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)
Roadtrip Highlights Along US-26
March 24, 2020
Next up on the Roadtrip-'62 ™ review of US-numbered routes, is US-26. This route runs 1,510 miles from Ogallala, Nebraska to Cannon Beach Jct., Oregon, though in 1962 it ran an extra 47 miles west to the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. There, it ended at the same point as US-30, which I find interesting because it also began at US-30 back in Nebraska! In Nebraska and Wyoming, much of the route follows the North Platte River and tributaries, which presented a convenient route to the west coast during pioneer days. Both the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail followed the river, with the Oregon Trail on the south bank and the Mormon Trail on the north bank. Highway US-26 bounces back and forth from one side of the river to the other. Near Guernsey State Park in Wyoming, the Oregon Trail Ruts are actual wagon ruts that have been carved into the soft sandstone.
So let’s begin at Ogallala and follow the old wagon route west! Very quickly, we come to Chimney Rock National Historic Site, near Bayard, Nebraska. Chimney Rock is a prominent geological rock formation that was a landmark for settlers traveling the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail. The spire 480 rises about 480 feet above the North Platte River Valley. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1956, though some of the land was given by the Frank Durnal family to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1940. Today there is a visitor center, but in its early years there was only a picnic site. At the Chimney Rock Gift Shop you can buy a piece of local rock to take with you.
About 18 miles west, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is another prominent rock formation, Scotts Bluff National Monument. This site was designated a National Monument in 1919 and protects over 3,000 acres of historic overland trail remnants and the bluffs, along with some mixed-grass prairie, badlands, and area along the North Platte River. The visitor center at the base of the bluff serves as a starting point for hiking tours of the bluffs. There is also a roadway leading to the top of the 800-foot high Scotts Bluff, which was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The road goes through three tunnels on its way to the top and provides easy access to the summit, where there is another trailhead. As Nebraska is generally only a rolling landscape, these are the only three vehicular tunnels in the state. Also within the monument is the reconstructed Rodidoux Trading Post, a reproduction of the trading post that was located here in the early 1850s. You can see an exhibit of the furs, traps, beads, and cookware that was sold from the trading post. Wagon trails and several markers show the original path of the trail within the park.
Video tour of Fort Laramie, Wyoming
Another important site along the famous westward trails is Fort Laramie National Historic Site, near the town of the same name. Originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834 known as Fort William, the fort evolved into the largest post on the Northern Plains before its abandonment in 1890. It was located at an advantageous spot at confluence of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers, just east of the long climb to the best and lowest crossing point of the Rocky Mountains at South Pass, Wyoming. The post originally did good business trading commercial goods for beaver pelts and buffalo hides, but by the 1840s it began doing a seasonal business catering to the needs of emigrants heading west to Utah and the west coast. By 1849 these travelers were estimated to number between 20,000 and 40,000. The fort was sold several times, and that year, the U.S. Army purchased the fort as part of a plan to establish a military presence along the emigrant trails and renamed it Fort Laramie. It next became the primary hub for transportation and communication through the central Rocky Mountain region. Emigrant trails, stagecoach lines, the Pony Express, and even the transcontinental telegraph all passed through the post. After 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed through Utah, wagon traffic past the fort began decreasing. As the Indian Wars eventually ended, Fort Laramie's importance diminished, so it was abandoned and sold piecemeal at public auction in 1890.
Over the next 48 years, the buildings deteriorated but future preservation of the site was secured in 1938 when Fort Laramie became part of the National Park System. Today, you can see the visitor center located in the restored 1884 Commissary Storehouse, tour a museum, and explore the grounds including some remaining ruins. Many buildings have been restored to the period from 1849 to the late 1880s. During summer months, staff members and volunteers appear in period dress to bring history alive on the grounds. There is also a hiking trail that leads to the confluence of the Platte and Laramie Rivers.
Highway US-26 continues to follow the North Platte River through an agricultural area to the industrial city of Casper, Wyoming. There are several other Oregon Trail historical sites along this portion of the road, including museums in Douglas and Glenrock, Wyoming. At Guernsey, Wyoming are Oregon Trail Ruts and Register Cliff. The cliffs in Guernsey State Park have inscriptions of the names of the people making the journey; a museum offers information on the trail. Wagon ruts carved into the sandstone on The Oregon Trail can still be seen just 1/2 mile south of Guernsey while the ruts are actual wagon ruts that have carved into the soft sandstone. From 1841-1869, the constant travel of people, their wagons, and their animals wore the trail from two to six feet down into a sandstone ridge here, creating the best-preserved set of Oregon Trail ruts anywhere along its former length. Register Cliff is only two miles southeast of town and was used by pioneers to carve their names into the soft sandstone as a record for those who followed. The landmark still remains much the way it looked to pioneers on the wagon trains heading west. Further down the road, we meet US-20 at Orin, Wyoming and travel with it for 162 miles to Shoshoni, Wyoming, as highlighted on our US-20 roadtrip
Casper is an industrial town that grew with the oil industry. It’s nicknamed "The Oil City" and first bloomed during an oil boom on the nearby Salt Creek Oil Field in 1889. As recently as the early 1980s, the city and nearby area was home to three refineries, though only one remains. Today, Casper holds 11 museums but most were founded after 1962, so we won’t be stopping. If you stop, you will find something for every taste, including an art museum, the Tate Geological Museum, a planetarium, science museum, veterans museum, and some history museums. From here, the trip through mid-Wyoming crosses cattle rangeland and badlands on the way to Riverton. You may see livestock alongside the highway and if you look closely, you will notice cattle guards at the crossroads along the way. These are intended to reduce hazards by keeping the cows off the main highway. Riverton had its major growth spurt in the 1950s as uranium mining in the surrounding Gas Hills boomed. However, the closure of those mines resulted in a downturn in the area. In addition to livestock ranching and some retained uranium activity, there is also oil and gas production in the area.
Highway US-20 leaves us at Riverton and heads north, downstream through the Wind River Canyon. From Riverton, US-26 travels upstream along the Wind River towards Grand Teton National Park. It’s uphill all the way, first through more rangeland and later through very scenic, red and yellow sandstone canyons that are broader and shallower than their big brother to the north. The road twists and turns through the scenery with the river often beside you, so drive carefully and enjoy it. You can see parts of the highway on webcams operated by the Wyoming DOT. Here’s their webcam on US-26 at Togwotte Pass over the Continental Divide, east of Grand Teton National Park. Snowfall on the ground here often exceeds 25 feet and reports of over 50 feet are known. The road is shut down for days at a time during blizzards. Grand Teton National Park was established in its present form in 1950, consolidating several Federal land holdings and providing a winter range for the elk that inhabit the high country in Yellowstone National Park. Route US-26 runs along the length of the park on the east side, providing wonderful views of the highest mountains of the Teton Range. If you would rather see the bottom of the valley, you can take float trips on the Snake River from Jackson, Wyoming. Either way, the park is beautiful. Besides enjoying nature, you can enjoy history at several sites in the park, including Menors Ferry Historic District. For an extra treat, you can see moose right along the side of the road at twilight! We took a back road out of Jackson, Wyoming a couple of years ago and got photos like this.
From here, US-26 follows the Snake River to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where the river flows over the falls that give the city its name. Originally, the falls were only some rapids over loose rocks in the river, but sometime after 1891 a retaining wall was constructed for a hydroelectric power plant, which changed the rapids into falls. The city was a growing agricultural area at the time, and in 1895 the Great Feeder canal diverted water from the Snake River to irrigate land, converting tens of thousands more acres of desert into farmland. In addition to agriculture, the city grew after the opening of what became the Idaho National Laboratory in the desert west of town in 1949. Soon after leaving Idaho Falls, we again meet US-20 and travel together with it through Atomic City and Arco, Idaho, and Craters of the Moon National Monument. This area and the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory were discussed on my US-20 roadtrip page.
Route US-26 also goes through the capital city of Boise, Idaho. The first capital of the Idaho Territory was Lewiston as it was the largest city in the territory in 1863. This original territory was larger than Texas, but after the Montana Territory was removed, Boise was made the capital of a much smaller Idaho Territory. The capitol building was constructed in two stages, with the dome and central parts constructed between 1905-1912. This first phase included only the rotunda, dome, the north wing housing the Supreme Court, and some offices in short east and west corridors. The main wings, housing the agency offices and the House and Senate chambers, were constructed during 1919-1920. The Idaho Capitol Building rises 208 feet from the first floor to the eagle atop the dome. It is the only state capitol heated by geothermal water. This hot water is tapped and pumped from a source 3,000 feet underground. Most of the superstructure is made of local sandstone, with four types of marble used for the interior. Tours are available, where you can see permanent and temporary exhibits of some of the more than 1,000 artifacts and historic furnishings in the capitol collection. You can also see the George Washington Equestrian statue carved by Charles L. Ostner out of yellow pine wood in 1869. It originally stood outside of the Territorial Capitol in Boise until that building was removed to make way for the current capitol building. The statue was restored and gilded in 1966 and is now on display in the 2nd floor rotunda.
Boise is also home to the Boise Art Museum. This museum dates back to 1932, when the Boise Art Association began displaying art in the local Carnegie Public Library. They constructed their own gallery in 1937 in Julia Davis Park, and expanded the building in 1972, 1986, and 1997. The present scope of their 4,000-plus work collection is American art with additional emphasis on Asian art, European Art, and ethnographic collections from several continents. The collection includes prints, drawings, watercolors and photographs, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, mixed-media works, and even video. Works date from antiquity through the 21st centuries.
Our trip on US-26 enters Oregon through more rangeland and crosses the Blue Mountains through Malheur National Forest. The Malheur National Forest contains the largest known organism (by area) in the world: an Armillaria solidipes fungus that spans 2,200 acres! This cream-brown fungus grows and spreads primarily underground, so the bulk of the organism lies in the ground, out of sight. However, in the autumn this organism blooms what are called "honey mushrooms" as surface fruits. The forest was established in 1908 and is managed for cattle grazing, lumber harvesting, and recreation. It includes two wilderness areas.
After we descend from the forest, we enter a desert and make a stop at the John Day National Fossil Beds. People have been studying the fossils in the region since 1864. The National Monument was not declared until 1975, though Oregon purchased the land in the 1930s for state parks. In 1962, we would have visited the sites at Sheep Rock and the Painted Hills as state parks. The Sheep Rock Unit is just off US-26 and includes the Thomas Condon Paleontology and Visitor Center, which is a working lab, and hiking trails. Fossils of plants and animals are found in a number of geological layers dating from 33-7 million years ago in this area. The Painted Hills Unit is located farther west along US-26 and about 9 miles northwest of Mitchell, Oregon. These scenic hills show varied stripes of red, tan, orange, and black sediments and preserve a sequence of past climate change. There are more hiking trails in this area. Remember, this is a real desert, so if you hike, take plenty of water and some portable shade. As a bonus, US-26 runs through the Picture Gorge on the John Day River between these two parts of the National Monument.
We finally leave the desert after the Painted Hills area and then pass through a mixed landscape of irrigated farmland, scrub grassland and pine forests on our way to Mt. Hood. The mountain is an active volcano and while it had its last major eruption in 1782, it also had a minor eruptive event in August 1907. There are still active fumaroles and hot springs on the mountain. Mt. Hood has several active glaciers, so that it has some snow cover year round. Highway US-26 passes the south flank of the mountain through Government Camp. The village of Government Camp has been a winter sports base since the US Forest Service built nearby Timberline Lodge in 1937. The lodge is a National Historic Landmark. The Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum is located here and while it was only incorporated in 1998, it’s still a great place to stop for views of the mountain and more local information. Mt. Hood has been called the second most climbed mountain in the world. It hosts several ski areas and is home to the only year-round ski resort in North America. From here to Portland, Oregon, US-26 is part of the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway. We’ll see a lot of the mountain beside and behind us as we head to Portland through the Mt. Hood National Forest, which was formed by merging several smaller national forests in 1924.
Portland prides itself on public art and has dozens of public fountains of every different style, constructed during many different eras. Most are in or near the downtown and the city offers a walking tour map. Some we could have seen in 1962 are Elk Fountain, with its elk statue; Skidmore Fountain, Portland’s oldest commissioned public art; and Shemanski Fountain, also known as Rebecca at the Well. Portland is known as "The City of Roses" and I always enjoy a visit to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park when I travel through the city. Washington Park is right on US-26, so it’s easy to find. The garden is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States, featuring more than 10,000 roses. The garden was conceived by Jesse A. Currey in 1915 and approved by Portland Parks in 1917. It’s open daily and admission is free to view its over 650 varieties of roses. Roses do very well here due to the weather, and bloom from April through October. And if you want to enjoy some other flowers, try the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Crystal Springs was founded in 1950 as a rhododendron test garden and now contains more than 2,500 rhododendrons and azaleas.
From here Roadtrip-'62 ™ heads west to the Pacific Ocean and the end of US-26. Back in 1962, the west end of the highway was at the junction with US-101 at the 14th Street Ferry Terminal, because the Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River was not built until 1966. When the bridge was completed, the ferry ceased operation and US-26, along with US-30, were relocated to the end of the bridge, still in Astoria. The highway now ends about 20 miles farther south near Cannon Beach, Oregon. Oregon beaches on the Pacific Ocean are spectacular, with scenic rock formations at many. A good string of beaches begins at Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site just south of the town of Cannon Beach, and heads south. Haystack Rock is typical of the formations you can see at the beaches, and the park also has miles of sandy beach for walking, tide pools for wildlife viewing, and nesting birds. You might see common murres, pigeon guillemots, or tufted puffins like my friend in the photo. You might even have a chance to watch the gray whales migrate offshore in either December or March!
5 Weather Stories from 1962
February 3, 2020
As I noted on a previous Roadtrip-'62 ™ page, three Tiros weather satellites were launched by the United States in 1962. This gave a total of six in orbit and their benefits began to be felt this year. Information from the Tiros satellites was used to help land the Mercury space capsules. It was also used to analyze the origins and progress of hurricanes by sending data to hurricane warning centers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Data also allowed meteorologists, for the first time, to determine that the reason hurricanes dissipated upon landfall was because of their loss of the heat source of open water, not because of friction caused by structures and vegetation. This was the beginning of our current constant, 24-7 information from weather satellites that blanket the world.
Out in the Pacific Ocean, nearly half the island of Guam was devastated by Typhoon Karen in November, 1962. Approximately 7,000 homes over 500 commercial buildings were destroyed, communications came to a halt, and the island's power and water systems shut down for several months before they could be repaired. It was the most powerful tropical cyclone to strike the island of Guam, with winds of 185 mph. But despite the extensive damage, only 11 people were killed. This was largely due to the fact that the island had three days notice of the storm’s approach. Buildings were boarded up, emergency supplies were distributed, and all personnel on the island were ordered to evacuate to typhoon-proof shelters. Some evacuated to Wake Island. Naval ships left port to rest far out to sea and Air Force planes stationed on the island were relocated.
Aftermath of Typhoon Karen in Guam, 1962
Great Britain experienced its third coldest winter ever beginning in December 1962, known as The Big Freeze. Going all the way back to 1659, only the winters of 1683–84 and 1739–40 are recorded as being colder! Over the winter of The Big Freeze, over 120,000 people died; something seldom seen in modern developed countries. Snows began on December 12-13 and on December 29-30 a blizzard covered southwest England and Wales with drifts up to 20 feet deep in places. And because the temperatures stayed so low, the snow cover lasted for more than two months in some areas. By January, 1963 it had been cold for so long that the sea froze for a mile off shore at Herne Bay, Kent. It also froze 4 miles out to sea from Dunkirk. And the upper reaches of the River Thames froze over thickly enough that someone drove a car across it at Oxford!
In February 1962, the North Sea flooded low coastal areas of Germany, destroying the homes of about 60,000 people and killing 315 people in the City of Hamburg alone. A windstorm with peak speeds of over 120 mph pushed water against the coast, leading to a water surge that dikes could not withstand. Sea dikes were breached in some 50 locations. The winds also pushed the water upstream on the rivers Elbe and Weser, which led to widespread flooding away from the coast. Hamburg, on the river Elbe, but 60 miles away from the coast, suffered the worst. Authorities requested help from any sources they could, including Germany’s NATO allies. The situation was so bad that Hamburg’s Police Senator even requested help from the German Army, ignoring the German constitution's prohibition on using the army for "internal affairs". This prompted adding a clause to the constitution which allowed using the army during disasters, though it was not added until 1968.
Another severe storm of 1962 was Tropical Storm Harriet, which hit Nakhon Si Thammarat Province of Thailand in October 1962. It wiped out entire villages, leaving over 10,000 people homeless and approximately 935 dead, according to the Thai Meteorological Department. Another storm of the same type and strength would hit the same area of Thailand in 2019. Elsewhere in Asia, Typhoon Wanda hit Hong Kong on September 1, killing 434 and leaving over 80,000 homeless. And in August 1962, the Dongchun River in Sunchon, South Korea burst a dike during a storm and the resulting wall of water killed 163 people.
One of the worst weather events in the United States was the Ash Wednesday Storm of March 7, 1962, which affected the coast from Florida to New England. Another was the Columbus Day Storm of October 12, 1962, which ravaged Oregon and Washington. You can read more about both events on our National Headlines from 1962 page. Hopefully, neither you nor Roadtrip-'62 ™ will encounter any of these disastrous weather events as we travel to our next destination.
Roadtrip Highlights Along US-25
January 13, 2020
I titled my Roadtrip-'62 ™ journey down US-23 “From Sea to Inland Sea” because that highway ran from the inland sea of the Great Lakes to the sea at an Atlantic Ocean harbor. Well, US-25 does the same thing! Or at least it did back in 1962. Many US-numbered routes were shortened because they duplicated the route of the new interstate freeways. For US-25, that meant the Michigan and Ohio portions were deleted in 1974, due to paralleling interstate routes I-75 and I-94. A short piece in Virginia was also later eliminated. The old route was 1151 miles whereas the new distance is only 750 miles, passing through six states instead of nine. Highway US-25 is also one of the routes that splits into two parts for a portion of its distance. In this case, US-25W travels the distance from Corbin, Kentucky to Newport, Tennessee, via Knoxville and Jellico, Tennessee and travels along with I-75. The US-25E portion covers this distance by heading southeast out of Kentucky and entering Tennessee through the Cumberland Gap.
The beginning of US-25 in 1962 was at Port Austin, Michigan and it traveled the scenic shore of Lake Huron for the next 85 miles. Though the road seldom is near the lake, there are numerous local parks and even Lakeport State Park on the shore, just off US-25. It’s a great place for a leisurely drive and a picnic with a view. After crossing from Lake Huron through some farmland, the road also traveled through downtown Detroit, Michigan providing big city contrast to the beginning of the trip. From there, it headed in an almost straight line into Ohio at Toledo, where it crossed our US-23 trip. There was also a US-25 Bypass around the north and west sides of Toledo, near the line of the present day I-475 freeway.
Our other cross continent roadtrip, down US-6, crosses US-25 in Bowling Green, Ohio, not far south of Toledo. From Toledo to Cincinnati, Ohio most of US-25 was already obsolete by 1962, as most of the I-75 freeway was complete. You could bypass Findlay and Lima, but not yet Dayton, Ohio. Cincinnati is a major junction point of the US-numbered routes, where US-25 meets US-22, US-27, US-42, US-50, and US-52. It’s also a major river port, handling barge traffic from the Mississippi River deep into the industrial heart of the country, all the way east to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When there, I recommend the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It lies just few blocks west of old US-25, now US-42, in the middle of town. The zoo has been here since 1875, which makes it the second oldest zoo in the United States. My wife and I like to linger at the Gibbon Islands to watch the gibbons gliding along from branch to branch. A relatively small zoo, it nonetheless has nice displays of gorillas, giraffes, and hippos. Large and colorful floral plantings throughout the grounds round out the zoo nicely.
At Corbin, Kentucky, US-25 splits into two routes, US-25E and US-25W. The west leg goes through Corbin, mid-Tennessee including Knoxville, and rejoins US-25E at Newport, Tennessee. The east leg goes through the Cumberland Gap, which I will talk more of later. At Corbin, I often stop and have lunch at the original Harland Sanders Café, birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken! It’s a unique dining room with old-fashioned wooden kitchen tables and chairs, plank floors, and ceiling light fixtures like 1960s kitchen colonial revival style. Harland Sanders had a long career operating a gas station, café, and motel at this location, beginning in 1930. The current building dates to 1940 and is where he developed Kentucky Fried Chicken and its secret eleven herbs and spices coating and pressure cooking method. Colonel Sanders, as he became known, sold the café in 1956 and began selling franchises for his chicken. One franchisee operated here at the original café, so we could have had our chicken here in 1962. It closed in 1988 and the Harland Sanders Café was renovated and reopened in the fall of 1990 as a museum. The museum is still connected to a new KFC restaurant and I’ve eaten in the restored dining room. In addition to the dining room, the museum includes a lot of KFC memorabilia and displays including the original kitchen, a model motel room interior of Sanders’ motel, and the Colonel’s office. The memorabilia includes paperwork, advertising, kitchen utensils, and even "Bertha," his original chicken pressure cooker.
The US-25E leg, as mentioned, goes through the Cumberland Gap. It was somewhat easier but less scenic to visit the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in 1962, because US-25E actually traveled on or near the historic Wilderness Road through the gap. This even involved a short travel through Virginia. But in 2000, the road was rerouted through the new Cumberland Gap Tunnel. The tunnel replaces a dangerous, 2.3-mile stretch of US-25E, which had earned the unpleasant nickname of Massacre Mountain. That old alignment on the former roadbed has been restored by the National Park Service to its appearance as an early 19th-century wagon path. The park was established in 1940 and was formally dedicated in 1959 by then Vice President Richard Nixon. Besides walking the old wagon path, you can take tours of Gap Cave (formerly known as Cudjo's Cave) and the Hensley Settlement. The cave tours take you past stalagmites and flowstone cascades, and you may even see some of the bats that inhabit the cave. The Hensley Settlement Tours are at the top of Brush Mountain, and invite you into the blacksmith's shop, the springhouse, and the one-room schoolhouse. The settlement was established in 1904 and was actually still occupied until 1951, some years after the park was created. You can also visit the nearby small towns of to Cumberland Gap, Tennessee or Middlesboro, Kentucky. I think we bought our first set of china here many years ago. And if you like to hike over mountains, there are over 80 miles of trails in the park. I didn’t try these when I was last here, as most seemed very strenuous and involved steep terrain.
The two parts of US-25 join back up at Newport, Tennessee and head across the mountains to Asheville, North Carolina. Here, we meet our US-23 roadtrip again, where I discussed some sights of Asheville. From there, we head down to Augusta, Georgia, best known for hosting The Masters golf tournament during the first full week of April every year. Membership at Augusta National is widely considered to be the most exclusive in the sport of golf across the world.
The Masters had its start when amateur golf champion Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts purchased a former plant nursery in 1930. Jones co-designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie and the course opened in 1934. World War II interrupted the tournament for 3 years, during which the course was actually used to raise cattle and turkey for the war efforts! The Masters tournament is on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour and its famous green jacket has been awarded to the champion since 1949. Arnold Palmer won the 1962 game, his third win after 1958 and 1960. He won both of those tournaments by one stroke and the 1962 win was the first three-way playoff. Gary Player took 2nd place and Dow Finsterwald placed 3rd. The winning purse that year for Palmer was just $20,000; it was over $11 million in 2018! Spectator accommodations were still minimal in 1962, with the first spectator observation stand built that year. The game had only been on television since 1956, when CBS first broadcast it. In the early days, CBS used only six cameras and covered only the final four holes. Today, more than 50 cameras are used and the entire tournament is broadcast, with ESPN also airing the game. Considering the exclusivity of August National golf club, you and I will be watching the next tournament on TV, not out on the course.
If you’re looking for something truly different in Augusta, you could try pacing a freight train. A joint track of Norfork Southern and CSX Railroad runs right down the center of 6th Street and trains travel down it at about 5mph. This is not just a 2-3 car switching run for a local industry, but the real deal 20-50 car freight trains! Trains have been running along 6th Street since the horse-drawn days of the early 1860s.
Route US-25 ends in Brunswick, Georgia, the same as it did in 1962. The city is the lowest in the state of Georgia, with an elevation of only 10 to 14 feet (3.0 to 4.3 m) above sea level. As a consequence it was severely flooded by hurricanes in the 1890s. Brunswick is another famous Georgia golfing destination, combined with nearby Jekyll, St. Simons, and Sea islands, there are 252 holes of golf in the Brunswick area. These islands, known as the Golden Isles, feature white-sand public beaches and are popular destinations for tourists like us.
Jekyll Island was evacuated during World War II by order of the US government. In 1947 the state of Georgia acquired all the property, for security and preservation. For several years, improvements were made by the state through a convict labor system and the area was opened for tourism in 1954. In addition to its beaches, you can find lots of wildlife on the island’s inland marsh and guided tours of the Landmark Historic District are available. You can also view dolphins from the shore. Approximately in the center of the west coast of the island is the historic district containing the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, which is still open. The Jekyll Island Club began as an exclusive club for the wealthy in 1888. Thirty-three other buildings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries surround it. Some are the mansion-sized "cottages" built by the rich, while others have been adapted for use as museums, art galleries, or stores. This looks like an especially quiet, scenic, though perhaps pricey, place to end a journey. So I’m stopping here to plan the next Roadtrip-'62 ™ trip. See you then!
Football Highlights of 1962
December 10, 2019
Hello sports fans! Today Roadtrip-'62 ™ takes a look at football in 1962. I’ll start with the stadiums, which back then typically hosted both a baseball team and football team. Cleveland is a good example, with both the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns playing at Cleveland Municipal Stadium back then. That was one of the early multi-purpose stadiums, originally constructed in 1932 in a failed bid by Cleveland to host the Olympics. It was demolished in 1996 and a new Cleveland Browns Stadium now stands on the lakefront site of the former Municipal Stadium. Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado was also a multi-purpose stadium, built in 1948 to host the Denver Bears baseball team. It was expanded to accommodate the Denver Broncos, who began playing there in 1960.
No new NFL or AFL stadiums opened in 1962. The most recent new stadium before that was Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which opened in 1957. Lambeau is of course the home of the Green Bay Packers and the stadium was first called City Stadium, the same as its predecessor at the city’s East High School. It was renamed in 1965 to honor Packers founder, player, and long-time head coach, Curly Lambeau. It is now the oldest continually operating NFL stadium. When opened, capacity was 32,132 attendees, but it was expanded in 1961 to 38,669, so we would have seen the larger stadium in 1962. The Green Bay Packers won their second straight National Football League championship this year, defeating the New York Giants. (more on that later)
Two college football stadiums currently in use were constructed in 1962, Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina. Falcon Stadium is the home of the Air Force Falcons of the United States Air Force Academy. Kidd Brewer Stadium is the home of the Mountaineers of Appalachian State University. While Green Bay may be unusual for having NFL games played at a municipal high school stadium, many teams in both the NFL and AFL played at college stadiums. On our US-6 roadtrip through Los Angeles, we passed the University of Southern California and Exposition Park, right next door. One of the features of Exposition Park is Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is handy for the USC Trojan’s football team, which plays here. The Coliseum was also home to the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams from 1946-1978.
You may have noticed that I’ve been mentioning two professional football leagues in 1962. That’s because we still had a second pro league, the American Football League (AFL). The AFL played from 1960-69, merging with the National Football League effective in 1970. Many of the features of modern football were first adopted by the AFL, such as the two-point conversion, names on the players' jerseys, and nationally televising of all league games with all teams sharing in the TV revenue. The league also had many civil rights firsts, including the first black head scout and the first black starting quarterbacks of the modern era. The league began with 8 teams from 1960-65: the Boston Patriots, the Buffalo Bills, the Houston Oilers, the New York Titans (which became the Jets in 1963), the Dallas Texans (who moved and became the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963), the Denver Broncos, the Los Angeles Chargers (who moved to San Diego in 1961 and became the Chargers), and the Oakland Raiders. It added a new team in 1966-67, the Miami Dolphins, and a final team in 1968, the Cincinnati Bengals. And of course, the Super Bowl owes its beginnings to the AFL, because without two leagues to challenge each other, it would not have begun. This first World Championship Game was played in 1967.
Since I never played football, even in junior high school, football cards were more interesting than the actual game. There were three companies printing cards in 1962. Topps and Fleer both packaged them with their bubble gum, like baseball cards. But unlike the Topps and Fleer cards, Post Cereals cards were printed on the backs of various cereal boxes. That meant kids had to cut the cards out themselves and so the margins of surviving cards can vary a lot. Post Cereals published 200 cards in their set, and all are NFL players. They are broken down alphabetically by team city and then the player's last name. They published more cards than Topps, meaning that many players featured in the Post set did not have cards in the Topps set, including some who debuted as rookies in 1962. Card #1 was Henry Jordan, a defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers. He was named the Outstanding Lineman of the 1962 Pro Bowl classic game.
Topps published 176 cards in their set, and they were released in a single series. Many of the black-and-white inset photos on the 1962 Topps cards do not show the player whose name is on the card! Topps altered the jersey number on some of the images to match the number of the player. After one year of featuring players from both the NFL and the AFL, Topps returned to their practice of having only NFL players. Card #1 was John Unitas, Baltimore Colts quarterback, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. His record of at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games stood for more than 50 years. Fleer published only 88 cards in their set. For 1962, Fleer returned to featuring only players from the AFL after a year where both leagues were included in its set. The set is numbered so the players are grouped by team name. Card #1 was Billy Lott, Boston Patriots fullback. He played only one more year after 1962.
Enjoy some video highlights from great 1962 football games! First up is the conclusion of the 1962 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants. The game was played at Yankee Stadium in New York on December 30, 1962. Temperatures during the game were in the low teens and a raw wind with sustained speeds of 31mph was blowing steadily. Television crews used bonfires to thaw out their cameras, and still one cameraman suffered frostbite! The conditions of course made throwing the ball difficult. Some fans tore up wooden benches in the bleachers and set fire to them for warmth! The Cardinal Dougherty High School marching band from Philadelphia performed the halftime show and band members recall, "We didn't have any thermal underwear. We were so cold that when we finished our pregame performance we were all crying." The horns did not perform due to the cold: lips might freeze to the metal mouthpieces. Green Bay, perhaps used to the cold, won the match 16-7. You can watch at the NFL website.
Next we have highlights from the 1962 AFL Championship game between the Houston Oilers and the Dallas Texans. The game was played at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston, Texas on December 23, 1962. Acting as an honorary referee, Astronaut Gus Grissom placed the ball on the kicking tee at the start. At the time, it was the longest game in the history of professional American football, and it remains the longest professional championship game in football history. It ran into two overtimes, including a sudden-death overtime. Dallas won the match 20-17.
In college bowl game action from 1962, we have a link to the 1962 Liberty Bowl Game. This game was held in Philadelphia between the Oregon State Beavers versus the Villanova Wildcats on December 15, 1962. You can see Terry Baker's long run for the only score of the game. Bad weather made for a frozen field, with the temperature never reaching over 25 degrees. The film also shows highlights from the remainder of Oregon State University 1962's games, including contests versus Iowa State, Iowa, Stanford, Washington, University of Pacific, West Virginia, Washington State, Idaho, Colorado State, and Oregon. You can view the video at the Oregon State University website. Other bowl games played in 1962 were the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Gator Bowl, Bluebonnet Bowl, and the Gotham Bowl. Speaking of college football, the rankings operated differently in 1962 than they do today. The 1962 NCAA University Division football rankings were a combination of two human polls, the Associated Press Poll and the NCAA Coaches’ Poll. Unlike most sports, college football's governing body, the NCAA, does not give a national championship.
And finally, we have football for the rest of the world, which we call soccer. The FIFA World Cup Soccer Games were held in Chile in 1962, resulting in a case of notorious bad sportsmanship known as the Battle of Santiago. You won’t find Roadtrip-'62 ™ heading to Chile anytime, but come back soon for a short trip down highway US-25.
20 Best Things to Do on a Colorado Roadtrip in 1962
October 29, 2019
Here’s one of the rare guest posts on Roadtrip-'62 ™. Jill Rogers of the “Your RV Lifestyle” staff has put together a list of the 100 Best Things to Do in Colorado, so I’ve extracted the top 20 that were around in 1962. Some of these are along our US-6 roadtrip; check out the pages for Day 29 in Denver, and Day 30 west of Denver. Others are on roads I have not written about yet, and I will note the routes below. I hope you find some places to visit when you next visit Colorado! Jill’s full list is available at Your RV Lifestyle.
- Mesa Verde National Park (On US-160 near Cortez, established in 1906.):
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Off US-40 and US-287 in Denver, opened to the public in 1908.):
- Mount Evans and Scenic Byway (Off US-40 at Bergen Park, road to Mount Evans was begun in 1915 and completed in 1930.):
- Nevadaville Ghost Town (Off US-6 in Central City area, mostly abandoned by 1920.):
- Denver Art Museum (On US-40 in Denver, founded in 1893 and the present main building opened in 1949.):
- Rocky Mountain National Park (On US-34 at Estes Park, established in 1915.):
- Denver Zoo (Off US-40 and US-287 in Denver, founded in 1896.):
- Walk up the Mile-High steps and visit the Colorado State Capitol Building (On US-40 and US-287 and just off US-6 in Denver, opened in 1894.):
- Desert Reef Hot Springs (Off US-50 in Florence, the springs were created in the 1940s):
- Broadmoor Seven Falls (Off US-87 near Colorado Springs, tours opened in the early 1880s.):
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Off US-87 in Colorado Springs, founded in 1926.):
- Kit Carson County Carousel (Off US-24 and US-385 in Burlington, constructed in 1905 for Elitch Gardens and moved in 1928.):
- Cranmer Park Sundial (Off US-40 and US-287 in Denver, installed in 1941.):
- Edwin Carter Discovery Centre (About 10 miles off US-6 in Breckenridge, collection dates from 1875.):
- Pikes Peak (Off US-24 west of Colorado Springs, the cog railway opened in 1891 and the auto road opened in 1915.):
- Elitch Gardens (Now off US-6, formerly off US-287 in Denver, originally established in 1890.):
- Great Sand Dunes National Park (About 15 miles off US-160 near Blanca, established in 1932.):
- Buckhorn Exchange (Off US-6 in Denver, founded in 1893.):
- Royal Gorge Bridge (On US-50 in Cañon City, completed in 1929.):
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway (At US-160 in Durango or US-550 in Silverton, tracks completed in 1882.):
This park is in the southwest of Colorado and is well known for the Puebloan cave dwellings. You will know them by the name of Cliff Palace. If you are hiking, then follow the Petroglyph Point Trail. These are some of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the USA. This is a great place to take an RV and stay a few days while you hike in the park.
Here you will be able to learn about the natural history of the state. There are over 1 million objects in the collections. There are also archival and library resources if you need to look anything up. There are permanent exhibits, as well as temporary displays, which vary each month, so it is worth checking upcoming exhibits.
This is the highest peak in the front range of the Rocky Mountains. You will find it in the Mount Evans Wilderness which is about 13 miles southwest of the City of Idaho. If you are a hiker, then this should be on your agenda. Walking in the area is also very popular and there are several trails you can follow. Some are steep while others cater for younger walkers. You can take an RV and stay a few days in the area, although you should be sure to check the weather to make sure it is good to hike or walk. You can start up this byway in Evergreen. It is the highest paved road in North America. The road winds its way up Mount Evans to an altitude of 14,130 feet above sea level. The road was completed in 1931 and runs for 28 miles, with some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. Be aware that it can get cloudy and have snow falls so check the weather before you plan a trip. There are plenty of pull-off areas where you can stop and take pictures. Along the way you will find the Mount Goliath Natural Area, which is home to protected trees. At the top you can stop and see Summit Lake Park and the lake. You will notice that the waters of the lake are pristine, because they are fed from a glacier.
You will find this Masonic Lodge in the deserted town. Oddly enough, the lodge is still used for meetings. The town was established in 1859 as a gold mining town. It reached its peak of population with 1,000 inhabitants. When the gold was mined out, the town basically died, although there are still six official residents. You will be able to see the city hall, and a saloon building, along with mining shacks. It is not a good idea to explore the mine shafts as they are considered dangerous, so keep children under control.
This is situated in the Civic Centre of the city of Denver. It is one of the largest museums between Chicago and the west coast, and known for the amazing collection of American Indian Art. Also, of interest is the Berger Collection, which is a private collection of mostly British art over six centuries. The Hamilton Collection consists of 22 impressionist works from a private collection including Van Gogh’s “Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies”. Make sure you check for upcoming events and exhibitions. Allow yourself a full day to see this museum.
This park spans the Continental Divide. You will find a differing landscape of forests, alpines, and mountains. If you are a hiker, then look for the Trail Ridge Road, and the Old Fall River Road. You can also drive your car along many of the routes past Aspen trees and rivers. For the more experience climbers, the Keyhole Route is a vertical rock face, which leads up Longs Peak, and is the parks tallest mountain. Be sure to take enough provisions for any hike as there are few supply stores here.
The zoo was founded in 1896 and is now the most popular tourist attraction in the city. The zoo began with the donation of one black bear, and the zoo became the first naturalistic zoo in the USA. You will notice that there are no bars, just enclosures. The zoo was named the ‘Greenest Zoo in the Country’. Allow yourself a full day here. There is a café where you can buy snacks and refreshments.
You will find the steps at the State Building in Denver. The top measures exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. Over the years there have been differences of opinions as to the exact height, so you will notice on the 15th step it is engraved with the acclamation. Later it was thought that the 18th step was the peak. Recently it was worked out that the top step is in fact the exact mile height. Wherever you think the exact spot is, the view from the top is stunning! Make sure you see the mile high marker on the steps as you climb. The building houses the offices of the Governor of Colorado as well as the Lieutenant Governor. The building was started in the 1890’s from Colorado white granite and completed in 1894. You may take a tour of the inside where you will see large amounts of Colorado Rose Onyx which is very rare and comes from a nearby quarry. Look out for the stained-glass windows telling about events related to the history of the state. Allow yourself a half day to see the building.
You will find this in Florence. It is a naturally-sourced hot spring. This is also a recognized nudist spot so if you visit, you are welcome to remove all your clothing to try the spring. The springs were first discovered during a subsurface oil investigation and this led to the stream of hot water forming in pools.
These seven waterfalls are found in South Cheyenne Creek. There are several trails which you can take to get to the top of the falls. Look for the trail leading to Midnight Falls and Inspiration Point. Be aware that in heavy rains there may be flooding so be sure to check the forecast. Also, make sure you take your own provisions.
This zoo is found in downtown Colorado Springs. It is at an elevation of 6,800 feet above sea level and is the highest zoo in the USA. You will find over 750 animals of 150 different species and divided into sections. For the little ones, look for ‘My Big Backyard’ where there are rabbits, chickens, and amphibians. The ‘Rocky Cliffs’ is home to the mountain goats, while the ‘Rocky Mountain Wild’ is home to bears, eagles, mountain lions, and lynx, to name a few. Be sure to check upcoming events at this amazing zoo. Allow a full day here. There is a café to buy lunch.
This is found in Burlington. It is one of the few remaining antique carousels in the USA. You will also notice that the animals do not move. The carousel is wooden, which is why the animals cannot move. The difference between modern day carousels is that this one moves along at 12 mph, while most modern carousels only reach the speed of 8 mph. All 46 animals are hand carved and hand painted. You will find chariots, giraffes, lions, tigers, horses, and even a hippopotamus! Look at the center of the carousel and you will find an interesting Wurlitzer 155 Military Band Organ. While the kids may enjoy the ride, the carousel is more than an amusement. Looking closely, you will appreciate it for the work of art it really is.
This is one of the smallest parks in Denver. It has the privilege of being the home of the Chinese style quartz sundial. The sundial was first installed there in 1941, although this was destroyed by vandals. A replica was installed. As it was designed in typical Chinese style, you will find a polar chart at the base with western features. The park itself is worth walking around. Even though it is small, it is well-maintained and very pleasant to walk through. Plan on spending the morning or afternoon in this delightful park.
If taxidermy fascinates you, then be sure to visit here. Edwin Carter was a gold miner who turned his hand to taxidermy. The collection consists of over 3,000 animals. Carter began as an amateur taxidermist and set out to preserve as many specimens as he could. Eventually his cabin could not house them any longer and they were donated to a museum. The original cabin is also still preserved where visitors can visit and learn about the art of taxidermy. The centre regularly has special exhibits of interesting subjects.
This peak is the highest summit of the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains. You can reach it by going 12 miles west of Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s ‘Fourteeners’ which are mountains higher than 14,000 feet above sea level. There are many hiking trails around the base as well as up the mountain. You should be aware of weather conditions before you head out and be sure to take enough provisions with you. The area is perfect for taking an RV and spending a few days while you hike in the vicinity.
This amusement park is found in Denver. During Halloween they host the haunted house and the Trick or Treat trail for the smaller kids. Make sure you head for the new rides, these are the Tube Top, Tike Bikes, and the Kiddieland area. The Island Kingdom Family Water Park is great fun for the whole family with a huge family raft ride as well as the lazy river. Allow yourself a full day here, especially if you are visiting with kids. (As I mentioned on my page for Day 30 of the US-6 roadtrip, the Elitch Gardens we would have seen in 1962 no longer exists. Most of the site has been redeveloped for condominiums and apartments, though the old carousel building still stands and has even been restored, without the ride. A brand new Elitch Gardens amusement park was constructed in a new location in 1994.)
This preserve is found in southern Colorado. It is well-known for the towering dunes. Look for the high point named Star Dune. There is a seasonal creek, which may be filled with water at different times through the year. For hikers, head for the Medano Pass which winds through the canyon and on towards the Sangre de Christo mountain range. There are several trails leading through forests, wetlands, and lakes. This is a great place to take an RV and stay a few days while you enjoy hiking in the park.
This attraction was founded in 1893 and is found in Denver. It houses a wall-to-wall collection of taxidermy. It is also Denver’s oldest steakhouse. You will find collections of antique weapons along with the hundreds of stuffed animals. The steakhouse menu includes such items as rattlesnake and elk, with buffalo sausage and alligator tails also being available. This restaurant is definitely a ‘must’ for those who enjoy a meal with a difference. Be sure to reserve your table, as it is a very popular venue.
This attraction is near Cañon City, in the Royal Gorge Park. The bridge crosses the gorge at 955 feet above the Arkansas River, and until 2001 was the highest bridge in the world. It is still the highest bridge in the USA. The bridge is 1,260 feet long. Cars are allowed over the bridge but only at certain times, so you should check before you plan to cross. There is an amusement park at the entrance to the bridge, which is a great place to take the kids. There is also a zip-line across the gorge for the more adventurous.
The railway runs from Durango to Silverton and has been designated as an historical site. The railroad was opened in 1882 to transport gold and silver from the San Juan Mountains. The last train ran along the tracks south of Durango in 1968, after running continuously since 1881. You can take the train from Durango to Cascade Wye in the winter, and to Silverton in the Summer months. Be sure to book seats in advance.
Well, that should be a little bit of everything available in Colorado. I hope you enjoyed this Roadtrip-'62 ™ sampler and get out on the road to find your own favorites soon.
Halloween Fun in 1962
October 8, 2019
It’s October, 1962 and Halloween is coming up fast! When I was growing up, we got most of our candy at Halloween and Easter, with a smaller dose at Christmas. Halloween was the most fun, because we went door-to-door in costumes and collected the candy ourselves. The beauty of getting candy from a lot of different people was that they bought a lot of different things for you. I never cared too much for the taffy products like B-B-Bats, Mary Janes, Kits or peanut butter twists. I also didn’t like popcorn balls and Tootsie Rolls were just so-so. But I ate a lot of bubble gum, candy cigarettes, and anything tart like Smarties or Lik-M-Aid. I also loved candy corn, caramels, and candy bars. Those wax bottles with liquid candy were also great, if odd. The oddest treat was Pumpkin Seeds: real pumpkin seeds roasted and completely coated with salt! Butterfingers were one of my favorite candy bars, even though they stuck to your teeth after you were done. I suspect that was the cause of several of my rear tooth cavities. Learn more about your favorite Halloween candy at the Roadtrip-'62 ™ How Sweet it Was page.
We always carved pumpkins, usually the night before Halloween. And to this day, nothing says Halloween to me like the aroma of pumpkin innards. We always lighted them with candles inside, set them on the front porch, and let them burn until the candles went out. By then, the smell of burnt wax always ruined the fresh pumpkin aroma. Looking back, I’m surprised that kids under age 10 were trusted with sharp kitchen knives to cut pumpkins, but I’m sure none of my brothers or myself ever cut ourselves. Of course, we only operated under my mother’s watchful eyes: I guess mom knew what she was doing. I recall several years of cutting rather typical triangle eyes and square-toothed smiling Jack-O-Lanterns before realizing, maybe about age 12, that you could be more creative. I eventually tried my hand at Charlie Brown and Alfred E. Neuman.
The Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, Sycamore, Illinois, started as an idea by resident Wally Thurow in 1956 to do something special for the students of Sycamore. It quickly grew from display on his front yard into a full festival by 1962, and today is the city’s biggest event, running for 5 consecutive days. There will be over 1000 entries in the Decorated Pumpkin Display, 2 carnivals, 3 indoor craft shows, and a parade on Sunday. You’ll even find a Giant Cake Cutting Ceremony with the giant cake donated by Hy-Vee supermarkets. Meanwhile, in Circleville, Ohio, they will be holding their annual Pumpkin Show, which is always held the 3rd Wednesday through Saturday in October. The event began in 1903, again as a small personal display. Mayor George R. Haswell placed a small exhibit consisting mostly of Jack-O-Lanterns in front of his house. The next year, others joined in the idea and it eventually grew into today’s multi-day festival featuring music, crafts, food, and four different parades! This festival also includes the baking (and eating) of The World's Largest Pumpkin Pie. It’s 14 feet in diameter, uses almost 800 pounds of pumpkin, and takes 10 hours to bake!
Besides the candy, I’m sure stores made the most money from Halloween on the costumes that every kid wore for trick-or-treating. You could find costumes of favorite cartoon characters, standard witches, pirates, reptiles, monsters, spacemen, cowboys, etc. I’ve seen online auctions featuring 1962 costumes of Dick Tracy, Ollie of “Kukula, Fran & Ollie”, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and friends, Mr. Ed, Popeye, and Disney characters. There were even characters from “Tales of the Wizard of OZ”, a largely forgotten cartoon from Rankin/Bass, who would produce the classic “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” TV special just two years later. Most of the commercial costumes were made by Ben Cooper, Halco, or Collegeville. They were the three largest Halloween costume manufacturers in the United States from the 1950s-1980s. Though Spider-Man was introduced in comics in 1962, he was not yet popular enough for a costume. That would change by 1963, when Ben Cooper sold the first Spider-Man costume. You could buy these costumes from any department store such as J. C. Penney or Sears, or Woolworth's, Kresge’s, and other five-and-dime stores. Of course, many people made their own costumes, including us. I remember being part of a troop of Zorros as my mother made my brothers and I identical costumes. We used those for several years.
Back then, there were no public displays of horror or zombies, no Halloween fright houses, or similar attractions. But the beginnings of these may have been foretold by one of the popular songs of the year, “Monster Mash”. Though firmly tongue-in-cheek, it showed there was an appetite among adults for some Halloween fun beyond taking their kids out for trick-or-treats. Bobby "Boris" Pickett wrote the song with Leonard Capizzi and they recorded it with studio musicians that included pianist Leon Russell, as "The Crypt-Kickers.” The lyrics refer to the few popular horror movie stars of the day, Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. Besides 1962, the song has been in the Top 10 two other times, in 1970 and 1972. The “Mash” in the title refers to the "Mashed Potato" dance craze it is based on. They performed it live on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” TV show, which was in its final year as a live national broadcast. The next year the show moved Los Angeles as a taped weekly program. Even Boris Karloff, who Bobby Pickett modeled the voicing after, loved Monster Mash. He performed it on a special Halloween edition of the TV show “Shindig!” in 1965. Pickett recorded a number of other monster-themed songs over the years, but none has come close to Monster Mash in popularity.
Besides the “Monster Mash”, another pop culture legacy of Halloween 1962 is the legend of The Great Pumpkin from the Peanuts comic strip. Though strip creator Charles Schulz came up with the idea some years earlier, he fleshed it out in 1962 strips such as the one shown below. Several of the strips from that year were adapted into the TV special “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” in 1966. Well, I’m off to read the comic strips and eat candy; see you next time on Roadtrip-'62 ™!
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2020 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2020 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.