This Week In 1962
The week of July 6, 1962 saw some huge nuclear blasts, as part of testing programs by the United States. First up was the Sedan Event, part of the Plowshare Program. This was conducted at the Nevada Test Site and resulted in a crater 320 feet deep and 1,280 feet in diameter. The blast displaced 12 million tons of earth, sent clouds of dust rolling across the desert floor, and sent radioactive particles up into the atmosphere. The Plowshare Project consisted of a series of 27 tests with 35 detonations claiming to explore the feasibility of using nuclear detonations for excavations, especially in natural gas recovery from marginal fields. (And you may think fracking is hazardous!) The project began with a detonation in Carlsbad, New Mexico in December, 1961 and concluded in 1973 near Rifle, Colorado. Later in the week, on July 9, Starfish Prime was exploded in outer space, 248 miles above Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean. The flash was visible in Hawaii, 750 miles away, and the destructive effects of this first major manmade electromagnetic pulse burned out streetlights, blew fuses, and disrupted communications. The event also increased radiation over a hundredfold in some places and damaged at least ten orbiting satellites beyond repair.
These events followed the Soviet Union’s explosion of the world’s largest nuclear weapon ever tested, the "Tsar Bomba", performed on October 30, 1961. Nuclear testing peaked during this period, with 340 megatons detonated in the atmosphere by the United States and Soviet Union. Concern about the high levels of radiation in the atmosphere and the dangers of unexpected consequences also peaked. High radiation levels were even measured in mothers’ breast milk! Because of this, in 1963, three of the four nuclear nations (the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union) signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty and stopped testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space.
1962 Television News
On July 10, 1962, the world's first commercial communications satellite, AT&T's Telstar, was launched. The first image transmitted between continents was a black-and-white photo of the American flag sent from Andover, Maine, to Pleumeur-Bodou in France. The first live transatlantic television signal and the world’s first telephone call transmitted through space occurred a couple of weeks later, on July 23rd.
Also on July 10th, President Kennedy signed the All-Channel Television Receiver Bill. This law required all televisions made in the United States to be able to receive both VHF signals (channels 2 to 13) and UHF signals (channels 14 to 83). This move opened up the airwaves to profitably locate stations on the UHF band, because more people would receive them. At the time, nearly all televisions sold in this country were made here. Such a law would be less effective today, when nearly all televisions are made outside the United States.
1962 In Sports
In addition to the usual baseball games of the week, on July 8, 1962 the French Grand Prix was held at Rouen-Les-Essarts. The race was won by American Dan Gurney, making him the first of three drivers to have won races in Sports Cars (1958), Formula One (1962), NASCAR (1963), and Indy Car (1967) racing. One week after his Grand Prix victory, he repeated the success in a non-Championship Formula One race at Solitude Racetrack in Stuttgart, Germany. While competing in Formula One, Gurney also raced in the Indianapolis 500 from 1962 to 1970.
Sports news is rounded out by the odd feat of Fred Baldasare becoming the first person to swim across the English Channel underwater, without surfacing. On July 11, 1962, he accomplished the feat wearing scuba gear and with assistance for his oxygen tanks from a guide ship.
About Roadtrip-'62 ™
1962 Comic Buy of the Week
scan from Grand Comics Database
Everyone knows Archie Comics; those fun stories of teenagers bumbling along life. But not everyone remembers that in the early 1960s, Archie also published a line of superhero comics. These were published under the Archie Adventure Series brand, which was used from 1959 through 1962. Adventures of The Fly #20 was the July, 1962 issue. There are several stories of The Fly with Fly Girl, his female sidekick. In addition to The Fly, the series sometimes printed stories of The Black Hood. Other heroes that appeared in the Archie Adventure Series through 1966 included The Jaguar, The Comet, The Web, and Steel Sterling. Archie had also published some superheroes in the 1940s (everyone did), including The Shield and The Hangman.
More Fun Retro Reading
A great blog I enjoy every week is Retro Renovation. Pam and Kate find the best in mid-century modern home ideas so you can repair, renovate, or just stare in awe at great designs that you might have seen new in 1962. And besides showcasing great ideas and sometimes entire homes, they have tons of information on sources for vintage and reproduction materials for your home. Whether you love tiki style, pink bathrooms, atomic clocks, ceramic tile, vintage drinking glasses, or steel kitchen cabinets...they have it all!
US-6 Featured Trip Segment
If summer has become too hot for you, why not stop at a refreshing waterfall? Day 5 of our US-6 roadtrip made a stop at Southford Falls State Park near Southbury, Connecticut. The park is just a few miles southeast of town and was established as a state park in 1932, so we could have stopped in 1962. Besides the scenic waterfalls, there are wetlands, a boardwalk, and exposed rock outcrops to enjoy.
Museum of the Week
On July 9, 1962, artist Andy Warhol had his first showing of his Campbell's Soup Cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, California. The world of art has never been the same. Five of Warhol’s canvases sold for $100 each, but director Walter Blum bought them back to keep the set intact. Though the gallery closed in 1966, while it was open it housed exhibits by many of the modern East Coast artists, including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella. Founder Walter Hopps moved on during 1962 to become director of the Pasadena Art Museum.
Roadtrip-’62 ™ is on Flickr!
Roadtrip-’62 ™ has a Flickr page, where you can find photos by me that I have used on the website. If you have a favorite that you would like to see larger than presented here, stop over and browse.
Video of the Week
The #1 pop music song for the week of July 7, 1962 was “The Stripper”, by David Rose and his Orchestra. Since then, like the theme from the TV show The Twilight Zone has become the go-to music for weirdness, “The Stripper” has become the go-to music for bawdy, sexy activity. The music was composed in 1958 by Rose while he was scoring a short-lived television show named Burlesque, as a bit of background music. Sometime later, as a joke, he used some spare studio time to have his orchestra record an extended version. He gave copies of it to the band members and thought that was the end of the song. However, in 1962, his record label, MGM Records, needed a song for the “B” side of a single they were releasing. Someone pulled this song out of the archives and the record was pressed with it. It became popular after a Los Angeles disc jockey began playing it. He actually found it so funny, that he played it almost continuously during his program one day. That propelled it to #1 in the Los Angeles area, which set the tone for the rest of the country and we now have the ultimate stripping song! David Rose went on to create music for many other TV shows, including Bonanza for 14 years, which earned him several Emmy awards.
Our front page changes frequently, so you may have missed some fun stuff if you don't check in frequently. Check the Home Page Archives for all the previous iterations of our front page. Discover links, videos, roadtrip suggestions, and lots of news from 1962!
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2015, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne, except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2015, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne.