished until 1990, with final gilding and painting finished in 2002. The Parthenon serves as the City of Nashville's art museum. The main focus of the Parthenon's permanent collection is 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. It also holds a variety of temporary shows and exhibits throughout the year.
Montgomery is the capital Alabama, the last of three capitals we visit on this trip (Indianapolis and Nashville being the others). The Alabama State Capitol is open to walk-in visitors. The current building is the second Capitol; the first burned in 1849. The Capitol is a working museum and underwent a major restoration in 1992. Restored areas open to the public include the House of Representatives, Senate Chamber, Old Supreme Court Chamber & Library, and Rotunda. The Senate chamber, restored to its 1861 appearance, has a trompe l'oeil ceiling - a style of painting in which objects are painted to fool the eye into seeing depth. The twin cantilevered spiral staircases are one of the most famous features. Monuments, statues, and gardens are contained on the five-acre surrounding grounds.
One block south of the Capitol is the First White House of the Confederacy, a 1835 Italianate-style house in which President Jefferson Davis and family lived in 1861, while the Confederate capital was in Montgomery. It is furnished with original period pieces from the 1850s and 1860s, and is also open to the public. It was owned by many different people after 1861 until the White House Association of Alabama bought it with the intention of preserving the building. It was moved to its present location and restored in 1921.
The end of US-31 is in Mobile, Alabama, and the highway passes under Mobile Bay in the Bankhead Tunnel to reach the city. Here’s a bonus postcartd for you! The tunnel was opened in 1940, and allowed a shortcut of nearly 8 miles off the old route using a bridge north of town. The tunnel was built in sections, floated to position, sunk next to the previous section, joined underwater, pumped dry, and finished in place. In 1973, a new freeway tunnel opened adjacent to the old tunnel, but you can still come in the old route on what is now US-90 and US-98. The Bankhead Tunnel required paying a toll back in 1962, but that was abolished when the freeway route opened.
I’ve never been to Bellingrath Gardens, about 23 miles south of Mobile, as I’ve never been to this southern coastline of the country. But I need to start traveling in person again and this is on my list! The gardens opened to the public in 1932 and is the state's oldest public garden. It is at the historic former home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. Walter made his fortune as one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast, which allowed the couple to build the house and gardens. The home is also open for tours. If I get there, I’ll of course write it up here on Roadtrip-'62 ™.
Last-Gasp Win for the Celtics - Remembering NBA Finals of 1962
February 2, 2021
The 1962 NBA Finals brought together the Western champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Boston Celtics, who were the Eastern Division champions. It turned out to be an engrossing affair that went down to the wire and that set the scene for one of the sport’s enduring rivalries.The History
The Celtics were playing in their sixth consecutive NBA finals and were in the middle of a golden era, driven by the iconic Bill Russell, that would see them win 11 out of 13 NBA titles, including eight victories in a row. This was one of seven Finals meetings between these teams in the same decade, as they fought to become the league’s top team. Ultimately, the Celtics dominated the 60s, but it was in 1962 that the Lakers were a single throw from toppling them. The Celtic got to this stage by winning 60 regular season games and only losing 20 of them. Across on the West coast, the Lakers won 54 and lost 26.The First Games in Boston
These Finals started off with a young Lakers team lining up against a far more experienced Celtics lineup. As well as the formidable Russell, who was arguably even better than Michael Jordan, the Boston team had top scorer Tom Heinsohn and other great players such as Sam Jones and Frank Ramsey. It is fair to say that Russell is one of the most underrated NBA players in history, even though he doesn’t figure in BetAmerica’s top 10. You can check the complete list here: https://extra.betamerica.com/nba/the-nbas-most-underrated-players/ .
The Lakers relied on big names like Elgin Baylor and Jerry West and were thought to be more athletic than the Celtics, if less experienced. Russell inspired his team to a 122-108 victory in the first game in Boston, with 15 points, 28 rebounds, and 6 assists. Baylor outscored him, with 35 points, but was unable to guide his team to victory. The second game took place the following day, also in Boston, but the LA team won by 129-122. Baylor scored 36 points and Jerry West discovered his best form with 40 points. So, it was 1-1 after the first couple of games.The Next Games in Los Angeles
The next two games in LA were incredibly tense, as both teams understood the critical importance of winning. The third game of the series was enthralling, with the Lakers finally edging a 117-115 win. A day later, the Celtics turned in a powerful performance to win the fourth game of the series by 115 to 103, leveling the Finals at 2-2. Even if you bet on NBA games regularly and watch a lot of basketball, you will be hard pushed to find a more finely-balanced series of games.Back to Boston for Match 5 and LA for Number 6
The fifth game was another close affair, with very little between the teams all the way. This time, though, it is the turn of Elgin Baylor to lead the way with his 61 points still the top performance in any NBA Finals game. Baylor’s genius inspired a 126-121 victory for the LA team. The Lakers were now expected to win the sixth game on their home territory to seal the Finals victory. However, Baylor was limited to 34 points by Tom Sanders this time and the Celtics won by 119-105 to set up a thrilling decider in the seventh and final game of the series.The Seventh Game Turns into an Epic
April 18, 1962 saw these closely-matched teams meet yet again, this time in Boston. It was an eagerly-awaited affair, as the Lakers were looking to get their first title since 1954 while the Celtics wanted to keep a stranglehold on the NBA. It was incredibly tight and tense. With five seconds left of regulation time, the Lakers’ Frank Selvy missed an open 12-footer from the baseline that would have sealed the title. Instead, it ended 100-100 and overtime was needed. Bill Russell had a memorable performance, as he set a remarkable record of 40 rebounds, giving him a Finals-best record of 189 over the seven games. On the other side, Elgin Baylor was forced off after six personal fouls, having scored 41 points. The Celtics won 110-107 to set themselves up perfectly for a period of domination, while the Lakers were left to rue a missed opportunity and wait for another chance to claim basketball’s top title.
Roadtrip Highlights Along US-30, The Lincoln Highway
January 12, 2021
This week, Roadtrip-'62 ™ travels US-30 and the Lincoln Highway. Route US-30 is the third longest US-numbered route, after US-20 and US-6. It runs 3073 miles from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Astoria, Oregon: ocean to ocean. While the east end has always been in Atlantic City, the west end was originally intended to be in Salt Lake City, Utah when the US system was planned. However, the states of Oregon and Idaho protested their proposed route of US-20 because it went through Yellowstone National Park, which charged a toll and was closed in winter. To provide those states with an all-season, toll-free coast-to-coast highway, US-30 was relocated during final planning in 1927. You can read more about the route planning at my US Highway Systems page. It became the first route to be paved from coast to coast, in 1935.
The route’s association with the Lincoln Highway also goes back to that original planning, and as a consequence, US-30 from Atlantic City to Granger, Wyoming follows that route. The Lincoln Highway continues southwest from there to San Francisco, California instead of following US-30. We have crossed US-30 on our US-23 trip in mid Ohio at Upper Sandusky and Marion. We also crossed it twice on our US-6 trip. Once at Joliet, Illinois and once beginning at Council Bluffs, Iowa through Omaha, Nebraska.
If you’re looking for history in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the famous board game of Monopoly was designed around the streets of Atlantic City. Highway US-30 begins near the Boardwalk and you can see other well-known streets nearby, including Tennessee Avenue, Vermont Avenue, other streets named after states, Atlantic Avenue, Mediterranean Avenue, and the railroads that once came here like Reading Railroad and B&O Railroad. If you’re looking for 1962 history here, look no further than the Ash Wednesday Storm, a violent and destructive storm of March 7, 1962. It affected the coast from Florida to New England, smashing 45,000 buildings and killing 32 people in New Jersey alone. Most of the hotels in Atlantic City were flooded and it even destroyed the weather recording equipment on the Steel Pier! I have more information on the storm in the Front Page News of March 10, 1962 page.
The Lincoln Highway and US-30 run through the center of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, crossing the tree-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This street is the home of some of Philadelphia’s best cultural tourist attractions and I spent several days there on one vacation. The star attraction is The Franklin Institute, one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the country. It was founded in 1824 and has become the most visited museum in Pennsylvania! The current science museum building dates from 1934, so we could have seen it on a 1962 roadtrip. There have since been several remodelings and additions, and the institute now contains more than 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, the Tuttleman IMAX Theater, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, and the Fels Planetarium, the second oldest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. You can easily spend a whole day at the science and technology exhibits. Other places to visit line the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including Swann Memorial Fountain, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, the Rodin Gardens and Museum, and the Parkway Central Library. You can even make your own run up the “Rocky” steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Besides The Franklin Institute, my favorite is the Rodin Museum and Gardens. The museum opened in 1929. The entire museum is a tribute to the late 19th-century French sculptor Auguste Rodin and includes nearly 150 bronze, marble, and plaster statues, such as The Thinker, and related materials such as studies for them. The adjacent Rodin Gardens provide a lovely and calm distraction from the stress of the city.
As US-30 is a transcontinental highway, many of my other roadtrip pages have mentioned cities and attractions along the route. Gettysburg National Military Park, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was covered when I discussed highway US-15. The Fort Pitt Bridge, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was discussed when my US-22 trip went through that city. And I also wrote about the Andy Warhol Museum of the same city after I made a visit there. Artist Andy Warhol is uniquely tied to 1962 as he had his first showing of his Campbell's Soup Cans on July 9, 1962. More notably, we crossed two parts of US-30 on our US-23 roadtrip: US-30N at Upper Sandusky, Ohio and US-30S at Marion, Ohio. Upper Sandusky still has a section of the Lincoln Highway paved in brick, only 16-feet wide. In 1962, US-30 traveled two paths through much of Ohio, but has since been reduced to a single route approximately along old US-30N. Sometimes several cities wanted to be on a particular numbered route, even though they were located along two parallel roads. The solution adopted was to split routes, creating for such roads as US-30N and US-30S. These divided routes were not popular even after adoption though, as AASHTO (the organization governing US highway route numbers) has been trying to eliminate them since 1934.
If you’re driving across Indiana on US-30, a pleasant afternoon can be spent at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. This zoo had its beginning in 1952 as a nature preserve, but in 1962 planning began to turn it into a full-fledged zoo. I opened three years later and has been expanded since. Today it has everything from a Canadian lynx to a Sumatran orangutan to a Madagascar giant tortoise. Also in Fort Wayne is the grave of Johnny Appleseed. Born John Chapman, he spent nearly 48 years planting apple orchards throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. At the time of his death in 1845, near Fort Wayne, one of his orchards contained 15,000 apple trees! He is buried in Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park in a fenced-in plot. Continuing west into Illinois, though US-30 never enters Chicago, it gets close enough that it was also given an alternate route, US-30ALT, to connect to the city. This no route longer exists, and US-30 uses its old route through Joliet, Illinois. There, it crosses the most famous US-numbered highway of all, Route 66. It also crosses US-6, so I covered Joliet on two pages of that roadtrip.
A wonderful spot to hike along US-30 in Iowa is Palisades-Kepler State Park. The park was established in 1922 and is home to the oldest trees in Iowa, the Eastern Red Cedar. Many can be found clinging to the limestone bluffs above the Cedar River. The trees in this area are estimated to be over 400 years old, with one dating back to 1523, according to core samples taken in the 1960s! You can see the trees and more along Cedar Cliff Trail, which is part of the 6-mile trail system. You will also see dramatic river bluffs, deep ravines, Indian mounds, and a large variety of wildflowers and wildlife. For non-hikers, the Cedar River offers excellent fishing for a variety of species, including channel catfish, bass and bluegills.
Highway US-30 used to split again as it left Iowa, with a US-30ALT heading south to Omaha, Nebraska, while the main route crossed into Nebraska at Blair. Since 1969, only the main route remains. Speaking of Omaha, Nebraska in 1962, Roadtrip-'62 spends the entire day there for Day 25 of our US-6 trip. What's left in Omaha from 1962? As usual, quite a bit, but quite a bit has been lost. We saw museums, a zoo, former industrial sites, and even a cathedral. Leaving Omaha, the Lincoln Highway and US-30 bumps up against The Platte River at Fremont, Nebraska for a long trip west along this broad, shallow, meandering river with a sandy bottom and many islands. The Platte River was one of the most significant rivers in the westward expansion of the United States, as it provided the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon, California, Mormon, and Bozeman trails. The Pony Express mail route also used this river corridor. It seems a fitting route for a major transcontinental highway like the Lincoln Highway. Today, the I-80 freeway also travels this river route all the way west to Ogallala, Nebraska. Among several State Recreation Areas and State Historic Parks along the river, Fort Kearny State Recreation Area offers 186 acres of river bottom lands dotted with eight sandpit lakes. In the spring, the world's largest concentration of sandhill cranes and waterfowl gathers in the central Platte River valley. You can see them from the nature trails, along with some 100-year old cottonwood trees. And visit the historical exhibits at nearby Fort Kearny State Historical Park.
At Ogallala, US-26 heads northwest and you can read about that route and its journey to the Pacific Ocean, where US-30 will meet it again. In Wyoming, US-30 crosses through the Great Divide Basin, an area that does not drain either to the Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean. The basin is a high, dry desert with sand dunes in its central western part. A monument to Henry B. Joy, the first president of the Lincoln Highway Association, was placed here, at what was once thought to be a crossing of the Continental Divide, but was later moved to nearby Sherman Summit. Antelope are all over the Red Desert, which is one of the most important pronghorn antelope ranges in the state. Near the west edge of Wyoming, US-30 again splits into two parts. The old US-30S went southerly to Ogden, Utah, while US-30N headed northwesterly to Pocatello, Idaho. They rejoined near Burley, Idaho, but US-30S has been decommissioned and replaced by the I-84 freeway.
Through Idaho, US-30 largely follows the Snake River, and passes by several waterfalls. First up was American Falls, at the city of the same name. Unfortunately, this falls no longer exists, as it was obliterated in 1925 when the American Falls Dam was constructed to provide power for the area. This dam also inundated to city of American Falls, which was moved. The old townsite sits at the bottom of the reservoir, northwest of the present city. Only the Oneida Milling and Elevator Company’s grain elevator remains in its original location, with part of it above water. At the city of Twin Falls, Idaho, Shoshone Falls still exists, and at 212 feet high it’s 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls. That makes it high enough to form the upper limit of fish migration, including salmon, in the Snake River. In summer months, you will see a much smaller flow than historically, because a dam above the falls diverts most of the water to irrigation uses.
In Oregon, US-30 travels through the Columbia River Gorge, providing roadtrip travelers with spectacular scenery of cliffs, waterfalls, dense vegetation, and beautiful old concrete arch bridges. Emerging from the gorge at Astoria, Oregon, the landmark Astoria Column is a fitting endpoint for the highway. This historic column provides a panoramic view from the top of the splendor of the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia River, and the Coast Range of mountains. The monument was dedicated in 1926, and is located just a few blocks from the end of US-30, so we could have visited in 1962. The Astoria Column is one of a planned group of monuments along the highway, of which few were built. The monument stands 600 feet above sea level and was modeled after the Trajan Column in Rome. It features a hand-painted spiral frieze on the exterior, and a spiral staircase on the interior. Italian artist Attilio Pusterla created the exterior decorations using a method called sgraffito, commemorating the historic events that occurred at the mouth of the Columbia River. That brings us to the end of US-30, so I’ll see you soon on another Roadtrip-'62 ™ journey.
Camping in 1962 - What it Was Really Like
December 22, 2020
by David Gray
Today, I welcome another guest post to Roadtrip-'62 ™. David Gray of the “Best Tent for You” blog compares old style camping to today’s. If you have something to say about 1962, drop me a line and maybe you can appear here next.
The way that we used to camp years ago was a completely different experience than it is in today’s day and age. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of technology causing distractions and it was all about being completely in the moment and surrounded by nature. You had no choice but to bond with those you camped with, be it family or friends. The more technology we seem to have, the more it seems like we want to escape and get away from all the buzz. It's nostalgic for some, which is understandable when camping was, and still is, used as a way to destress and disconnect with the world while reconnecting with others we care about.
Gathering wood for a fire was a must for everyone, as well as getting water from a pump and sleeping in extremely small tents. There were no high tech portable gadgets like water filters and purifier which can be used to clean water now: back then they had to filter water through clean clothing or do things like boiling water to help remove the impurities and bacteria. Tents had to be small and light to walk into a campsite. That means that it was impossible to stand up, or even sit up, inside them. Since tent pegs were often wooden, and not plastic like nowadays, a hammer was a must to bring along on camping trips. There was no way of getting those stakes into the ground otherwise. When it came to finding a place to camp, word of mouth was the best method. Eventually, you’d hear about a particular field, probably on the outskirts of town, that people were using to camp. Some small communities still operate their own tourist camps.
Since their establishment in 1910, Boy Scouts went on camping trips every year. The Girl Scouts were established in 1912, and they too would learn wilderness survival, such as learning to cook meals on an open fire. Fun fact; the first official mention of s’mores appeared in a Girl Scouts manual in 1927. Following the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides movement, patrol tents became a thing which were usually 8 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 3 feet high, providing plenty of room for campers to move around in – an absolute luxury. It was also made of heavy-duty waterproof canvas, so it was pretty durable and reliable: surprisingly not too much different from the best canvas tents today. Campers would bring along things from home to make things more comfortable such as books and even furniture. Some even brought along porcelain plates and teacups; I guess that’s what glamping was like.
Later on, in the 1960s, campers started taking their RVs with them, or the famous Volkswagen Westfalia Camper instead. Camper vans meant being able to bring even more things along with you, and thus making camping easier and more comfortable. Camping in the winter wasn’t really an option. Though there wasn’t much snow on the east coast, there were long periods of sub-zero temperatures.
It was more work and hassle to camp back then, much more manual labor was involved, but surely it made it even more enjoyable, satisfying, and worth it. Camping started long ago, and it is still very popular today. With the pandemic still going on, and everybody’s holiday plans hitting the fan, there is no better time than now to get into camping. It is a type of vacation after all and is guaranteed to have positive effects on you. A couple of campgrounds Roadtrip-'62 ™ journeys have passed include Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, just off US-2 at Nashua, Montana, and Jenny Riley State Resort Park, on US-23 at Prestonsburg, Kentucky.
News of November 17, 1962
November 17, 2020
Instead of going out on the road today, Roadtrip-'62 ™ reports some of the news headlines from the United States of November 17, 1962. This day was a Saturday, so as a kid I would have been watching cartoons in the morning and playing in the afternoon, and not have been aware of the news. The calendar for 1962 was last the same in 2018 and will next be the same as 1962 in the year 2029! You can find a lot of calendars and view the entire year on the Calendars of 1962 page.
President John F. Kennedy dedicated the brand new Dulles International Airport today. The need for a second airport near the capital was identified shortly after the end of World War II and Congress passed the Washington Airport Act in 1950, and amended it in 1958, to provide for construction. The site is 26 miles from Washington, D.C. and was the first airport in the country to be designed specifically for commercial jets. Construction began in September 1958. Architect Eero Saarinen wanted to create something more than just another airport, by expressing "the soul of the airport." He designed the Terminal Building and the control tower in that spirit and declared it was the best thing he had ever done. The airport was named after the late US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. A unique feature was the specially-designed Mobile Lounges. These somewhat bus-like vehicles were designed by the Chrysler Corporation in association with the Budd Company, were 54-feet long, and capable of carrying 102 passengers, 71 of them seated. At the terminal, you would board the Mobile Lounge and it would take you directly to your aircraft protected from weather, jet noise and blast, all without walking long walking distances.
President John F. Kennedy’s Remarks at the Dedication of Dulles International Airport, November 17, 1962.
Also on this day, Arthur Vining Davis died at age 95. He was known as the third-richest person in the world at the time, with assets of $400 million (comparable to $3.2 billion in 2017). He had acquired his fortune as the CEO and chairman of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). Even today, we see the effects of his money, as he left the majority to several trusts. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations he had established in 1952 continue to provide financial assistance to educational, religious, cultural, and scientific institutions. If you watch anything on the PBS network, you have undoubtedly heard opening credits state that some of the funding comes from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.
Looking over headlines from the Jackson Advocate newspaper of Jackson, Mississippi, it appears that 1962 was a good year for the movement of black people into mainstream political positions. The newspaper is known as “The Voice of Black Mississippians”, has been published since 1938, and is still in business. It is Mississippi’s oldest continuously published member of the nation’s black press. Headlines for November 17, 1962 include: “Negro Congressman Elected in California”, “Negro Elected to Michigan Supreme Court”, “Negro Elected Massachusetts Attorney General,” “Negro Elected State Treasurer of Connecticut.” These refer to the following elections. Augustus F. Hawkins in California, where he served 56 years in both the California Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the first black politician west of the Mississippi River elected to the House. Also, the election of Justice Otis M. Smith, who was first appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1961 and had just won re-election. He was the first black justice on any state supreme court since reconstruction. Also, Edward Brooke became the first African-American to be elected attorney general of any state. In 1966, he became the first African-American popularly to be elected to the United States Senate, where he represented Massachusetts in the Senate from 1967 to 1979. And finally, Gerald A. Lamb was elected Connecticut State Treasurer and served from 1963 through 1970.
Though a nuclear bomb test occurred in Semipalitinsk, Soviet Union this day and not in the United States, tests were major news here anyway. It had been less than two weeks since the Soviet Union had agreed to remove their nuclear missiles from Cuba, and confirmation would not be announced by the United States until November 20th. Semipalitinsk, in Eastern Kazakhstan, was the primary testing site for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk between 1949 and 1989 and closed the site in 1991.
Much bigger news was the FBI’s foiling of a bombing plot in New York City. Three Cuban agents: Suero, Garcia, and Santiesteban were apprehended just about a week before their planned attack on Macy’s, Gimbels, and Bloomingdale’s department stores and Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. The blasts were to involve 500 kilos of TNT, which is five times the amount used in 2004 by al Qaeda’s 10-location attack on the Madrid, Spain subway system! The plan was to have the bombs explode on the day after Thanksgiving, when the biggest department stores on earth would be packed with shoppers on the year’s biggest shopping day. Macy’s got 50,000 shoppers that day. The conspirators were members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations working in concert with members of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, an outfit that became much better known a year later when member Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy. Some analysts believe the plot was hatched because the Soviet Union had decided to remove their nuclear missiles from Cuba, and that Cuba’s plans to attack the United States were actually a bigger factor in Khrushchev's decision to remove the missiles than President Kennedy's naval blockade. After all, Cuban leader Che Guevara told the London Daily Worker, “If the missiles had remained, we would have shot them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York City.”
"Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons, 1962
In entertainment news, the number one song in the US on November 17, 1962 was "Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons. Bill Anderson had the number one country song with “Mama Sang a Song”. It was both football and basketball season in November. The Alabama Crimson Tide lost a game to the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets 7–6. Though Alabama was the #1 ranked college football team, this loss brought an end to a 19-game winning streak. And the Los Angeles Lakers squeaked out a win over the Chicago Zephyrs, 110-109. I hope you’re enjoying 1962: next week Roadtrip-'62 ™ will get back on the road for more fun!
5 Roadtrip Highlights Along US-29
October 21, 2020
This week we look at highway US-29. This route runs about 1,036 miles today, from Ellicott City, Maryland, a western suburb of Baltimore, to Pensacola, Florida. This is the same route it had in 1962. Strangely, the portion from Ellicott City to Culpeper, Virgina was intended to only be temporary when it was extended in 1933. At the time, it was expected that US-29 would eventually end up on a by-pass around Washington and Baltimore and then probably be extended via Philadelphia to New York City. Instead, the road still goes right through the historic center of Washington, D.C., where US-29 crosses the Potomac River on the Francis Scott Key Bridge. This beautiful concrete arch bridge was completed in 1923 and is Washington's oldest surviving bridge across the Potomac River. Farther south, quite a bit of US-29 now parallels the I-85 freeway between Greensborough, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina and from Atlanta, Georgia to Tuskegee, Alabama. Otherwise, you can drive pretty much the same route as in 1962.
My first recommendation to visit on this five-site road trip is the B&O Railroad Museum, right near the highway’s beginning in Ellicott City, Maryland. The museum opened in 1953 and was originally named the Baltimore & Ohio Transportation Museum. As with most museums, it has expanded and rebuilt over the years so I’m certain we can see much more today then back in 1962. The museum is located in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's old Mount Clare Station and adjacent roundhouse. These date to 1829, making the complex the oldest railroad manufacturing site in the United States. It is also the site of the first regular railroad passenger service in the country, in 1830, and the first telegraph message, by inventor Samuel F. B. Morse in 1844. The railroad equipment and artifacts here span the entire history of railroading, with 250 pieces of railroad rolling stock, 15,000 artifacts, four 19th-century buildings, and even a mile of railroad track. They offer train rides on that track, and also display both an outdoor G-scale model railroad layout and an indoor HO scale model. The museum and station were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
The last time I visited Washington, D.C., I toured all the usual tourist sites, both new and places we could have seen in 1962. One of my favorites was the Library of Congress. I love books, maps and libraries in general and the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library is the grandest I’ve seen. The ornamentation, artwork, and sculpture keeps you looking in every direction as you tour the building. A number of historical exhibits complement the building and it is therefore also a museum. When I visited, there was an exhibit of historical maps and an exhibit on Bob Hope, giving a bit of a 1962 connection through photos. There are also tours of the other two buildings, the James Madison and John Adams Buildings. The James Madison Building is too new for our Roadtrip-’62, as it was only opened in 1980. If you can’t make it to Washington, there is even an online tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building. If you’re interested in other sites, you might try The White House. Tours were offered in 1962 and are again available, but only by reservation today. And more of Washington is covered at my road trip overview of highway US-1.
More history of our government is just down the road in Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Built on a family plantation, Monticello was Jefferson’s home beginning in 1770, while it was only partly completed. He continually redesigned and rebuilt the home for more than forty years, from 1769 through 1809. From 1784 to 1789 he moved to Paris, France as the United States Minister Plenipotentiary for Negotiating Treaties. When he returned, he continued to live here until he became the third president of the United States, from 1801 to 1809. The house we see today still contains about 60 percent items that may be original to Thomas Jefferson. Other items are period pieces or reproductions. The original pieces had to be reunited with the house, as they had been sold off to pay debts upon Jefferson’s death. The house itself was sold several times until donated to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns Monticello today, in 1923. The Uriah P. Levy family owned and preserved the home for many of the years between. My favorite rooms are the library and the service corridor under the house. Jefferson’s own bed chamber, with silk curtains, marble-topped tables, and armchairs brought from his house in Paris, is also an interesting room.
Route US-29 crosses our US-23 trip in Atlanta, Georgia. I cover a lot of tourist sites in two pages about Atlanta, so I won’t repeat here. Breezing through Georgia and Alabama, we find the Conecuh National Forest, near Dixie, Alabama. Except for crossing a tiny corner of the Tuskegee National Forest, also in Alabama, this is the only National Forest on US-29. Conecuh National Forest was created in 1936 after the area was clear-cut for lumber. It was reforested with slash pine, which created a different type of forest than the native longleaf pine that was lumbered off. Species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker were nearly wiped out, but are now on the rise as the area is reforested with longleaf pine. There are still two forest lookout towers standing in the National Forest here, built about 1938. The main stop for tourists is Open Pond Recreation Area, with facilities also built about 1938. A picnic shelter, fishing piers, and trails are here around a small, natural sinkhole lake. The south loop of the Conecuh Trail leads to Blue Springs, a large natural spring of clear blue water.
Pensacola, Florida is the end of US-29, downtown at US-98. The city is nicknamed "The City of Five Flags", because five governments have ruled it during its history: Spain (Castile), France, Great Britain, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America. Pensacola Bay has been a desireable ocean harbor since the Spanish arrived in 1559. Fort San Carlos de Barrancas was built by Spanish forces in 1797. It was later rebuilt after United States forces took the area, and Pensacola Navy Yard was added in 1825. The first Pensacola Lighthouse was built the year before and the current light in 1859. Today the fort and lighthouse are open to the public but they were not in 1962. The US Army deactived it after World War II but it was not transferred to the National Park Service until 1971. After extensive restoration, Fort Barrancas was opened to the public 10 years later. The Navy Yard was eventually renamed Pensacola Naval Air Station and today it is the base of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team (the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron) and the National Naval Aviation Museum. You can sometimes see the squadron practicing overhead! The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum. First proposed in 1955 by Captain Magruder H. Tuttle, the project was finally approved on December 14, 1962. Opened in 1963, it has been expanded many times and now encompasses 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and 37-acres of grounds. There are more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation, along with uniforms, flight gear, weaponry, medals and decorations.
In 1962, the city advertised the Pensacola Beach Pier as “The World’s Longest Fishing Pier”. This 1,471 feet long pier is conveniently located on Casino Beach near entertainment and restaurants. If you do not arrive with fishing equipment, you can rent everything from fishing rods and baits down to coolers. During the summer might catch Bluefish, Pompano, Redfish, Spanish Mackeral, spotted Seatrout, or even Flounder, Cobia, or Tarpon. I’ll just enjoy a walk along the pier to try to catch a glimpse of manatees, cow rays, dolphins or other sea creatures. As the city is frequently subject to hurricane damage, I’ll also keep my ear on a radio, ready to take a quick Roadtrip-'62 ™ out of here if one threatens.
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2021 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2021 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.