Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Election 1964 and Girls

The year was 1964. Your correspondent was a cheerful, carefree schoolboy without a single attitude problem, and it was sort of summer with green wet grass, constant showers, kind of like today, blue knee temperature no heating, and he'd not lived long enough in the rural idyll of an East Sussex Boarding School to have fully grasped the relationship the more northern parts of the planet has with daylight. It didn't really seem to get dark until something like midnight, and going to bed before dark was a constant reminder of yet another eccentric characteristic of his new home which included many a happy afternoon in detention. Meanwhile on the west side of the Atlantic there was Election 1964, the candidates Johnson and Goldwater. It's a long story, but it all began, as I understand it with a television advert called the Daisy Advert. A little freckled three year old clumsily counting petals as she plucked them from a daisy, and then in the background a male voice began to count backwards in that authoritative, National Geographic Daddy kind of way. When the little girl looked up the male voice reach zero and the blast of atomic bombs filled the screen.

The advert was designed to suggest that of the two candidates for President, Johnson would be less likely to cause the end of the world by pressing a button. Supporters of Johnson's opponent, Goldwater, a hang them high, duck and cover kind of person, had an interesting reaction to the Daisy Advert. They encouraged slightly more nubile girls to dress up as though ready for the corn field, gingham, clutching daisies, smile and look sweet, a sort of Oklahoma musical carrying banners that supported Goldwater. It was a visual that presented the obvious solution to a world rife with slugs, snails and puppy dog's tails that if allowed to combine would reduce sugar and spice and all things nice into a sort of New Deal Paradise so gutless in it's understandings that no white girl would ever be safe again from the wiles of alien influence to stay home like the good fairy, do the shopping and mothering. I guess for the girls who fell for the excitement of dressing up for the photograph, or the parade, they were far too young and imbued by a sense of the inevitability of their own future to think much of it. But, as I understand it, they did become known as Goldwater Girls.

No comments: