By the time many of you read this, the mid-term elections will be over.
And, for many of you, those elections didn’t come quickly enough.
The first time I voted in an election was in 1964.
Remember that one?
If you don’t, let me refresh your memory.
Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texas Democrat, had ascended to the Presidency after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in November of 1963. Johnson was administered the oath of office on a plane that took him back to Washington, D.C., a teary-eyed Jacqueline Kennedy watching Johnson’s swearing-in aboard Air Force 1, still wearing her blood-soaked coat after her husband had been shot and killed.
In 1964, Johnson ran as the Democratic candidate against Arizona Republican Barry Goldwater. It wasn’t even a contest. Johnson swept all but six states. Arizona, of course, went for Goldwater, as did five states in the deep south – Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
The final electoral vote count read: Johnson 486, Goldwater 52.
Most of that time, I was serving in the U.S. Army, spending time at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Gordon, Ga., and, finally, with the Fourth Armored Division in Furth, Germany, next to Nuremburg.
It was also the second time I’d voted for a Democrat; yes, I realize it was the first time I’d legally voted. However, during a “mock” election in 1952 while I was a fifth-grader in a small town located between Fort Dodge and Webster City, I’d cast my ballot for Dwight D. Eisenhower, a World War II general who was married to a Boone girl, Mamie Dowd Eisenhower.
A year later we’d moved to Alleman and I remember, as a fifth-grader, marching with the whole school a half-mile from the classroom to U.S. Highway 69 where the entire student body assembled to wave at Dwight and Mamie as they rode a Presidential limousine from Boone to the Des Moines airport.
I was just 10 years old then and about the only thing I remember about that walk to greet the President was that they let us out of school to do it. I also remember someone waving back at us, but I’m not sure if it was Eisenhower or just someone in one of the important-looking cars.
I remember our next President, John Kennedy much better. I remember the day he was shot and killed during a parade in Dallas. I was in the bank next door to the Fort Dodge Messenger, cashing my first-ever paycheck as a newspaper employee. That was Thursday, Nov. 22, 1963.
I’d begun work at the Messenger on Monday, Nov. 4. My first paycheck was handed to me on that infamous Thursday. At first, I couldn’t understand why all the tellers at the bank – all of them young ladies – were sobbing. Then, I saw they were all listening intently to a radio that was blasting the news about Kennedy being shot.
Although I was a newspaper novice, I quickly rushed back to the Messenger office to see if I could be of any help.
The Messenger office was buzzing with excitement. At that time, the Messenger was an afternoon paper with three editions. The first one, a three-star edition with the earliest deadline, was put together and shipped by truck all over Northwest Iowa, naturally titled the “Northwest Iowa edition.” Next came the “two-star” edition, which was shipped to rural areas closer to Fort Dodge and, finally, came the “one-star” edition, which was hand-delivered to in-town subscribers.
The first business, was to re-make the front page and I remember, because of deadlines, that first edition had a photo of President Kennedy that took up the entire page, except for a large headline that read “President Shot in Texas.” Additional information was included in the next edition, but was still far from complete. Finally, the in-town edition carried more information.
That had been quite an eye-opening experience for a newspaper “newbie” like myself. I’ve saved those papers for more than half-a-century.
Now, you might be wondering: “What does that have to do with an election.”
Well, I’ll tell you. Absolutely nothing.
But it was a story to help me take my own mind off this, the 2018 mid-term election.
I can’t remember a nation ever being so angry. Certainly, there have been elections where candidates held widely differing views, but never have I seen the anger on both sides of the political spectrum as I’ve seen this year.
I’ve never, ever seen such attacks waged through those dastardly political ads that we’ve all been subjected to these past weeks, especially the days leading up to Tuesday.
And, no matter which way your political leanings tilt, I hope you voted. I’d guess most readers know which way my feelings lean.
And, you can bet I couldn’t wait to get to the polls.