Category: Wayback News

60 years ago today: a White House race amid Mideast troubles; the future mom of a ‘Silver Fox’ marries (again), and a strike threatens a big Louisville employer

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

The last Tuesday in August 1956 was quite like today: A presidential race geared up for the final, post-Labor Day push, amid boiling Mideast tensions and questions about one candidate’s health. Hot and humid, Louisville distracted itself with celebrity news: a very rich New York socialite with a blue-chip name had just married husband No. 3; years later, her son would become a famous TV news anchor dubbed the “Silver Fox.” And contract talks between a major local manufacturer and thousands of employees were the business story of the day. These were the headlines on The Courier-Journal’s front page that Aug. 28, 1956.

CJ front page August 28 1956
The Courier-Journal front page, Aug 28, 1956.

An editor’s playful headline, “Sweat-ery,” summed up what readers should expect that day: temperatures in the 90s, news to make them wince when many employers still didn’t have air conditioning. But the workplace differed in far worse ways.

Companies openly discriminated on the basis of gender and race. The help-wanted classifieds section for women included Curl’s Tavern on Brook Street, offering $30 a week ($265 in today’s dollars) for short-order cooks; applicants had to be white. Kleins Restaurant on Broadway needed a cook, too — but “colored,” adding: “apply at rear.”

White and colored clerks wanted
Help-wanted ads reflected 1956 segregated Louisville.

That summer’s presidential race was a rematch between the Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower, 65, and the long-shot Democratic nominee he’d beaten four years before: Adlai Stevenson, 56, and a former Illinois governor. Their dueling campaigns argued over whether the economy was adding jobs fast enough. But the greater concern was the crisis in Egypt, where new President Gamal Abdel Nasser had just nationalized the Suez Canal.

Eisenhower and Stevenson
Eisenhower and Stevenson.

Eisenhower, a retired five-star general, was heading back to Washington after a West Coast golfing vacation in Pebble Beach, Calif., with his wife Mamie; it was a pleasure trip, but also meant to project good health after a heart attack he’d suffered the year before.

The gossipy news? It was about Gloria Vanderbilt, born into one of the nation’s wealthiest families, and still known as the “poor little rich girl” because she’d been the subject of a high-profile custody battle between her mother and an aunt over a $4 million trust fund ($67 million in today’s dollars). She was 10 years old at the time.

Vanderbilt and Lumet
Just married: Vanderbilt and Lumet.

In a photograph on the CJ’s front page, the 32-year-old socialite posed for photographers with her new husband, the director Sidney Lumet; they’d wed the previous day. The marriage lasted 11 years until they divorced, and she married husband No. 4 — her last: Wyatt Emory Cooper. They would have two sons. The second, born when she was 43, was named Anderson Hays Cooper. (Her first son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, committed suicide at 23 by jumping from the ledge of the family’s 14th-floor apartment on Manhattan’s posh upper East Side, as Vanderbilt watched in horror, pleading for him to stop.)

The big business news was a strike Continue reading “60 years ago today: a White House race amid Mideast troubles; the future mom of a ‘Silver Fox’ marries (again), and a strike threatens a big Louisville employer”

26 years ago today: McConnell accused of exaggerating his record; Humana bans smoking — and an infant girl named Jennifer Lawrence is born

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

CJ front page August 15 1990
26 years ago today.

On Aug. 15, 1990, The Courier-Journal delivered a 52-page paper chock-a-block with news. President George H.W. Bush was rounding up support for an embargo against Iraq, retaliating for its invasion of Kuwait less than two weeks before. Sen. Mitch McConnell, still in his first term, was on the hot seat in his re-election campaign. Kentucky’s powerful tobacco industry still didn’t accept the dangers of smoking. And comedian Bob Hope and his pet poodle were in town. It was a humid Wednesday, with temperatures heading for 86 degrees. The news:

“U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign is extolling his 5½-year record with a wide range of radio commercials — at least two of which exaggerate the impact of his work,” CJ political writer Al Cross wrote in a page-one story. “Those two ads say McConnell worked out the financial problems of Big Rivers Electric Corp., and saved the Kentucky construction industry by casting the deciding vote against a presidential veto of a highway bill.”

The record, including statements from company and government officials, contradicted McConnell’s account, Cross said. But the Louisville Republican vigorously defended the commercials, saying they weren’t inaccurate or misleading. At the time, McConnell faced Democratic nominee Harvey Sloane, the former Louisville mayor and  county judge-executive.

Humana building
Humana Tower
Humana nixes smoking

Citing concerns about deaths linked to passive smoking, Humana said it would ban smoking at its corporate headquarters downtown and in all division offices starting Feb. 1, 1991. The health insurance giant’s decision came after a June report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that about 3,800 lung-cancer related deaths per year among non-smokers are caused by secondhand cigarette smoke. Humana estimated only 1 in 7 employeees smoked, a decrease of about 35% from several years before.

The story noted that “the tobacco industry, which has never agreed that smoking is a hazard even to smokers themselves, has attacked the EPA findings as unsubstantiated.”

Comedian Bob Hope signed copies of his new book, “Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me,” at the W.K. Stewart Booksellers in the Holiday Manor Shopping Center. The 87-year-old stayed at the Galt House with his wife Dolores and their poodle Baxter.

Bacons logoThat day’s CJ carried three full-page ads for Louisville-based Bacon’s Department Store, and four full pages of business news, including 2½ pages of stock listings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had closed the day before at nearly 2,748 points.

ValuMarket was selling half-gallon cartons of Sealtest ice cream for $1.98. TWA offered roundtrip tickets to New York City for $158.

And unknown to most everyone reading that day’s paper, Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born to Gary Lawrence, a construction worker, and his wife Karen, a children’s camp manager.

Postscript

Iraq is Continue reading “26 years ago today: McConnell accused of exaggerating his record; Humana bans smoking — and an infant girl named Jennifer Lawrence is born”

49 years ago today: in the Summer of Love, Vietnam came home to Louisville; dirty skies and risky steaks, and hep cats

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

CJ front page August 9 1967 150
Aug. 9, 1967

The 1967 Summer of Love was in full sway: 100,000 visitors converged in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in bell-bottoms and tie-dyed tops to drop acid, protest the Vietnam war, and listen to Scott McKenzie‘s recording of “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” on transistor radios.

In Louisville 49 years ago today, The Courier-Journal captured the Zeitgeist in stories about that increasingly unpopular war on the other side of the globe; opposition to factory growth in the east end, plus air pollution and the perils of barbecuing. This was the news that Wednesday morning.

‘Bright and white’

Cmdr. Ed Lighter of Louisville, stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany off the coast of Vietnam, flew a Skyhawk in a successful bombing run on a North Vietnamese truck convoy. Lighter, 38, said the sortie used 800-lb. bombs to destroy eight trucks. “They burned bright and white,” Lighter said, “so we figured it was magnesium going up.”

Courier-Journal August 9 1967
On the CJ’s page 16.

Ford unveiled plans to spend as much as $100 million to build a new truck factory, even as a group of residents tried to raise $15,000 for a lawsuit to block it.

Non-farm July employment in the area rose to 297,000 — 200 more than in June, and 12,000 more than July 1966. The unemployment rate was 3.2%.

The Will Sales Optical shop at Fourth and Liberty and at the Bacon Shopping Center in Shively appealed to a different sort of hippies in an advertisement on page 16: “All the hep cats are talking about Will Sales Teen Scene glasses, and on credit, too!”

The weather forecast called for highs of 89 degrees as the CJ’s editorial board bemoaned the city’s polluted skies — and a new medical study about that all-American pastime: backyard grilling.

Stoking up the grill

“Just as we had finished reading about Louisville’s 16th-place finish in the air-pollution sweepstakes, came a weekend to put troubled minds at rest,” the unsigned editorial said. “The clear, azure skies and the moderate temperatures helped us forget the besmirched air, even those invisible gases and fly-ash particles floating around us. We stoked up the outdoor grill and watched in delight as the steak turned charcoal-colored. The repast that followed was a reward.

Grilling dad
Ignorance was bliss.

“But no! It wasn’t a reward at all, we learned the next morning. Continue reading “49 years ago today: in the Summer of Love, Vietnam came home to Louisville; dirty skies and risky steaks, and hep cats”

48 years ago: Cops under attack, terrorism warnings in U.S., and racial unrest at a Louisville amusement park

Chicago police 1968
Chicago police attacked protestors outside the Democratic convention in August 1968.

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

It’s summertime at the height of the presidential nominating contest, and the nation is transfixed by civil unrest: Protestors are attacking police amid dark warnings about terrorism on the streets and claims the powerful news media is spreading liberal propaganda.

Richard Daley 1968Sound familiar? It should, because that was the scene 48 years ago this summer, when Democrats gathered in Chicago for a convention to pick Vice President Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine as their nominees for the 1968 presidential elections.

On The Courier-Journal’s front page that Friday morning, Aug. 30, 1968, a headline told the story: “Angry Daley Defends Police; Assails Press.” From Chicago, New York Times correspondent R. W. Apple Jr. wrote:

Infuriated by attacks upon himself, his city and his police force, Mayor Richard J. Daley yesterday defended the manner in which anti-war, anti-Humphrey demonstrations were suppressed in downtown Chicago Wednesday night.

Daley described the demonstrators as “terrorists” and said they had come here determined to “assault, harass and taunt the police into reacting before television cameras.”

“In the heat of emotion and riot,” Daley said, “some policemen may have over-reacted, but to judge the entire police force by the alleged action of a few would be just as unfair as to judge our entire younger generation by the actions of the mob.”

Daley Convention 1968
A defiant Mayor Richard Daley on the convention floor reacts to criticism Chicago police were overacting to protests outside.

In fact, an independent study found four months later, the clash between 10,000 protestors and police devolved into a police riot when officers broke through and began beating one man as the crowd pelted cops with rocks and chunks of concrete. Protestors’ chants shifted from “hell no, we won’t go” to “pigs are whores.”

By then, civil unrest had come to Louisville in a different form: A popular amusement park reserved for whites for six decades had been integrated four years before. Fontaine Ferry Park would be heavily vandalized during racial turmoil less than a year after the Chicago convention.

Fontaine Ferry Park ad August 30 1968

None of that was reflected in an advertisement that Aug. 30 on page 21 Continue reading “48 years ago: Cops under attack, terrorism warnings in U.S., and racial unrest at a Louisville amusement park”

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.

Postscript

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.

50 years ago today: Dressing for establishment success at Stewart’s

It may have been the swinging ’60s somewhere in Louisville, but you wouldn’t have known it from a Courier-Journal advertisement for some seriously sober women’s attire on June 23, 1966. Stewart’s department store at 4th and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) was offering a “trans-season costume” from the Quaker Lady company for $14.98*.

Stewart's ad 1966.png

“You’ll look your ladylike best all through summer and into fall in this town costume of polyester and combed cotton,” Stewart’s promised. “So easy-care, it’s a wash and wear, requires little or no ironing! Dress is freshly and femininely styled with jewel neckline, slenderizing straight skirt. Jacket has stylish notch collar, tab pocket trim effect, ¾-sleeves. Sizes 12 to 20, 12½ to 22½. Blue, green or wineberry plaid.”

* That $14.98 would be equivalent to $111 in 2016 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator.

Here’s what the store looked like in 1923, when it was known as Stewart’s Dry Goods, in a photo from the University of Louisville Photographic Archives. The building now houses a 304-room Embassy Suites Hotel that opened in April 2015.

Stewart's Dry Goods
Muhammad Ali is on the left, Fourth Street on the right.

Stewart’s continued as a separate nameplate until early 1986, when parent Associated Dry Goods sold most of the stores to Ben Snyder’s. By 1992, the last surviving former Stewart’s — the L.S. Ayres location in Evansville, Ind. — closed amid the Associated Dry Goods merger with the May Co. of St. Louis.

Related: Read a short history of Louisville department stores.