By any account, 1962 was an eventful year in history. The Cuban Missile Crisis came to a head and John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in Friendship 7. Telstar, the first communications satellite was activated, Spiderman, Dr. No and Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans all debuted this year. Johnny Carson took over as host of the Tonight Show and the Beatles replaced drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr. Meanwhile, here in Newport, it was an America’s Cup year with Weatherly besting Gretel, the first Australian challenger. JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy followed the racing closely while spending the summer at their Hammersmith residence. The Jazz Festival returned to Freebody Park featuring Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Thelonious Monk.
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in Friendship 7 and President Kennedy announced a U.S. embargo prohibiting the importation of goods of Cuban origin. The official beginning of the “Age of Aquarius” was heralded by the alignment of the first 6 planets in an extremely rare “great conjunction” during a solar eclipse and the Beach Boys introduced a new musical style with their hit “Surfin.” Great strides were being made in the Civil Rights Movement with Memphis, TN ordering the desegregation of its lunch counters and the Supreme Court disallowing race separation on public transportation. Meanwhile, here in Newport, The Preservation Society saved the Elms (mansion) from the wrecking ball, purchasing it for $116,000 and the Colony House was designated a National Historic Landmark. The USS Ingraham arrived in Newport, her new home port, later she was assigned as part of the Cuban blockade which resulted in the removal of Russian missiles from that island.
March of 1962 came in like a lion with record cold, the worst storm of the winter dumped 23 inches of snow on 3/6 and on 3/12 a winter gale buffeted our coast with 50 mph winds. With St. Patrick’s Day approaching heart-warming meals were being planned; Almacs promoted a corned beef sale– .55 cents/lb plus 100 free Green Stamps. According to the Daily News “5000-7000 people viewed the 6th Annual Parade which featured 5 bands and a 6 year old champion baton twirler.” Beyond Newport, Wilt Chamberlain scored an incredible 100 points in one game on 3/2 and on 3/15 he became the first to score 4000 points in a single NBA season. The Beatles BBC broadcast radio debut was on 3/7 and in the U.S. 90% of US homes now had televisions. Other March events included the Navy selecting Newport as the Atlantic Headquarters for the Cruiser and Destroyer Fleet, George Wein was granted a license to hold the Jazz Festival at Freebody Park and Sophia Loren starred in the film “Two Women” (for which she had become the first non-American actress to win an Academy Award) at the Opera House. Middletown Motors advertised brand new 1962 VW Beetles for $1341.38, which would take you a long way with the price of gas at .28 cents/gallon! And for the first time, Newport residents could park in the Mary Street lot free for three hours, the then trial program was deemed a success and continues 50 years later. And last, but certainly not least, Daniel F. Dwyer, III was born on 3/23/62 at Newport Hospital.
In April of 1962 America’s fascination with all things “space age” continued. The Century 21 Exposition (Seattle World’s Fair) debuted the Space Needle on 4/21 and Ranger 3 was launched on 4/23 pointed toward the moon to collect images prior to impact, but unfortunately missed it! This month in sports, the Celtics drafted John Havlicek and defeated the Lakers in Game 7 overtime to clinch their 4th consecutive NBA Championship (video) sparking the fierce rivalry that continues today. Would-be America’s Cup 12 metre challenger Gretel and her trial horse Vim split two 12 mile races at the Prince Albert YC Regatta in Sydney Harbour this month. Meanwhile, Ted Hood’s newly designed 12 metre Nefertiti was being built under a cloak of secrecy, in Marblehead at a reported cost of “upward of $1300/ft. In the world of entertainment Lawrence of Arabia won 7 Academy Awards. Locally, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance played the Opera House and Breakfast at Tiffanys opened the season at the Newport Family Drive-In ($1.70/carload). Rogers High alum, Van Johnson took a break from The Music Man to visit Newport to satisfy a craving for Johnny cakes and sausage. In April of 1962, the Equal Pay Act was still a year away. The Newport Daily News routinely published “Help Wanted” ads separated by gender. Listed under “Available Female” were stenographer, salesgirl, dental assistant, housekeeper, typist, cook, babysitter, cocktail waitress and Avon representative. Cherry & Webb featured “designer Easter bonnets” from the new “ready-to-wear” collections of Balenciaga, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and Pierre Cardin priced from $9.98 – $13.98. And a “Debonaire Deluxe” hairstyle at Gustave Hair Stylists in Bellevue Plaza included “a deluxe permanent, style, cut, shampoo, set and creme rinse, for $10.00.
By May of 1962 things were ramping up for a legendary America’s Cup Summer in Newport. In Australia, the 12 metre challenger Gretel, was loaded onboard The City of Sydney freighter as deck cargo, (along with her trial horse Vim and two tenders) beginning her long voyage to Narragansett Bay, where Columbia and Weatherly were already vying for the defender role. Meanwhile, in Marblehead (MA), Ted Hood’s newly designed and rapidly built Nefertiti was tuning up, also hoping to defend the Auld Mug. Even the first lady was making preparations for a Newport summer. Jacqueline Kennedy flew into Hammersmith on the afternoon of May 8, via helicopter after christening the nuclear submarine Lafayette at nearby Groton. Her tour of several Ocean Drive estates with a local attorney lead to speculation that she was house hunting for a summer residence in the City by the Sea. Later that month, JFK celebrated his 45th birthday at Madison Square Garden, with a special song from Marilyn Monroe, sadly, this would be her last public appearance. In other entertainment news, King of Kings played at the Opera House while jet-setters flocked to the Cannes Film Festival including, Natlie Wood who graced the cover of Life magazine, while sailing in the Med. In music, The West Side Story soundtrack album shot to #1 on the charts where it stayed for 54 weeks (more than 20 weeks longer than any other album to date) and the Isley Brothers released what would become the new national dance craze, Twist and Shout! In local news, Pat Norton of Middletown was crowned Miss Newport in the Fourth Annual Pageant and a pesky Portsmouth raccoon climbed into a transformer causing a 3 minute blackout of the entire island. A Jail on Wheels display was at the Aquidneck Shopping Center; the “scared straight” exhibit of the 60’s featured a life-sized jail cell, an actual electric chair, a high-tech lie detector and a “drunk-o-meter.” Elsewhere in Newport high technology was in use with the massive IBM, TAMAC305 computer that occupied an entire room at the Navy Base and long-distance coin-operated telephones were installed on the (VI)king (VI=84) exchange, among in first in the nation. For that magical summer, the City by the Sea may have been inspiring the world, just look at this namesake 1962 Chrysler Newport.
By June of 1962 preparations for the America’s Cup were in full swing. All of the American contenders arrived this month along with the advance team from Gretel, just in time to view the defender observation races. And so the predictions and “trash talking” began… Easterner’s skipper George O’Day predicted “Whichever of the four U.S. contenders wins the right to defend will turn back the Australians in a racing runaway.” Nefertiti’s co-skipper Don MacNamara claimed their boat’s great advantage: “she’s a great wagon to weather.” On 5/16/62, 131 yachts started the 23rd Annual Newport to Bermuda Race in a 10-15 knot southwesterly. Although she had a poor start, the scratch boat Stormvogel, was favored to take line honors and possibly break Boleros’s 1954 elapsed-time record. Late in the race she was overtaken by Northern Light, however it was the 59′ schooner Nina who won out on corrected time. Her owner, 74-year-young de Coursey Fales, became the oldest winning skipper (a record that still stands) said: “We never saw a sail, we never wet our rail and never wore our oilskins for the entire race.” Upon Nina’s return to Newport she was greeted by an elaborate harbor welcome with fireboats, Navy tugs, the Governor, Mayor, and other officials. Other unlikely winners in the world of sports that month included Jack Nicklaus who, with his superior putting, beat 5-1 favorite Arnold Palmer at the U.S. Open. An 18-year-old Billie Jean Moffitt (King) “pulled the biggest shocker in the history of women’s tennis” when she eliminated top-seeded Margaret Smith of Australia in the first round at Wimbledon.
Locally, the newly formed Robert Potter League for Animals advertised in the Newport Daily News “We are ready and willing to accept any unwanted dog or cat and try to find a home for it.“ Three thousand folks attended the 2nd Annual Cluny Country Fair to raise funds for a new school. A record 385 Rogers High School graduates enjoyed a commencement speech by he urged them to: “combine the determination of the tortoise with the flash of the hare.” At St. Michael’s graduation, he quoted Thomas Jefferson on the value of education. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization it expects what never was and will never be.”
Nationally, President Kennedy was also making the commencement rounds, he spoke at both West Point and Yale, where the “Harvard man” was the recipient of an honorary degree. An Alcatraz escape was headline news after prisoners Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris burrowed through their cells, climbed a ventilation shaft onto the roof and down leaving the island on a makeshift raft. Despite an extensive search, the three men were never found, although there was evidence that they survived.
On the entertainment scene, John Coltrane recorded the jazz standard Impressions and the Beatles had their first Abbey Road recording session with George Martin. Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii was playing at the Newport Drive In and Cape Fear with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, played the Opera House promoted with an ad that read: “A climax so startling, no one admitted during the final 10 minutes.” For other local amusement, you could attend The Aquidneck Shopping Center Fair, which featured “5 big rides, clowns, free goldfish for the kids and “Count Nolan and his Man-Eating Lions. For something “tamer”, you could take the tykes to Lincoln Park where Bullwinkle the Moose and Friends were headlining or to the Rocky Point Shore Dinner Hall to eat your fill of chowder and clam cakes for $1.10.
On 7/1, a carnival was set at King Park with “giant” fireworks for the fourth, Almacs featured watermelon at 5 cents/lb, and the city braced for holiday crowds– ahh, Newport Summer! Anticipating a housing shortage, the Chamber of Commerce urged residents to register extra rooms if willing to rent to visitors. By 7/3 “brisk” ticket sales for ’62 Jazz Festival were attributed to Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington although Louis Armstrong, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, The Count Basie Orchestra, Aretha Franklin and Theolious Monk were also on the bill! The festival was deemed a huge success; Newport PD reported the crowd of 9000 was happy and orderly. On 7/17, the Daily News headline read: “Kennedy to Vacation Here in September,” it would be the fifth time in recent years that Newport hosted the summer White House (Eisenhower, 1957, 58, 60- JFK 1961). On 7/19, Redwood Library directors considered an addition; the Library’s collection, which includes priceless volumes, manuscripts, maps, antique silver, paintings and papers of Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson, had grown from 7000 items in 1862 to 120,000 cataloged items in1962. The Preservation Society purchased The Elms for $75,000, and on 7/23 the Point Neighborhood Association first opened their homes for Colonial Tours. In Melville, a man found a 238-year-old coin, a 1724 penny in his yard.
The Space Race and the Cold War continued to heat up. On 7/7, a Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-152 set a new airspeed record of 1,666 mph. On 7/10, Bell Labs’ (AT&T) Telstar, the world’s first commercial communications satellite was launched for swift worldwide transmission of radio, telephone and television signals. Indicative of the tenuous times, FCC Chairman, Newton Minow, said: “Now we have the opportunity to increase the flow of information among all nations, to surmount the walls of ignorance and prejudice and to use mass communications, hopefully, to avoid mass destruction.” Meanwhile, in Berlin, hundreds of East German workers were seen toiling day and night on the Berlin Wall to strengthen the Communist barricade of concrete and iron around West Berlin. On 7/30, President Kennedy agreed to halt reconnaissance flights over Soviet ships in the Caribbean Sea, after U.S.S.R. Premier Khrushchev proposed the idea “for the sake of better relations”; in the two months that followed, the ships delivered missiles to Cuba. On the same day, President Kennedy began tape recording White House conversations.
In pop culture this month Andy Warhol premiered his Campbell’s Soup Cans exhibit and Darrel F. Zanuck became studio head at 20th Century Fox. At the movies in Newport, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (<video) and Spartacus played at the Drive In, West Side Story(<video) at the Opera House and Hitari! at the Strand. On 7/12, the Rolling Stones debuted at London’s Marquee Club and on 7/26 The French Chef starring Julia Child first appeared on television (WGBH-Boston).
The America’s Cup Defender Trials (<must see – free 1962 film link!) began with skippers drawing numbers from a hat to determine match-ups between the four yachts. After the first two-week trial period, the record stood with Nefertiti (10-2), Weatherly (7-4), Columbia (4-6) and Easterner (1-10). Although Nefertiti had the better record, Weatherly had beaten her by large margins in 2 of their 3 matches and sailed faster in all conditions. Designer, Philip Rhodes had tweaked Weatherly’s keel shape, sliced her transom and removed bulkheads to reduce weight. Skipper Bus Mosbacher was also thought to be the best helmsman of the group. July 21 was Australia Day in Newport; Gretel, the Aussie challenger, her trail horse Vim, and their crew arrived. As they passed Brenton Lightship they were greeted by two Navy tugs spraying streams of water, Coast Guard tenders and a flotilla of private boats. Ida Lewis YC officers and a band playing Waltzing Matilda escorted them to a parade down Thames Street ending with a formal welcome by Navy, City, State and Yacht Club officials on the Colony House steps in Washington Square. Aussie Syndicate Head, Sir Francis Parker was quoted, “We hope you’ll be just as happy to see us go as you have been to see us come!” Gretel’s first sail off Newport was both “encouraging and dismaying.” She snapped her aluminum boom, quickly replaced it with a wooden one and beat Vim by 500 yards in a 15-mile practice race. The weather was a mixed bag, 10-15 knots from every direction, but the Aussie yacht performed surprisingly well in heavier wind as well as the lighter air for which she was designed. By week’s end she was hailed “the best challenger ever.” The American twelves sailed with NYYC’s Annual Cruise; Nefertiti won the 1st Squadron Run and Weatherly won the Queen’s Cup.
In August of 1962, Newport was in preparation mode. Soon, the eyes of the world would be on the City-by-the-Sea with the First Family in residence and the America’s Cup races. Infrastructure shortcomings were being looked at on both land and sea. The Brenton Reef Light Tower legs were finally installed after a long delay, it was set to replace Brenton Reef Lightship. With downtown traffic regularly backed up from the Jamestown Ferry Landing, Mayor Hanbly met with Governor Notte to discuss plans for a Bay Bridge. Notte said: “We must educate the people about the need for the bridge but it won’t be built overnight.” In 1960 voters had rejected it. Other notable local events this month included The Elms opening to the public with a gala reception, the fringe of Hurricane Alma drove two boats onto the rocks in Brenton Cove, area beaches were closed by huge jellyfish, and the 3-Ring Circus of Christian-Wallace rolled into town. On 8/27, JFK arrived via helicopter landing at Hammersmith. He and 21month-old son John Jr. went to Baily’s Beach for a swim, then the President went for a 3-hour sail on Manitou, a 62’ ocean- racing yawl.
In National and International news, President Kennedy signed a foreign aid authorization bill for $4,672,000,000—that was a lot of zeros for 1962! The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that would assure equal pay for equal work for regardless of the sex of the worker. That said, the NDN continued to advertise “Help Wanted Female” and “Help Wanted Male” under separate headings. Tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. continued to build, combined they performed eight known nuclear tests in August. CIA Director John McCone speculated that the Soviet Union was placing offensive missiles in Cuba, and issued three more warnings that month. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica became independent after 300 years of British rule, as did Trinidad & Tobago. Nelson Mandela was captured by South African police, and subsequently lost his freedom for 27 years; he was not released until 1990.
All month long the four American twelve-meters duked it out in the America’s Cup Defender Finals Trials, while Gretel gained local knowledge sailing with her trail horse, Vim. The 1958 AC champion Columbia struggled even with the addition of Cornelius Shields to her afterguard. Unfortunately, Ray Hunt’s Easterner, just couldn’t keep pace with the rest of the fleet, winning only one race during the Observation Trials. Ted Hood’s radically beamy Nefertiti had solid results in heavy weather, but was unimpressive in less than 12 knots of breeze. So by month’s end, the NYYC Selection Committee chose Weatherly, skippered by the legendary Bus Mosbacher to defend the Auld Mug.
Rogue waves rocked the entertainment world this month. Marilyn Monroe was found dead; one reporter wrote: “although the wellsprings of her sorrow were legendary, no star of Hollywood’s Golden era shone more brightly.” President Kennedy broke ties with singer Frank Sinatra after his brother, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, reported on his connections with organized crime. Sinatra was so enraged that he took a sledgehammer and personally destroyed a landing pad built to accommodate visits by the presidential helicopter at his Palm Springs home. On the lighter side, John Lennon secretly married Cynthia Powell and Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as the Beatles drummer. In other musical notes the Beach Boys released Surfin’ Safari, Patsy Cline released Sentimentally Yours and Peter, Paul and Mary had a chart-topper with If I Had A Hammer. On the small and large screens, The Beverly Hillbillies was declared a sleeper-hit, and Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando finally wrapped filming in Tahiti after two years. Closer to home, Lolita played at the Newport Drive-In, Music Man at the Strand and That Touch of Mink was the feature at the Opera House.
Could a man really walk on the moon?
Can the Australians take away “our” America’s Cup?
What if the Russians bomb the U.S. from Cuba?
Will we see the First Family at Mass on Sunday?
These were some of the questions, not necessarily in this order, on the minds of Newporters in September of 1962.
In National news, the Cuban Missile Crisis was imminent when Nikita Khrushchev and Che Guevara signed a military and industrial agreement between their two countries and the first consignment of medium range ballistic missiles were deployed to Cuba. The Soviet Union publicly warned that a U.S. attack on Cuba would mean “plunging the world into the disaster of a universal world war with the use of thermonuclear weapons.” The Civil Rights Movement was coming to a boil as well; President Kennedy authorized and routed 3000 federal troops to integrate the University of Mississippi. Also on the Presidential calendar was a speech at Rice University attended by 40,000 people, in which JFK reaffirmed that the U.S. would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. “The eyes of the world and its millions now look out to space, to the moon and the planets beyond. And we have vowed that they shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of peace.” Promising that outer space will not be filled with weapons of mass destruction… Kennedy said, “The vows of this nation can only be fulfilled if we in this nation are first – and therefore we intend to be first. We choose to go to the moon in this decade, we intend to win.” Speaking of “eyes of the world,” the UN announced this month that the population of the earth had reached 3 billion, just 50 years later, the earth’s population has more than doubled with 7 billion living souls on our planet today.
In spite of and in addition to all of the above, President Kennedy tried to carve out a little time with his family here in Newport. While the first family vacationed at Hammersmith, JFK swam at Bailey’s Beach, sailed the Presidential yawl Manitou, cruised aboard his motor yacht the Honey Fitz, spoke at the Marble House America’s Cup dinner and watched the Races from the navy destroyer, U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (named for his late brother). Mrs. Kennedy was busy about town too, as honorary chair for the English Speaking Union’s Bonniecrest dance and at the Elms unveiling plans for a new cultural center on the Potomac River, (later built as the Kennedy Center). She also took her lumps when clergymen publicly criticized her for being photographed wearing a bathing suit. “Mrs. Kennedy has apparently thrown decorum, dignity and decency overboard, we appeal to her to give up this madness of water skiing with her 4 year old daughter Caroline.” Together the President and Mrs. Kennedy hosted thirty crewmen and officials of the two America’s Cup teams at Hammersmith and attended St. Mary’s 10 o’clock mass most Sundays that month.
In the world of entertainment, Booker T. & the MGs’ “Green Onions” hit #3 on the charts, Bob Dylan played Carnegie Hall and the Beatles recorded their fourth hit single, “Love Me Do.” On September 22, America first met George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy and Jane his wife in primetime when The Jetsons, ABC’s first color series debuted. The MGB sports car was introduced this month, 500,000 would be sold over the next 18 years, making it the best selling sports car in history. A non-sailing Aussie was also the news. Rod Laver became the second player in history to win the Grand Slam of tennis, when he won the U.S. Open; he’d previously won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.
Here on Aquidneck Island, the Colony House was designated a national historic landmark. The former state house, designed by Richard Munday (who also designed Trinity Church) is recognized as the second oldest capitol building still standing in the U.S. dating from 1739. On 9/6/62, Governor Notte presented the Defender Cup to Weatherly. Mayor Hambly arrived late to the Shipyard presentation saying that he was held up by the ferry and added, “If there was a bridge I would have made it on time!” Newport gained national and international attention as the City by the Sea graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was featured as a top vacation destination in LIFE magazine.
The 18th Challenge for the America’s Cup held this month, matched U.S. Defender, Weatherly, skippered by Bus Mosbacher against, Australia’s Challenger, Gretel, skippered by Jock Sturrock. The best of seven series went to five races, and ended with the U.S. hanging on to the Auld Mug yet again. However, these simple results do not tell the story of the excitement of the series, the colorful characters and the energy of the local sailing scene in September of 1962.
After a sparkling America’s Cup summer, October 1962 was a very stressful time…
On the national stage, as James Meredith became the first black student at the University of Mississippi he was greeted by controversy and protests that erupted into violence. On the international scene, U.S. and U.S.S.R. nuclear testing foreshadowed the possible disastrous consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis, often referred to as the most dangerous two weeks in history. On 10/22/62 President Kennedy’s urgent television address informed a nervous nation about Russian missile bases in Cuba, a naval blockade and U.S. military forces at DEFCON 3 status. New England Civil Defense authorities took steps to speed up the licensing of fallout shelters in schools, government and industrial buildings.
Right here at the Naval Station several destroyers left hurriedly to join the blockade of Cuba and a Newport-based sailor, Cornelius Drummond was indicted on spy charges including the wholesale sellout of American defense secrets to the Soviets. Meanwhile the U.S. and U.S.S.R. signed a joint space effort in telecommunications and meteorology. That said, the race for space was thought to hold the ultimate future tactical advantage for the winner. Astronauts and Cosmonauts continued to push the envelope including Walter Schirra, Jr. who set a space flight record for the U.S. when he completed a six-orbit mission in his Sigma 7 capsule this month.
In sports, Johnny Pesky was named Red Sox manager and the N.Y. Yankees prevailed over the San Francisco Giants in the 20th World Series. October baseball was a welcome distraction for the nations worries, as were new entertainment offerings including Johnny Carson’s first Tonight Show, the premiere of The Lucy Show and the Beatles release of Love Me Do. Local movie theaters screened The Flower Drum Song, Rear Window, The Bird Man of Alcatraz and The Adventures of Marco Polo.
In other local news, election season was in full-swing-political advertising touting candidates and hot-topic referendums dominated the pages of the Newport Daily News- sound familiar? (Other local advertising would have made Don Draper proud, follow D.F. Dwyer on Facebook to view creative examples throughout the month!) Newport voters were considering Urban Renewal this month. Two issues on the November ballot sought a $900,000 bond, which represented one-fourth of the estimated $3,600,000 total budget to complete two projects; the federal government would fund the $2,700,000 balance. The first project was the redevelopment of the west side of Thames Street to the waterfront; the second was the development of Goat Island, which until that time had been used as a Navy torpedo station. At completion, 51 acres of land would be added to the tax roles. Both of these projects shaped the face of downtown Newport as we know it today.
Crisis Averted, Time & Technology Marched On…
In the first days of November of 1962, Americans were just starting to exhale after viewing President Kennedy’s televised announcement that the Soviet Union had started to dismantle their missiles in Cuba. Within a week Premier Khrushchev declared the withdrawal complete as 42 ballistic missiles loaded onto Soviet vessels sailed away. In other international news, South African dissident Nelson Mandela began a five-year prison sentence. While serving this term, he was indicted and convicted for other crimes that kept him behind bars for an additional 22 years.
Rapid advances in technology were not limited to the space and arms races. The first Boeing 727 was rolled out and an agreement was signed for the development of the Concorde supersonic airliner, both eventually made the world an incrementally smaller place. Also getting smaller were unwieldy room-size computers. John W. Mauchley predicted, “Within a decade… there is no reason to suppose that the average boy or girl cannot be master of a personal computer.” The post office introduced the “Zoning Improvement Plan” that implemented the five-digit “zip” code scheme and New England Telephone announced the necessity for seven-digit phone numbers and the elimination of alphabetical exchanges in Newport.
The midterm elections kept the ruling Democratic Party in control of the House and increased its majority in the Senate. Former U.S. Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, who had narrowly lost the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy, was heavily defeated in his bid to become Governor of California, while the President’s younger brother, 35 year old Teddy Kennedy, was elected U.S. Senator for Massachusetts. The morning after losing his race, a bitter Nixon told reporters that “You don’t have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”
November 1962 campaign ads, read like they were written today. Hot topics included income taxes, bridge construction tolls, medical care for the aged, social security, education, opportunity for youth, the minimum wage ($1.25) and jobs! Republican, John H. Chafee narrowly defeated Democrat incumbent R.I. Governor John A. Notte, in a race that was recounted for nearly 3 weeks before producing a final result. The Urban Renewal referendum, backed by “Newport’s Progress Team” comprised of prominent businesses, organizations and influential citizens, was adopted. We can thank these forward thinking Newporters for reclaiming and developing the west side of Thames Street to the waterfront and Goat Island as we know them today.
Post-election day, the Newport Daily News replaced political ads with a proliferation of seasonal offerings touting Thanksgiving turkeys and pre-Christmas sales. At the movies, you could take-in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? or Captains Courageous at the Strand, The Manchurian Candidate at the Opera House or Speed-O-Rama with four “death-defying” features at the Panta Drive In. The “Louisiana Lip,” Cassius Clay (Mohamed Ali) predicted his defeat of reigning light heavyweight world champion Archie Moore with a knockout in the fourth round.
Reflection, Celebration & Winds of Change Ring Out the Old Year…
In December 1962 as the nation prepared for the holiday season, President Kennedy appeared in an unusual hour-long television interview called After Two Years directly communicating to the American people from his White House rocking chair. As he lit the National Christmas Tree, he said “Peril was faced and reason ruled in 1962, making the nation just a little bit more confident of peace on earth to men of good will this Christmas season.” Sadly, it would be the Kennedy Family’s last Christmas at the White House.
In national news the New York City Newspaper Strike began with the walkout of the International Typographical Union, halting production of all nine of the city’s major newspapers. The strike lasted 114 days, but it didn’t stop the transmission of news from outer space to Earth. Mariner 2 reported data showing the surface of Venus to be 900° Fahrenheit, revealing “a planet inhospitable to life,” which “dashed hopes for a tropical, watery planet filled with aquatic and amphibious creatures.” Meanwhile, Project Stargazer balloonists returned to Earth after taking a look at the heavens from an altitude of 81,500 feet. Among the objectives of the 18+ hour flight were to determine if stars twinkle when observed above the earth’s distorting atmosphere and to record the sound of stars. Other advances in technology this month was ATLAS, the first super computer going on line.
It was another good month at the movies with the releases of Lawrence of Arabia and To Kill a Mockingbird. Locally, the Opera House screened Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum, and you could catch an Audrey Hepburn double feature, Sabrina and Roman Holiday at the Strand. Musically speaking Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons topped the charts with Big Girls Don’t Cry until they were knocked out of orbit by The Tornados instrumental hit Telstar. Connie Francis’ I’ll Be Home for Christmas was ubiquitous this season, bass player Bill Wyman joined the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan recorded his new album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, including Blowin’ In the Wind at Columba Records Studio A.
Here in Newport, Santa Claus seemed to be everywhere, he was first sighted atop NFD Hook & Ladder Truck 2 at Washington Square, later in the month he made another aerial entrance via whirly bird. View a gallery of Santa in Newport 1962 images on our Facebook page. On December 9th a capacity crowd filled Emmanuel Church for Swanhurst Chorus’ Annual Yuletide Concert (a tradition that continues this year). Later in the month restoration began to replace the rotted sills, clapboards, stairs and chimneys of Trinity Church’s Tower Room. On the 22nd an overnight snowfall coated the city with 3 inches of pre-holiday snow, but by Christmas Eve the Newport Daily News reported that the weather had been perfect for last minute holiday shopping with record crowds jamming the streets and shopping areas. In stark contrast, the following week’s temperatures dipped to 10 degrees below zero when a frigid Arctic blast whipped through the area with winds gusting up to 70 mph.
On New Year’s Eve, twenty-five local merchants provided prizes for the First Baby of 1963 Contest and at the stroke of midnight ABC affiliate WTEV-6 first lit up the local television airwaves. As 1962 drew to a close it was a time for reflection on an eventful year of change. Both internationally and nationally initiatives were set in motion that continue to impact our daily lives. Decisions taken by Newporters in 1962 literally changed the face and character of our City by the Sea as we know it today.
Thank you for sharing our 50th Anniversary retrospective, we hope that you have enjoyed it as much as we have. At D.F. Dwyer Insurance, we look forward serving you and your families for the next 50 years in Newport & Beyond…