Monday, June 19, 2017

JFK at 100: High Hopes

This weekend I had the chance to finally go down to the Oregon Historical Society and visit High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy. We are over half way through the JFK centennial year. While it is highly unlikely JFK would have lived to be 100 had his life never been taken so early, it is sometimes interesting to think what his life and ours would have been like had he lived.

Would he have beaten Barry Goldwater to serve a 2nd term? What would have he occupied himself with during his post-presidency? Would he have lived into the 1980s or early 1990s? Could you imagine JFK doing the talk show circuit that the 24 hour a day news service gave us? All that is fun to think about. Let's get back to the exhibit down at OHS.

My overall impression of the exhibit was very positive. I was put off though by the first note read as you enter that says 'please no photography', which seemed very counter intuitive if you are trying to generate buzz and excitement from patrons. I can understand no flash photography, but there were several elements in the exhibit that seemed made for people take selfies with (like the life size JFK cutout of him standing at his desk in the oval office or the podium with the huge photo of the crowd or patio chairs). Aside from that, the displays were sleek, simple and clean. Some were even geared toward younger children and had an interactive element (the Cold War themed Situation Room table).

There were parts that had videos, they had a variety of items from different periods of JFK's life. Lot's of signed items and correspondence with various individuals, fine china, his typewriter, his rocker, coffee table etc.

The part that APIC members are probably really interested in is the campaign items. On this front the exhibit was probably lacking for experienced APIC members. I'm sure the general public were impressed. There were maybe about 7 or 8 buttons (including the two OK Oregon Kennedy buttons and a 6" JFK RWB pin), another 7 or 8 brochures and a yellow ticket to a JFK Oregon event. I forget where, since I respected the rule about photos. There was one of the Oregon Kennedy bumper stickers that were made in LA and had the Oregon campaign stamp on them.

The JFK in Oregon portion also included a listing of all his visits to Oregon. The one part that was lacking from the JFK in Oregon part was Wayne Morse and an explanation of why the Oregon Primary was critical to JFK and how Morse ruined the intent of the Oregon Primary. The Oregon Primary in 1960 was the only primary where every major Democratic candidate was on the ballot. Once Morse supporters placed him on the ballot, nearly all the other candidates vowed not to campaign against our favorite son. Hubert Humphrey, Stuart Symington, Adlai Stevenson (who claimed he was not a candidate), and Lyndon Johnson were all set to appear on the ballot along with Kennedy and Morse.

All the media in the state blamed Morse for ruining the Oregon Primary from their perspective. No other state primary in 1960 would have offered Democrats the full list of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. They were hoping for visits from all the candidates and strong campaign organizations that would spend money in the state (especially on advertising). So...getting back to the exhibit. It would have been nice for a little more information in the display about the Oregon Primary in 1960.

Outside of that, the display did include a lot of Edith Green and Maurine Neuberger related correspondences and photos. There was also a room where you could watch Kennedy's Inaugural Address. There was a dress worn by Jackie and a few other Jackie related display pieces. The exhibit was really well done and the items were a great mix of political, historical, and personal. If you want to learn more about JFK or see JFK era items in person you should visit before the display closes this fall.

In a new post this week, we will share some items from our members of JFK related memorabilia.