My day at the 1964 GOP convention.- Howard K Smith winked at me!

(Sorry for spacing problems)

I had a crazy aunt. Everyone needs a crazy aunt. Mine lived in Palo Alto, where my uncle had been transferred with his PacBell job. Palo Alto, in those days, revolved around Stanford University.  My aunt, who was a teacher anyway,  immediately became the biggest Stanford booster ever.  Her dream was that some of us untalented kids would somehow get into Stanford. One of her kids eventually got a Masters’ there and I married a Stanford grad student but all of this is by way of explaining my aunt’s behavior in July 1964.

My aunt read in the Chronicle that a bus of Scranton supporters was heading up from Stanford to the Cow Palace, where the Republican convention was taking place.  AND there spaces on the bus.  Bless her heart, my aunt drove me and my two cousins over to a pickup location on El Camino and deposited us onto the waiting bus.  This was the age of innocence and she was absolutely sure that NOTHING would happen to us because we were on a STANFORD bus. So off we went.

(Scranton was a moderate GOP governor who was the main opponent to Goldwater.)

The ’64 GOP convention, known to history as the Goldwater convention, was rife with intrigue and skullduggery but all we knew as the bus approached the Cow Palace was that the Stanford kids were not real happy that we were on their bus and they ditched us as soon as they could.

We didn’t care! There was no such thing as Security in those days so three kids         -I was the oldest, turning sixteen- could wander around 

to our hearts’ content. The Cow Palace didn’t seem as crowded as the venues shown in this years’ convention.  There were about a million folding chairs that were mostly empty.  We always found a place to sit and no one ever asked us to move.  I think they thought we were someone’s kids, which we were, but kids of someone who belonged there.

O the sights we saw!  We saw Scranton people being asked for their credentials,  which they dumbly handed over,  then being asked to leave because they didn

‘t have credentials.  We saw a couple of related fistfights. We saw hookers!  We knew they were hookers because we watched 77 Sunset Strip. We recognized the bling and the swinging purses. We saw Chet Huntley through the glass of an enclosed broadcast studio on the convention floor level.  We looked for Brinkley, didn’t find him.

There were speeches going on all during this time. One of the speakers was Bill Miller, the GOP nominee for Vice-President and father of radio’s Stephanie Miller.  He went on for what seemed like forever. We didn’t see Goldwater.  I don’t remember the bus ride back.  All I know is that we got safely back to PA and my aunt’s faith in Stanford and its institutions was reinforced.

But the real highlight was the next day.  We went into SF, with  my aunt, and were standing to the side of the steps going into the St Francis when a crowd of dignitaries swarmed down the steps. Among them I saw a familiar face- Howard K Smith, the debonair face of CBS News.  There I was, an awkward sixteen year-old with fuzzy hair and coke bottle glasses, gawking with my mouth open I’m sure, and that wonderful man, Howard K. Smith, WINKED at me. It was perfect. It was wonderful.  I’m sure he never knew how he made my day. Day, heck!  I’m still telling the story!    

So when my friends  in the HCDCC ask if I want to go to Sacramento or Long Beach or wherever for the State convention, I never go. In fact, I’ve never been to any kind of convention since then. It would seem so anti-climactic.