A Window into the Past

I recently went to a consignment shop in Durham with my wife. I saw that they had a large stack of Durham Sun newspapers from the early 1960’s. They were ten cents apiece. I looked through them and picked out about sixty cents worth, figuring that it might be interesting to see what was going on in The Triangle when I was five or six years old and living in New Jersey. I must admit that I found the exercise to be quite illuminating and have decided to share some of my findings. I tried to break the stories up in some sensible groupings.


The earliest of the papers I read were from November 23rd and 24th, 1963, which were the two days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I’ve seen dozens


of banner headlines reporting the death and Mourning of JFK, but these provided more insight into the case against Lee Harvey Oswald. 3Ironically, the article in the Sunday paper outlining the case against Oswald was read by many people after Oswald had already been shot and killed by Jack Ruby at 11:21AM Dallas time.2


There was a story about J.D. Tippitt, the police officer shot and killed by Oswald fleeing the Book Depository. Check out the salary and benefits bestowed on a 39-year old cop in a major city with a wife and three kids. Sheesh!






This last one surprised me. Kennedy actually did not pick the route, but did approve it. Sensationalized journalism has obviously been around for a while.






Lyndon Baines Johnson became President quite unexpectedly, but quickly faced the same crap that they do today. 7Here is crap from Fidel Castro, crap about Viet Nam, 9and crap from future opponent for the Presidency, Barry 8Goldwater, who suggested that Johnson would lead us to atomic warfare. Who’d have thought that a Republican would resort to hyperbolic threats to scare voters into choosing him?





Ooh, look! Studebaker is closing its U.S. manufacturing operations. Thank goodness that the auto industry is so strong in 2020.

91Takeaways from today’s Alley Oop… 1.) Mrs. Oop has is pretty sexy in that above-the-knee, strapless loincloth. 2.) She appears to be telling Oop that she is with child. 3.) Oop does not seem happy. 4.) Roe v. Wade is still 20,000 years in the future. In tomorrow’s episode…The Oops go to see the Witch Doctor!!!911

Progress, YES! Political correctness, NOT YET!



Good things to come…912

I see two National Championships in your future.



I have a feeling that this sport will become big someday.







Ray Floyd…22 tour victories, 4 majors, 1 TPC championship, 14 Senior victories, 4 Senior majors.





We were wrong…


Loudmouth Cassius Clay claims to want to fight Liston. Nonsense, he’d be killed. He ain’t all that.



An on-sides kick with 14 seconds left in the first half leading 35-0…and “Perhaps” you made a mistake? You abso-fucking-lutely made a mistake!









You’re wrong, Frank McGuire. Notice that UCLA is undefeated. I’ll bet they win this one and nine more out of the next eleven!








General sports interest918

Hank Aaron leads the league in Slugging Average. I found this odd as for the first half of my life, offensive baseball stats were all about the big three, Home Runs, RBIs and Batting Average. Only recently have Batting Average and RBIs been discredited as being poor measures of offensive performance. Slugging average along with On Base Percentage are much more valued today. The list of leaders includes future Hall-of-Famers Aaron, McCovey, Mays, Matthews, Cepeda and Frank Robinson. Robinson had led the league the previous three years for the Reds who somehow decided to trade him three seasons hence to the Orioles for good-but-not-great pitcher, Milt Pappas. Frank Robinson won a Triple Crown in his first season with the Orioles.

Dick “Night Train” Lane, missing a game? That’s rare. He was one of the toughest players 919to ever grace a football field and was on the NFL’s 75th year All-Time Team. Wait, he’s missing the game due to the death of his wife? She must have been pretty young. Wait, he was married to Dinah Washington…the jazz singer, the best-selling black artist of the 50’s, the Queen of the Blues? How had I never heard of this? I know I was only five, but I have been immersed in both football and jazz for my entire life. He was her seventh (and obviously final) husband. She died in her sleep from an accidental drug overdose of barbiturates. It made me think of other pairings of great athletes and performers. Were they the best? David Beckham and that Spice Girl? Nah, Dinah was much bigger. Brady and Bundchen? A model? Pass. Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union? C’mon, she hosts a reality show. Russell Wilson and Ciara? I’ll still take Dinah. J-Lo and A-Rod? Maybe, but they ain’t married yet.


Ooh, a space telescope! Wait, the Hubble telescope won’t be launched for 27 more years. Oh, this telescope fell to earth after the balloons lifting it into space broke free. Yes, a 30-foot-high telescope costing 2.5 million dollars (in 1963 money), was lifted into space using tandem six-story high balloons to lift it high enough to get a better look at Jupiter. What could go wrong?



This sounds high-tech.




This inexpensive advancement in the crotch-related sciences would lead to generations of yeast infections and the subsequent development of Monistat and Vagisil.923



This has nothing to do with technology other than the cool graphic used in the ad. That is a Mercury capsule, the same Friendship 7 one used by John Glenn a year earlier in as the first man to orbit the earth. It has nothing to do with diamonds, but the price is right.




Cape Canaveral is keeping busy with two launches in one day. Sadly, it will be renamed Cape Kennedy in a matter of924 days. In a side note, Aldous Huxley passed away. Besides being a great author, he was also a pacifist and humanist. If only he were alive today to see the amazing progress we have made in these two areas of…oh, wait…never mind…



90 days…for what, you ask? Protesting segregati925on. Yes, two PhD Professors, molders of young minds, jailed for three months for a peaceful protest. Today, rapists who just attend college serve less time. I wonder what murderers got back then…



Nothing! This guy was acquitted of murdering his wife…not just his first wife, either. He already got away killing the first one! Oh, wait…apparently, they were only women. Thankfully, women have achieved full equality in 2020, right?











This is bad…really bad. All of this was during my lifetime. I grew up in a Puerto Rican enclave in a black neighborhood of a very mixed town in New Jersey. This just wasn’t a thing in my life. This want ad was a regular thing in the God-damned newspaper!




This headline seems to have a modicum of progressiveness, but why, Mr. Newspaper Man, are the quotes around the word ‘dissatisfied’? Is this some subtle message that negroes are malingerers or that they have no business being dissatisfied and should be happy to have low-paying jobs? In other words, WTF?

930931Remember the Duke vs. UCLA in the NCAA final thing from earlier? They got there by beating Michigan in the Semi-final game. This was on the front page. The praise of the Wolverines two star players, Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin was effusive. “These two great Negro stars were unable to turn the tide against well-prepared and smartly coached Duke.” Thankfully, today, basketball stars are no longer called Negros, but well-prepared and smartly coached are sadly, still code words for “White”.


Does anyone eat cottage cheese anymore? Not only does this sound disgusting, the grayscale newsprint photo makes it look even less appealing.

Here are some food prices of the day…




Unsafe at any speed, unsafe at any price.



Free turkey with a car!


Twenty cent sundae…Booyah!!!


$7.50 for snow tires!

954                     Feed 7 for $3.30!952955




Two nights 953for $8.95!


Shoes for 2 bucks!





I just reviewed this play a few months ago. 937It is based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” about a teacher who was prosecuted for teaching evolution in the classroom. The trial took place in 1925, the play written in 1955, became a movie in 1960, was relevant enough to be performed here in 1964, and sadly, is still relevant today.



I have no explanation for these.





The churches, schools and the local bank were all behind this. We beat polio. What, the Hell is wrong with the anti-vaxers?







Santa is coming…by chopper?

942Surprisingly, none of the vintage versions of these games would be worth much more than fifteen bucks today. This dude, 943however, could go for over a grand today. Nice profit from a $13.88 investment.





9561964 Polara

Worth more today…




I actually have this one.




Here are some other gift ideas…



Memorable Sports Moments


I’d like to try something a bit different. This is an Audience Participation Post. Once in a while, while speaking with friends, the subject of sports participation comes up. I sometimes ask about people’s most memorable sports-related story. It might be participatory, or as a fan. It might be a great triumph or the agony of defeat. Here are some examples…

My first round of golf in Florida was with my house painter at The Carolina Club in Margate. On the par 3 9th hole, I hit a high iron that landed and stuck 4 inches from the pin. I was going to get my first birdie. It

was a steamy August afternoon and before we could even get into our cart to head for the green, the skies opened up for a 20-minute deluge. When I eventually got to the green, my ball sat in an inch-and-a-half puddle of water with the top barely exposed. I tried to putt it, but all I did was soak my golf shoes.

One of my daughters was placed in the leadoff position for the championship game of her rec softball league. She went five for five with three singles and two doubles. I was a proud papa. Some years later when I brought it up to her, she said that she only remembered one thing from that day. She said that she was so nervous that she just decided to swing at the first pitch to get it over with and that she was lucky that the pitcher happened to throw it over the plate.

My other daughter was asked to bunt in a rec league softball game. She fouled the ball into her mouth and the force of the ball caused her braces to become embedded into her lip requiring a trip to the orthodontist.

I have a friend who was a very good high school pitcher. Even with his success, his best memory is snapping off a perfect curveball to an extremely powerful hitter with two strikes on him. He said the ball was less

than two inches off the plate when the batted reached down and golfed the ball some 450 feet, well beyond the outfield fence. He said it was memorable because everybody on the field including his teammates and coach simultaneously went “Ooooooh” and then burst out laughing.

I have a son-in-law who blew out his knee participating in college sports. Unfortunately, it happened while he was circling the court carrying a gigantic flag during a women’s basketball game. He also once received a purple-nurple from Shaq (see below)!


I would like my readers to read my “moment” on the Facebook thread associated with this blogpost. I would further ask you to provide your sports highlight in the thread. It should be fun. If you want to preserve your anonymity of don’t have Facebook access, email me, and I’ll share your story with no name. It would also help if you shared the post with your peeps to expand the fun (and of course, my blog).

Looking back, I was surprised to find that I had a surprising number of sports-related entries previously published herein. Feel free to check them out. Some are elegies, some are nostalgic, some are humorous and some are alleged art.













© Robert O’Connell and http://www.thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com, 2011-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full

and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell and http://www.thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



But I Digress…

20190529_192827It’s been nearly a year since I posted to this blog. I have had a difficult time feeling comedic during that time, and it does not look like things are likely to improve any time soon. I’ve still been writing theater reviews and plays (which I will post soon), but it’s time to get back to the blog, novels, and short stories that have been building up in my brain. For my small number of fans, I thank you for your patience…and for the rest of you, my profound apologies.

It is a Tuesday morning here in the Triangle, and I am on my way from my home in Cary, NC, just outside of Raleigh, and headed for Durham, approximately 25 miles to the northwest. For those who are unaware of the local geography, the Triangle is the area bounded by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, homes to NC State, Duke and UNC, respectively. The traffic here is nothing compared to my previous areas of residence in North Jersey and South Florida, but it can be bad at rush hour. It was also raining quite heavily.

You may wonder why an unemployed person would choose to travel in the rain or at rush hour, let alone both. In a nutshell, I’m trying to be a good uncle. My niece moved to Durham from New Mexico over the Summer to start a doctoral program at Duke University. She also is working full-time as a midwife after serving her country in Afghanistan as a translator in the Army. She is the daughter of my brother, and I hadn’t seen her for some 25 years. I figured I needed to make up for lost time.

Speaking of the art of being a midwife, I was mildly surprised to learn that the noun form for this practice is called midwifery. This makes sense, but the pronunciation may not. While midwife has a long “i”, as in “wife”, midwifery (mid-wahy-fuh-ree) is typically pronounced with a short “i” as in “whiff” (mid-wif-uh-ree). This just sounds funny to me as well as confusing and a bit pointless.

For those of you familiar with baseball jargon, you may be aware that the term “whiff” refers to a strikeout, specifically a swinging strikeout. Midwifery sounds as though it might refer to the midpoint of a whiff. This would be the point in time where the bat passes through the strike zone simultaneously with the pitch traveling unimpeded in the opposite direction. I suppose that since a strikeout requires three strikes, midwifery could also refer to the second strike, making it mid-whiff.

I actually did find one source that includes mid-wif-uh-ree as acceptable and also mid-wif-ree and mid-wahy-ree, both dropping the third syllable…but I digress…

My niece has a cat named TT and when she decided to take a well-deserved vacation to Hawaii after her semester ended, she asked me to drop in a few times to take care of TT. I am not an animal lover and have a particular disdain for cats. If you need any additional proof of my forthrightness, it is extremely unlikely that I will ever need the services of a midwife, nor need anything translated to or from Pashto, Farsi or Urdu.

When I arrived, I had a difficult time opening the apartment door with the electronic key fob. While I have never had a big problem using traditional keys, I am aware that technology continues to roll forward, crushing all senior citizens in its path.

Speaking of soul-crushing progress…have you been to the supermarket lately? A dozen or more registers sit idle while one is open. Five people with overfilled carts are waiting in line. There’s even a line at the self-checkout where one employee who clearly is incapable of handling a real register, is standing around while six people stare blankly at their screen trying to find rutabaga on the produce menu. Where are all the employees? They are in the aisles, picking orders for the millennials who are too busy to do their own shopping and are willing to pay an upcharge so they have more time to drink their $7 mochaccino-fucking-latte…but I digress…

While I am aware that every television detective or MacGyver wannabe, no matter how amateur, can pick any lock in less time than the average Geico ad, I’ve never met anyone who could actually do so. I haven’t even ever heard of anyone ever owning or using a set of lock picks. I have to vouch for the added security of this particular lock setup. I actually had the key fob, and it took me fifteen minutes to get in. The entire time, I can hear TT freaking out, expecting her mommy (my niece) instead of a curmudgeonly old cat-hater.

I fill TT’s food dish and top off her water. This oddball cat will only drink out of actual drinking glass. I then go to clean the litterbox. Something is not right. The amount of waste in this litterbox is well beyond what TT could have possibly produced in the two days since I had last cleaned it. I swear that it was more excrement that I could produce on day 3 of a cruise. I check for evidence that TT must have left some bones or entrails from a mouse or rat or badger. I found nothing. Could she have found the container of cat food? Unlikely, since it took me three minutes to open it. Is there a cat door that might allow eight or ten other cats to pop over for book club or a movie night?

Alas, some questions will never be answered. I sat and pet TT for an hour or so, and then headed for home. It only took me ten minutes to lock the door. I’ll have to be satisfied that I can be a good uncle. I’ve been away from the blog for a while, and I know this is a rambling post, but I hope to get more focused and start cranking out some regular stuff in the coming weeks and months.



© Robert O’Connell and http://www.thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com, 2011-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell and http://www.thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.