The Time Traveler spun the dial on his 1958 DeSoto Adventurer — alias the Time Machine — to travel back in time more than six decades.
The headlines that year mirrored those we see on the front pages of our newspapers today.
Elections, vaccines, civil rights unrest. Wars in the Middle East. Plagues, outbreaks and politics.
It seems as though some things never change.
Until they do. History does indeed repeat itself.
Election talk was in the air as Republican Vice President Richard Nixon and Democratic U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy barnstormed across the country looking for votes ahead of the fall election. Kennedy would win by one of the smallest margins in history that November, or by 113,000 votes of more than 68.3 million cast.
Then, as now, 1960 was not only an election year but census takers were busy knocking on doors and ringing doorbells in preparation and completion of the U.S. Census that year.
As school started back up, educators and health officials were making sure that all school-age children had received their polio vaccinations for the new school year, along with shots for measles, rubella and whooping cough.
The year 1960 was also a pivotal year in more ways than one. That year, the United States entered the Vietnam War between North and South Vietnamese. The Irish Republican Army began waging its guerilla war against British occupying forces. A Soviet missile shot down a U.S. spy plane and aluminum cans were manufactured on a large-scale basis for the first time.
Teenagers at dance halls and sock hops in DeSoto County and across the globe were all gyrating to the newest dance craze, “The Twist.” Yabba-dabba-doo … the Flintstones was shown on television for the first time.
The average monthly rent in 1960 was $98 a month and a gallon of gasoline cost 25 cents.
A look back 60 years ago also shows that transportation issues in 1960 were every bit an issue as they are today with a front-page photo displaying work on a 12-span bridge, one of three under construction that year, along Commerce Street Extended or what is now Old Highway 304 between Eudora and Hernando.
A total of six new residential subdivisions were being planned for DeSoto County as the DeSoto County Planning Commission gave the green light for 163 residential lots in the Olive Branch and surrounding areas.
The Olive Branch High School annual yearbook, “The Eagle,” was dedicated to teacher Christine Moore, second grade teacher in the Olive Branch Schools for many years. Staff members of the 1960 Eagle were Carolyn Bailey, editor; Bruce Payne, Jr., business manager; Joan Carter, copy editor; Gwen Hunt, features editor; Marty Haraway, sports editor; Kay Hudspeth, assistant editor; Billy Allen, assistant business manager; Nancy Hughey, assistant copy editor; Sarah Laughter, assistant feature editor; and Jogie Tuggle, assistant sports editor.
Horn Lake’s Jerry Worsham set a state record in the discus. Peggy Emerson of Hernando was planning to study in Newcastle, England.
But the buzz around town was the opening of “Cousin Lou’s Bargain City,” near Olive Branch on U.S. Highway 78.
With 8,000 square feet of floor space, Cousin Lou’s promised to keep its doors open seven days a week.
Plans were also being made for the future of Southaven, one of the Mid-South region’s newest subdivision developments, which has now grown to be the State of Mississippi’s third-largest city.
In a scary story for a normally quiet town, authorities were on the lookout for the trigger man behind the hold-up of the W.T. Woods Pharmacy in Olive Branch. A daring but dastardly robber tied up the beloved pharmacist and his wife in an upstairs office and made off with about $80 in cash.
The newspaper reported the robber had enough composure to pass himself off as a store clerk when two customers came into the drugstore, selling one of the customers a package of chewing gum and the other a roll of adhesive tape.
Sounds like an episode of “Andy Griffith,” and in actuality, Olive Branch and much of DeSoto County was more like Mayberry USA in those days. Quiet, Tranquil. Slow and peaceful.
In that respect, the times have indeed changed.
Robert Lee Long is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum