As I said last night, my dad grew up in a solidly Republican family. I even have a distant in-law who profited from the Prohibition period, all legally. But the political continuation is a story too.

My father graduated from Missouri School of Mines. Like Texas A&M they had an intensive ROTC program and graduates came out with a 5 year ROTC commitment due the Army and a chemical engineering degree But in 1931 the Army was not taking new 2nd Lts and so he ended up working for engineering projects he could find before going to the New Jersey where the US petrochemical industry was just getting going. Then as the European scene changed, the Army got panicked and started calling everyone up. So he was in the Army Chemical Corp in 1939. He served through both theaters (Europe first, then transferred to the Philippines after VE day.) He was then a captain of an all black company (I have the company picture, 300 men, one white face center, first row)). Now the story is often told of how McAuthur recognized a deep racialism in the Japanese, and made a point of having every man of the Allied guard being 6′ or taller.

MacArthur carried on the policy for the occupation of Japan. My father, who was 6’2″ and every other man in the unit over 6″ were then sent to cities on the main Island to serve as MP’s, that is interacting with the Japanese population. Those vertically challenged were sent home for discharge. Dad was discharged in late 1947, then served an additional time in both the active and ready reserves.

I’m fairly certain that my dad turned 21 in 1930 and so voted for Herbert Hoover, Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie. But not Mr Dewey, maybe he despised mustaches or just appreciated Harry Truman on Roosevelt’s ticket. He voted for Truman then in 1948 and went back to Eisenhower in 1952. But he absolutely despised Nixon. The “Checkers Speech” disgusted him — a man crying for himself.

In 1960 he was faced with a problem. He went with Kennedy, but when he was told that it was because of his religion, he let it be known that was definitely not the case. In 1964 he went with Johnson. And his favorite line was one that Bob Hope cited. ” Lyndon was buying the country and going to put it in his wife’s name.” Dad’s point was that Lady Bird was clearly the most intelligent one on the whole national spectra and he looked forward to that.

Then came 1968 . He was still a registered Republican, but disgusted with the Vietnam war. He saw it as going nowhere. He was still active in the Army Reserve (actually had been transferred to the Air Force when it was split out of the Army in 1948) and was now a Lt. Col. We had a neighbor and good friend who was a retired Denver policeman and father of a Viet. veteran. The boy/man and been through a lot and had occasion delusional episodes, completely withdrew from all contact. The family took him to the local Army hospital, Fitzsimons General hospital, but the hospital was swamped, and the man was simply shuffled down and back out. So Dad would put on his uniform and go out with the family and demand some more consideration. He did this at least three different times and came to be totally disgusted with the “aimless war”.

Gene McCarthy ‘almost’ won the early primary in New Hampshire. And Bobby Kennedy announced that he was ‘reassessing’ whether he would declare for president. Dad saw another Kennedy vs. Nixon race. So he sent $5 off to “Citizens for McCarthy” They responded with a deluge of campaign materials and declared him chairman of the “Citizens for McCarthy,council district 5″ in Denver. Now note, he was a registered Republican.

So he went down and changed registration, and started handing out McCarthy materials. Kennedy did declare for President, and in Denver he got overwhelming support from a North side political group (mostly Italian) but the party structure stood loyally by Hubert Humphrey. The Kennedy and McCarthy campaigns combined to prevent being squeezed by the regulars at the county convention, and carried it. Then Kennedy was shot, and the state party regulars had a pretty good grip on the state organization, but Denver was represented by among others, my father, who up until very recently had been a registered Republican

He pretty much withdrew from active political participation after that — I’ m sure that he thought McGovern was a joke.

And you have a idea how I come by my party affiliation and insist on humor in things political. It’s serious business but has to be approached with at least a bit of comedy.

One of my earliest political reads was ”’The Last Hurrah” . The book is much better that the movie.

Joe Murphey: An additional story about my father

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