I promised nothing political on this blog, and I plan to keep that promise, but this is more a funny story than a political one.
In 1972, I was going to college in Boca Raton during the time of the presidential election. Richard Nixon was running for re-election against George McGovern. My assignment for class was to write a paper on the graphics of campaign literature, so my roommate and I drove down to Lauderdale to get some signs and pamphlets at various political headquarters.
At a Republican senator’s HQ, we were picking up some pamphlets when a well-dressed guy came up and said, “Hey; are you college students?” and we said we were art students. Then he asked, “Going to the convention tonight?” He was referring to the Republican National Convention in Miami. We said, “No.”
This friendly guy said, “Tell you what: Get a bunch of your friends together and we’ll send a bus up to Boca and you can attend the convention. We’ll even give you hot dogs and Cokes on the way down, and maybe some beer on the way back!” My friend and I were amazed. We looked pretty scruffy, being art students in those days. I was skinny, wore wire-rim glasses, big sideburns and a pony tail and my friend had an Afro. I said, “I couldn’t dress for it; my suit’s over in Naples.” The friendly man said, “No problem; casual is fine! The more casual the better!” So we agreed to go and spent the afternoon rounding up a dozen or so friends to go on this insane jaunt. We didn’t care much about the election but we thought the convention would be fun to see. The bus came, and away to Miami we went.
At the convention, we were given very good seats on the balcony overlooking the speaker’s podium. The curtains behind the podium blew wide as President Nixon’s helicopter landed, and he came to the podium waving his V signs with both hands. My friends and I were having a great time.
A few minutes into his speech, President Nixon– reading from his notes on the pre-teleprompter lectern– looks up, points to my friends and me, and says something like, “And you long-haired anti-American radicals, who burn flags and don’t support our military . . .” and the whole place just goes nuts!
My friends and I were stunned. We weren’t in the least political but we did have long hair. A bunch of crew-cutted Young Republicans in suits on either side of us began yelling at us and shaking their fists and we felt very uncomfortable.
As the president went on with his speech, we realized we’d been set up!!! We were window dressing; some operative probably had an assignment to get a certain number of seats filled by hippies so the president would have someone to point at.
The photo here is from the Net. Inside the red circle is yours truly, with big sideburns, a ponytail and his best Gant shirt. This photo looks to be from after our moment of infamy, as I appear to be talking to one of the Young Republicans at the time the photo was taken.