March 17, 2018
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Taking a time machine back to 1959

By Emmet Meara, Special to the BDN

I took a Twilight Zone trip in the time machine with Rod Serling this week.

Actually, I found a bunch of vintage Bangor Daily News issues from 1959 on my truck windshield. It seems that a carpenter tore down some walls in a Camden house and found the crumbly issues used as insulation. He thought I might like to have them.

But it felt like a time machine visit, when I turned their crumbling pages.

On the front page of July 1, 1959 (nearly 52 years ago for those weak in math), there was consternation about the $12.5 billion “largest peacetime deficit.” Ike demanded not only a balanced budget, but also a healthy surplus from Congress. Imagine that.

The former Old Town Congregational Church, built three years after Lincoln’s assassination, was torn down as a hazard.

On the front page of the July 2 issue, Voodoo jets made their first appearance at Dow Air Force Base.

The $100,000, 64-foot schooner Lord Jim had sunk off Long Island Sound as five people escaped in lifeboats. The Lord Jim was accompanying the schooner Bowdoin to its “permanent” berth at Mystic Seaport.

Floyd Patterson was about to get his head handed to him by Ingemar Johansson, and the gate was expected to be a record $600,000, since tickets went from $5 to a sinful $100. Now, each big-time boxer gets a few million to even lace on the gloves.

The Red Sox were running behind the New York Yankees, naturally. But Don Buddin and Pete Runnells got three hits apiece as the Sox beat the Tigers 4-2. Ted Williams had an RBI, naturally with a sacrifice fly.

In Babe Ruth League action, Rockland beat Camden13-7 with Buddy Montgomery collecting three hits and Sandy Delano pitching in with two more. Camden never had a chance.

I was thinking of taking the Little Woman away for the Fourth of July weekend. We were considering the Squaw Mountain Inn, since it was $12 a day. Meals included, of course.

Things got even stranger in the time machine. Let’s go shopping.

If we stop at Senter’s, the missus can get a new dress for $6.98. Let’s get her a washer and dryer at Manhattan Appliance. I will pay. The washer is $199 and the dryer is $139. Now you pay more than that for the little stands they go on.

Does your furniture look a little shabby? Let’s get a new set at Goldsmith Furniture in Old Town. I will pay for this, too. A three-piece living room set costs $395. An eight-piece (eight piece) bedroom set will cost me $177.

At the Bijou, the attractions are “Hercules,” “South Pacific,” Anatomy of a Murder” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

I was always a fan of the Studebaker Lark. You could get a new one at Knight’s Auto. But I want a car with at least 40 miles per gallon. Thus, I will time-stroll over to Jay Bee Motors in East Hampden and pick up a new Renault Dauphine for a mere $1,695. I might not even need a six-year loan for that one.


Let’s stroll over to Lounsbury’s Red and White Store for a few things. I would like some coffee. Get that Chase and Sanborn for 69 cents. (Honest to God.) I will pick up some haddock for tonight at 49 cents a pound. Tomatoes for the salad will cost 49 cents for a package. Now, I believe, they are $5 each, especially for those “hydroponic” types, whatever they are.

I want to stop at the First National Store, one of my very first employers. Here is my list. I want B&M baked beans for 17 cents, Libby corned beef hash for 48 cents (must have gone up) and a coffee cake for 35 cents. I am not much of a meat eater, but I might stock up for guests, since chuck roast is 55 cents a pound and London broil (which used to be the ultimate treat at my house) is a whopping 89 cents a pound.

We should spread our money around and stop at the A&P for chicken at 49 cents a pound and scallops for 69 cents a pound. “I will have 10 pounds, please.”

We should stop at the liquor store since my friends are all very thirsty and will not make a return visit if you don’t fill their glasses. Let’s see. We will get some Dawson Gold Crown beer for 39 cents … a quart. We might want to upgrade a bit for Carstairs whiskey. I can’t decide between a pint at $2.25 or a quart for $3.55. I better get that quart.

Well, the batteries on Serling’s Twilight Zone time machine are running out and we have to go back to 2011.

I think I would rather stay in 1959, with my 10 pounds of scallops.

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