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Chapter Three: Politics and Family Life


While my father was busy working for the Cooperative League in Chicago, my mother was actually more active politically. Her sphere of activity was confined for the most part to the village of Winnetka, but in Winnetka she was a power to be reckoned with. During her years in Winnetka between 1947 and 1970 my mother was elected president or director, of the Winnetka Woman's Club, the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Woman's Guild of Christ Church Winnetka, the local Chapter of the American Association of University Women and the local Chapter of P.E.O.. All of these honors and responsibilities were heaped upon my mother by her grateful Winnetka neighbors despite the fact that Winnetka was solidly Republican and despite the fact that she was the wife of an outspokenly pro-New Deal Democratic congressman, who had been a socialist before he became a Democrat.

My mother was able to play a leading role in the civic affairs of her community because of her conscientious dedication to duty and a lot of hard work. She was also very diplomatic and tactful, which was of crucial importance for a liberal Democrat in a solidly Republican Chicago suburb during the middle of the Mccarthy Era. My mother was a dedicated liberal Democrat, but she was not polemical about it. I never once saw her get involved in a nasty political argument. My father was not quite so restrained. However, during his tenure as C.E.O. of the Cooperative League he had to maintain a politically neutral attitude, at least in public. This was a great asset for him, and his diplomacy and tact within the cooperative movement enabled him to keep the cooperative movement united even though it included people whose politics ranged from ultra-conservative Republicanism to left-wing socialism.

During the late 1940's and 1950's my parents could be described as Stevenson Democrats. They admired Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson's reform administration which swept into office as a result of the Democratic landslide of 1948. The McCarthy era was not easy on my parents or any member of their immediate family. Two events particularly stand out in my memory. The first was General Douglas MacArthur's triumphant return home after he was fired as commander of U.N. forces in Korea by President Truman. You would have thought that MacArthur had fired Truman. It was 1951 and I was a junior in high school at the time. When the general drove up Lake Shore Drive and Sheridan Road on his way from Chicago to his native Milwaukee, all the schools were closed, and Winnetka along with other North Shore suburbs celebrated their equivalent of a national holiday. I was in the crowd that lined Sheridan Road in Winnetka, and I had a good glimpse of the General, his wife and his son. There were literally thousands of cheering people along the parade route in Winnetka alone. It was not a good time to admit that you were a Truman Democrat.

The other major event of the McCarthy era was the G.O.P. convention of 1952, which took place in Chicago during that year. Chicago also hosted the Democratic convention that year, but all of the excitement was in the Republican party. I rode down to Chicago with my parents and could see the impressive Eisenhower and Taft headquarters. During 1952 the Korean War made me a dedicated Eisenhower Republican. My parents remained true to the Democrats. When my high school held a mock election for president, I illegally split my ticket. I voted for Eisenhower over Stevenson, but then I voted for John Sparkman, the Democratic Vice-presidential candidate over Richard Nixon. That way I could remain an Eisenhower supporter without having to vote for Nixon.

By the early 1960's the country and my family's politics had changed somewhat. For one thing my parents and I had become Kennedy supporters. At first, when John Kennedy ran for the Vice-Presidency in 1956, and the Presidency four years later, my parents and I were very suspicious of the Kennedys. Robert Kennedy had been an assistant of Senator McCarthy. John Kennedy was one of only three Democrats who did not vote to censure McCarthy in 1954, and it was obvious that Joe Kennedy, Senator Kennedy's father, had contributed money to Richard Nixon's campaigns.

However, by 1960 it had become obvious that Senator Kennedy was the only one who could prevent Nixon from becoming President. I hoped against hope that the G.O.P. would choose someone like Governor Rockefeller of New York or Harold Stassen to be its standard-bearer instead of Nixon. My parents were still strong Stevenson Democrats who also admired Hubert Humphrey. My father even had a certain amount of real respect and admiration for Lyndon Johnson. But by the summer of 1960, it was obvious that only Kennedy could defeat Nixon.

The election year of 1960 was hard on the whole family. My father contracted pneumonia, partly as a result of the strain connected with the campaign. I returned home from a brief semester at Michigan Law School to take care of my parents and to start a new career in the field of history at Northwestern University's graduate school.

The Kennedy and Johnson years were good both for my father and the Cooperative League. The federal government engaged the League in a number of projects fostering cooperatives. This was especially true in Latin America and Several Asian Countries, particularly India. In 1962, the Organization of Cooperatives in America (O.C.A.) was founded in Montevideo, Uruguay. It eventually included cooperative organizations from all the Latin American countries except Cuba, and also a number of states in the Caribbean. Of course the United States was also a member. My father was one of O.C.A.'s founders and it was his pride and joy. During the 1960's my father visited Latin America on O.C.A. business at least once each year.

During the 1960's my father and virtually everyone in my immediate family were concerned about the threat of nuclear war and the Vietnam conflict. This concern led me, my mother, and my father to become involved in a number of peace oriented activities. All three of us belonged to the United World Federalist organization, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. I also belonged to the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, formerly the Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship. This organization was actively opposed to the Vietnam war, and it was engaged in draft counseling for young men who opposed the war and who were faced with induction into the armed services.

Throughout the late sixties and early seventies I was engaged in anti-war activity which included the writing of letters to senators and congressmen, circulating petitions and participating in peace marches. I had also received an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University which enabled me to teach at Chicago Teacher's College, Wisconsin State University at Eau Claire, and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. I served on the faculty at Cal Poly Pomona for a period of twelve years. During this time my father was promoted from Executive Secretary to Executive Director of the Cooperative League. From 1965 until his retirement in 1967 he replaced Murray Lincoln as the League's President.

The election of 1968, which brought about the Nixon Presidency was especially difficult for my parents and myself I initially supported Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign, as did my parents. This involved me in neighborhood or precinct canvassing on behalf of McCarthy during the Wisconsin Primary. Later I supported Governor Rockefellar's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. For a time I actively worked at Rockefellar's campaign headquarters in New York City.

Robert Kennedy's assassination and Hubert Humphrey's nomination at the tumultuous Chicago convention produced a real dilemma for me and my parents. My father supported the Democratic ticket, including Humphrey, whom he admired. However, I could not work for Humphrey or vote for him in the light of the Chicago convention. I also could vote for neither Nixon nor Wallace. I was moving from Illinois to California, so I did not vote in the final election. If I had voted, I probably would have written in Eugene McCarthy's name or cast my ballot for a third party peace candidate like Eldridge Cleaver.

After 1968 my parents decided to move back to California, which they did in 1970. Between 1970 and April 1972 they lived in the Village Green Apartments in Clarement, California. Claremont was and is an attractive college town nestled against the San Gabriel Mountains. It is 35 miles east of Los Angeles and only seven miles from the old Voorhis school in San Dimas. In April of 1972 my parents moved into the Clarement Manor retirement home, where they spent the rest of their lives. My father passed away in September of 1984 at the age of 83. My mother outlived him by 4 years and died in June of 1988 at the age of 88.

During his retirement years, my father was politically active right up to the second of his death. Both he and I actively participated in George McGovern's presidential campaign. He was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Commission on Aging. He was also an active member of the Pomona Valley Housing Coalition. Finally, he was fully involved with the cooperative movement right up to the moment of his death.

My father had a spirit that was truly unquenchable. His legacy lives on in the hundreds of articles and the more than a dozen books which he wrote and published. He is remembered with fondness by many at Cal Poly Pomona, by the men who graduated from the Voorhis School for Boys as well as their families, by many in the Democratic Party, in Latin America, in India, and in both the peace and cooperative movements. He will never be forgotten by his friends, family, or his many admirers.

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