Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I went to the throwback machine for these Tuesday's Travels.

First to Miami Beach, Florida.

The year was 1968 and the event was the Republican National Convention.

While the Republicans battled over who would be their candidate, Nelson Rockefeller or Richard Nixon, I attended meetings of the North Dakota delegation which I was covering and spent idle afternoons at my hotel's bar on the swimming pool deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Not a bad gig.

And you can save your comments about the turtleneck and the Nehru jacket.

I've heard 'em all before and it was the style of the day.

I generally avoided the convention hall after the first day though I do remember standing at the base of the podium on the final day staring straight up at Nixon as he delivered his acceptance speech.

A couple of weeks later it was on to Chicago where protesters against the Vietnam War, poverty, Mayor Richard Daley and whatever cause turned the city into what they called "an armed camp".

These nicely-garbed young ladies were posing next to Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, which was de facto the convention hotel.

The Avenue did turn into an armed camp as the National Guard was called out to protect against riots.

In Grant Park, across the avenue from the Hilton, protesters were allowed to mass most of the time.

While they held rallies and made speeches and listened to music and waved their banners, all was peaceful.

When they tried to march to the hotel or the convention hall they were met by the Guard and the Chicago Police Department's "thin blue line".

I got a little too close while covering a confrontation one night and walked into a cloud of tear gas.

Some of the big names of the civil rights era were also at the convention, at one point driving a mule-driven wagon through the streets.

That's the activist priest, Father Michael Groppi of Milwaukee, and civil rights marcher Ralph Abernathy in the wagon.

Here was Abernathy and one of his colleagues, Andrew Young.

And who should appear in Grant Park one day but comedian and activist Dick Gregory.

Like this year's "Bernie" surge, there was a candidate favored by the youth, Senator Eugene "Clean Gene" McCarthy.

But like this year with Bernie Sanders, he went down to defeat as the convention nominated Vice-President Hubert Humphrey to be defeated by Nixon in November.

Chicago in '68 was a whole different scene from anything this boy from the plains of the Dakotas had ever witnessed.

Hmmm, I may not have to put up a Throwback Thursday post this week.

I think I just did.