October 24, 2012
LIMA ‚?? Everything about it speaks to a different era ‚?? except that Lima has long supported the Republican party.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon spoke in the Lima Public Square Oct. 26, 1960, on his first presidential campaign. It was an open-air speech in a venue open to anyone who wanted to attend. He and his wife, Pat, took part in a motorcade to and from train stations with a well-publicized route ‚?? while riding on the back of a convertible, parade style. The papers even listed who was riding in each car.
Oh, the lessons we learned with Kennedy.
‚??Nixon will make major talk here,‚?Ě reported The Lima Citizen on Oct. 21, 1960. Allen County GOP Chairman Kent B. McGough announced that morning that Nixon‚??s speech in Lima would be one of four stops on a two-day tour through Ohio just days later.
Nixon was scheduled to be in Lima one hour and five minutes, arriving at 4:10 p.m. at the Erie depot on South Main Street and leaving at 5:15 p.m. at the Baltimore & Ohio station on East Wayne Street. A motorcade would take him downtown to a platform set diagonally across the southwest corner of the square. His exit route was also published, apparently allowing for people to gather along those streets to greet him if they didn‚??t want to be in the crowd downtown.
McGough said this was the first presidential candidate to truly stop in Lima and speak, as opposed to speaking to a crowd while standing on a traincar (a true whistle stop). Nixon himself did so in 1952 when campaigning for Vice President.
The same story reported Sen. John F. Kennedy, the Democratic nominee, was also planned to speak in the square on Nov. 4. That appearance did not materialize, as Kennedy‚??s airplane was too large for the Allen County Airport.
Nixon‚??s campaign was coming via train from Marion and heading to Toledo after his speech. Local GOP leaders traveled to Marion to board the train there and ride with Nixon into Lima. They also participated in the motorcade, giving Limaites a chance to see ex-Sen. John Bricker, state Auditor James A. Rhodes, Secretary of State Ted Brown, Supreme Court candidates Kingsley Taft, Earl Hoover and C. William O‚??Neill, and state Republican chairman Ray Bliss.
And let‚??s not forget the press. About 100 newsmen from wire services and major papers took tables arranged nearest the stage, and there were 18 long-distance phone lines set up in the square for their use. The speech was broadcast live by WIMA.
‚??Ohio is a key state and both candidates are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to carry the state,‚?Ě McGough said in an Oct. 23, 1960, story.
‚??Ohio has been on the winning side since the turn of the century, except for 1944, when her favorite son, John W. Bricker, was the Republican vice presidential candidate on the losing ticket with Thomas E. Dewey of New York,‚?Ě The Lima Citizen reported Oct. 23, 1960.
The rally began before Nixon even arrived. The emcee was United Fund Executive Director Saul Seigel, and entertainment included Elida‚??s Dixieland band Unidentified Flying Objects and the Lima Senior High School, Lima Central Catholic and Shawnee bands. In the end, Nixon was an hour late and Seigel had to play stand-up comedian for an hour to keep the crowd calm on a gray day that threatened rain. Seigel twice had to ask the crowd to take a step back, as people in front were being squeezed against the barrier.
Observers tallied at least 50,000 in attendance, as his routes to and from the train were also packed.
‚??County GOP Chairman Kent B. McGough grumped a bit before hand because security arrangements forbade the crowd getting too close to Nixon, but the local police and Secret Service men had trouble handling the large assembly. Time and time again, the crowd broke through police lines to mob the automobile in which the VP and his wife were riding. They shook hands with hundreds along the route,‚?Ě an Oct. 27, 1960, The Lima News story reported. ‚??Vice President Richard M. Nixon and his entourage were utterly amazed Wednesday by the huge, milling throng that greeted him here.‚?Ě
Nixon delivered a 15-minute speech, cut short by his late arrival. He went on the attack against Kennedy, saying that Nixon‚??s experience matters when international issues were at stake.
After his address, he and Pat were whisked back into the motorcade. Police motorcycles had to make a wedge through the crowd to get the parade moving. When they arrived at the B&O track, the train was missing. Later, it was learned that it was too long to turn around in the planned spot and was delayed.
‚??When they started stepping on the hood of the car and crawling into the seats of the convertible, we started to get worried,‚?Ě said one unidentified police officer in The Lima News story.
So the police took the motorcade to south Lima and met the train instead of letting the crowd press in. And then the Nixon campaign was gone, and Lima was left to clean up.