LBJ: “I will not seek; I will not accept”

Ohio University students watch LBJ annouce he won't run for POTUS 03-31-1968Walter Borton, an old Ohio University friend jogged my memory today with a comment on Facebook:

“Forty eight years ago today – I was in the front row of a student government meeting upstairs in Baker Center at Ohio University – I think Rita Corriel was presiding and suddenly from the back of the room, if memory serves, Tom Price, holding a small portable radio to his ear, interrupted excitedly to announce that Lyndon Johnson had just withdrawn from the Presidential race. I’m not sure what happened next but I suspect we recessed to the Union bar & grill to drink.”

OU Post reporter Carol Towarnicky chimed in: “From a different angle: While you were all at the Student Government meeting — what was the issue that had everyone there? — I was in The Post office with, I think, one other person and we were listening to LBJ’s speech. When he said, “I shall not seek, nor will I accept” I screamed. Then I didn’t know what to do because there was no way to reach people, but it turns out everyone knew anyway. What an exciting time putting out the paper that night.”

Post editor Bill Sievert remembers it this way: “Those of us Posties who were present (and most of the people in the room) cheered Tom Price’s announcement. Then we finished covering the meeting and went back and joined Carol Towarnicky in putting out the paper. It was hard work but somebody had to do it. (We drank much, much later in the night.) Tagging Ken Steinhoff; he’ll remember if he took the picture. He has a photographic memory.”

How I remember it

Ohio University students watch LBJ annouce he won't run for POTUS 03-31-1968

My perspective: Nobody knew what Johnson was going to speak about on that March 31 evening. The speech started off sounding like he was positioning himself to steal thunder from challengers Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy by announcing measures they had been advocating, demonstrating that his was the power to act, while his critics had only the power to propose, wrote The New York Times.

I’m not sure where this group was watching the speech on a TV. It could have been in the Scott Quadrangle dorm lounge where I lived, or it might have been in the Baker Center Student Union, where The Post had its offices in the basement. I shot a few half-hearted frames early in the speech, even resorting to my fisheye lens, signalling that I wasn’t expecting much to happen. When I blew up one frame, I’m pretty sure I saw my future Athens Messenger colleague Bob Rogers lolling in the doorway, equally as disinterested in what was happening as I was.

When LBJ said, “I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President,” there was an audible gasp in the room. If I captured any emotion, it’s on film that I haven’t found yet. Right after he spoke those words, I looked over at a calendar, thinking, “Surely the President of the United States won’t follow that up by saying ‘April Fool!”

It was March 31, not April First, and, no, he wasn’t kidding.

Clarence Page – Hall of Famer

Clarence Page - OU Post 1968I got an email from an Erin Roberts, External Relations Coordinator, Scripps College of Communications, at Ohio University this week. Wow, that’s a mouthful.

Anyway, she wrote, “Andy Alexander let me know that you were a student photographer while he and Clarence Page were both writers with the Post. I am currently working on a short photo montage honoring Clarence, as he will be inducted into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame on campus later this month. Do you have photos from that time of Clarence that might aid me in the presentation?”

I think I can come up with a few

Mark Roth - Clarence Page - Andy Alexander OU Post Staff 09-26-1968Oh, boy do I ever. Of course, when the Hall of Fame gets wind of student reporter Clarence, they may make a last-minute shuffle in their choice. Maybe I shouldn’t bring up the story about how Clarence got the publisher of The Athens Messenger hauled out of bed in the wee hours of the morning.

Clarence and the F-word

Ohio University Post staffer Clarence Page 09-26-1968Here’s Clarence’s version of what happened:

Kenner Bush, [publisher of The Athens Messenger, which printed The Post] told me the typesetters woke him up in the morning, poised to walk out rather than print my uncensored reporting of the F-word that brought a student into conflict with an 1812 Athens code. OU President Vernon Alden wasn’t happy either, to say the least. As some of you will vividly recall, our generation of Posties was pushed to the brink of expulsion and gazed over the edge before we were yanked back amid a burst of national publicity.

Clarence was born June 2, 1947, in Dayton. After his graduation from Ohio University in 1969, the Army got its mitts on him for a short period of time, then he went to work for The Chicago Tribune. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1989.

Today, a much rounder-faced Clarence shows up on political talk shows trying to bring some light to the heat.

Ohio College Newspaper Association President

Clarence Page - ONPA President 04-15-1968The Post did quite well in Ohio College Newspaper Association competition in 1968. Clarence was elected president of the association.

When Carol Towarnicky and I got together this fall to do a presentation on the birth of the student rights movement at Ohio University, we traded “remember when?” stories. She implied that she and I engaged in some shenanigans that helped get Clarence elected preisdent. She claims that she and I climbed on the roof of the hotel where the conference was being held and hoisted a bed sheet with a Page campaign slogan on it from the building’s flagpole.

Now, climbing on rooftops and water towers is something I did frequently, but I disavow any knowledge of such tomfoolery, even though I’m sure the statute of limitations has long expired.

Other OU Post stories

Clarence Page photo gallery

This collection is primarily so Erin can get a look at a young Clarence while there may still be time to arrange a more reputable Hall of Famer, one who wasn’t the first to publish the F-word in a newspaper in Athens, Ohio. Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.

My First Snowball Riot

1967 Snowball "Riot"I transferred into Ohio University in Athens from Southeast Missouri State College my junior year. I was lucky to land a slot as staff photographer for The OU Post as soon as I hit campus.

I hadn’t been there long when we got what was a pretty hefty snow storm for that area. It was a lot like Cape in that respect: we got promised a lot of snow, but very little ever got delivered.

I pulled these out because it looks like Cape is going to get a big winter storm over the next few days.

Started out with snowball fights

1967 OU Snowball "Riot"The excitement started with impromptu snowball fights between students. It didn’t take long, however, before the Athens cops showed up with their bats and hats.  Most of them joined in the fun at first, batting down the snowballs with their riot batons and joking with students.

 The fun didn’t last long

1967 Snowball "Riot"Before long, though, they were vastly outnumbered and it became less fun.

It’s time to take back the streets

1967 Snowball "Riot"First, there was an organized attempt herd the more orderly students away from the area (even if they really wanted to go the other way).

Order turns to chaos

1967 OU Snowball "Riot"Eventually it became a student vs. police free-for-all.

Let’s make snowballs

1967 Snowball "Riot"Then somebody got the idea of rolling up some monster snowballs. Before long, there were several five or six-foot iceballs blocking the street. The authorities were not amused.

Call in the big guns

1967 OU Snowball "Riot" Somebody called in reinforcements in the form of snow plows and a motorgrader.

When an irresistible forces hits an immoveable object, unexpected consequences occur. Several parked cars suffered collateral damage

I think I like this school

1967 Snowball "Riot"My reaction was, “You know, I think I’m going to like this school. I never got to shoot anything like this at SEMO.” Little did I know what was going to be in store for me.

Photo gallery of the Snowball Riot

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the sides to move through the gallery.

What’s the White Stuff?

Snow 10-24-2013When I heard someone say, “It’s snowing outside,” I thought they might have meant that some tiny frozen pellets might be falling from the sky Thursday afternoon. No, this was the Real Deal looking down Court Street in Athens, Ohio.

Jessica captures flakes

Jessica Cyders 10-24-2013Curator Jessica was wearing dark clothes that snagged a few of the fluffy flakes. You’ll see more of her over the next 10 days or so. For some reason, she doesn’t believe everything I’ve written about Cape, so she wants to see it for herself.

I’ve already warned her not to stare at Mother’s arm. I am not prone to exaggerate. (I can do it standing up, too.)

A view up Court Street

Snow 10-24-2013Jessica and Friend Carol don’t waste any time when they hear the lunch bell ring. They didn’t even look back to see if I had slipped and broken a shank or something.

Didn’t accumulate

Snow 10-24-2013The snow turned the ground white in a few places, but it didn’t last long. October is too early for much of a snow in Athens. It was all gone by the time we finished lunch.

Tom Hodson and Carol

Tom Hodson - Carol Towarnicky - WOUB 10-24-2013_8797After lunch, it was off to the WOUB studios for a radio show with our former OU Post buddy, Tom Hodson. He’s the director and general manager of WOUB Public Media and an excellent interviewer. The show will air online Sunday. When I get a link, I’ll post it. You are not obligated to listen.

Rapt attention or pizza?

Ken Steinhoff Athens 10-24-2013After our dog and pony show co-sponsored by the Ohio University History Association and the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, we were mobbed by students with questions about what it was like in college when women’s curfews were enforced to the second.

It was either that, or they were attracted to the pizza a student brought in.