This Week In 1962
The USS Arizona Memorial, in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii, was dedicated in May of 1962. The Memorial is over the sunken hulk of the USS Arizona and contains the names of all the men lost with the ship during the attack 1941 that marked the beginning of World War II for the United States. It is one of Hawaii's most-visited historic sites. Memorial Day is a federal holiday set aside to acknowledge the servicemen and women who have died in the line of duty, and should not be confused with Veterans Day, which honors all members of the United States military, both living and dead.
Memorial Day Beach Roadtrip
Memorial Day weekend is often thought of as the beginning of summer vacation season. And summer vacations, especially with a 3-day weekend ahead of you, often involve a roadtrip. Travel to our national parks, forests, and other lands has always been fun, and we acquired a new national park land in 1962. Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi, Texas was established that year. President John F. Kennedy signed the park's enabling legislation in September 1962, making it the National Park Service's fourth national seashore. September makes it a bit late to visit this weekend, but Cape Cod National Seashore was established in 1961, so Roadtrip-‘62 ™ could have stopped there.
1962 In Sports
Of course I have to feature the Indianapolis 500 for Memorial Day! The 2013 race was held yesterday, Sunday, May 26th. This was the 97th running and thirty-three drivers competed for 200 laps. As of this writing, I haven’t found news yet on the finish. But I know who won in 1962! That year, Rodger Ward not only won the 500, but he also finished first in the Trenton 150-miler, the Milwaukee 200, and the Syracuse 100. What a year! Rodger was an American racecar driver who had another stellar year in 1959, when he also won the Indianapolis 500. He was the USAC Championship Car champion in both years.
1962 Comic Buy of the Week
Combat #4 (scan from Grand Comics Database)
War comics were popular in 1962, with mostly fictional stories. One story taken from real life, however, was in Combat #4, by Dell. It relates the story of John F. Kennedy’s (President during 1962) heroic service on a PT boat during World War II. On a night in 1943, a Japanese ship cut the boat in half and Kennedy and others rescued several crew members during three hours of swimming from man to man.
About Roadtrip-'62 ™
US-6 Featured Trip Segment
Memorial Day is also a great time to see an amusement park! In 1962, there were many more than there are today. Tastes in rides have changed, some properties were too small, some owners could not fund large improvements, and therefore many have closed. One that remains open in nearly the form we would have seen in 1962 is Conneaut Lake Park of Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania. Conneaut Lake Park is unusual among amusement parks because it is a charitable Public Trust. They gladly accept donations to keep it running.
Guest Blog of the Week
If you’re into classic cars, check out the posts at Down the Road last week. Jim‘s taking in all the cars and trucks at the Mecum Spring Classic muscle-car auction in Indianapolis, Indiana. Of course there are vehicles from 1962, but there’s so much more. And all of it in shiny, off-the-showroom condition as the owners try to sell for the big bucks.
US-23 Featured Trip Segment
Speaking of small amusement parks, one stretch of US-23 on our first Roadtrip-‘62 ™ had two. Pinconning, Michigan had Deer Acres and just south, at Bay City, Michigan, was Tony’s. Both are closed now, though Deer Acres lasted longer. Strangely, it ended up buying some rides from Tony’s when that park closed. Deer Acres still hosts a classic car show and movie night each summer.
Museum of the Week
Not quite a museum, but a place of remembrance. Arlington National Cemetery, adjacent Washington, DC, acts as the nation’s home to Memorial Day services. In addition to placing flags at the graves of all the service men and women, a practice which many local cemeteries replicate, the President takes part in a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Don’t forget to honor our fallen military members: put out your own flag this year.
Remembering on Memorial Day
Many cities along our US-23 and US-6 routes hold parades this weekend. Toledo, Ohio, on US-23, has been marching through downtown on Memorial Day since at least 1929. On US-6, Danbury, Connecticut’s parade is Monday, May 27th. Not only will they have services following at the Rose Garden, but parachute jumpers will be featured after the parade at Roger's Park! Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade, on Saturday, May 25th, was one of the largest in the nation, and has been held since 1870. Some parades are big productions, while some feature homemade floats. All have veterans honoring their fallen comrades.
Video of the Week
Last week longtime television personality Barbara Walters announced her retirement. Many of us will remember her for holding the anchor spot at ABC News, and more recent viewers know her best for her interviews and The View show. Few remember her report for NBC in 1962, where she trained as a Playboy bunny for a day!
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All photos by the author and Copyright © 2013, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne, except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2013, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne.