'rioted', and Mayor Daley ordered them to attack the demonstrators at the Democrat Convention. Which do you prefer? Nixon's tape, or Mayor Daley's police. But, then you were a young boy scout who was not aware of what was REALLY happening that summer.
There were fifteen of us from Boy Scount Troop 7 who trained for color-guard duty, to provide a flag ceremony on one of the later nights of the Republican National Convention of 1968.
We were all 14 years old, give or take one year. We drilled for a couple of weeks on the concrete baketball courst outside the historic log cabin meeting place for this pioneering boy scout troop.
We were symbolic flag bearers of thirteen colonies, plus one OLd Glory, plus one stand-by boy in case of illness or incident to any of the flag bearing boys.
Being the determined merit badge underachiever that i was and am, i was appointed to stand-by do-nothing duty. I was wall warmer.
The night of our glory was a Big Night. The night of the nomination of a vice presidential running mate for Richard Nixon!
Very early arrived, we were corralled back stage long before our opening ceremony at the huge Miami Beach Convention Center. At six PM the Scoutmaster instructeded again what he'd said ealier: BOYS- there are wet paint signs everywhere around you. Pay attention and don't sit on any of the wet-painted prop benches!
Scout Jack P LOOKED excactly like a miniature Arnold Stang plus a Barney Fife, rolled into one uncharitble shallowness; Jack P promptly took a seat inwet paint.
Ain't this just like 14 year old boys???
A whine of dismay. A stentorian shout:
WELCH, -YOU- ARE IN THE DETAIL TONIGHT.
I still hear sulking jack's voice today:
"So, welchie, like, don't think that you're like umm, some kind of mr. america, just because you got on TV".
I smiled back at his wet paint-ruined khackis, gritted my pearlies at Jack and never looked back on him again until today.
Onto the stage we filed from two sides meeting Old Glory in the middle.
Our fifteen seconds of televised glory! Every one of us a junior Mr. america to our families watching back home.
Vignette: Sander Vanocur at my feet just in front of the proscenium, wearing a back-pack and Koss-type ear cans, talking into a mic. A walkie-talkie reporter with remote camera focused upon hime from some distant corner of the convention canyon.
Our duties done, the grownups gave us free rein to whoop it up with the happy conventioneers.
All around we went, gathering armfulls of political souvenirs. Very quickly tho, we were impressed into new duty!
"Hey, boys, would you like to be on TV again? Here, each of you take a placard. Hold it like this, and walk up and down the aisles, from rear to front and back again. Four of us did this until we saw some chance to escape. (Your arms got tired in a hurry)
The white on red color oblong placards shouted
We were bopping, prancing, jumping with these signs along the aisles, shouting back to each other stuff like
"HEY welchie! WHAT is an "agnew"
"Don't Know!!! Maybe it is a brand of candy bar??"
There was Nixon, himself! And this SPIRO
(ha ha, Ruppenthal, is that a joke name or what?? SPY-Ro? SPEE-ROW???
Goofing aside for the boys, there was tSpiro Agnew himself. He was nominated. There was this overhead clasp of VP nominee right hand to Nixon's left hand.
Almost a symbology in that...
Meanwhile, from the floor we boys, we grabbed all the campaign ephemera we could.
We elevated fallen, failed VP aspirants, for instance hand fans emplazoned ROCKY.
Among my souvenirs of August 1968:
a fully life-size B&W poster of Richard M Nixon standing, waving.
"NIXON HE'S THE ONE"
However, most interesting fragment of the convention is for me, a thin copy of The Nixon Elector.
Inside the Elector is a captioned photo:
A female nixon campaigner sitting at a card table at some venue. On the table is a home model tape recorder and microphone. A sign on the table invites "record your questions for our next President"
the Nixon Elector CAPTION for this scene is
"Better Politics Through Electronics".
That was to prove a bitter irony later on.
reiteration of the most frozen moment of that night:
So, welchie, don't go thinking that you're like umm, some kind of mr. america, just because you got on TV
Jack, I should have SAID then how right you were.
I'm no mr. america. But what really mattered was that i wasn't the kid who sat his *** in white paint fifteen minutes before the show. You were not even allowed out to collect souvenirs. No i won't, no one else won't swap khaki trousers for your paint-ruined pair
Monday readers on this nearly last day of the second bush white house first term..
...I hope you enjoyed a tiny souvenir, this leaflet floating in an eddy, twisting now in a whorl, flowing in a tributary to a river, leading to a great and grand, historical waterfall where all tiny memories and tiny tellers wash out and into oblivion.