My First Political Kiss

vintage illustration man wearing hat

Today the phrase “moderate Republican is fast becoming an oxymoron. But once upon a time, there were actually liberal Republicans like Jacob Javits who roamed the political landscape. The longtime senator from New York was a leader of Progressive Republicanism for more than 3 decades.

His was also  my second  kiss from a politician.

The politician and the bald-headed baby were made for one another.

A baby’s first kiss from a politician is always remembered….and mine in 1955 was no exception .

A Campaign Kiss

It would soon be my first Independence Day and my parents believed it was time for its littlest citizen to be introduced to her Uncle Sam and “My America.” And what better place to be inculcated with truth, justice and the American way than at an honest to goodness fourth of July campaign rally

July fourth was the official campaign kickoff , which seemed natural enough since the right to vote was as American as the hot dog.

The hot weather seemed to have little effect on the swarm of soggy seersucker suited town-clerk-district-court-judge-town-supervisor-hopefuls  buzzing and circulating around the rally. Displaying high beam campaign poster smiles with their  Arthur Murray toned wives in tow, they glad handled handing out emery boards and plastic rain bonnets with their names printed on them, as they scanned the crowd for a baby to kiss.

Nothing said the America way of life more than that age-old kiss from a politicians and it didn’t take long before some county comptroller-wannabee’s radar had me in his sights.

Mopping his brow, and peeling off his jacket,  a well upholstered Sicilian-American with a melting pot belly and unruly eyebrows  waddled over towards us, clumsily clutching a hot dog in one hand.

He savored fully the juices that trickled down his chin, licked a spot of mustard off his cheek, and bent over to kiss me on the top of my head while with a greasy hand, presented Mom with a wink and a green plastic comb with his name emblazoned on it, hoping to win her vote.

The tangy residue of French’s yellow mustard and the sandpaper sensation of the heavy stubble on his chin lingered on my forehead longer than his name lingered with my parents.

A Javits Republican Puckers Up

vintage ad 50s mother and baby and Jacob Javits

 But when a balding gentleman, the charismatic N.Y.State Attorney General, who despite the heat was crisp and cheerful in a brown suit and purple hued tie, chose my own bald little head to kiss, Mom was ecstatic.

“That should be good for a few dozen votes when he runs for the senate next year”, Dad chuckled.

There was talk of the Attorney General running for senate next year, which explained why Jacob Javits was out in full force helping local campaigns in our small suburban town.

The Jews claimed Jack Javits as one of their own which was why he was the first and only  Republican my Roosevelt-nik-New Deal Democrat mother every voted for.  ,(the fact that he had run against FDR Jr  made the choice  more agonizing, but being Jewish trumped everything )

As Javits bent down to kiss me, his breath fruity from a constant consumption of cough suppressing cherry flavored cough drops, a skinny young photographer  from The Long Island Press  fortuitously  captured the moment forever. The yellowing photo from the newspaper would lay pressed in my baby book pages for the next 50 years, right next to my inoculations records.

Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear family

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