This Week In 1962
I was reminded this week of a rather gruesome piece of news from 1962, the first murder by the “Boston Strangler.” This past week, new DNA evidence made it clear that the man who confessed to the string of murders, Albert DeSalvo, did indeed commit the final murder. The murders, all of women in the Boston, Massachusetts area, spanned from June 14, 1962 to January 4, 1964. Eight of them occurred in 1962 and the case filled the newspapers nationwide. The “Boston Strangler” was first called the "Mad Strangler of Boston", but the shorter name eventually stuck. Authorities generally believe that not all of the murders were carried out by the same man.
Discount Stores: a 1962 Innovation
Discount stores were a changing and booming field in 1962. Eventual success stories Kmart, Target, and WalMart all entered the field that year, along with a plethora of local discount stores. There were an estimated 1500 discount stores, an increase of as much as 35% over the previous year. You might wonder why these blossomed around the country in 1962. It had a lot to do with Congress finally repealing "fair trade" laws that set minimum retail prices on many goods. Instead of creating fair trade, these laws had allowed manufacturers to set high prices. The laws were left over from the war years and eliminating them opened the flood gates of innovation for discount stores and the vigorous competition that followed. Last week, Target founder Douglas Dayton died. He was the moving force behind repositioning an old line department store, Dayton, into the new discount field.
1962 In Sports
On March 24, 1962, boxer Benny “Kid” Paret suffered the ultimate loss during a match. His opponent, Emile Griffith landed 18 punches within a 6-second fury that put Paret into a coma from which he died ten days later. Fatal knockouts are rare in boxing, despite the fact that the point of the sport is to beat someone up. This fight was broadcast on nationwide television and focused everyone on the sport for awhile. Griffith later stated that after Paret’s death, “I was so scared to hit someone, I was always holding back.” He also struggled with his sexual identity for years, as being bi-sexual in 1962 was pretty much an unmentionable. Emile Griffith died last week at age 75, a victim of pugilistic dementia, which is caused by taking blows to the head.
Museum of the Week
Actually, a zoo this week. The Jacksonville Zoological Gardens opened in 1914 and by 1962 it housed a good assortment of animals. Many exotic animal exhibits including a Monkey Island had been added. It also had rides! The Showboat, the miniature train, and many of the buildings were nearly new in 1962, having been constructed in the 1955-1958 period.
Guest Blog of the Week
When Debra Jane takes a roadtrip, she takes photos...thousands of them. She only goes out a few times a year, but when she does you can count on all-day driving and shooting, along with harrowing stories of car troubles and of course, her dogs. You will find great photos of old buildings, signs, statues, and all sorts of wonderful things from mid-century America at her Roadside Architecture blog. I’m a loyal reader and I think you should be too.
US-23 Featured Trip Segment
The end of our US-23 roadtrip was in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, the city extends nearly 14 miles from downtown, but in 1962 that spot would not have been in the city at all. In 1968, the city expanded to encompass the entire area of Duval County. Plenty of history there, from Maxwell House Coffee to the seldom heard of sport of Jai Alai, and of course, the Gator Bowl. We also stopped at the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens, which you can find more about at the links below under Museum of the Week.
News About the News
More news from 1962, and information about the news business, is at the Roadtrip-'62 ™ page “All the News of 1962”. Find out how we got our news before there was 24-hour-a-day TV news or the internet!
US-6 Featured Trip Segment
Speaking of discount stores, Scranton, Pennsylvania, on our Roadtrip-'62 ™ US-6 route, is the home of one. The Rite Aid drug store chain began there in 1962, as Thrif D Discount Center. Your can read more of its history, and about Scranton, on Day 7 of the journey.
1962 Comic Buy of the Week
scan from Grand Comics Database
Superboy #99 is just the kind of comic I was reading in 1962. Great Curt Swan cover art, and a Kryptonite trap that Superboy couldn’t get out of. With two more Superboy backup stories! Grab a slab of pink bubble gum from a package of baseball cards and together these made a summer afternoon that couldn’t be beat. And still affordable today at under $5.00.
About Roadtrip-'62 ™
Video of the Week
Let’s listen to The Orlons performing their 1962 number-four hit, "Don't Hang Up.".
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 © 2013 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.
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