Russian Space Rendezvous Tops August 1962 News
Get into a conversation with a longtime Queens resident
likely to discover a subscriber of the Long Island Star- Journal, a daily paper that informed the community about local and world news until it folded in 1968. A banner across the Star-Journal masthead reminded readers that the newspaper's name came from the merger of the Long Island Daily Star (1876) and the North Shore Daily Journal--The Flushing Journal (1841).
Welcome to August 1962!
The Soviet Union placed two manned spacecraft in orbit at the same time. Major Andrian Nikolayev was Russia's third astronaut in and Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Popovitch manned Vostok IV. Radio Moscow said that the twinorbit spectacular was designed to gain experimental information on what the Russians called "direct contact" (rendezvous) between space ships. The feat was reported in the Star on August 13 under the headline "2 Cosmonauts Ride to History; Reds Lead in Race to Moon." It appeared the "space gap" was widening and that Russia might have a two-year lead on America in the race for the moon.
A Star reporter accompanied the National Guard reservists of Company C of the 1st Battle Group, 251st Infantry, who normally met once a week in the Flushing Armory, on their two-week annual summer field training at Camp Drum in upstate New York. More than 100 reservists defended 1,000 acres of terrain, which during most of the time was soggy because of ongoing rain. The situation was described as "tactical," which meant the men had to carry their rifles and gas masks wherever they went. Whenever the "aggressors" attacked, they would be ready. Captain Alfred Mauro, who in civilian life was an anesthesiologist at Booth Memorial Hospital, was the battle group surgeon. He related that the only serious injury to the men had been a fractured leg. "It's mostly poison ivy and colds," he said. Because of the weather, swarms of insects, sometimes landing in the men's meals, hampered progress. But the morale of Company C remained high.
The Empire State building was being restored. Albert Rogell of Forest Hills and Abraham Best of Laurelton headed the firm which had the contract for the restoration. On August 3, the workers began restoring the highest point of the building. Beginning at 5 a.m., a cleaning crew was to refinish and paint the observation tower before tourists arrived at 9 p.m. One of the workers, Andrew Schavnick, 60, of Sunnyside, said he had never seen New York from the top of the Empire State until he began working there. "You know," he said, "I never knew this town, my town, until I saw it from the top. You get a different perspective of the city, and life, up high."
In a Jackson Heights park, an alleged dope pusher's sale of heroin went awry when a dog walked off with his small plastic box, which contained 37 "decks of junk". Five youths were rounded up by police, but five others and the alleged pusher escaped. The police learned of the dog's role when a resident of the area came to the precinct with a small plastic box. The man said he was walking his dog, when his pet picked up the box and carried it home. The alleged pusher had evidently concealed the heroin cache and was negotiating sales when the dog picked it up.
The United States Public Health Service warned about the dangers of "glue sniffing", which doctors warned could cause permanent liver damage. In July, 10 teenagers had been arrested in Queens on juvenile delinquency charges stemming from glue sniffing. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers ridiculed labeling glue sniffing as just another adolescent craze. They explained, "Unlike other relatively harmless activities, such as telephone booth-stuffing, glue inhalation appears to carry with it a potential for significant detriment to the child's physical and emotional health."
"We've got everything from romantic offers to insults since this experiment began," said 'Sweetie Pie', Patrolman Richard McLiverty of Sunnyside, as he strapped a pistol belt across the brown skirt he was wearing. McLiverty and the other members of the Police Department's crack tactical squad dressed as women to halt the spread of street crime, specifically purse snatching. Policewoman Dolores Monroe of Douglaston was charged with teaching the men how to act like women. At least 100 rookie patrolmen were being trained to act as female decoys in all five boroughs. McLiverty reported some difficulties with maintaining the disguise. He was sitting alone in a park, when a young man chose to sit on the same bench. "He talked to me for 25 minutes before he made his purse-snatch attempt," McLiverty said. "Naturally, we can't answer because our voices would give the whole thing away, so I just kept nodding my head and gurgling."
"What Dogs the Mets" read the headline to an article where the Star asked the question: "Are Queens baseball fans destined to see the same inept brand of ball in 1963 that the Mets are exhibiting at the Polo Grounds this season?" The team was to move to the spanking new $19,000,000 Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows next year. The Star article further asked: "But will it really be major league baseball?" By August 31, the Mets' record stood at 34 wins and 101 losses, they resided in last place and trailed the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers by 53 games.
On August 6, the Star reported that former New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio would claim the body of his former wife, Marilyn Monroe, at the Los Angeles morgue. In the early morning of Sunday, August 5, Monroe was found dead in the cluttered bedroom of her $75,000 Brentwood home, an empty bottle of sleeping pills near her nude body. As the Star put it: "Schoolboys could recite her famous measurements (37-23-37), and her photos nude, or otherwise, had appeared in practically every periodical in the world. But on her coroner's call sheet, tagged to crypt 33 in the morgue, were these unrevealing statistics: weight 117 pounds, height 65 inches, hair blonde and eyes blue."
Playing at the movies were "Ben Hur", starring Charlton Heston; "That Touch of Mink", starring Cary Grant and Doris Day; "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, and "The Interns", starring Cliff Robertson and Stefanie Powers.
That's the way it was in August 1962.
Greater Astoria Historical Society exhibits are open to the public on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Quinn's Gallery, 4th floor, Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Funeral Home, 35-20 Broadway, Long Island City New exhibit, "Lager, Leisure, and Laughter: Long Island City at Play", now on view. For more information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718- 278-0700 or visit www.astorialic.org.