I'm taking a class at Washington University's Life Long Learning Institute on Saul Bellow's book, Humboldt's Gift. Bellow was a Chicago writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature. Ironically the book concerns Chicago and Princeton and one of the most significant events in the story is when Ike defeats Adlai Stephenson in the 1952 Presidential race. In 1952 I was a sophomore at Lyons Township High School of La Grange and my brother David was a sophomore at Princeton. In August of 1952 a friend of Davids from Princeton and Moberly, Missouri stayed with us in La Grange while he "covered" the Republican National Convention for his Moberly newspaper. Dwight Eisenhauer had been wooed by both parties but finally chose the Republican Party and was nominated by the liberal wing of that party. "Mobe" got us tickets to the final night where Ike was nominated to the thunderous roar of a packed Chicago Stadium. He had beaten out Ohio Senator Robert Taft in an old fashioned convention where all the states voted in alphabetical order and the outcome was not previously decided. I'll never forget when Ike was presented and all the lights went off except for spotlights on this seemingly small balding man in a drab blue suit with his arms raised high. It was beyond exciting.
At the end of the evening I collected some of the campaign signs from that evening and for some unknown reason I have them still having either stored them or moved them with me where ever I have gone. For this current class at Washington U I proudly 'showed' my signs and 'told' my story.
Ike ran against Illinois Democratic Senator Adlai Stephenson who was from Chicago and was also a Princeton grad. In Bellow's novel,
Stephenson's landslide loss to Ike helped throw poet Von Humboldt Fleisher into a lethal downhill slide.
A major promise of Ike's campaign was to end the Korean war and "bring our boys home". He was able to end the war in about 6 months.
I can still remember the drama and energy and the sense being a part of history. I'm sure that is why I have been unable to let go of these signs.
The class enjoyed my presentation and one of my classmates offered that she had been there at the Chicago Stadium that night too for Ike's acceptance speech.
It is hard for me to realize that it was over 62 years ago.