I’ve been watching the Republican National Convention some this week, not intensely, but it’s a straight shot from my cubicle to the big tv in the breakroom where it’s been non-stop MSNBC, CNN, and occasionally, when the wrong person passes through, Fox. I’ve been watching, not so much for the speeches, which are for the most part horrifying, but for glimpses of Cleveland, the city where I grew up.
I remember the first convention I remember, the 1952 Republican convention in Chicago. I was 9. We were on vacation in California, in a motel that still exists near the San Francisco zoo. There was a small black-and-white TV. I liked Taft, because he was from Ohio, and it seemed a little like a sporting event. I remember it as a ballot fest, so I must have known about those, but I looked it up and it was apparently one ballot, some cigars, and a recount. Ike got the nomination and I never liked a Republican again. I should thank him for that. He was, as it turned out, not that bad by Republican standards, far better than any Republican president that came after him.
Later that year, still 9, I took the Shaker Rapid downtown to Public Square, which has been on TV a bit this week, to an appearance by the only presidential candidate I’ve ever seen in person, if you don’t count Eldridge Cleaver, another story. Maybe it was a weekend, maybe I played hooky. Anyway, I went by myself. A 9 year old could do that then. It was peaceful, a speech, some literature and campaign buttons I showed off in class the next day or so, and back home on the Rapid. All the way with Adlai. A smart guy, though Ike, I think, was no dummy. And now Cleveland has had to witness this.