Directions from Right to Left

You might have noticed a “Goldwater in ‘68” sign in a window on the Mad Men premier. This may seem trivial, but is part of a more convoluted story. For those youngsters in the room, Barry Goldwater was a conservative Republican Senator from Arizona. He ran for President in 1964 against President Lyndon Johnson. My grandparents, as life-long Republicans, called Goldwater a true conservative for my entire life. They appreciated his stand on conservative issues while rejecting the evangelical right. Lyndon Johnson was the Vice President under Kennedy. He became President after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Johnson won the presidency in one of the largest landslides in history.

Obviously there are multiple points of view on the campaign and results. But many consider the “Daisy” commercial to be one of the most successful campaign ads in history. Tony Schwartz at Doyle Dane Bernbach created this commercial in 1964. The ad, made for the Johnson campaign, implied that Goldwater would lead the United States into a nuclear war. The ad aired only once and was pulled after it was deemed unfairly inflammatory.

Now, back to Mad Men. This gets complicated. The Goldwater in ’66 sign is in the window of the ad agency Young and Rubicam where water balloons are dropped on African-American protesters below. Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This led to Goldwater winning states in the Deep South, but losing everywhere else. Later in the episode, Henry Francis tells someone on the phone to not appear with Governor George Romney in Michigan. Henry Francis’ character previously used to work for Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Rockefeller also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 and refused to support Goldwater. This caused uproar at the 1964 Republican convention. And you thought this bog was just about pretty stuff.

My father was a pinko hippie. And I liked that.

Sherman Adams, high school, before the 60s, 1959

My dad was a character. I was talking to my brother, Ian, yesterday, and he said, “I think Dad was really crazy or super cool.” He had found a photo of my dad taken the year before he died. Admittedly, he was odd looking by then. He had a big shock of white hair like Dr. Emmett Brown in Back to the Future and a modified Fu Man Chu beard. And my dad was incredibly smart. He was a program designer back in the 1960s and 70s, and one of those people that talked about a Googolplex, a numeral with 1 and 100 zeros following. Granted his conversations tended toward the binary, “Yes,” and “No.” I liked the fact that my dad was counterculture from 1960 to the day he died.

Non-student narc and teachers pet, c.1969

These pages from an underground magazine circa 1969 or 1970 were thumbtacked to my dad's bedroom wall for most of my life. The “Of the Faith Teachers Pets” page describes the alleged spying on liberal faculty and students at University of Washington, Brigham Young University, and Fairleigh Dickinson University by individuals posing as R.O.T.C. cadets, and in the case of Linda Hobbie, as an undergraduate. The caption under Ms. Hobbie’s image reads, “Non-student Narc.” The addition of Kaiser Wilhelm is a delicate touch.

Wanted, c.1969

The “Wanted” page describes an episode when the secret service investigated Chuck Popke, pictured above. Popke had written, “Johnson’s war in Vietnam makes America puke,” on the back of an envelope that was intercepted by the secret service. The inset image is President Lyndon Johnson showing a surgical scar. The secret service agent defended the government’s action against Popke, “If enough people puked on the President, it would kill him.”