Thursday, August 28, 2008

POLITICS and CONVENTIONS

Although I heard all of Biden’s speech unfortunately I could not watch all of it. I was busy cleaning up cat “throw up” on the carpet in the next room. I did consider his speech to be one of the best convention speeches in over 60 years of watching Conventions on the TV. No he is not an orator but a down to earth speaker. Not everyone thought so see CNN’s Toobin. That’s too bad. To get a transcript go to: (www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/27/biden.speech/index.html)


This is going to be a dirty campaign. The LA times, today, already has an article about the Biden family’s legal firms being lobbyists on bills that Biden sponsored.


The nominating conventions reminded me of the annual Lions convention the year ( 1960) I became President of the Plainfield Lions Club. The International Lions Club annual convention was held in various parts of the world and attracted thousands of delegates.


That year it took place in Chicago, thus the club could underwrite my minimal expenses for travel, food and hotel for me and my wife. We flew from Newark to Chicago’s Midway Airport which was in the middle of an industrial area on the South Side. The planes approached the airport low over the roofs of houses and other buildings before touchdown. In those days Midway was the only passenger airport in Chicago.


The New Jersey group was based at the Morrison, an old hotel, which was supposed to be one of the largest in the world. It still had open cage elevators operated by hotel personnel. Each floor stop had to be adjusted to be level with the floor gate. Earlier that year one of the adjacent Hotels (LaSalle) had been the site of a fatal fire, I was not happy, in the obvious firetrap.


The first two rooms they assigned us were unacceptable. One was a small “closet” with a window on an inside air shaft. The other was a slightly bigger closet also on the inside. Ultimately we stayed in a large corner room...


The Morrison, which was noted for the rotating circular bar on the roof penthouse, with great views of Chicago at night, was in the “Loop”. If you exited one side door you were under the elevated tracks, and across the street from Marshal Fields, one of the great stores of that century.


One day when I returned from the meetings Helen did not meet me as customary. She came in an hour or so later exhausted. Apparently, she had gone over to Marshal Fields but had left the store from the wrong door and had wandered down to the lake before she could find her way home.


I had always wanted to go the famous Pump Room at the Ambassador Hotel East, It was a pre-war site of many of the late night big band radio shows. The Pump Room was notorious for its “Afro-Arabian” ambience’ Palm trees and black bus boys waving Palm Frond Fans. It was very expensive for that era but very popular with convention goers and others with expense accounts. Naturally, Helen and I had dinner with drinks there one night and blew over $60.00.


We were bussed every day from the hotel to the Chicago Stadium for business sessions, and educational forums. The next to last day was election of international officers as well as district governors, a post some feveridly sought. In order to get enough voting members from New Jersey to a day time meeting the New Jersey districts held a raffle for those delegates that ere present at voting time. .


That was perhaps the first and almost the only time I won something at a raffle. Our evening at the Pump Room had been fun plus an excellent meal. So we decided to blow my $100.00 winnings on another visit to the Pump Room before returning home the next day.

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