I wasn’t but knee-high to a lamb when Walter Cronkite sheparded me into the New Frontier that hot summer of 1960.
A trustworthy thoroughbred if ever there was one, Walter “Curly” Cronkite safely steered me and my family through the rough and tumble, wild west that was the 1960 Democratic Convention.
That July was as hot as a whorehouse on a nickel night.
As the blazing sun set in the East, TV turned to the West for the coverage of the Final Showdown at the OK Corral Convention Arena in Los Angeles.
In those days, the nominee for President wasn’t a done deal. And the Vice President sure as shootin’ hadn’t already been picked months earlier, like today.
The whole purpose of the convention was for persuading them there delegates still on the fence, to take a shine to your candidate. Then all fired up, they’d choose their parties nominee for president.
It had the makins’ of rootin tootin good-time.
Giddy Up to the Convention
Mom was fixin’ to get us cowpokes some cool ice cream, as the TV set warmed up.
My brother and I sure were hankering to watch The Rifleman on channel seven, but we were outnumbered.
“Hold your horses” Dad calmly said.
He explained that the Presidential convention that only came around every four years was as rip roarin, rip snortin a time as any western on TV.
There’d be a lot of whoopin an’ hollerin, fightin’ and cussin’; plenty of folks dickerin’ and goin’ at it hammer and tongs.
It would be chock full of scalawags and boot lickers, pow wows and Indian Givers, and a whole lotta last minute horse-trading, gambling, and bellyaching; there’d be stallions and geldings a courting and a wooin, and plenty of filly’s, fine as cream gravy, prancing around.
There were curmudgeon Congressmen who were mean enough to steal a fly from a blind spider, and Senators ornery enough to eat off the same plate as a snake. Some fellers were as crazy as popcorn on a hot stove, and so dumb they couldn’t track an elephant in snow.
The main stars of this ultimate rodeo show filled with hope and a lot of gumption were a young cowpoke from Massachusetts Senator Jack “Fandango”Kennedy, and Texas’s favorite cowboy and master of the Senate Lyndon “Longhorn” Johnson. Pulling up the rear was smiling Senator Stuart Symington and long shot Adlai Stevenson the Democrats favorite egghead.
“Mark my words,” Dad promised, “ at the end of the convention one of ‘em will be grinning like a weasel in a hen-house and as pleased as a pup with two tails when he becomes the new Sheriff in town., and more than one of ‘em will be hurtin’ like the dickens, high tailin’ it outta Dodge, madder than an old wet hen.”
Stay tuned for Pt II High Noon at the 1960 Democratic Convention