ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
This is a letter to our friends –
A Connecticut story
Arizona Senator, Barry Goldwater [R], wrote a little book, “Conscience of a Conservative.” An over-night bestseller, it was a simple statement of common sense politics. We lived in Connecticut. I purchased a box of books and shared them with my neighbors. It was 1963.
Before television, mass mailers, or computers, the news that reached New England was dominated by only three radio networks, predominantly liberal Democrat. His book lifted Senator Goldwater as a presidential candidate across the country. I wanted to support his common sense. “Goldwater Clubs of Connecticut” was created.
I printed a folded paper the size of a dollar bill. The front had His picture and the club’s name. The back instructed supporters to add names and addresses of other supporters, enclose a dollar for each name and mail it to me. Wham!! Conservatives no one thought existed in New England came out of the woodwork! In only a few weeks I had the seeds of a club in most of the towns of Connecticut.
Bulk mailing was only pennies per address. We were able to send newsletters regularly to a growing list of conservative Connecticut voters. I could generate a crowd quickly, anywhere in the state. The Connecticut Republican party was dominated by RINO Republicans. They were supporting Rockefeller and Scranton as nominees to oppose Goldwater.
Each of Connecticut’s towns had a Democrat and a Republican committee. The committee chairmen were usually lawyers. Often the chairmen of each party were law partners! Though local committee meetings were open to the public, the public had little knowledge of them – until Goldwater Clubs of Connecticut! Every two years the GOP committees in each town would meet and elect delegates to the Connecticut Republican state convention in Hartford.
This is a fun story of events at the 1964 Republican State Convention in Hartford, Connecticut. A conservative sign specialist with a blueprint machine sawed off an 18-inch roll of blueprint paper from a longer roll.. He ran the whole roll through the machine using big bock letters spelling “Goldwater” plus a picture of the Senator. Another supporter recruited 8 nice looking convertibles. We printed hundreds of pictures of Goldwater the size of a business card.
My wife, Frances, recruited a group of conservative moms, dressed them with western hats, matching skirts and blouses plus a “Goldwater” sash. They could hold their own as conservatives and were trained a little with crowd control. Yet another supporter hired a Scottish marching band, bagpipes, drums, bugles – the works! Volunteers had worn Rockefeller and Scranton buttons and visited campaign and GOP offices all over the state collecting Visitor Passes to the convention. Others had been busy blowing up gas-filled balloons at Goldwater headquarters all day.
As the day of the convention dawned commuters crossing the bridge into Hartford were greeted with a giant picture of Goldwater hanging from a big red weather balloon on a rope anchored in the middle of the river. 50 – 60 teens were given handfuls of the business card photos and told to find places for them. Convention delegates, checking into hotels found them behind the glass certificates on elevator walls. Others stopping at coffee shops found every napkin in the dispensers came with a Goldwater picture! One lady reported trying on a new pair of gloves in a dress shop and finding a picture in each finger!
We taped 12-foot ling sections of the roll of “Goldwater” signs to each side of the convertibles and put one of the uniformed “Goldwater Girls” in the back seat of each. Goldwater Clubs of Connecticut sent congratulations to each convention delegate, inviting them to use our free taxi service while in Hartford. “Just step to the curb and flag down a cruising Goldwater convertible”. RINO leaders were disturbed to see “their” delegates riding and chatting with “Goldwater Girls”!
Two and a half hours before the Convention was to open, RINO state leadership hosted a large open-air patio dinner, across town from the convention center. The Scottish band was forming up in the empty park down the street from the Goldwater headquarters. Two guys with a broomstick were carrying the roll of signs. A “Goldwater Girl” took the first picture and walked. 12 feet later the next girl took a picture and walked.
As the sign snaked through the patio diners and out onto the streets, others joined, the snake sign grew!. There was a lot of joy and good humor, as several hundred feet of “Goldwater” sign snaked across downtown, stopping traffic. Volunteers flocked out of Goldwater headquarters carrying lots of gas-filled balloons on strings. They led the parade to the park and followed the band as it began to march.
In the meantime GOP leadership was in the convention hall placing Rockefeller and Scranton literature on all the delegate chairs. As the parade marched by the center, everyone came outside to see what the crazy conservatives were up to. They watched as the band continued into the residential neighborhood. The RINOs returned through the backstage door (now unlocked). The parade quietly made a U-turn and arrived at the stage door as the bagpipes began to roar and the parade marched onto the stage. Mass confusion reigned!
As the sign continued to snake in and onto the delegate floor toward the lobby, someone told the security cop to tear the sign and close the door. Each of the side doors in torn, mysteriously flew open allowing more of the sign to snake in. Soon the vacant lobby was packed with happy cheering conservatives. The band, having eventually been evicted (!), took its place on the steps outside the entrance to the center and played for the growing crowd outside, waiting to get in.
The volunteers with string balloons had quickly used the chaos to reach front-stage and release the balloons. As they floated to the ceiling, the strings unrolled and there were lots of “Goldwater” signs suspended out of reach. It would not be possible to take a wide-angle photo of the stage without a “Goldwater” sign! Each “Goldwater Girl” was equipped with several rolls of blue masking tape. Sections of the snake sign were all over the walls of the center. When it was time to open the visitors’ balcony, all of those in front of the line had tickets. As they reached the top of the stars a volunteer collected the tickets and recycled them to the lobby.
George Bruhns, my right-hand man, and I, had attended our city GOP caucus, along with a number of friends. We were voting delegates! I have no idea how many across the state did likewise. We had mailed out instructions. We took our place on the center aisle in the third row. The convention was about to begin.
A lady sang the National Anthem. The state GOP Chairman took center stage. As he was speaking, people started laughing and pointing. The state GOP had hired our sign guy to hang a picture of Lincoln and Eisenhauer to either side above the speaker. They were slowly disappearing, to be replaced by a picture of Goldwater! The chairman blushed, “Well! We are going to have an exciting convention.!”
I had given several floor-passes to share among the “girls”. Every 5 minutes, one of them was to come down the aisle and exchange paper notes with me. One of the ones I sent back – “Pass the word – Whenever I stand, make a wall of sound!” It worked well. One I received, “The radio says Scranton plans to try and stampede the
Convention in his behalf. I sent back, “Bring 100 stick-signs and put them in the space under the stairs where the leadership can see them doing it.”
What I think makes this story worth sharing is not the fun we all had doing it. I have since attended many political conventions. Knowing what I know now, I literally had control of that convention in my hands. The floor of a convention is sovereign! The takeaway from this story is what an inexperienced “Gideon” activist can accomplish.
These columns are archived since 12/10/09