Ahh, nothing says good times in the Windy City like the thwack of a police baton on a demonstrator's head or the stinging smell of tear gas on a hot summer's night.
That was the scene in Chicago 41 summers ago when a very proud but soon very angry Mayor Richard J. Daley hosted his party's Democratic National Convention to show off his city that works.
The convention was held at the International Amphitheater on the city's South Side where the fragrance of thousands of frightened cattle about to be slaughtered wafted across the street from the famous Stockyards.
The silly idea in those turbulent times was to peacefully nominate Hubert H. Humphrey and his running mate (whose name was what, btw? Answer below) for a third consecutive Democratic White House.
But thousands of protesters -- anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-old-timers running everything, anti-rules, anti-you-name-it -- also assembled there. And they were rowdy and dirty and foul-mouthed and had long hair and were looking for a fight.
And in the name of good, old-fashioned law and order, Daley's police corps gave it to them. Tear gas. Beatings. Arrests. Horses pushing demonstrators through store windows.
Daley called them "hippies" and he said the word as if he could taste them.
Barack Obama was far away in those days, having just celebrated his seventh birthday. It was so long ago that Joe Biden wasn't even a senator yet.
And so naturally, Chicago being Chicago, today in Obama's adopted hometown the aging city policemen who were on duty that violent week and their contemporary colleagues are gathering for a fun reunion for old time's sake at the Fraternal Order of Police Hall out on West Washington.
And you'll never guess what else?
The aging, long-haired protesters who so angered the father of today's Chicago mayor (Richard M. Daley) are also gathering in that city now to -- wait for it -- protest the officers celebrating the reunion for beating up the same folks who were protesting back then.
The protesters protesting the police who beat the protesters held a news conference this week to denounce what they call provocative language used by the police who say they're celebrating officers "for their contributions toward maintaining law and order -- and for taking a stand against Anarchy."
The protesters' news conference this week had folks from the old National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and relatives of Black Panthers. Lots of old faces were there; and we do mean old.
Even Don Rose was there, a committee spokesman, oh, those many years ago. And he's sure got a whole lot less hair now.
The whole gang of protesters is gonna gather this evening at Union Park and then, you guessed it, they're gonna march out to confront the police at the reunion celebrating their last confrontation last century.
It should be a great time sharing old memories.
Hopefully, someone remembers to bring the tear gas and bags of human excrement so they can have something familiar to throw at each other again just like the old days.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo credits: Associated Press (Angry Mayor Richard J. Daley scowls at the podium of the Democratic National Convention in 1968).
Trivia Answer: Hubert Humphrey's 1968 vice president running mate was Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine.