Howie Howe & Barry Goldwater
I was born in 1980, so Ronald Reagan is the first American president I remember. I don’t think about Reagan all that often, aside from an odd Hank Hill joke or being flabbergasted on a family trip to Branson by the giant head.
I thought of him the other day though, after seeing this sticker:
I took my daughter to see my-mom-her-grandmother (vaccinated!) last week. Grandma was excited to see her and prepared for our visit by getting lots of toys out, like this old tub of blocks. Blocks that she played with herself as a kid that her dad got for her. I love the idea of cross-generational toys. The blocks came in this big teal plastic tub, and someone, presumably Howie Howe (my mom’s dad, my grandfather) slapped that Reagan sticker on there. Howie was a staunch republican, so that makes sense.
I didn’t recognize the sticker above the Reagan sticker though: Goldwater for President. So I asked my mom. He was the dude who ran against Lyndon B. Johnson when Johnson actually had to run for election (rather than just taking over for an assassinated Kennedy). People liked Johnson, apparently, at least a lot more than Barry Goldwater, because Johnson absolutely smoked Goldwater in the 1964 election.
But there was more to the sticker than just some white republican dude liking some other white republican dude. My grandfather Howie Howe was the treasurer of the republican party of Wisconsin. My mom didn’t really remember the whole story but apparently, Wisconsin’s republican party played some role in pushing Goldwater to run at all, so my grandfather is some historical footnote in US presidential history.
I didn’t follow in his footsteps. I’m not a plumber. I’m not a republican. I’m not entirely sure what I am, as politics, in general, is so disenchanting to me. I’m on the side of people being good to each other, people doing sustainable things that attempt to not hurt the planet, and an accountable government that incentivizes those things and does real things to help.
In what little I learned about Goldwater from listening to my mom recall what she knew, he was at least an interesting character. Like so many people, especially through a lens of history, had plenty of good and bad. He was pro-gay-rights. He was pro-legal-marijuana. He foresaw Vietnam being a quagmire, which is exactly what it turned out to be. But his idea? Use nuclear weapons. Yikes. He was pro-abortion-rights and pro-environmental-protection. And he’s also credited as being the guy that turned the republican party into the party for conservatives. I have no idea what I would have thought of the guy should I have been of voting age in 1964.
Anyway, here’s a photo of him, with my grandfather on the right in the photo with that proud-but-nervous look on his face.
My mom sent me that photo in an email after our visit. All I did was drag it here on to my WordPress blog and that
<figcaption> autofilled. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I guess it’s embedded metadata?
My grandfather Howie Howe died when I was 15, in 1995. Sadly, the bulk of my memories of him are all the shitty things he did. I think of him mostly as abusive and extremely racist, who complained a lot, chain smoked, and drank endless sodas from 2-liter bottles in glass mugs with ice. I was a sensitive kid and remember not really liking to be around him.
Unfortunately, I can’t read Wikipedia articles about him and get a more balanced read, like I can with Barry Goldwater.