By Larry Craig
The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago was quite the eyeopener for me.
I returned home from Cu Chi, Vietnam in July 1967. After a serious welcome home government-sponsored beating administered by the hometown sheriff's men in Crown Point, Indiana, I got a job selling legal drugs for Parke Davis. The job came with a big red Plymouth Fury which was my ticket to a fine gig escorting celebrities around Chicago for the Eugene McCarthy anti-war campaign.
Celeb number one was Paul Newman. After the sham voting, Paul was clearly depressed by the nomination of pro-war Hubert Humphrey even though all of the votes in the primaries had been for the anti-war candidates Bobby Kennedy and McCarthy. We both learned that in a democracy, your vote only counts if it is for the chosen candidate. That reminds me of the words of the great black poet Langston Hughes:
I SWEAR TO THE LORD
I STILL CAN'T SEE
WHY DEMOCRACY MEANS
EVERYBODY BUT ME
The tear gas was so freely dispensed that it even got to Humphrey in his room at the Hilton Hotel It was at the Hilton that Arthur Miller, once Marilyn Monroe's husband, joined Paul and me for breakfast. They both had melon while I had the usual, bacon and eggs. Now I'm the only survivor. Go figure. I signed the bill for the campaign and forgot to leave a tip. That still bothers me.
Out in front of the hotel, my now wife, Lynn saw Paul in the crowd and screamed, "Where's Larry?" He turned around to see who was crazy screaming. She must have been crazy because 50 years later we are still together for the children and now grandchildren I suppose.
On the way back to the airport, I smiled while Paul moped. He had actually thought the democratic process would win the war. I was such a young jerk. I told him the rich and famous should not have help around the house. At the American Airlines Admirals Club at O'Hare Paul's private pilot showed up looking for $50. Paul didn't have a check so he scratched out my name on my check and it was cashed. The money came out of my account anyway. The banker shook his head at my story and fixed the error.
Larry Craig was awarded the Bronze Star for coverage of Operation Junction City as a writer/photographer for the newspaper of the 25th Infantry Division, The Tropic Lighting News. He testified at the War Crimes trial in Detroit and was in DC for the medal toss.