Little Rock Look Back: Apollo 11 Lifts Off on July 16, 1969

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off from Florida as 528 million people (15% of the world’s population at the time) viewed it on television.  As would be expected for that historic trip to the moon, both the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat were filled with stories covering all aspects of the preparations and the launch.

The Gazette carried a story in which Sargent Shriver, then Ambassador to France, recalled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy saying that if he died before the US landed on the moon, he would be watching it from his rocking chair in heaven and would have a better view than anyone on earth. The comments were made on May 25, 1962, the same day President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress about the quest to send man to the moon.

But Apollo 11 was not the only thing in the newspapers.

  • July 16 was the first preliminary night for the Miss Arkansas pageant.
  • Ruth the elephant was ailing at the Little Rock Zoo.
  • The Arkansas Constitutional Convention continued
  • The Loch Ness Monster had gone into hiding according to Scottish officials
  • Plans were underway to bring private Little Rock University into the University of Arkansas System

Sports headlines included:

  • The Cardinals beat the Phillies 5 to 0
  • The Travelers were rained out at home.
  • Joe Namath was in secret meetings with NFL leadership regarding his retirement plans. He’d announced them rather than give up ownership of a club frequented by mobsters.
  • Brooks Robinson was named to his 13th consecutive All-Star game.

In advertisements (and there were pages and pages and pages of advertisements – comparing them to papers of today one really sees how much a drop in revenue newspapers are facing):

  • Curtis Finch Furniture offered a side by side refrigerator with icemaker for $499
  • Bruno’s was now serving wine and cocktails
  • Moses Melody Shop had a color TV for $399.50
  • Pfeifer-Blass was selling shoes for $3.50 and women’s jersey dresses for $11.99

Play Ball!

Major League Baseball started the 2012 season last week.  The St. Louis Cardinals began their defense of their World Championship!

“Play Ball! The St. Louis Cardinals” opened at the Clinton Presidential Center last month.  The exhibit features more than 100 items from the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame Museum, a collection the team owns and has improved in recent years despite not having a place to publicly display it.

“This is going to be something that kids, adults, women, men, baseball fans, non-baseball fans alike will all enjoy,” says Jordan Johnson, spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation.

The Clinton Library and the Cardinals have been working on this exhibit for several years, and it’s only by coincidence that the library will have the Cardinals-based display immediately following a World Series championship. Among the items that the Cardinals lent to the library are several Dizzy Dean-related artifacts, including one of four known game-worn jerseys from the Hall of Fame pitcher and Arkansas native.

The trophies from the 2006 and 2011 World Series are also featured.

The exhibit runs through Sept. 16.