Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
| Literature: William Styron's "The Confessions of Nat Turner" wins the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. |
At left, the late Times staff writer Richard Bergholz says that a large voter turnout will probably favor Sen. Eugene McCarthy in his race against Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in the state's presidential primary. A large turnout would also help Republican Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel, who is being challenged by state Supt. of Public Instruction Max Rafferty, the story says.
The Times notes that the primary will be the first election in Los Angeles County to use punch card ballots rather than rubber stamps.
And in Orange County ...
Above, Ray Charles performs at Melodyland across from Disneyland ... At left, Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in "The Graduate." What's on the 8-track tape player? The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour," the Doors' "Strange Days" and Jefferson Airplane's "After Bathing at Baxter's."
Quote of the Day: "Iron Butterfly would be my nominees for the worst group of the year if I hadn't seen the Hook, Smokestack Lightning and Blue Cheer, but the crowd seemed to like them."
--Pete Johnson, reviewing Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin at the Hollywood Bowl, Sept. 9, 1968.
|McCarthy challenges Kennedy on approving wiretapping of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy said he merely approved the FBI's requests.
||New York Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller says he will take the Republican presidential nomination and win the 1968 presidential race. Richard Nixon, he says, cannot win big cities in key states.|
|"Kennedy will relax today at the Ambassador here to await election returns." Andy Williams, Shirley MacLaine and Rafer Johnson are among the celebrities backing Kennedy.
|McCarthy would ask a person he trusts to examine the closed archives on the John F. Kennedy assassination to see if they should be opened to the public. |
Sirhan was a "taciturn individual who didn't say very much; friendly, really pleasant but hard to get to know. He was brilliant. He was studying Russian when everyone else was barely getting by in Spanish and English." --William Spaniard, high school classmate
| June 3, 1968: Andy Warhol is wounded by Valeria Solanas, who explains: "I am a flower child. He had too much control over my life." |
At left, a terrific profile of gunman Sirhan Bishara Sirhan by Times staff writers Robert C. Toth and Dave Smith.
|"In their homeland, they had been an upright Christian family, among the best educated of their class, once accustomed to financial security but uncomplaining and industrious in hard times."
|"I saw him walking barefoot. He said it was because his father had beat him ... and that he took a piece of iron, heated it on the stove and put it on the boy's heel..."|
Above, the cover of The Times, June 3, 1968: Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) is leading in the State Poll, over Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) Perhaps the most interesting projection is 67% turnout in the June 4 primary.
Now playing: "Planet of the Apes" and "2001."
An ominous contrast: A Kennedy campaign ad and a story about the somber mood of the Arab world as the first anniversary of the Six-Day War between Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Israel approaches.
It was essential to a young Christian Palestinian refugee from Jerusalem living in Pasadena, a slight young man who failed in his attempt to become a jockey at Santa Anita, that he take action against the U.S. before the June 5, 1968, anniversary.
|His name: Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. His target: Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. His gun: A .22-caliber Iver Johnson, above, bought for protection during the 1965 Watts riots.|
At left, Kennedy and McCarthy campaign in Southern California. The televised debate led the Arbitron ratings, ahead of "Petticoat Junction" and "Mannix."
Republican California Gov. Ronald Reagan calls it "much ado about nothing."
| The fashions of 1968. Yes, people really did wear Nehru jackets. |
At left, Kennedy supporters take out an ad accusing the McCarthy campaign of distorting his statements.
|67% Primary Turnout
||67% Primary Turnout; State Poll|
|Kennedy vs. Humphrey in South Dakota, Part I
||Kennedy vs. Humphrey in South Dakota, Part II|
Above and at right, my old pal, the late Marty Rossman, takes a look at political advertising in the days before a primary.
In The Times: A Gallup Poll finds Sen. Robert F. Kennedy a distant second among the Democratic Party's county leaders, with 16% support compared with 70% for Vice President Hubert Humphrey and 6% for Sen. Eugene McCarthy. In San Francisco, Kennedy and McCarthy meet for a debate on ABC-TV.
While Kennedy is modest and reserved, McCarthy criticizes Secretary of State Dean Rusk and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, saying he would remove them. Afterward, McCarthy calls it "a no-decision bout with three referees and 16-ounce gloves."
Johnson's announcement throws the spotlight on Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey avoids the nation's primaries, leaving them to Sens. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.), a vocal critic of the war who was the first to announce his candidacy, and Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), the former attorney general under brother President John F. Kennedy who entered the campaign after McCarthy's strong showing against Johnson in New Hampshire (42% to 48% for the president).
| Background: On March 31, 1968, his popularity battered by the Vietnam War, the surrender of the Navy spy ship Pueblo to the North Koreans, unrest on college campuses and a poor showing in the March 13 New Hampshire primary, President Lyndon Johnson stuns the nation in a televised address: "I shall not seek and will not accept the nomination of my party for a second term as your president."|
In The Times pages below, three days before the June 4, 1968, California primary, Kennedy campaigns against McCarthy in San Francisco. Kennedy criticizes President Johnson's approach to peace negotiations with the North Vietnamese, which Kennedy says erroneously depends on "a naive faith in our military power" to bring the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong to their knees. Kennedy advocates pulling U.S. forces back to South Vietnam's population centers.
John, 42, runs a health food store on North Lake Street in Pasadena and lives at 861 Elizabeth St., The Times says in a feature story. Born in Holland, he is like many Europeans who came to America after World War II. "I love it here," he says. "You have a spirit of freedom and liberty which is lost in Europe."
But the man behind the counter at the health food store is different from most Americans in several ways: He's a Seventh-day Adventist. He's a member of the Order of the British Empire. He holds the French Croix de Guerre, the U.S. Medal of Freedom and the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau.
His name is John Henry Weidner and for his heroism in saving more than 1,000 people from the Nazis, he will eventually be honored by Israel as one of the Righteous Among Nations. John's life makes for quite a story. His father, a Dutch Reformed minister, and sister died in concentration camps and John was tortured by the Gestapo, escaping from the Nazis five times.
But what interests us about him now is something other than his actions during the war.
Let's jump ahead 10 years. One of his regular customers, a woman named Mary, will ask John to hire her son as a stocker and delivery boy. He's a troubled young man and like John, a refugee--an Arab Christian from Jerusalem who is having a hard time fitting into American society. He's had a few odd jobs, but nothing has worked out. Since he's a small man, he even tried being a jockey at Santa Anita, but ended up filing a disability claim because he suffered a head injury when he was thrown by a horse.
Mary, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, had taken her son to St. Nicholas, the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, in Los Angeles; First Nazarene of Pasadena; and finally First Baptist Church of Pasadena, where she enrolled her son in Sunday school and a group for teenagers. The Baptists sponsored Mary's older sons for entry into the U.S. But the young man didn't like the Pasadena Baptist church, saying that the other teenagers were too frivolous in a place intended for reading the Bible and praying.
John will hire the young man and discover that he is bright, pleasant and witty, eager to please and so honest that John will trust him to handle some of the store's banking. The only problem is that the young man is extremely sensitive to anything that seems like criticism.
"He had a lot of pride, a lot of arrogance," John's wife, Naomi, will say. "We were always careful how we gave him an order. If you gave him an order he didn't like he became very resentful."
Still, John will reach out to the young man whenever he has a spare moment at the store. But the young man will be a test. "I would like to be like you but I cannot," he will tell John. "There is no God. You see in Israel what happens to the Arab. There is no God. How can you have a God?"
The young man and John will also argue over the Six-Day War, comparing Israel's victory to the actions of the Nazis. "You think Jews can't be cruel too?" he will ask John.
Eventually, there will be a dispute. John will insist that there was a misunderstanding and try to make amends, but the young man will be adamant and quit his job.
Shortly after that, on a night in June that's the first anniversary of the Six-Day War, the young man will go to the Ambassador Hotel, where Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is celebrating his victory in California primary.
Sirhan Sirhan, who once earned $2 an hour as a stock boy at John Weidner's Pasadena health food store, will be waiting in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel's kitchen--with a .22-caliber, eight-shot Iver Johnson revolver.
"I think he was a man of revolt," John will say of Sirhan. "He was a kind of anarchist against society, against law and order, against those who possess. Against those who have more than he has and are more successful in life."
"In America, freedom does not exist," Sirhan told John. "I agree with the violence."