Seeing that November 22 is just around the corner, and noticing that the 1963 volume of the Jewish Times was easily at hand on the library table outside my office, I decided it might be interesting to post something about the reaction of Baltimore’s Jewish community to the assassination of President Kennedy. So I opened the volume to the November 29 issue, and found—lo and behold—there was no local coverage related to the assassination.
That’s because there was virtually no local coverage of anything in the JT back in those years, except for social columns, obituaries, announcements of communal events, and entertainment listings. All the news was national or international, mostly gathered from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wire service. I don’t think there was even a single reporter on the local staff. Made me appreciate the JT of today all the more (and I already appreciated it).
I did learn something about how JFK’s death affected Jews, though. On page three, one wire service story informed readers that “All Israel Mourns Kennedy’s Death.” The Knesset held a memorial session and all Israeli flags flew at half mast. Another wire story focused on the reaction of Jews across the U.S. (by which they meant, New York). The most interesting article was a small sidebar noting that Jack Rubenstein, aka Jack Ruby, who had just killed JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, had attended a special memorial service for JFK at Temple Israel, the Conservative synagogue in Dallas where he was a member. (However, he usually only attended services on the high holidays.)
Once I had the JT volume open, I flipped through it as I usually do, and as usual I found a bunch of interesting ads. First, forSalem: the JT’s cigarette ads never cease to amaze me. “Take a Puff… It’s Springtime!” You just don’t see slogans like that anymore. Plus this one comes with a quiz just above it. I didn’t know any of the answers, maybe you’ll do better.
Second, as a Mad Men fan, I was delighted to see an ad for Patio Diet Cola. Patio was featured as a client in one episode of the show (the one where they tried to get an Ann-Margret look-alike to sing a song about the cola). I had never heard of this product before seeing it on Mad Men, but apparently it was a precursor to Diet Pepsi. Now that I’m working on a new project at the museum, on the suburbanization of Baltimore Jewry, the ad resonated with me more than it otherwise would have. The name “Patio” is obviously an attempt to associate with the new, exciting suburban lifestyle of the early 1960s.
Third is an ad for “Butler Boy of the Month,” which struck me because the kid is so damn cute. Mark Sherman, if you’re still around, please forgive me.