SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Salem in 1956

1956 
World Events
  • Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon re-elected as President and Vice President for second terms.
  • "Rock and Roll" takes over popular music with Elvis Presley becoming a star attraction.
  • Negroes in Montgomery, with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a leader, begin boycott after Rosa Parks is arrested for sitting in the front section of a city bus.
  • The Andrea Doria sinks off Nantucket Island.
  • Interstate Highways approved.
In Salem

Paul Wallace leaves 24 acres of prime riverfront land in a bequest to the citizens of Salem. Subsequent purchases and gifts have increased the size of Wallace Marine Park to 68 acres. Although it quickly became a popular place for riverfront recreation during the basic development of the park, it was not designed or constructed to resist the high waters of the Willamette River: the Christmas flood of 1964 swept away the two boat launching ramps, roadways and picnic facilities that had been developed. New facilities were constructed in 1967.

When you visit
Many recreational opportunities are available in our largest park with softball tournaments especially popular and well attended. There is a boat launching dock, places for individuals who like to fish, picnic benches and walking trails. In 2009, the Union Street Railroad Bridge and Trestle was renovated as a pedestrian and bicycle path, connecting our two parks, Waterfront Park on the east side of the Willamette River and Wallace Marine Park on the west side. New sidewalks, including one leading to a river-viewing platform, have been constructed by the city in 2012. New paved walk/biking trails are completed around the sports fields and between the Union Street Trestle and Glen Creek Road are completed in 2014.
In 1969, a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board was established. Anyone interested in the development of Salem public parks and playgrounds is invited to apply. All residents are invited to become volunteers: The Salem Parks Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote, develop, facilitate, and sustain stewardship dedicated to the enhancement of the parks of our city. It is also affiliated with the Oregon Cultural Trust. Their public meetings are 1st Thursdays, 6 p.m., Parks Operation Building #14, on 22nd. Street.

Other events
  • His political supporters convinced Douglas McKay to leave his appointment as US Secretary of the Interior to run against Wayne Morse for the United States Senate. This was the first election McKay lost. He then served President Eisenhower on the International Waterways Commission.
  • A five year effort by the YMCA is completed. In 1951, the Nelson property on Court Street, adjoining the Y had been purchased, and a Capital Fund drive organized. By 1954, funds were raised and the new Youth Wing was completed in 1956.
  • St. Timothy's Episcopal Church is established with temporary locations. It would be twelve years before their sanctuary on Ladd Avenue would be completed.
  • Business events include the opening of the American Can Company and the closing of Hunt Brothers cannery with their location acquired by the Keith Brown Lumber Company.
  • The Chamber of Commerce moves into new headquarters on Cottage Street. This Colonial style residence had been the home of George Rodgers, a former mayor and president of the Salem Paper Company. The property, on the northeast corner of Cottage and Court Streets, had originally been the location of the property of Joseph Holman, outstanding pioneer merchant at the founding of the city. The Chamber occupied this building until 1995 when it moved and the YMCA bought the property. The building burned in 1997.
  • The 1952 Turner Reservoir is in full operation this year when J. L. Fransen retires as our first City Manager. The reservoir is named for him. Kent Mathewson receives an enhanced salary of $14,000 a year, compared to Fransen's $11,500.
  • A photograph taken at the entrance of Lipman, Wolfe and Company store in downtown Salem shows mature ladies in dresses, most also in hats. Another catches a younger woman in full "poodle" skirt. Trousers on females would have been very unusual. The men appear to be dressed informally much as they are today.
  • During the winter of 1956, the Capitol and the Elsinore operate only at night, except for Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinees. The Hollywood remains open as usual. A general lack of patronage, due to the popularity of TV home entertainment is the reason for closure.
  • The L. H. McMahon home at 891 Front Street is still a charming cottage in 1956. Built by David McCully in 1864, it will continue to survive into the present (2010), although in a new location at 1365 John Street. The residence was purchased by Judge Leonard H. McMahan and his wife (the former Bertha Byrd) in 1919. After his death, she continued to live there until the house was severely damaged by a falling tree during the windstorm of 1962. The house was moved and became the residence of David Duniway. Mr. Duniway, Oregon State Archivist, was prominent in the promotion of Salem historic properties.

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