I went to my first political rally when I was 16. The year was 1960. I was living in Whitehall, Ohio an independent city that grew out of a farm and repeatedly refused to be annexed by Columbus, the state capital, which literally grew around it until it was completely surrounded but never surrendered.
Within Whitehall’s five+ square miles we had one high school, one catholic school, one library, one Putt-Putt golf course, one huge community swimming pool (Swimland), one fire station, one mayor who along with his wife hosted a slumber party for the Job’s Daughter bethel that I belonged to every Christmas break, one Krispy Kreme donut shop, the nation’s first regional shopping center (Town & Country called Miracle Mile by most) and one city bus line.
This night I was leaving Whitehall to journey downtown on the bus like I had done countless times before. But I was not going shopping at F&R Lazarus my usual trip downtown. I was going to a political rally. John F Kennedy was speaking. I loved the political process. I would watch the national conventions for hours. Not that I had a lot of choice with only three TV channels to pick from but no one forced me to endlessly watch either during long summer days.
Kennedy was a dark horse. Everyone said that he could not win because he was a Catholic. Even though I was not old enough to vote, I wanted to hear him speak. It was a school night but that was of small concern. The rally was outside in front of the capital building. By the time friends and I got there it was pretty packed. We’d never get to see or hear. We would not be daunted. We climbed a nearby light post. It was perfect. Kennedy soon appeared and he electrified everyone gathered. It was a moment in time like few others.
This weekend Donny & I traveled to Greensboro from Durham where we had been visiting middle most son and his family. We were on a mission to hear Bernie Sanders speak. He’s just a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, he cannot possibly win the nomination much less an election folks are saying and yet his numbers increase every day. Like Kennedy The Bern electrified his audience. He spoke with no teleprompter, few notes, and much conviction. He spoke from the heart.
Time will tell how far Bernie Sanders goes. But like Whitehall that never let a little thing like impossible geographic growth stop it from otherwise healthy and creative growth and like Kennedy who not only won but became one of our more effective and beloved presidents, the impossible is always possible.