Friday, June 5, 2009
I had to search google *forever* to find a photo of a clock radio like the one I owned in June 1968. This one was cream colored, but mine was aqua blue, so forgive me the tinting. Late at night I would fall sleep listening to WLS in Chicago or KAAY in Little Rock, then right before I dropped off, I'd flip the dial back to KIOA 940 (the cool rock station in Ames,Iowa where we had recently moved).
My morning routine was to reach over half asleep and push the alarm peg in, and then listen to the Chickenman morning routine (I was 12, what did you expect?).
But on June 5, 1968, I woke up to one of those serious "special reports". During the Sixties a person could really get sick of hearing those. This one was one of the worst - Bobby Kennedy was in a L.A. hospital after being shot at one of his own campaign rallies, right after he won the California primary. I remember wondering why on earth his own campaign people would shoot him if he won.
Waking up a little more, it hit me. This was JFK all over again, 5 years later. Martin Luther King Jr., all over again, 2 months later.
Bobby was the first presidential candidate I ever worked for. Yes, at age twelve. And I had no shortage of friends who worked right alongside me. We knew his positions on issues, we knew what he stood for, and he was loved. We went door-to-door, we passed out flyers, we stuffed envelopes.
The photo above was taken when he was in Marion Iowa, a town not far from Ames.
Look at the raw hope on those faces.
The indestructibility of American optimism never ceases to amaze me.
I am left to wonder.....what if? What if a hero actually succeeded and led this country to "all it can be"?
Forty-one years later, here we are once again, armed with our trademark American optimism, and yet another round of raw hope.