The Barry Goldwater Club

I was seven years old back in 1964, and Tommy, an eleven-year-old kid down the street, got the “tics” real bad … politics that is.  I have no idea what set him on fire – perhaps it was his Dad’s fiery political ranting, but no matter.  Tommy was a leader who needed followers, and all us little kids on the block became his unsuspecting recruits.

Now, when I say that Tommy was into politics, you have no idea how much he was into politics! He must have gone to the local Republican campaign office and convinced them he was going to single-handedly win the presidential election for Senator Goldwater.  He came back with a vast array of Barry Goldwater buttons, bumper stickers, signs, and anything else you could fit the name “Barry Goldwater” on.  But Tommy didn’t stop there.  No way.  He also managed to acquire a life-size vinyl mask of his political hero, and a vinyl “45” recording of a “Vote for Barry Goldwater” campaign song.

Tommy incited about a dozen of us kids to throw caution to the wind, to support his Republican candidate.  It was of little consequence in our minds that most of our parents were devoted followers of the late John F. Kennedy, a fellow Catholic.  Our folks felt morally bound to support his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.  Tommy was asking us to take a big leap of faith to forsake our parent’s politics in this election.

But to us, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  Our parents didn’t have all the cool stuff Tommy had, and they certainly didn’t have a mask or record for their candidate.

Sorry, Mom and Dad, we’re going with Tommy and what’s-his-name … Barry Goldwater!

And so was instituted the official neighborhood “Barry Goldwater Club,” headed up by our enthusiastic, young Republican leader.  He took us up to his bedroom where he had a record player.  He donned his presidential mask, put on the “Vote for Barry Goldwater” record, and pumped up the volume.  The lyrics went to the tune of the “Colonel Bogey March,” from the 1957 movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai (the famous scene where all the British prisoners defiantly whistle as they march in formation into the Japanese World War II prison camp) …

So there we were, watching with jaws dropped in amazement as Barry Goldwater’s face and Tommy’s fairly rotund body marched in rhythm atop his bed, arms flailing as he conducted the music.  Somehow it was as if Senator Goldwater himself was teaching us how to sing his song.  Our determination rose to meet our teacher’s fervor and we all sang along:

Vo-ote, for Barry Goldwater!

Vo-ote, for Barry Goldwater!

Vo-ote, for Barry Goldwater!

Oh vo-ote, for him to-day!

Vo-ote, for Barry Goldwater …!

After much dedicated, enthusiastic coaching, Tommy decided we were ready, and took us to the streets.  We marched down the road, wearing our Barry Goldwater buttons and proudly bobbing our signs as high as we could.  Tommy (from under the mask) led us in jubilant song, “Vo-ote, for Barry Goldwater …!”

By the time we reached Main Street, the local newspaper caught wind of our passionate crusade.  They arrived with cameras and we exalted Tommy, for he had brought us fame!

The next day, our disappointed parents brought to our attention the photo and write-up of our fervent, misguided parade.  We felt a little regret for betraying their politics, but deep down inside, we knew we were famous!  We made it into the newspaper!  And best of all, we still had all the cool Barry Goldwater buttons, stickers and signs!

Family loyalties be damned, with a leader like Tommy, we were heroes!


3 Responses to “The Barry Goldwater Club”

  1. My Other Zone Says:

    My parents were Republicans – I a Democrat. Such are family loyalties in our clan! Good one Judy,

    Mary Lois

  2. Says:

    I love this post Judy! It really has nothing to do with politics, everything to do with youthful exuberance. I want to be a kid again…

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