Monday, May 12, 2014

May 6, 1962 Another Humdinger, Best in Class, Stuck with a Kitten, The Making of a President and Suppertime

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"We're about run to death but there are some things to do this afternoon.  This week has been a humdinger but next should be better.  This is Mothers' Day weekend on campus so there have been lots of extra things going on.  They always have these things a week early so students can go home for Mothers' Day.

It started Thurs. night with a program which was given again on Friday night.  Sat. morning there was a coffee and style show.  Edna and I went to that since it was a woman's affair.  Then B & I went with Bob to an industrial arts exhibit and spent the afternoon there.  Bob had made the candlesticks & bowl for that and he won a blue ribbon beside a special award for the best in the class.  The whole group from Bob's room won the sweepstakes award for the whole show.  Bob's teacher was really proud.

B & I went to a dinner for Sorensens and then to the Sophomore formal.  I am so sleepy today I can hardly stay awake.

Our neighbor brought the kids a kitten and I've been about to explode.  It looks like we are stuck with it but I could crown the woman.

Tomorrow is book club day and time to trade books again.  I've been trying to read The Making of a President but can't get it finished.  It certainly is interesting.

B is doing school work.  He is never finished.  His mother plans to spend next weekend with us.  It will be nice for her to be here over Mothers' Day.  I wish both of you could be here.

It is almost suppertime and this is going to be real late so I'd better get it mailed.  Hope you both are fine."

                    Lots of love,


Look, May 22, 1962
NOTE:  Read an interesting Amazon review of The Making of a President.  I agree, it is an  interesting book, an easy read and well worth it.

By A Customer
This book, published in 1961, has long been considered to be a classic among political buffs and those who have any interest in how the American political system works, or once worked. Theodore White (1915-1986), who was once described by TIME magazine as the "godfather of modern political reporting", created a whole new way of covering presidential campaigns with this pulitzer-prize winning book. Before this book, reporters tended to cover presidential campaigns - the presidential primaries, the national political conventions, and the fall campaign - as if they were unconnected, separate events. White revolutionized political reporting by seeing these events as simply parts of a whole - he saw the primaries, conventions, and fall campaigns as linked together, as if they were chapters in a good novel. White also changed political reporting by writing extensively about the behind-the-scenes planning, strategizing, and organizing that occurred in presidential campaigns before the first primary was ever held.

White spent most of 1960 traveling with all of the candidates, from lonely campaign stops in the Wisconsin and New Hampshire primaries (where sometimes just a handful of people greeted the candidate he was covering), to the excitement of Election Night 1960, which was the closest presidential election night of the twentieth century (with the exception of the 2000 Bush-Gore race). White is a marvelous writer, and his descriptions of the personalities, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the momentum shifts, and the infighting, tactics, and strategies that make up a presidential campaign set the standard for a whole new generation of political reporters. White covers politics the way a good sportswriter covers baseball or football or basketball - he makes it appear exciting and glamorous.

I do have one problem with the book, and that is White's obvious bias towards John F. Kennedy. In his memoirs (published in 1978), White admitted that he gradually lost all objectivity when it came to JFK and that he came to idolize Kennedy, to the point that he was actually writing some of his campaign speeches - a gross lack of professionalism for a journalist. On the other hand, White also admitted that he strongly disliked Richard Nixon and had deliberately set Nixon up as the "villain" of the book, just as he made Kennedy the "hero". As a result White often leaves out damaging information about JFK (any mention of Kennedy's well-known womanizing or health problems, accusations of vote-buying in the West Virginia primary or vote-stealing in the general election, were left to later historians to write about). Poor Nixon, on the other hand, is looked at very critically by White - in White's version Nixon makes so many mistakes (and Kennedy is so perfect) that you wonder why the election was so close. In fact, the legend that Kennedy's brief Presidency was a kind of modern "Camelot" started with this book. Having said that, I also believe that White's skills as a writer and perceptive observer of American politics more than makes up for this weakness, and the "Making of the President 1960" should be required reading for anyone who is interested in the great game of American politics. This book's status as a classic work about a legendary presidential campaign makes it an absolute must for any political history buff.


  1. Hi Ann when I read your post about humdinger it brought to mind a joke that was around when I was a child. What is a humdinger? A bell on a rubbish cart.
    Seemed funnier when I was a child :-)

  2. Hi! Well, that's about as good a definition as others I've found, even though it's meant to be a joke! Do you remember all those silly knock-knock jokes we thought were so funny as kids? It's good to hear from you, as always.


I welcome your comments!