1954 - The year KPLC was born

Published: Oct. 3, 2014 at 7:39 AM CDT|Updated: Dec. 2, 2014 at 8:39 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Television had first come to Lake Charles a few years before KPLC went on the air when it was first demonstrated to customers shopping at Muller's Department Store. There was a short-lived Channel 25, KTAG. But it wasn't until 1954, when the Lake Area first witnessed programming from KPLC-TV. McNeese archivist Pati Threatt says Lake Charles was in a period of unprecedented post-war growth.

"The population doubled between the forties and the fifties," said Threatt. "So there were a lot of people. All of the activity was centered downtown or at Lake Charles Air Force Base, which would later become Chennault. It was really active. It was the beginning of the Cold War."

Threatt says the average yearly income was about $4,000.

"You could buy a house for 22 thousand dollars. The price of gas was 21 cents a gallon. You could get a nice brand new car for about 2 thousand dollars."

The 1954 city directory gives you a pretty good view of what life in Lake Charles was like. The Charleston Hotel ad said it was "absolutely fireproof" and an ad for the Majestic Hotel just down Pujo St. had a nice new coffee and cocktail lounge.

A film shot in 1954 and shown in movie theatres is in the McNeese Archives. Threatt says it's a wonderful portrayal of Lake Charles at the time.

"Oh it's fabulous that we have a little glimpse of life. It's so interesting to see how people worked, what people wore. I think it's really interesting that everyone dressed up."

On KPLC-TV there were local home shows, news and a Jax sports report with Sam Tarelton. Television sales were on their way up.

To see the 1954 film, "Lake Charles: The Town That Means Home" click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YIV33HgGBU

Copyright KPLC 2014. All rights reserved