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Columns

November 4, 2013

Local enthusiasm was high in 1968 presidential election

Energies and enthusiasm were running high as voters prepared to go to the polls to elect their next president on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1968. Local campaigns for the Nixon/Agnew, Humphrey/Muskie and Wallace/LeMay tickets were very active in our region.

On Friday, Nov. 2, “The Nixon ‘Bandwagon’ will roll through Otsego and Herkimer Counties … including four stops in Oneonta,” The Oneonta Star reported. The chartered bus with local politicians began at the Park Inn in Richfield Springs, and moved on to Cherry Valley, Roseboom, Middlefield, Westford and Worcester.

Following some hot chowder served by “Women for Nixon-Agnew” in Worcester, the bus rolled on to Schenevus, Maryland and Colliersville. In Oneonta, brief stops were made at the Jamesway Plaza, where Springbrook is today, the Oneonta Plaza, a downtown stop, and in what is known today as the Westgate Plaza in the West End. The return to Richfield Springs had stops in Morris, Hartwick, Cooperstown and Schuyler Lake. The “Bandwagon” approach to the campaign replaced the “store-front” style used in recent campaigns.

Mrs. Angeline Nielsen’s fifth-grade class at Oneonta’s Center Street School was busy that same day, hosting fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students to vote for their favorite presidential candidate. It was a climax for Mrs. Nielsen’s class, which had spent several weeks learning about all the campaigns. At the vote that Friday, representatives could answer questions about their candidate. Joe Hughes and Brenda Drago represented Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie, Kevin Akulin and David Scott represented Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, and representing George Wallace and Curtis LeMay were Warren Toyer and Rebecca Spearbeck.

Unfortunately, no results were published following the Center Street election.

Some area residents didn’t like any of the presidential candidates in 1968, but rather than not vote or stay at home, they were still active for their own candidate, Dick Gregory, a popular comedian at the time. On Saturday, Nov. 3 a protest march was organized by the local Students for a Democratic Society. It was to take a stand on the “No End War on Vietnam” and the “No Choice Presidential Election.”

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