This Week In 1962
Former South African president Nelson Mandela died last week at the age of 95. Mandela was best known as president, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace, for his life-long struggle against apartheid, and for representation and equality for the native people of South Africa. The world view of him in 1962 was quite a bit different however; as a terrorist and communist. On August 5th of that year, with the apparent help of the United States CIA, he was arrested with accomplice Cecil Williams. By 1962, Nelson Mandela had been involved in steadily escalating opposition to the South African government and was seen to be a danger to stability. He had been on trial just two years before because of a protest during a period of marshall law. Found not guilty of the charges at that time, he spent the next two years giving speeches and receiving guerilla training internationally, working with the South African Communist Party, founding a militant group, and eventually planning sabotage and bombing of government buildings. His 1962 arrest lead to a trial for inciting workers' strikes and leaving the country without permission, from which he was originally sentenced to only five years. But subsequent government raids and seizure of paperwork at his group’s meeting places documented his participation in sabotage. It was a second trial on four counts of sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government that led to his 27-year incarceration.
Christmas Music of 1962
Christmas is a time for special holiday music, and 1962 was no exception. We had our choice of listening to albums by Bing Crosby (I Wish You A Merry Christmas), the Everly Brothers (Christmas with the Everly Brothers ), Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns (Twas the Night Before Christmas), The Four Seasons Greetings (The Four Seasons Greetings), Dick Leibert (The Sound Of Christmas On The Radio City Music Hall Organ), Ray Conniff (We Wish You A Merry Christmas), and an all-time favorite, The Chipmunks (Christmas With The Chipmunks).
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) was originally released in 1958 and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles chart, becoming The Chipmunks' first (and only) #1 single. It is also the only Christmas record to reach #1 on the same chart, and the last Christmas song to reach #1 on any US single record chart! Our connection is that is was included in the 1962 album "Christmas With The Chipmunks" and reached #39 that year. Of course, it's still popular today.
1962 Christmas Extra
The United States North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa Claus’ journey across the skies since 1955. This year is no exception, and the Santa Tracker has a new website with games and more. I used to see his route on TV as part of weather reports back in 1962, but in recent years the website has included animated videos of Santa in his sleigh. As the expectations of animation keep rising with computer animated movies becoming ever more realistic, NORAD has added an animated fighter plane escort to provide more realism. Of course, being 2013, they are also receiving complaints about “militarizing” Santa. Sigh.
1962 Comic Buy of the Week
scan from Grand Comics Database
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer didn’t have a TV special yet in 1962, but he did have a comic book. The “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Annual” was the last issue of a string of Rudolph comics beginning in 1950. This final issue consisted mostly of reprinted stories from the 1953 and 1954 editions. Besides comic stories, it also contained several activity pages with things like optical illusions and games.
US-6 Featured Trip Segment
Our roadtrip down US-6 hasn’t yet made it to Omaha, Nebraska, but you may want to go there for some Christmas cheer. The Omaha Holiday Lights Festival lights up downtown from November 28 through January 5 this year. It features 40 blocks of blazing lights, an ice rink, festivals, and even fireworks on New Years Eve! The Festival attracts nearly 75,000 people during the holidays.
Guest Blog of the Week
And Everything Else Too is a fun blog by Karswell that dredges up all sorts of vintage items from the 1950s and 60s. And sometimes as early as the 1940s or as late as the 70s. Last week, he presented a nice little 1959 Christmas booklet from 3M Company, makers of "Scotch" brand tapes and "Sasheen" brand ribbons, that showed how to wrap all your gifts just right. You never know what will turn up!
US-23 Featured Trip Segment
Day 11 of our US-23 roadtrip traveled through coal mining and Civil War country in Kentucky. The area has also been home to many country music stars, including Loretta Lynn.
Museum of the Week
The Van Lear Historical Museum, in Van Lear, Kentucky, is housed in the former Consolidation Coal Company's office building. The building just turned 100 years old this year. It’s a fitting location because coal built the town and the decline of coal mining led to the town’s decline. The museum has exhibits including artifacts from the mining years. The basement gift shop is recreation of a restaurant from the 1950s and 60s that was operated in this location by Richard "Icky" Wetzel. So you can stop in to see a bit of Van Lear from 1962!
Here’s a few vintage 1962 Christmas decorations from my collection. The buildings are cardboard and were sold in dime stores like Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, W.T. Grant’s, and McCrory’s. They were made in Japan, which was typically the source of inexpensive goods like China is today. The lights are in the shape of candles and are a real nuisance to get on a tree! You have to slide the two wires over a branch and then crimp them with a wooden bead, all while trying to maintain the “candle” upright. After all, it wouldn’t look much like a candle if it were sideways or upside down. Time for some egg nog after that!
About Roadtrip-'62 ™
Video of the Week
Sing along with one of Ray Stevens’ most fun songs, Santa Claus Is Watching You, from 1962. He reuses the character of Clyde The Camel, who first appeared in "Ahab The Arab," which Stevens had a hit with earlier in 1962.
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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.