Louisville 52 years ago: GOP backed Goldwater; ‘peachy ham balls,’ and pricey washer-dryers

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

Kentucky’s delegation to the 1964 Republican National Convention was solidly behind ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater, who eventually won the nomination only to get shellacked by President Lyndon Johnson the following November.

Goldwater campaign button“As many as 23 of the 24 voting delegates may line up behind the Arizona senator on the first ballot Wednesday night,” The Courier-Journal’s Richard Harwood reported on the front page from the convention city of San Francisco.

Inside the paper, newly-named food consultant Loyta Higgins suggested readers bake “peachy ham balls” from leftover ham and canned cling peaches in heavy syrup. (Remember, it was the ’60s!)

And on page 10, GE Appliances competitor Kelvinator was advertising washers for $179.95 with a trade-in — or $299.95 with a matching dryer. You could buy them at 13 Louisville retailers, including Bill’s Auto Stores at Broadway and Shelby Street.

Kelvinator washer ad

Fast-forward 52 years, and you can appreciate how incredibly expensive those appliances were. In inflation-adjusted 2016 dollars, the washer would cost $1,395, and the combo would be $2,395, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

At Home Depot in St. Matthews today, you can get an Amana 3.5 cubic-foot high-efficiency top-load washer for just $299. And a matching Amana dryer also is just $299.


Since the 1980s, the Kelvinator brand has been owned by Sweden’s Electrolux, which nearly bought GE Appliances before the Department of Justice blocked the deal on antitrust grounds. Last month, China-based Haier bought it for $5.6 billion, including 6,000-employee Appliance Park in the city’s south end.

Goldwater’s landslide loss to Johnson — 61% to 39% (he lost Kentucky, too) — brought down many conservative Republican office-holders as well, a pattern some GOP leaders fear will happen this November if Donald Trump gets the nomination.

Goldwater died May 29, 1998, at the age of 89 of complications from a 1996 stroke.

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