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News of November 17, 1962

1962 NEWS & HISTORY OF THE NATION

Instead of going out on the road today, Roadtrip-'62 ™ reports some of the news headlines from the United States of November 17, 1962. This day was a Saturday, so as a kid I would have been watching cartoons in the morning and playing in the afternoon, and not have been aware of the news. The calendar for 1962 was last the same in 2018 and will next be the same as 1962 in the year 2029! You can find a lot of calendars and view the entire year on the Calendars of 1962 page.

 
1962 Girl Scouts Calendar
1962 Girl Scouts Calendar cover (from an online auction)

President John F. Kennedy dedicated the brand new Dulles International Airport today. The need for a second airport near the capital was identified shortly after the end of World War II and Congress passed the Washington Airport Act in 1950, and amended it in 1958, to provide for construction. The site is 26 miles from Washington, D.C. and was the first airport in the country to be designed specifically for commercial jets. Construction began in September 1958. Architect Eero Saarinen wanted to create something more than just another airport, by expressing "the soul of the airport." He designed the Terminal Building and the control tower in that spirit and declared it was the best thing he had ever done. The airport was named after the late US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. A unique feature was the specially-designed Mobile Lounges. These somewhat bus-like vehicles were designed by the Chrysler Corporation in association with the Budd Company, were 54-feet long, and capable of carrying 102 passengers, 71 of them seated. At the terminal, you would board the Mobile Lounge and it would take you directly to your aircraft protected from weather, jet noise and blast, all without walking long walking distances.

 

President John F. Kennedy’s Remarks at the Dedication of Dulles International Airport, November 17, 1962.

Also on this day, Arthur Vining Davis died at age 95. He was known as the third-richest person in the world at the time, with assets of $400 million (comparable to $3.2 billion in 2017). He had acquired his fortune as the CEO and chairman of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). Even today, we see the effects of his money, as he left the majority to several trusts. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations he had established in 1952 continue to provide financial assistance to educational, religious, cultural, and scientific institutions. If you watch anything on the PBS network, you have undoubtedly heard opening credits state that some of the funding comes from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.

 
Amethyst crystals
Senator Edward Brooke (Public domain photo from United States Congress.)

Looking over headlines from the Jackson Advocate newspaper of Jackson, Mississippi, it appears that 1962 was a good year for the movement of black people into mainstream political positions. The newspaper is known as “The Voice of Black Mississippians”, has been published since 1938, and is still in business. It is Mississippi’s oldest continuously published member of the nation’s black press. Headlines for November 17, 1962 include: “Negro Congressman Elected in California”, “Negro Elected to Michigan Supreme Court”, “Negro Elected Massachusetts Attorney General,” “Negro Elected State Treasurer of Connecticut.” These refer to the following elections. Augustus F. Hawkins in California, where he served 56 years in both the California Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the first black politician west of the Mississippi River elected to the House. Also, the election of Justice Otis M. Smith, who was first appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1961 and had just won re-election. He was the first black justice on any state supreme court since reconstruction. Also, Edward Brooke became the first African-American to be elected attorney general of any state. In 1966, he became the first African-American popularly to be elected to the United States Senate, where he represented Massachusetts in the Senate from 1967 to 1979. And finally, Gerald A. Lamb was elected Connecticut State Treasurer and served from 1963 through 1970.

 
Amethyst crystals
Semipalatinsk Test Site overview map, showing its position in Kazahkstan (Map by Finlay McWalter via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Though a nuclear bomb test occurred in Semipalitinsk, Soviet Union this day and not in the United States, tests were major news here anyway. It had been less than two weeks since the Soviet Union had agreed to remove their nuclear missiles from Cuba, and confirmation would not be announced by the United States until November 20th. Semipalitinsk, in Eastern Kazakhstan, was the primary testing site for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk between 1949 and 1989 and closed the site in 1991.

 
Macy’s Department Store, New York City, postcard circa 1962
Macy’s Department Store, New York City, postcard circa 1962 (from an online auction)

Much bigger news was the FBI’s foiling of a bombing plot in New York City. Three Cuban agents: Suero, Garcia, and Santiesteban were apprehended just about a week before their planned attack on Macy’s, Gimbels, and Bloomingdale’s department stores and Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. The blasts were to involve 500 kilos of TNT, which is five times the amount used in 2004 by al Qaeda’s 10-location attack on the Madrid, Spain subway system! The plan was to have the bombs explode on the day after Thanksgiving, when the biggest department stores on earth would be packed with shoppers on the year’s biggest shopping day. Macy’s got 50,000 shoppers that day. The conspirators were members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations working in concert with members of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee, an outfit that became much better known a year later when member Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy. Some analysts believe the plot was hatched because the Soviet Union had decided to remove their nuclear missiles from Cuba, and that Cuba’s plans to attack the United States were actually a bigger factor in Khrushchev's decision to remove the missiles than President Kennedy's naval blockade. After all, Cuban leader Che Guevara told the London Daily Worker, “If the missiles had remained, we would have shot them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York City.”

 

"Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons, 1962

 

In entertainment news, the number one song in the US on November 17, 1962 was "Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons. Bill Anderson had the number one country song with “Mama Sang a Song”. It was both football and basketball season in November. The Alabama Crimson Tide lost a game to the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets 7–6. Though Alabama was the #1 ranked college football team, this loss brought an end to a 19-game winning streak. And the Los Angeles Lakers squeaked out a win over the Chicago Zephyrs, 110-109. I hope you’re enjoying 1962: next week Roadtrip-'62 ™ will get back on the road for more fun!

 

All photos by the author and Copyright © 2020 - Milne Enterprises, Inc., except as noted.

All other content Copyright © 2020 - Milne Enterprises, Inc.

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What's the weather in 1962?

Weather on November 17, 1962 for Washington, DC, from the National Climatic Data Center:

  • Low = 48°F
  • High = 55°F
  • Precipitation = no data
  • Mean Wind Speed = 2mph

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