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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Tag Archives: 1962

Drivers Use Homeowner’s Yard as Roadway

It was reported on September 6, 1962 that Encino, California resident William Wiegand was having a major problem with his home at 3644 Sapphire Drive, which he had purchased two years prior.

His house was in what would appear to be a great location – on a dead-end street. It should have been quiet with very little traffic. That was not the case…

It seems that when his section of the housing development was built, the construction company built a temporary road connecting his street out to the main road – Sepulveda Boulevard – to allow their big trucks easy access.

When construction was completed, a fence was installed to limit access. Those that lived in the surrounding homes were given a key to the gate so that they could cut through to the main road.

Everyone else had to go the long way – about 5-miles (8 km) – out of their way, which no one wanted to do. As a result, the gate was constantly being wrecked by commuters seeking the shortest drive to work.

It was estimated that between 150 and 200 cars used this road every morning between 7:30 and 8:30 AM. The problem was that to do so, they needed to drive up the Wiegand’s driveway, narrowly pass between the house and a fence, and then drive right through their backyard.

Wiegand was forced to put up a fence in the back of his house to block out the bright headlights from all of those cars returning in the evening.

His insurance company canceled his policy after too many claims were submitted by motorists who had hit the house, but the developers helped to get the policy reinstated.

Unfortunately, access to the road was written into the deeds of 39 homeowners and it would require unanimous approval to get the road removed. Good luck with that one…

Yet, there was some light at the end of the tunnel. The city permit for the access road was set to expire in April 1963, at which point the road needed to be removed. A quick check with Google Maps shows that the road is long gone.

 

The Scooter Romeo

22-year-old Kentucky native Jim Owen really went the distance for love. He met 21-year-old Ximena Villareal while she was an exchange student at the University of Kentucky. They dated for a few months before she returned home to Santiago, Chile. The two continued corresponding by mail and she asked him to come visit her.

Most people would hop on a plane. But not Jim Owen. He came up with a crazy idea to ride the 8000 mile (12,800 km) distance on a motorscooter. Jim convince a US distributor that will be a great sales promotion if they donated the bike to his cause. He also secured a $500 (approximately $4000 today) letter of credit and he was on his way.

“I’m not the type of person to jump on a motorscooter and ride thousands of miles to see a girl. We are not engaged or anything like that, but I like her a lot.” He continued, “I’m not adventurous by nature, and I’m certainly not athletic.”

He embarked in early May 1962 and his goal was to get to Santiago on December 31st so they could ring in the New Year together. The press never did a follow-up on the story, but it’s probably safe to assume that he made it there and the two were reunited.

Jim Owen on his motor scooter.  Image from the December, 29, 1962 issue of the Independent Journal (page 5).
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Jim Owen on his motor scooter. Image from the December, 29, 1962 issue of the Independent Journal (page 5).
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Hitchhiking Father and Son Reunited

It was reported on February 8, 1962 that Lubbock, Texas salesman J.E. Ferguson stopped to pick up an elderly man who was hitchhiking on the northern outskirts of Seminole, Texas.

“It was a cold day, and I picked him up.” The man told Ferguson that his name was Wilkins, that he grew up in Coleman County, and that he was in his seventies. He dropped him off about forty-miles (65 km) away at a traffic light in Brownfield.

Brownfield is southwest of Lubbock, Texas.
Brownfield is southwest of Lubbock, Texas.

As he approached the last traffic light in Brownfield, he spotted another hitchhiker. “He was in shirt sleeves and shivering, so I picked him up.”

The new rider was about 40-years in age and said that his name was also Wilkins, which caused Ferguson to do a double-take. He then asked the younger man if he was from Coleman County, which he confirmed was true. After Ferguson described the elder man, the younger Wilkins said that sounded like his dad who he hadn’t seen in 14-years.

Ferguson spun the car around and headed back toward where he had dropped the father off. He stated, “I stopped and they had a reunion right there on the street.” He added, “I don’t usually pick up hitch-hikers, but this time I am glad that I did. They were really happy.”

 

Glue Sniffing Fad

On July 5, 1962, Arizona state authorities tried to calm the public by telling them that the latest craze of glue sniffing was just a fad.

While there were calls to ban the sale of glue to minors and the public was in somewhat of a panic over how to deal with this situation, statistics did not back it up.

Statewide, records showed that there had been no fatalities or permanent damage from the sniffing of glue. Sixty-eight juveniles had been arrested for doing illegal things as the result of glue sniffing, but it was pointed out that this was far less than the number of teens arrested for alcohol consumption.

It was also noted that a number of cases were not reported to the police. Of those, there were reported cases of blindness, mental impairment, and addiction.
Most of the kids had been sniffing plastic model glue, which is more technically known as polystyrene cement. It’s active ingredient is Toluene and its effects were, in general, minor.

In 1967, Charles Miller, who was the president of Testor Corp, the leading manufacturer of model cars and airplanes, charged his employees to come up with a way to keep people from sniffing the glue to get high. Their solution was simple: horseradish was added to the glue. Miller shared this secret ingredient with all of his competitors and received a presidential letter of commendation for his efforts.

A bit of trivia about this is that Miller was the father of actress Susan St. James. She is mostly retired today, but you may remember her from her lead roles in McMillan and WIfe and Kate and Allie.

Vintage Model Glues
Vintage polystyrene glues from Pinterest.
 
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