Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Presidential Election of 1960

I remember the presidential election of 1960 as my first exposure to the world of politics and government. As a seven year old I was strongly influenced by the viewpoints of my mother, who was involved in the election herself, albeit in a small way.

I remember especially the carnival aspects of the event. I remember singing "K-E-doluble N- E -D -Y oh he's a jolly good guy. Kennedy and Johnson they are voting in every town. I'll bet you all the beans in Boston...."

The bumper stickers on the car. The bumper stickers on the Mill kids wagon. Wearing campaign buttons to school. A campaign was like a sporting event. A months long sporting event.

The first convention to be broadcast was the Republican Convention. It featured a jowly man on the podium.I remember he said. "I won't be here next time."

My mother said, "Oh he says that every year." The jowly man was Herbert Hoover.

Next up came the Democratic Convention. My mother had a horse in that race. A proud Texan, she was a Johnson supporter all the way. Johnson lost out to Kennedy but our family was placated by his number two position on the ticket.

A few months later, my mother got a phone call from Mrs. Mills, the political activist of the neighborhood. Lyndon Johnson was landing in Newark Airport and they wanted to greet the next Vice President appropriately. Five people showed up at the airport, including someone's daughter. Lyndon Johnson kissed the daughter and talked to my mother about Texas. Paris Texas came up in the conversation.

The night before the election the Dobie Gillis show featured a plot where Maynard would predict the election. At the finale of the he didn"t predict the winner, not toanyone's surprise.

There was a huge snowstorm on Inauguration Day so me and my brother got to stay home and watch the ceremonies on tv. I remember seeing Nixon and Eisenhower in top hats. Cardinal Spellman spoke. "That was for the benefit of the Catholics who got Kennedy elected," Mother informed us. Robert Frost spoke." That's for the benefit of the Harvard intellectuals", Mother informed us. Kennedy then gave the famous "Ask not what your country can do for you speach. I guess that was for the benefit of the slackers who always wanted something from the government.

The next day it was back to school. I remember a voice of a young girl on the radio obstensibly a young Caroline Kennedy. "My Daddy is president..." I just remember the first line.

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