This Month In 1962
Events in Syria have filled the news recently, with an apparent civil war in progress, reports of chemical weapons attacks, and threats of United States intervention. You may be interested to learn that things were the same 51 years ago, in 1962. In that year, a coup and counter-coup occurred. Parliament was dissolved and violent demonstrations against the government were going on. Some of today’s players were even the same, involving the Muslim Brothers and the Baath Party, of which current President Bashar al Assad is a member. Some observers noted that little had changed in the vicious cycle of politics in Syria since 1949, which had included a revolution in 1961. The violence continued into the next several years, with another coup in 1963. Will we still be reading about violence in Syria 51 years from today?
Fiction Becomes Fact
The first example of a computer virus, in the form of a Trojan program that erases memory, may have appeared in a television show in 1962. A program intended to do mathematical calculations, running in a computer used to target incoming missiles, was found to contain a command to erase memory. The British secret agents The Avengers are called in after the computer continually breaks down. In true 1962 style, the computer is so big that one of scientists who developed it is found dead inside it! The Avengers episode “The Big Thinker” first aired on December 15, 1962. Today, of course, everyone uses computers and we are all in constant battle against malicious program code. Governments’ hacking into each other’s computers has largely replaced the spies on the ground though.
1962 In Sports
The 1962 UCI Road World Championships took place in Salò, Italy on September 2,1962. These bicycle races are the annual world championships, organized by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). They were first held in 1927 and are still an annual event. It was a men’s only event until 1958. The winners in 1962 were Jean Stablinski of France in the men’s race and Marie-Rose Gaillard of Belgium in the women’s race. This was the debut year for a team time trial, and the 4-man Italian team won that event.
1962 Comic Buy of the Week
scan from Grand Comics Database
Space exploration was a popular genre of comic book story in 1962. But not quite the realistic space exploration of manned orbiting of the Earth, which was actually being achieved by both the United States and the Soviet Union. No, comics focused on the science fiction theme of meeting aliens on other planets. All the major publishers had ongoing titles with such stories, including “Space Man” from Dell, “Space Adventures” from Charlton, and my favorite, “Mystery in Space” from DC. Many super hero comics also featured space themes and aliens. “Mystery In Space” #78 was typical, featuring its own space-roaming hero in the Flash Gordon tradition, Adam Strange.
About Roadtrip-'62 ™
Guest Blog of the Week
This week, I recommend a site I’ve used for research about US-6, Quahog.org. It’s a guide to Rhode Islands's history, culture, and quirks. These folks wander all around the smallest state and find plenty of facts, folklore, attractions, cuisine, and even lodging worth discussing. From The Arcade in Providence (the country's oldest indoor shopping mall, which is styled like a Greek temple), to Coffee Milk, (Rhode Island's official state drink), you can learn a lot here.
US-23 Featured Trip Segment
When Roadtrip-’62 passed through Saginaw and Flint, Michigan, we would have seen hundreds of acres of vacant property where the factories that produced our 1962 Chevy Impala, Buicks, and other cars once stood. Fortunes were made on automobiles in Flint in the 1920s and some of the fruits of that labor can still be seen in the Flint Cultural Center. The Center includes a planetarium, Flint Institute of Arts, and the Alfred P. Sloan Museum’s Pierson Automotive Gallery collection of over 80 Flint-built automobiles.
Museum of the Week
One of the more unusual museums along US-23 is the Wurtsmith Air Museum in Oscoda, Michigan. This museum is located at the former Paul B. Wurtsmith Air Base and aims to preserve the heritage of the base and of aviation in northeast Michigan. Many a sortee was flown from here during the cold war in 1962. Displays include both flyable and static aircraft displays, along with related artifacts, equipment, and memorabilia. Some of the aircraft are outdoors on the field, looking ready to fly. The museum is only open from open from May to September, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So get there soon if you want to see it before it closes for the winter!
Off To The Races!
Of course, bicycles are not the only things that people raced in 1962. Along both US-23 and US-6 you can find bicycle races, car races, horse races, dog races, and some more unusual races. Many are annual events since before 1962.
US-6 Featured Trip Segment
The third day of our US-6 roadtrip brought us off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. There to greet us was Salty The Seahorse, in Mattapoisett. A leftover from a former gift shop, Salty has been adopted by the town, refurbished, and is lighted at night just like he was 50 years ago. Start at Salty and continue west to Providence, Rhode Island for day 3 of US-6.
Video of the Week
Speaking of bicycle races, enjoy the 1962 Gillette International Road Race, held in Great Britain. Notice the caps instead of helmets, and the difference in the clothing of the racers when compared to today.
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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.