He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Edgar A. Guest
Robert H. Clark began his term on an auspicious note with the July 1959 dedication of the $200,000 third floor addition to the War Memorial Headquarters. Among the many dignitaries present was Thomas W. Baldridge, the man who, in 1944, first proposed the headquarters as a living memorial to Jaycees who died in service with America’s military.
The expanded space was vital to a growing staff now servicing 22 active community service and chapter development programs. With the sponsorship help of American Motors Corporation, the first Community Development Seminar was conducted in July, highlighted by awards presented to Canton, Ohio; Centerville, Iowa; and Stinnet, Texas, for outstanding achievements in their communities. Hugh Pomeroy, then considered the dean of American planners, commented after his luncheon address, “This was the most impressive civic event I have attended.”
The Community Service Information Center was organized at USJCC Headquarters, with much of the initial material coming from the American Planning and Civic Association, which gave up its own information center. President Dwight D. Eisenhower greeted 49 outstanding high school seniors in Washington, D.C., as a highlight of the first My True Security program, the replacement for the former Voice of Democracy program.
Another replacement was strenuously debated at the March 1960 board of directors meeting – changing the organization’s name to The U.S. Jaycees. The change was recommended by the board, but rejected by delegates at the 40th Annual Meeting in June.
Jaycees returned to their St. Louis birthplace to celebrate the past and plan the future. Vice President Richard M. Nixon again delivered the keynote address, this time receiving national attention for explaining his own economic theory of “growthmanship.” Among those listening in the convention hall were founder Henry Giessenbier’s family, 17 past USJCC presidents, Jaycee Creed author Bill Brownfield, and Honorary President Andrew Mungenast. Elected as 1960-61 President was Pennsylvanian Morgan J. Doughton, an imaginative 33-year-old who would challenge Jaycees to examine the basic purposes of their movement and plan for the future.
Doughton believed Jaycees should seek the most demanding community challenges rather than be unduly concerned with leadership training. “Challenges ‘bigger than men’ lead to responses ‘that make men bigger,” was his philosophy. Toward that vision, he led Jaycees in a $25,000 fund-raising project to support a refugee camp in India for Tibetans fleeing Chinese repression in their homeland. Junior Champ, an outgrowth of the Youth Fitness program, was created to encourage chapters to conduct Olympic-type track and field competitions for youngsters. This Wheaties Sports Federation sponsored program would eventually include state and national competitions.
A policy change allowed Doughton to be the first president to have the option of visiting only half of the states, freeing him to devote more time to administrative and development matters. He provided a great deal of special assistance to the new Committee on Future Directions, a bold attempt to face ongoing challenges of the movement that even now Doughton calls one of the best achievements of his administration.
All of the major national programs were again successfully conducted in 1960-61 with the exception of the Four Outstanding Young Farmers awards program, which had lost its sponsorship from the American Petroleum Institute. The LP-Gas Council sponsored the program the following year.
The Junior Chamber in Wichita, Kansas, conducted a girls’ invitational tennis tournament, which attracted participants from six states and led to a full-scale competition the following year. Raymond Floyd, still active on the pro golf tour in the mid-1990’s, snared the International Jaycee Golf Tournament title from a field of 203 boys.
New program materials were introduced or developed by 1961 including “The Young Man Steps In,” a pamphlet to sell employers and civic leaders on the values of Jaycee participation for young men. A comprehensive Chapter and Individual Development Manual served as a complete guide to internal programs and were used, with additions and modifications, through most of the decade.
Almost 7,000 delegates and wives registered for the 1961 Annual Meeting in Atlanta and few missed the Get Acquainted party sponsored by Coca-Cola, featuring the trumpet artistry of Al Hirt. Key resolutions adopted at the convention, included opposition to health care of the aged under Social Security (Medicare), encouragement of Jaycees to build and promote fallout shelters in their communities, and a continuing policy of firm resistance to communist encroachment.
Before delegates elected Bob Conger as 42nd president of The USJCC, national honors were doled out, including one to the Jaycees in Ashland, Kentucky, for their work in organizing a Junior Chamber group within the city’s federal reformatory.
Conger, a partner in a Jackson, Tennessee, lumber and supply company as well as a director of a meat-canning firm, advocated bringing more “blue collar” workers into the organization. Membership jumped almost 7 percent during his administration to 25,099, with Vermont and New Mexico more than doubling the number of Jaycees in their states. The number of chapters climbed in 1961-62 by 266 to a total of 4,407. This was the beginning of a significant growth trend for The USJCC.
State presidents and executive committee members traveled in fine style during Conger’s term and the next two years, each driving new Buick Skylarks provided by General Motors. Minute Maid Company supplied sponsorship for a new program in the civic activity portfolio, Scholastic Achievement Recognition. The program encouraged scholastic excellence by awarding certificates to straight A an honor roll students.
The Jaycee Junior Tennis Championships was expanded in 1951 to include a national girl’s competition after a year in which 22,000 youngsters competed in 1,500 communities. At the awards banquet, the President of the United States Lawn Tennis Association paid high tribute to the organization, saying, “ No organization is doing as much as the Junior Chamber of Commerce to help develop young tennis players in this country . . . and that includes the USLTA.” Among the young players was Arthur Ashe Jr., destine for greatness, but defeated in the 1961 semifinals.
Reader’s Digest provided the financial backing for Junior Chamber chapters to secure jobs and living accommodations for young journalists from a dozen countries during a two month stretch in 1962. In April, the first Governmental Affairs Seminar was held in Washington, D.C., with workshops on legislative issues such as federal aid to education, Medicare and tax reform.
President John F. Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness asked The USJCC to distribute 25,000 copies of its recording, “Chicken Fat,” to promote vigorous calisthenics in school gym classes. Within two years, Jaycees had given away and sold many times the original goal.
At the Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Jaycees again gambled – and lost – on a proposal to change the organization’s name to The U.S. Jaycees. The vote count was 1,692 against the change and 1,187 in favor. It would be another three years before the “pro” name change forces would win.
Doug Blankenship, a highly successful agent for Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company in College Park, Georgia, was elected 1962-63 president after 11 rounds of balloting that lasted until 4 a.m. Whereas his predecessor had stressed community service, Blankenship’s administration focused on the fields of membership, chapter development and leadership training.
Among the dozens of programming aids introduced in 1962-63 was a special section in Future magazine called “You and the Jaycees.” This 32-page guide to personal growth and Junior Chamber orientation was reprinted and provided to each new member. A kit was developed to serve as a local chairman’s guide and a booklet on parliamentary procedure was distributed.
In the area of membership, President Blankenship cast a creative net and pulled in a lot of fish with the Return the Favor Sweepstakes conducted during February 1963. With prize incentives ranging from Junior Chamber rings and pen and pencil sets to watches, Jaycees signed up 16,272 new members in February, helping to put overall membership at an all-time high of 217,137 by the end of Blankenship’s administration.
Jaycees began tackling the very complex job of working for national uniformity in traffic ordinances and highway signs. The USJCC program to develop the Uniform Vehicle Code was sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and emphasized well-coordinated state programs rather than local chapter work alone. By year’s end, hundreds of chapter were surveying local traffic ordinances, signage and traffic problems.
Another new program, Operation Free Enterprise, encouraged Jaycees to educate students and others about the value of the free enterprise system. America Welcomes You, a one time special project, had Jaycees helping to find homes and jobs for Cuban families fleeing the dictatorial rule of Fidel Castro.
On the local level, New York Junior Chamber chapters in Schenectady, Utica, Canajoharie, Groversville, Johnstown, Rome and others along the Mohawk River, combined forces to take action on the river’s pollution. They earned the endorsement of President Kennedy, Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Secretary of State Stewart Udall. In Oklahoma, The Cushing Junior Chamber rose from virtual ashes the year before to extend five chapters in nearby communities in one day on December 14,1962.
Ending a year successful o all fronts, Blankenship handed the gavel to Richard H. Headlee of Bountiful, Utah, for the 1963-64 term. Headlee added to the bulging portfolio of programs with a broad range of projects concerned with mental health and retardation, backed by Sears-Roebuck Company and the Joseph Kennedy Foundation. Daisy Manufacturing stepped in to sponsor Jaycee Shooting Education, a role the company has retained ever since. A Physical Fitness Leadership Awards program was initiated, co-sponsored by Standard Packaging Corporation.
Additional new programs included: Honesty, Today and Tomorrow, promoting honesty among students; Operation Airpark, sponsored by Piper Aircraft, encouraging the building of inexpensive landing strips for light planes; Clean Water, a Clay Pipe Institute program involving Jaycees with air pollution problems; and Radio Moscow, studying communist propaganda techniques.
President Headlee took time during his term to meet with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to tell him Jaycees had rejected President Kennedy’s idea of a domestic Peace Corps by a 2-1 margin, and to suggest a joint effort whereby the administration would work through the Junior Chamber and other civic groups. Headlee also testified to the Senate Finance Committee against the proposed Kennedy tax bill and to the House Ways and Means Committee voicing The USJCC opposition to Medicare.
The U.S. Junior Chamber was soon to be a million-dollar organization. At the March board of directors meeting, a record budget of nearly $1.2 million was approved for 1964-65. The 1963-64 year income ended just six dollars short of the $1 million mark, with almost a quarter of it coming from sponsors.
Stan Ladley, a 33-year-old Jaycee who had never been a local president, was elected to lead the national organization at the 1964 Annual Meeting in Dallas. He didn’t have far to relocate. Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is only about 40 miles north of the Tulsa headquarters.
Ladley’s year round accent on growth led the organization past the milestone figure of 250,000 for the first time, closing the 1964-65 year with 257,013. His year also saw a further expansion in programs, including “What’s Your Verdict?” a one-act drama for secondary school students emphasizing the tragic consequences of car accidents. The publishers of the World Book Encylopedia sponsored an Outstanding Young Educator awards program while the Independence Hall Association of Chicago funded a national essay contest for seventh and eighth grade students on “Americanism.”
The most ambitious sports event in Junior Chamber history was held in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in early August a The USJCC combined the 11th Annual Jaycee Tennis Championships, the 19th annual Jaycee International Golf Championships and the first national Junior Champ program into one giant spectacular. Junior Champ was a track and field competition for boys 14 and 15 year old, featuring an instructional clinic run by prestigious names in the sports. NBC Sports ran a half-hour segment of the event on national television a few weeks later.
Jaycees across the country raised several hundred thousand dollars to finance the U.S. Olympic team’s trip to the Olympic Games in Tokyo by coordinating a run with the Olympic torch from New York to California. Called Run for the Money, the giant promotional program was co-sponsored by the Thom McAn Shoe Company.
In October 1964, the Oklahoma City Junior Chamber welcomed 1,200 delegates from 58 countries to the XIX World Congress of Junior Chamber International. A month later, the first national Jaycee Leadership Orientation Workshop for Mental Health and Retardation was held in Omaha, Nebraska. Excellent program materials were developed and direct financial help was provided to state programs.
Look magazine was on hand in January to cover the Ten Outstanding Young Men ceremonies, held for the second consecutive year in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, home of the annual Oscar presentation.
On the operations front, The USJCC faced the challenges of a fire at Headquarters in September and major decisions at the March meeting of the board of directors. “Spontaneous combustion’ was cited as the cause of the fire which originated in a second floor cleaning supplies closet. The $50,000 in damage was covered by insurance and all damage was repaired within a few months.
The 325 members at the national board of directors meeting in March again proposed a bylaw change to convert the name of the organization to The United States Jaycees. Similar proposals had been voted down at the 1956, 1960 and 1962 Annual Meetings but the vote in June 1965 was almost unanimously in favor. The Junior Chamber of Commerce name would be restored 25 years later.
The board of directors also recommended raising national dues from $2.50 to $3 per member (approved at the 1965 Annual Meeting), adopted a new program to raise $1 million to construct a Freedom Hall at the Freedoms Foundation headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and approved a $1.3 million budget for 1965-66 USJCC operations. After raising more than $100,000 to build Freedom Hall, that program’s emphasis was shifted a year later to educational activities.
Along with approving the actions of the board, delegates to the Annual Meeting in Buffalo, New York, voted to do away with resolutions as the method of adopting external policy. Instead, all external policy matters would be decided by referenda to chapters. James A. Skidmore Jr. was elected 46th national president of the newly named U.S. Jaycees as dawn was about to break over the city.
A 33-year-old from Brick Township, New Jersey, Skidmore quickly put an emphasis on public relations and governmental affairs programming, helping to build national stature for the organization in 1965-66. He personally presented President Lyndon B. Johnson a book outlining the scope of Jaycee support of the nation’s efforts in Vietnam.
Through a referendum vote, Jaycees backed the Vietnam policies of the administration by an impressive 12-1 margin. Jaycees also worked with the Young Democrats and Young Republicans to collect food, drugs, clothing and other goods valued at $100 million for the people of Vietnam in what was called America’s Christmas Train and Truck program.
Jaycees covered domestic needs as well, providing major relief efforts to the southern Louisiana victims of Hurricane Betsy in September. Along with relocating and caring for thousands for suddenly homeless people, within two weeks chapters were shipping some 150,000 pounds of food, clothing and other materials.
New programs developed during the year included: Venereal Disease Education; Junior Ski, sponsored by Hart Ski Manufacturing Company to teach snow skiing fundamentals to youngsters; Pre-Naturalization Classes for Future Citizens; and Free enterprise System Seminars.
Among the large volume of ongoing programs in 1965-66 were: Outstanding Young Educators, Sponsored by World Book Encyclopedia; Community Development Seminar, sponsored by American Motors Corporation; Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o, sponsored by the Lincoln-Mercury Division of Ford Motor Company; and the fifth annual Governmental Affairs Seminar in Washington, D.C., with Ford Motor Company providing the first-ever sponsorship of the event.
The Shooting Education program to teach gun safety through the use of BB rifles, sponsored by Daisy Manufacturing Company, received a go-ahead to conduct a full-scale national competition in July 1966. About one-third of the nearly 6,000 chapter participated in a reinvigorated Prayer Breakfast program, and 678 chapters were sponsoring Boy Scout troops with a total enrollment of more than 18,000 boys.
Ed Merdes of Fairbanks, Alaska, was the first U.S. Jaycee in eight years to be elected president of Junior Chamber International at its 20th World Congress. JCI also conferred an honorary life membership upon Andrew Mungenast, a leader in the Junior Chamber movement from its earliest days, and named the Greensboro, North Carolina chapter as the best in the world.
Long-needed conference room space was added at The U.S. Jaycees Headquarters in Tulsa with the construction of a 200-seat room in a second floor area that had been a patio. It was named the Bill Brownfield Room to honor the author of the Jaycee Creed.
The 1966 Annual Meeting in Detroit saw the organization increase its Junior Chamber International dues to $1.30 per member and require 100 percent individual JCI membership for the first time. Thirty-two-year-old Bill Suttle of Greensboro, North Carolina, was elected on the first ballot to lead the young men’s organization in the year ahead.
His year started off with a repeated “bang” at the first BB Gun Championships, which attracted youngsters from 32 states to the early July finals in Vandalia, Ohio. More than 300,000 boys and girls, ages 7 to 14, had participated during the previous year in a 13-hour course on gun handling, marksmanship, safety and competitive shooting.
Environmental concerns received increased emphasis, almost four years before the ecology movement captured broad national attention with the first Earth Day celebration. Clean Air was a new U.S. Jaycees program in 1966, designed to stop the nation’s growing air pollution problems. Sponsored with the Industrial Gas Cleaning Institute, Clear Air provided community action programs. The third year of the Clean Water program stressed similar purposes and honored the Danville, Virginia, chapter for its success in motivating local voters to pass a $3 million bond issue to build a pollution control plant on the river near Danville.
Many programs had reached full maturity by 1966-67. >From a base of 650,000 original competitors, more than 500 pre-Olympic age athletes converged on Denver for the fourth annual Junior Champ Track and Field Meet. President Lyndon Johnson surprised everyone with a visit, personally talking with and congratulating many athletes. The Junior Tennis and the Junior Golf programs completed their popular 13th and 21st annual championships, respectively, during the year.
Among the honorees at the 29th annual Congress of America’s Ten Outstanding Young Men for 1966 was Army Captain William S. Carpenter who was noted for his gallantry in action during the Vietnam War and consumer advocate Ralph Nader. President Johnson addressed the 180 delegates at the sixth annual Governmental Affairs Seminar as well as those assembled for the 4th annual Physical Fitness Leadership Awards Conference.
More than 600,000 seventh and eighth grade students entered essays on the subject, “What Americanism Means to Me,” in the third year of the Independence Hall Essay Contest. Michigan Jaycees started an effort for Project Concern called Pennies for Vietnam.
Its goal was to raise $185,000 to build a hospital and orphanage for South Vietnamese children. Indiana Jaycees worked hard to secure a four-wheel International Scout for use by Project Concern in Vietnam.
Among the many outstanding projects conducted on a local level each year by chapters, one by the Atlanta Jaycees deserves special mention. After racial rioting in the summer of 1966 had left a slum area of the city called Summerhill in tatters, the Jaycees formed a study group to find out what could be done to improve conditions. By spring, they were ready for action.
First, they organized 1,000 Summerhill residents in a massive three-day clean-up effort. Then they created a recreation program for the young people of Summerhill, equipped playgrounds and started several softball leagues. Boy and Girl Scout troops, sponsored by the Jaycees, were formed. For two hours each weekday, and all day on Saturdays, Atlanta Jaycees provided area residents with free advice on legal, financial, health and personal problems. Finally, they turned a dilapidated home into a community center to provide an ongoing base for all Jaycee-related activities. And the Atlanta Jaycees wasn’t even the top chapter in its population division in 1966-67.
Houston took that honor in 1967, growing from 651 to 1,623 members to become the world’s largest Jaycee chapter. Houston Jaycees conducted 325 projects on a budget of $565,000. On another scale, the Bartlesville Jaycees in the Oklahoma town of 30,000 started an average of three new projects every week of the year and boasted 351 members.
President Johnson made his fourth appearance in a year at a major U.S. Jaycees function by keynoting the 1967 Annual Meeting in Baltimore marking the second time the nation’s chief executive had visited the convention. He addressed an audience of 10,000, representing a movement that rapidly was approaching 300,000 members and already could count more than 6,000 chapters.
James B. Antell of Burlington, Vermont, was elected to lead the 48th U.S. Jaycees administration. He activated a program introduced in the spring to ring new promise for the people of Appalachia. Operation Alternative (later called Operation Opportunity) was the Jaycees’ response to the Great Society programs of President Johnson, competing with the federal monies being wastefully poured into the area. Projects by Jaycees from 12 states in Appalachia successfully created jobs, trained unskilled employees, improved housing, encouraged high school education, involved teenagers and prevented crime during the next few years.
Continuing his emphasis on human resource development, Antell promoted the Big Brothers of America efforts through a One Jaycee – One Boy program targeted at chapters in larger cities. In a year when national racial tensions were high and poverty issues were in the spotlight, seminars, news articles, kits and program ideas stressed the social obligation of The U.S. Jaycees to all people of the United States.
In Chandler, Arizona, Jaycees designed and implemented a program to train welfare recipients in job skills. In its first three years, chapter members placed 68 percent of those on welfare into jobs by chapter members.
Antell joined 21 governors and mayors on an official inspection trip to Vietnam shortly after his term began. They visited about a dozen villages as election observers and then met with President Johnson at the White House on the return trip.
Future magazine in 1968 postulated that in 1984, “Dad would be seeing much more of his family, since he will be working a 27-hour week.” While that prediction subsequently proved wrong, various predictions about desktop computer usage 16 years hence were nearly perfect.
Helping The U.S. Jaycees stay up with the emerging computer age was a new UNIVAC 9300 computer, installed in early 1968. It provided 40 percent faster service and more information than the system it replaced. One of the areas of information the computer tracked was membership, which by then included several institutional chapters. A brochure on extending a Jaycee chapter in a prison or other institution was created in 1968.
Several administrative moves were approved by the 1967-68 board of directors to simplify programming categories and to remove program responsibilities from the vice presidents. Instead, the headquarters staff would manage each approved program and the vice presidents were free to travel more and concentrate on membership and sponsorship concerns.
The U.S. Jaycees also was busy raising money toward a national $100,000 goal to build a new Junior Chamber International secretariat in Coral Gables, Florida. By the 1968 Annual Meeting, more than $56,000 had been collected by U.S. Jaycees and construction had begun.
The Annual Meeting in Phoenix was hot in more ways than one. The Parade of States was conducted under extreme heat, requiring 32 marchers to be hospitalized and dozens more to be treated by the American Red Cross. Balloting for national president was just as torrid. It began shortly after 4 p.m., Thursday, and didn’t finish until 22 ballots and 18 hours later. Wendell Smith, of Plymouth, Michigan, was elected 49th president after 10 a.m. on Friday.
Smith inherited an organization 297,000 strong and still growing, as well as nearly $178,000 in new sponsorship monies acquired during the year before. During his term, sponsorship monies would rise to $365,000 and membership would reach more than 311,000.
Several familiar programs were canceled by sponsors following the 1968-69 term, including the Teenage Safe Driving Road-e-o, Junior Champ and Junior Bowling. New sponsors provided nearly $200,000 in funding, however, for programs in crime prevention and law enforcement, called Citizens for Justice with Order, leadership training (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company); internal affairs (Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company); Outstanding Young Farmer (Central Soya); and general health (Sears Roebuck Foundation and Smith Kline & French Laboratories).
At the beginning of his term, Smith told his executive committee, “Our biggest challenge is to get all Jaycees involved in all programs, whether they are controversial or not. We can’t just work on the non-controversial projects.” To help Jaycees set the pace, a new six-hour course, Leadership in Action, was offered to members for an average cost of $5.
Television comedian Pat Paulsen, a perennial “candidate” for the president, helped The U.S. Jaycees raise funds for the U.S. Olympic team in 1968 by making coast-to-coast “campaign stops” in six cities in just one day. A new Veterans Assistance program was introduced to encourage chapters to make their communities aware of the veterans return and to inform the veterans of jobs and educational opportunities open to them.
Operation Opportunity, The Jaycees’ voluntary alternative to the federal government’s War on Poverty, showed great progress during the year. Several thousand chapters devoted major efforts toward helping the disadvantaged learn job skills and find jobs, gain an education, understand the governmental systems, brighten the environment and improve their dwellings.
Jaycee President Smith spent three weeks touring many of the nation’s most notorious poverty pockets, evaluating the role voluntary organizations should take. Following his trip, Smith urged Jaycees to immediately conduct their own awareness tours, provide control for the efforts of government, industry and organization, and make a commitment to make a difference.
By early May, Smith w raveling in style in a newly purchased 1961 Queenaire plane. In its first month of operation, the corporate airplane logged more than 14,000 miles, including a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, for the 49th Annual Meeting. Delegates adopted an official Jaycee flag and elected Wausau, Wisconsin’s Adnre’ LeTendre to lead The U.S. Jaycees into its sixth decade – and 50th anniversary – of action.
The nation was reeling under a volatile war protest movement, racial tensions and the challenges of feminists. There was a growing disrespect for American institutions including so-called “big business,” the traditional family structure and social/civic organizations. A great deal of self-examination was ahead for the Jaycee movement.