Thursday, August 6, 2015

A DIABOLICAL THING: Anne Ford’s Atomic Protest Letter

In anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we recently spent a week in Independence, Missouri at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Our research goal was to find letters reflecting the immediate public reaction to the Bomb. We expected to find a mountain of material, but instead came across only a small file of letters.[1] Thankfully, though, there are a few gems in this slim collection.

One such gem is an impassioned note from a publishing executive named Anne Ford. Ms. Ford, who was then the Publicity Director for Little, Brown and Company, minced no words in her August 9, 1945 broadside against the bombing of Hiroshima. Indeed, she emphatically told President Truman that she thought it was “a disgrace that America should be involved in such a diabolical thing…” She described herself as “stunned and sick at heart” for “Japan and her people – thousands of them innocent.”[2]

Little Brown Complaint_02_Lo

But Ms. Ford also couldn’t help viewing the aftermath of the first use of the Bomb as the veteran publicist she was. In a paragraph on how poorly the post-atomic news had been handled, she singled out a strange image of the wife of the Enola Gay pilot with their young children. Amidst all the tabloidy hoopla over Hiroshima, the wire photograph of Lucy Wingate Tibbets (1906-1985) and her two sons had appeared in newspapers across the country on August 8 and August 9, 1945.[3] A caption accompanying the photo stated that Mrs. Tibbets had received calls of congratulation for her husband’s successful mission.

Mrs Lucy Tibbets_Lo

Ms. Ford supported her brief critique of the media to Truman by writing: “The picture of Tibbets [sic] wife, for instance, with her innocent babies in her lap receiving congratulations over the telephone for this ghastly thing…”

Ms. Ford concluded her letter by writing that she would “force” herself to tune in to the President’s 10:00 p.m. radio address that evening. Given that news of the second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, was already being reported in the evening newspapers, Ms. Ford may have skipped the speech.

Truman Radio

There is no evidence that Truman or his staff ever replied to Ms. Ford’s damning message. She had tried to get it in front of the President by routing it through his appointments secretary, Michael J. Connelly (1907-1976). But obviously someone in the Truman White House thought enough of Anne Ford’s letter to file it away for future generations to hold and to read.

At this point you may be wondering whether there is more to know about Anne Ford. There is. CONELRAD researched Ms. Ford’s biography and we are happy to share what we found.

Anne Adelaide Ford was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 12, 1901. She grew up in Brookline in a house not far from John F. Kennedy’s birthplace. Ms. Ford, a lifelong Catholic, would later teach the future President in prayer class at St. Aidan’s Church. She graduated from Brookline High School in approximately 1918 and Boston University four years later.

When she was just 21 Ms. Ford landed a job as assistant to the prominent music and drama critic Philip Hale (1854-1934) at the Boston Herald. She performed editing tasks and filled in as an alternate critic which afforded her the opportunity to interview some of the top entertainers of the era. Ms. Ford soon moved on to become an advance woman for the Theatre Guild where she met stars like Helen Hayes, Alfred Lunt, George M. Cohan and Lynn Fontaine. One of Ms. Ford’s jobs with the Guild was to promote plays adapted from novels which allowed her to develop contacts in the publishing industry. She became Director of Publicity at Little, Brown and Company in 1938. In 1949 she was promoted to the position of Manager of Public Relations for the company.

Anne Ford_1941_Lo

During her tenure at Little, Brown Ms. Ford was profiled in a Boston Globe column that focused on women in the workplace. The columnist marveled at how Ms. Ford got to travel to New York City and hobnob with authors like John Marquand, A.J. Cronin, James Hilton and C.S. Forrester. The column was accompanied by a photograph of Ms. Ford at her office desk where she may have written her letter to President Truman in 1945.

Ms. Ford became Publicity Director for Harcourt Brace after her long stint at Little, Brown. At Harcourt she helped promote the works of T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton and others. She concluded her career in publishing as Director of Publicity for Houghton Mifflin Company in 1970. Concurrent to her retirement, she was contributing an occasional column to the Boston Globe called “Anne Ford Remembers.” In one column, she mentioned that her friend actor James Cagney offered some advice on the next phase of her life: “Start rehearsing, kid. You’ve got to rehearse for retirement.”

Unlike Mr. Cagney, though, it does not appear that Ms. Ford ever came out of retirement. Her step-nephew, Dr. James M. Kieran who is 95 years old, told CONELRAD in a telephone interview that he isn’t sure what Ms. Ford did after 1970. He told us that she had lots of friends because “she was outgoing and easy to get along with.” He added that she was “very intelligent and sophisticated,” but in response to another question said that she never talked fast like Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday (as we had imagined). Dr. Kieran told us that he remembered his step-aunt supporting her former pupil John F. Kennedy for President in 1960, but was not sure if she remained a Democrat for her entire life.

Anne Ford_1970 copy

Anne Ford died on November 16, 1993 in Rockport, Massachusetts. She had never married and had no children. Her younger sister, Margaret Ford Kieran survived her, but passed away ten years later. Ms. Ford is buried at the Beech Grove Cemetery in Rockport. Her anguished and insightful letter about America’s atomic debut lives on.

Anne Ford's Atomic Protest Letter by Bill Geerhart

BIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES

Dr. James M. Kieran, telephone interviews with Bill Geerhart, August 3 and 5, 2015.

“Anne Ford, 92 Was Critic, Literary Agent,” Boston Globe, November 18, 1993, 63.

Anne Ford, “Anne Ford Remembers” column, Boston Globe, June 10, 1970, 19.

Anne Ford, “Anne Ford Remembers” column, Boston Globe, February 24, 1970, 19.

Anne Ford promotion announcement, Publishers Weekly, 1949.

Nell Giles, “Smooth Susan at Work Interviews Anne Ford of Little Brown & Co.,” Boston Globe, October 6, 1941, 15.


[1] After we were unable to find what we thought would be a huge collection of public opinion mail regarding the first use of atomic weapons, we consulted with historian D.M. Giangreco, the co-author of the 500+ page book Dear Harry: Truman’s Mailroom, 1945-1953 (Stackpole, 1999). Mr. Giangreco confirmed in an August 4, 2015 telephone conversation that there is only a small number of letters reflecting the immediate public reaction to the atomic bomb. There are many more letters from the public regarding the 1946 atomic tests conducted during Operation Crossroads. There is an even larger volume of citizen mail concerning the possible use of atomic weapons during the Korean War (1950-1953). CONELRAD will be presenting some of these letters in future posts.

[2] Anne Ford to Michael J. Connelly and Harry S. Truman, August 9, 1945. White House Central Files: Official File: 692; Box 1686; Folder: Miscellaneous April – October 1945; Truman Papers, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.

[3] Jesse Helms, “Columbus Woman’s Husband Pilot of First Plane to Drop Atomic Bomb,” Columbus (Georgia) Enquirer, August 8, 1945, 1. The same wire photo of Mrs. Tibbets also appeared on page 2 of the New York Daily Mirror on August 9, 1945. It also appeared on page 2 of the New York Daily News on August 9, 1945.

Kudos on the Atomic Bombs

Truman_Burton

Surprisingly, there are only a handful of letters at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library that capture the first public reaction to the atomic bomb. We know this because last month we went to the Library in Independence, Missouri and searched with the help of an archivist.[1] And of these few Bomb letters from August of 1945, only one is unreservedly positive in its praise for the Commander in Chief. The handwritten missive came not from a citizen, but from an old friend of the President’s and a Republican to boot! Indeed, Ohio Senator Harold Hitz Burton’s short note is dated August 9, 1945 and offers congratulations to Truman for his role in the “winning of the war and the saving of the lives of many American soldiers and sailors.”[2]

Senator Burton Atomic Kudos by Bill Geerhart

It is interesting to see how the Senator made some last minute edits to reflect the news of Fat Man, the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan. Burton may have been perusing the Washington Evening Star headline (“Second Atom Raid Brings ‘Good Results”) for August 9th when he crossed out “by” and replaced it with the word “with” and added an “s” to what was “bomb.” The new, pluralized line read:

“Even your old battery would find it hard to match what you have done with the atomic bombs…”

President Truman was so pleased by the fan letter that he replied on August 11th, “I certainly appreciated your note of the ninth more than any I received.” A little more than a month later Truman, in his first Supreme Court nomination, picked Senator Burton to fill the vacancy left by the retiring Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts. The nomination of a Republican to the bench after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s three and a half terms and eight Supreme Court appointees (seven of whom were Democrats) sent a clear signal that Truman was his own man. He also got a new Democratic Senator out of the deal in James Wylie Huffman. Huffman was appointed by Ohio Governor Frank Lausche to finish Burton’s term when he was confirmed to the Supreme Court on September 19, 1945.

Justice_burton

In a Cold War coda of sorts, it was Justice Burton who reviewed the 1955 Letter of Understanding with the Grove Park Inn of Asheville, North Carolina to serve as an emergency relocation site for the Court in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. “Dear Chief,” Burton wrote to Earl Warren, “I have examined the attached material and believe it presents a reasonable solution on its face.” The tone was certainly different from the congratulatory letter to a President ten years earlier. But times had changed.

Burton Approval copy

Saturday, June 6, 2015

MOUNT WEATHER WITNESS: Jack Rosenthal

Jack Rosenthal_1960s_Hi

As faithful readers are well aware, CONELRAD has long been fascinated by Cold War government relocation sites. And, as far as we know, there is no site more intriguing than Mount Weather, a facility that has outlived the Soviet Union and remains operational and at the service of the President of the United States to this day. Ironically, over the course of its half century-plus existence the “top secret” installation near Berryville, Virginia has burrowed its way into the public consciousness. But few visitors have ever talked openly about what the place is really like. So when we had the opportunity to speak with someone who had spent time at the site during the Cuban missile crisis, we basically hopped on the next train to New York City for an interview.

Jack Rosenthal, the current Interim Director of Roosevelt House, the Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, was the Assistant Director of Public Information in the Justice Department in 1962. At the height of the missile crisis he was temporarily transferred to the White House to work on their emergency information planning in the event of an attack on the United States. We spoke with Mr. Rosenthal over lunch at the charming Match 65 Brasserie at 29 East 65th Street on January 16, 2015.

We hope that you find the conversation illuminating.

Match 65_lo

CONELRAD: Do you recall if you read Seven Days in May before the Cuban missile crisis?

JACK ROSENTHAL: I may very well have because I knew [co-author Charles W.] Bailey [1929-2012] fairly well. I'm sure I did because it had such wonderful word of mouth and reviews.

CONELRAD: You mention the book in your 2004 oral history interview for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and the fact that the authors used a different name for Mount Weather.

ROSENTHAL: Right, Mount Thunder, I remember that.

Mount Thunder Excerpt_lo 

CONELRAD: So I guess the question is, do you remember hearing about Mount Weather before you were formally told about it?

ROSENTHAL: No. I'm sure I assumed there were such places, but I had no reason to know about it. 

CONELRAD: Could you briefly describe the circumstances that led you to being detailed from your post as Assistant Director of Public Information at the Justice Department to the White House to work on updating emergency planning?

ROSENTHAL: My boss was Ed Guthman [1919-2008] who was the director of public affairs and was a very close aide to Robert Kennedy [1925-1968]. I was a kid, assistant director of public affairs. It was an exalted title - number two man in a two man office. But, as you know, RFK was deeply engaged in the missile crisis and I had had frequent dealings with the White House. For example, each cabinet department was responsible to provide a weekly report of interesting activities that might come up at the President's weekly press conference. That was my responsibility each week to draft the Justice Department's report to the White House. I'd known Pierre Salinger [1925-2004]. He'd once been the press aide to RFK when Kennedy was the head of the rackets committee investigation [the United States Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management AKA the McClellan Committee]. Anyway, Pierre, with Andy Hatcher [1923-1990], the deputy press secretary, were obviously up to their ears in dealing with all manner of press inquiries about the actual events [of the Cuban missile crisis] and about the noise stirring around Washington. Anyway, they were vastly overworked and I think Bobby [Kennedy] suggested that I be sent to the White House to help.

CONELRAD: Was this after the missiles had been discovered on Cuba?

ROSENTHAL: I don't remember.

CONELRAD: But it was in that general time period.

ROSENTHAL: It had to have been.

CONELRAD: Could you briefly describe what your assignment was?

ROSENTHAL: Sure. I was given an office which later became famous. It was Room 1 in the Executive Office Building. The fact that it had only a single digit meant that it was in the basement. The door was like a safe - there was no door handle, there was a combination. It was pretty workman-like space, but I remember being kind of thrilled to be able to say I had an office at the White House.

CONELRAD: And who later occupied that space?

ROSENTHAL: It became famous during Watergate. I guess one of the leaders of the Watergate break-in...

CONELRAD: E. Howard Hunt [1918-2007]?

ROSENTHAL: Yes. He was the occupant.

CONELRAD: So that space was the headquarters for the Plumbers unit?

ROSENTHAL: Uh-huh. [Editor’s note: Nixon administration speechwriter William Safire remembered the Plumbers office number as 16 in a 1989 New York Times column; several prominent Watergate books, including Stanley Kutler’s The Wars of Watergate, cite the office number as 16].

CONELRAD: So what were you actually tasked with doing on this assignment?

ROSENTHAL: There had been a lot of papers developed, long before, in the abstract of what to do in the case of emergencies. And it was tiered, so if you got to DEFCON 5 [editor’s note: Rosenthal meant to refer to DEFCON 1] which is the most dangerous level with the whole country on alert, these were the things that had to be done. Well, Pierre and Andy Hatcher had never been confronted with this before. Nobody had ever thought to bring it up to date. It had probably been written five years before. So, as I recall, they said 'here, figure it out.'

CONELRAD: And were these contingency plans for the dissemination of news? Or was it more broad than that?

ROSENTHAL: I am sure there were aspects of it that went way beyond news, on things like how do you get members of Congress out of the city. But my piece of it was limited to dissemination of news. I started with which journalists would be saved. As I recall, I was told there was room for fifty. That was TV and print. Of course, there was no online then. It included photographers and tech people, not just actual writers and editors. So the first thing I had to figure out was who. I think that was probably one of the reasons I was chosen. Because at the Justice Department we dealt with maybe two hundred press inquiries a day.

CONELRAD: So you knew all the journalists...

ROSENTHAL: Right. Anybody who covered the Justice Department was somebody I knew. So I remember painfully going over a list of people and wondering how do you balance a columnist I didn't think very much of as opposed to a reporter who I thought really did work. And that was really hard. In retrospect I think that was the hardest part of the job. But that was just the beginning because very hard questions then arose - tangible practical ones, like how do you get...Do you let these people know in advance? Do you get them issued passes to get in? How do you get word to them to go where when an evacuation is to take place? Where will the helicopters land to take you to the site? I remember the questions, but I don't remember the answers.

CONELRAD: But something was arrived at?

ROSENTHAL: Must have been. By the time we got to that level of detail, the crisis was already easing enough so that things were suspended. But the next thing was for me to go see the site. I guess my first briefing was with Ed McDermott [1920-1999] who was head of the Office of Emergency Planning or Preparedness. He issued me my pass.

CONELRAD: Could you describe that pass?

ROSENTHAL: Yes. I was thrilled to get it because it was so James Bond-like. All government I.D. at that point was black and white. My official government I.D. was in a leather case with "Department of Justice" on the outside in gold and on the inside [was] a black and white picture of me with my I.D. Well this was, for God's sake, in color. A color photo of me in a laminated plastic card. And not just color, but woven gold threads across the face of the picture to make it impossible to counterfeit. And it had some numbers on it, but very little writing. As I recall, all it said was "If found, return to G.P.O such and such, Washington, D.C. What was interesting about the card is not just that it was hard to duplicate, but unless there was an identical one in the box at the guard gate at the site, you couldn't get in. McDermott told me the story about how he'd gone to the Supreme Court to give Chief Justice [Earl] Warren [1891-1974] his card. And he briefed the Chief Justice about what the site was and here's his pass. And the chief looked at it and he smiled benignly and he said "I just had a question: where's the pass for Mrs. Warren?" And McDermott mumbled something about how we only have room for the 2,100 most important people in government. And the chief gently pushed the pass back to him and said, "Here, you'll have room for 2,101." He obviously wasn't going to go without his wife.

CONELRAD: When did he tell you that story? Was it years later or at the time of the Cuban missile crisis?

ROSENTHAL: No, at the time.

CONELRAD: Was he dismayed? Did he want to convince the Chief Justice to go to Mount Weather?

ROSENTHAL: No, I think he kind of admired it in a way. [Editor’s note: At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, Warren’s Supreme Court had a long standing contract with the Grove Park Inn of Asheville, North Carolina to serve as a relocation site. Mr. McDermott was aware of this fact, but he still wanted the Justices to relocate to Mount Weather].

CONELRAD: So please go on with your account of visiting Mount Weather.

ROSENTHAL: So McDermott turns me over to his assistant, maybe his deputy - a man named Frank Muckenhaupt [1922-1992] who escorted me to the site. [Editor’s note: McDermott’s Deputy at O.E.P. was Colonel Justice M. Chambers. Muckenhaupt was worked in various roles in disaster recovery and public affairs during his 20 year government career].

CONELRAD: And was that via helicopter?

ROSENTHAL: No. We were met on 18th Street, outside the E.O.B., by a government van. I think probably the van was a regular shuttle back and forth to the site. It was a tan van. It was a cloudy, kind of gray day in October. On the way up Frank briefed me on what the site was all about. I'm guessing it took the better part of an hour to get there. We wound around a circular road, two lane road - leading up. We got one full view of all of Mount Weather with the blast doors showing. But as we climbed, we sort of lost track of which side of the mountain we were on. We drove past the weather station on top of the mountain and I remember seeing cyclone fence and weather towers and we came down the other side. It was probably the southwest side where the blast doors were.

CONELRAD: Could you describe your reaction to the blast doors?

ROSENTHAL: I guess I was astonished by the size of it. It was like a great slice of the mountain had been cut away and replaced by huge sheets of steel studded with bolts and painted in a beige color more or less to match the surrounding environment. So we got to the regular door where the guard station was and showed our passes and then I'm sure we walked in, but they must have opened a door to let the van inside. And then I was taken a tour of the facility.

CONELRAD: Did Frank Muckenhaupt give you that tour?

ROSENTHAL: We were met by someone assigned to the site [who gave the tour]. I'm not sure I can reconstruct the tour for you in order, but I will tell you scenes that stick inside my mind. So, several distinct impressions: one was we walked down a long corridor, like a tunnel, and then through some doors into what looked like a hallway at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. There were fluorescent lights, a series of doors, just as they would be at a government department building. There were blue placards with white writing on them, just as you would have in a government department. But instead of being sub-offices, they were whole departments. So the department of HEW occupied part of a corridor and then you kept on walking and there was the Department of the Interior all of a sudden. And if you looked in any of the offices, except for the fact that were no windows, they looked just like they would have on Independence Avenue in Washington. Another scene: I guess you would call the control room. A very large room, very high ceiling, of the kind you've often seen in movies since then or in pictures from NASA. I had never seen anything like that at that earlier juncture.

CONELRAD: So it was like Dr. Strangelove? Or Seven Days in May?

ROSENTHAL: Big screens, maps. I hope I'm not misremembering, but I believe the wall screens were in fact like big color TVs. They weren't computer screens. But there were a lot of desks arranged near the screens.

CONELRAD: So it was Strangelovian?

ROSENTHAL: Yes. And the man who showed it to us was very proud of how elaborate and modern and space age the technology was. The next scene: the press room, a not very large room like all the others with a series of wooden desks and typewriters and that's all I remember of that.

CONELRAD: OK.

ROSENTHAL: One room that left a real impression felt like it was low ceiling, but it was large. With row after row after row of three-tiered bunks. Not bunks exactly - hammocks. Blue hammocks.

CONELRAD: Like something you would see in the Navy?

ROSENTHAL: Maybe a little firmer than that. The idea was, if I remember correctly, they said there were 900 bunks. But there were some 2000 people there, so people would sleep in shifts.

CONELRAD: And this was in a very large room?

ROSENTHAL: With an almost oppressively low ceiling. And I guess I wondered who you'd have to be to get one of the lower bunks.

CONELRAD: Did you see where Robert Kennedy would have slept?

ROSENTHAL: Probably, but I don't remember.

CONELRAD: Were there special quarters for higher ranking people?

ROSENTHAL: There was an area set aside for the President, but it was said at the time that it was highly unlikely that he would come there. Because the safest place for him was in Air Force One flying somewhere. And there was another special presidential hideaway - I don't know where. I guess if I were to guess, somewhere near Camp David.

CONELRAD: So did your tour take you anywhere else?

ROSENTHAL: No, I think we had lunch in the cafeteria. Again, it was like being in a government cafeteria except no windows.

CONELRAD: I think in your oral history interview you mentioned that they had paper roses or flowers on the tables.

ROSENTHAL: Could be, I don't recall it anymore.

CONELRAD: How long did you stay at Mount Weather that day?

ROSENTHAL: Well, I am thinking it was dark by the time we got back, so probably at least a couple of hours. I remember at some subsequent point about being anxious about giving away the real name. I couldn't remember which was Thunder and which was Weather.

CONELRAD: How many times did you go to Mount Weather?

ROSENTHAL: Certainly once, maybe a second time.

CONELRAD: Were there any sections of Mount Weather that were stated as being off limits to you?

ROSENTHAL: The only thing I can think of was - I don't know if it was off limits - but we did not go into the space set aside for the President.

CONELRAD: Did you generate a lot of paperwork when you were working at the Executive Office Building on these plans?

ROSENTHAL: Well, I don't remember. You sent me a memo that I wrote and that's all that I remember. I was surprised at how much detail went into it. [Editor’s note: There are two Jack Rosenthal memos related to his work for the White House Emergency Information Program in 1962. They can be found here].

CONELRAD: Were there any pre-positioned messages at Mount Weather by Arthur Godfrey or Edward R. Murrow to be played in the event of an attack?

ROSENTHAL: I have no recollection of anything like that. Doesn't mean it wasn't so.

CONELRAD: Is it possible there was a vault at Mount Weather containing audio and film to be played over the Emergency Broadcast System?

ROSENTHAL: Sure, but I have no recollection of it.

CONELRAD: Was there a broadcast operation at Mount Weather?

ROSENTHAL: I'm sure there was. I have a dim recollection of a little TV studio. But that's all I can say - a dim recollection.

CONELRAD: Did Robert Kennedy ever talk with you about whether he would have actually gone to Mount Weather in the event of an attack?

ROSENTHAL: Not that I recall.

CONELRAD: What was Ed McDermott like? Do you remember much about him?

Edward A. McDermott_Sworn

ROSENTHAL: Somewhat tall. Somewhat dark haired. Very businesslike, but would occasionally let a sense of humor show through. But it would be irresponsible to say anything more, because I hardly knew him.

CONELRAD: Was there any place to get an alcoholic beverage at Mount Weather in 1962?

ROSENTHAL: Not that I know of.

CONELRAD: You might be interested to know that since your time there, they have added a saloon called the Balloon Shed.

ROSENTHAL: Oh? [Laughs].

CONELRAD: Was it difficult not discussing Mount Weather with anyone else?

ROSENTHAL: Probably no more so than not talking about other classified things that I came in contact with regularly.

CONELRAD: Was your time working on these contingency plans more or less restricted to the Cuban missile crisis period?

ROSENTHAL: Yes.

CONELRAD: So you went back to your regular job after the crisis ended?

ROSENTHAL: Yes. Early in November.

CONELRAD: When you were working on these contingency plans, did you become aware of the Congressional bunker at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia?

ROSENTHAL: I knew there was such a thing. In fact, at the time I learned about Mount Weather, the question came up about where would Congress go? I was told there was a huge elaborate thing at the Greenbrier, but they had a bitch of a time getting congressmen to agree to go even to go see what it was like.

CONELRAD: So they told you where it was and what it was for?

ROSENTHAL: Well, let me back up. I don't know if I knew it was the Greenbrier as opposed to White Sulphur Springs, but it had to be one of the two.

CONELRAD: So you were told the site was either the Greenbrier or White Sulphur Springs?

ROSENTHAL: Well, I was told they're located in some resort type of place and I probably understood that there were only two possibilities.

CONELRAD: In that area?

ROSENTHAL: Yeah.

CONELRAD: So you being a Washingtonian I am sure you were aware of the Greenbrier.

ROSENTHAL: And White Sulphur Springs, also.

CONELRAD: And there's really only one thing in White Sulphur Springs of any note. 

ROSENTHAL: Right [laughs].

CONELRAD: Have you ever taken a tour of the Greenbrier bunker?

ROSENTHAL: No. Could I go back to Mount Weather?

CONELRAD: I don't know. Would you like to?

ROSENTHAL: Not enough to make a special trip.   

CONELRAD: Do you still have your Mount Weather ID card?

ROSENTHAL: No. I left the government [in 1967], it was taken back.

CONELRAD: Thank you for your time!

ROSENTHAL: Thank you for lunch.

The preceding Interview with Jack Rosenthal was conducted by Bill Geerhart on January 16, 2015 in New York City. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

THE ENVELOPE PLEASE! APPENDIX 25 REVEALED

Secret Envelope

Back in 2013 we posted an article that detailed how members of the United States Congress would be notified of their post-apocalyptic accommodations in the event of a national emergency. To summarize this protocol we’ll quote from a February 10, 1961 FBI memo:

“All FBI offices, day-to-day and emergency, should be supplied in advance and on a secret basis, with the location of the Congressional relocation site and with instructions that in the event of a Presidential proclamation calling upon the Congress to convene at the Congressional relocation site, the FBI should inform members of Congress so presenting themselves and so establishing their identity, of the location of the Congressional relocation site.”

The delivery system for this top secret information was decidedly low-tech. Indeed, once the lawmaker had identified him or herself to the satisfaction of the FBI field officer, he or she was to be handed a sealed business envelope that contained the location of the Congressional relocation site.

This procedure, which was approved by the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization (OCDM), was put into place shortly after the issuance of the above quoted document.

FBI Header

On March 7, 1961 another memo was sent out to the Albany, New York FBI office along with the sealed envelopes for distribution to each field office.

Once received, the envelope was to be filed in each office’s defense plan documentation as “Appendix 25.” As a reminder, the memo cautioned: “these envelopes should not be opened, except in the event the condition cited previously exists…”

Appendix 25 copy

As mentioned in our previous post, this plan was in effect through at least 1977 when the Director of the FBI ordered an inventory of all the envelopes to make sure that they were still in place and sealed (miraculously, most were). During the course of our research we found no evidence to suggest that the original notification protocol was ever changed during the life of the bunker. As most readers know, the relocation site’s covert existence at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia was exposed in 1992 by the Washington Post.

When we were examining the FBI War Plans on Government Attic for our original post we were surprised to see that “Appendix 25” was specifically mentioned and explained, but not yet declassified. This seemed especially odd given that public tours have been running through the Greenbrier bunker since 1995. So on October 21, 2013 we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI for a complete copy of file number 66-17388 captioned “Defense Plans – Bureau Assistance for Members of Congress in the Event of Emergency” including the contents of Appendix 25. We even asked for a photocopy of the envelope. 425 days later, on December 19, 2014, we received precisely what we asked for.

Envelope Contents

Even though we knew what was in the envelope, it is still interesting to see exactly what a member of congress would have seen if, say, the Cuban missile crisis had taken a turn for the worse. What would his or her reaction have been upon tearing open the envelope? Confusion? Amused surprise? No FOIA response will ever be able to answer that question.

FBI_Location of Congressional Bunker

Source of Document:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOI/PA Request
Record/Information Dissemination Section
170 Marcel Drive
Winchester, VA 22602-4843

Thursday, November 6, 2014

MOUNT WEATHER MEMOS: PART 3

Mount Weather Minutes_Header

As we mentioned in Part One and Part Two of our series, the Cold War era meeting minutes from the top secret government relocation site known as Mount Weather (aka The Special Facility, aka High Point, aka the Classified Location) are not what the average person would consider interesting. But when you stop to remind yourself every few pages that the notes were produced by men in a Stranglovian underground office park, they suddenly become fascinating in their utter banality. Here are the highlights from the minutes issued in 1966.

01131966_Bunk Beds_Aspirin

The year began with a request about bunk beds and a suspicious increase in requests for aspirin.

01201966_Nuclear Accident 
The January 20, 1966 meeting began with an apparent reference to the major broken arrow incident over Palomares, Spain that had occurred just three days earlier. We’re not sure why the state of Florida is cited here unless it was a mistake on the part of the recording secretary. In view of the seriousness of the Palomares event which involved four hydrogen bombs, it is hard to imagine that the Special Facilities team would have been discussing any other nuclear accident.

With the near apocalypse of Palomares barely behind them on January 27, 1966, the issue of whether people should be allowed to sleep in the executive suites during inclement weather was discussed. This request was vetoed.

01271966_Executive Suites

On February 3, 1966 the persistent rumors of snow removal favoritism on the part of Loudoun County for the Special Facility was brought up.

02031966_Snow Rumors

On March 17, 1966 the Chairman discussed the second, less well known outbreak of rioting in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Per the front page of the Los Angeles Times on March 16, 1966, two people were killed and 25 were injured on March 15. This excerpt also mentions Farris Bryant being nominated to head the Office of Emergency Planning – the agency that had oversight over Mount Weather. Bryant’s predecessor was Buford Ellington.

03171966_Watts Riots

On April 21, 1966 the issue of the Russians renting property near Mount Weather was discussed. CONELRAD was able to find a number of news clips from the local Berryville, Virginia newspaper as well articles in larger circulation papers. The Soviet Embassy had rented a Virginia estate known as Spout Run Farm (formerly known as Heartsease) near Berryville to use as a children’s summer camp.

04211966_Russian Embassy

The Associated Press dutifully quoted “State Department officials” as saying “the Defense Department had been informed of the proposed lease on the Clarke County property to the Russians and that the Pentagon had not reported any sensitive U.S. installations being in the area.”[1]

The local paper was more honest about the worst kept secret in Berryville. In an editorial published in the Clarke Courier on April 28, 1966: “…somebody should have thought this thing out more clearly before allowing the Soviet Embassy to establish a summer camp and recreation area within a short distance of an apparent vital installation such as Mt. Weather.”[2]

Spout Run Editorial

On May 5, 1966 there was another cryptic mention of local “publicity.” This was apparently a reference to a front page article in the Clarke Courier newspaper on the Soviet summer camp complete with photo of the property.[3]

Spout Run_Leased by Russians

Without the full transcripts of these meetings, it is hard to know exactly what the senior staff at the Special Facility thought of the Russians moving in next door. They almost certainly believed that the Soviets knew about the Special Facility and its purpose. Indeed, in the first comprehensive news story on Mount Weather in Time magazine in 1991, Ted Gup wrote: “…it is assumed that all along the Soviets have known both its precise location and its mission.”[4] The meeting minutes strongly suggest that the attendees were more concerned with local media attention to the site than they were about Soviet spying.

The June 9, 1966 notes highlighted a problem with Western Union not delivering to relocation sites.

06091966_Western Union

The June 23, 1966 minutes provide a push for the FARs (Federal Agency Representatives at Mount Weather) to participate in the company picnic.

06231966_Picnic

In July, the Chairman attempted to cut down on the frequency of meetings during the summer months. This was not approved.

07071966_Change in Meeting Schedulue

On July 14, 1966 and August 4, 1966 there was more discussion about the publicity over the Soviet summer camp at Spout Run Farm. CONELRAD was unable to find these particular news clips.

07141966_Soviet Publicity

Before their meeting on September 15, 1966 the FARs (Federal Agency Representatives) watched on “TV receivers” the landing of the manned Gemini 11 spacecraft.

09151966_Gemini 11 Landing

On October 27, 1966 the chairman previewed what was expected to be an unpopular decision regarding bus service to and from the Special Facility.

10271966_Bus Rumor

On November 17, 1966 Mount Weather employees were complaining about the “curtailment” in bus service.

11171966_Bus Complaints

On December 15, 1966 there were announcements about the holiday meeting schedule and “the nuclear war plan.” Just in time for Christmas!

12151966_Holidays_Nuclear War

Read the whole document here:

Mount Weather Meeting Minutes: 1966

 

SOURCE

Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library
Federal Records: Office of Emergency Planning
Box 10
Folder: Minutes of Special Facilities Meetings, 01/13/66-12/15/66


[1] “Soviet Summer Camp,” Washington Post via Associated Press, April 23, 1966, B5.

[2] “Heartsease or Heartaches,” Clarke Courier, April 28, 1966, 4.

[3] “Soviet Embassy Plans Summer Camp,” Clarke Courier, April 28, 1966, 1.

[4] Ted Gup, “Doomsday Hideaway,” Time, December 9, 1991, 26.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A TIME FOR CREDIT: The Men Who Put Reagan on the Air in ‘64

“There was a job to be done and like many others I tried to help. I thought Ron was the ideal man to do the speech.”

John B. Kilroy to CONELRAD[1]

INTRODUCTION

To many conservatives young and old Ronald Reagan’s October 27, 1964 televised address A Time for Choosing is the moment that the modern incarnation of their movement was born. Over the course of fifty years “The Speech,” as it has been dubbed, has spawned its own mythology in books, articles, documentaries and even a made-for-TV movie. Indeed, the story of citizen Reagan’s nationally broadcast star turn on behalf of doomed GOP nominee Senator Barry Goldwater has become a hallowed chapter in the late president’s biography. And yet, even after half a century, precious few details of how the speech was produced and put on the air have ever been published. This excerpt, derived from a much longer examination of the speech, seeks to address these information gaps and recognize the unsung men who made Reagan’s historic political debut possible. A more exhaustive history of A Time for Choosing will be posted here in the near future.

TFC_01

“SURE, IF YOU THINK IT WOULD DO ANY GOOD”

Most Reagan biographies cite a more or less identical confluence of events that resulted in the future president’s appearing on national television on October 27, 1964. Ronald Reagan himself confirms most of the oft-repeated chronology in his 1990 autobiography, An American Life. The catalyst for his speech being selected for national exposure was, as Reagan recounts in his book, a $1,000-a-plate fundraising dinner for “about 800 Republicans” at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles during the “late summer.”[2] According to two contemporaneous articles from the Los Angeles Times, the pricey fundraiser occurred on October 1, 1964 and it accommodated between 400 and 500 guests.[3] Reagan was to be the star attraction of the evening while Goldwater, who was campaigning elsewhere, was scheduled to address the crowd briefly on film.[4]

Cocoanut Grove-Postcard

Author Curtis Patrick, who at the time was a young advance man and personal assistant to Senator Goldwater, attended the event and discusses it in his book Reagan: What Was He Really Like? Volume 1.[5] Patrick told CONELRAD in an interview that he escorted the candidate’s wife to the venue. When asked how many people might have been at the club, he replied: "My memory of the Cocoanut Grove is [that it was] small and so I would say 500 might be more accurate." As for the speech itself, Patrick remembered it vividly perhaps because it was the first time he had ever seen the actor speak live and in person. He recalled that when Reagan had finished that night’s iteration of The Speech, “Mrs. Goldwater turned to me and asked me 'what did you think?' I said [it was] stunning.”[6]

Reagan, at the time, was the statewide co-chairman of Citizens for Goldwater-Miller and his duties consisted primarily of touring California making speeches supporting the ticket.[7] This event was, for all practical purposes, just another night on the circuit for him.

Fundraiser Headline

Among the well-heeled donors in attendance that evening was a group of influential California millionaires and powerbrokers who were bowled over by the fading film and TV star’s stirring Cold War oratory. Reagan doesn’t name names in his book, but various other accounts have claimed that oil company magnate Henry Salvatori and automobile sales king Holmes Tuttle were at the function. And since they were the two people who organized the dinner it would make sense that they were present. According to Reagan, after the dinner he was asked by five or six people to join them at their table at the now “almost empty” Cocoanut Grove. These people, whom Reagan writes he later learned included major state GOP donors, asked him if he would be willing to film his speech for television. “Sure,” the Gipper replied, “if you think it would do any good.”[8]

Reagan-Goldwater-64

So how did an informal agreement at an L.A. nightclub evolve into a polished, independently funded network TV special in a matter of weeks? Based on CONELRAD’s extensive research on the history of A Time for Choosing, a small team of California Republicans led by a driven, self-made businessman made it all happen.

KILROY WAS THERE

Despite the fact that Southern California real estate developer John B. Kilroy speaks at the end of Reagan’s famous October 27, 1964 taped television broadcast, his name is not commonly linked to A Time for Choosing.

There are a few magazine and newspaper articles from the mid-1960s that directly credit Kilroy (and TV producer Robert B. Raisbeck) for the production of the broadcast, but the only book that mentions him (aside from Kilroy’s own 2012 autobiography) as having anything to do with the speech is Kurt Schuparra’s Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Movement, 1945-1966. However, Schuparra relegates Kilroy to a somewhat skeptical endnote that cites an oral history interview of prominent California Republican Gardiner Johnson who was active in the ’64 Goldwater campaign. Johnson’s belief in Kilroy’s key part in A Time for Choosing is quite a bit stronger than Schuparra’s.[9] Johnson, it turns out, was right but he was nearly alone in his conviction.

Kilroy, who clearly prefers yacht racing to defending his own political accomplishments, was perhaps the person most responsible for getting Ronald Reagan on the air on October 27, 1964. The staunchly anti-communist businessman’s role in what Reagan would later call “one of the most important milestones of my life” began when a friend made him aware of the speech.[10] Reagan had been giving variations of “The Speech” for years beginning in the 1950s when he began touring the country as a corporate goodwill ambassador for General Electric. He, of course, also hosted G.E. Theater on television from 1954 to 1962.[11]

In an interview with CONELRAD in 2011 Kilroy, who was then 88-years-old and extremely lucid, told us, “[Robert B.] Raisbeck had heard it and recommended that I hear it,” adding that Raisbeck may have had an audio tape of the speech. Kilroy confirmed in his interview that he was not at the Cocoanut Grove on October 1st. However, both he and Raisbeck knew Henry Salvatori.[12] In any case, Kilroy said that hearing Reagan speak out on the issues was one of the sparks that inspired him and his team to want to adapt the speech for television.[13]

According to Kilroy’s book, Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win in Business, in Sailing, in Life, his next move after confirming Reagan’s willingness to participate on the project, was to fly to Washington, D.C. and meet with Dean Burch, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Ralph Cordiner, the RNC finance chairman (and Reagan’s former boss at G.E.). With their agreement on the plan to put Reagan’s speech on television, a new committee was launched called “TV for Goldwater-Miller” with Kilroy as national chairman.[14]

On September 14, 1964 Kilroy and committee co-chairman, Schick Safety Razor company owner Patrick J. Frawley, Jr. (who later helped sponsor Up with People!), sent out a fundraising letter declaring their overarching goal for the campaign:

“The principle obstacle to his [Goldwater’s] election is the tremendous distortion of his message by all communications media. To offset this, we must keep Barry Goldwater on television constantly between now and November 3rd…”[15]

TV for Goldwater Fundraising Letter

THE TEAM

Kilroy explained to CONELRAD that he first met the creative team that would produce Reagan’s A Time for Choosing well before the Goldwater presidential campaign. In fact, Kilroy said that they had become acquainted with one another through their affiliation with the controversial anti-communist activist W. Cleon Skousen.[16] Skousen, a former FBI agent and future muse to radio and television personality Glenn Beck, also had public ties to Reagan.[17] Both Skousen and Reagan had made joint appearances at rallies for Fred Schwarz’s Christian Anti-Communism Crusade (CACC) in the early 1960s.[18]

adsep1965-skousentourguide

In addition to Kilroy, the team included the previously mentioned producer and advertising man Robert B. Raisbeck, Jr. and veteran television and radio director Robert “Doc” Livingston.[19]

Robert Raisbeck-1971-72

Raisbeck’s surviving son, Peter Raisbeck, confirmed to CONELRAD that it was Kilroy who recruited the team to work for Goldwater and Reagan and that his father would occasionally reminisce with the family about his work on A Time for Choosing. The younger Raisbeck also confirmed his father’s association with Skousen: “Dad did know and work with Cleon Skousen on his anti-communist activities for several years.”

Reagans-Anti-Communism Rally

Robert “Doc” Livingston, who died in 2003, left no survivors that we know of.[20] We were, however, able to find a colleague of Livingston’s from his long tenure as a staff director at KNBC in Los Angeles. The Reverend Doctor Thandeka (formerly known as Sue Booker) was a writer and producer at the station and worked frequently with Livingston in the 1970s and ‘80s. When asked if she was aware of his role in A Time for Choosing or his political leanings, Thandeka expressed surprise: “I always assumed he was liberal, but we never talked about politics, just show business.” Since we could find no photographs of Livingston, we asked Thandeka to describe him. Without missing a beat, she said “Like Will Geer, but taller and thinner.” She added that he was like a “favorite uncle” who “always smiled” and who was not “easily ruffled.”[21]

Long before the ’64 campaign Raisbeck and Livingston collaborated on the early local TV program Television Talent Time in Los Angeles.[22]

SEED MONEY, PRODUCTION AND LOCAL BROADCASTS

According to Kilroy, Henry Salvatori, the co-organizer of the Cocoanut Grove fundraiser, became a “50/50” partner with him in providing the “seed money” to produce A Time for Choosing and get it on the air locally. When asked where the speech was taped, he told CONELRAD: “At one of the one of the Los Angeles studios…where all the facilities are there – the lighting, etcetera.”[23]

Reagan-Podium-Side Shot-5

CONELRAD reached out to R. Duke Blackwood, the Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library about the particulars of the venue and the date of the taping of A Time for Choosing. He conveyed to us that the person who has custody of the original videotape states that the recording date was October 12, 1964 from 10:15 to 10:45 (whether AM or PM was unknown by the source) and that the site of the taping was a television studio at NBC in Burbank, California.[24] This date conforms to the tentative shooting schedule mentioned in an October 5, 1964 advertising agency memo: “Mr. Raisbeck plans to film a half-hour Ronald Reagan speech on or about October 10.” The memo also mentions that the Reagan film and another TV Committee project were “out of the agency’s purlieu [sic]” or purview.[25]

TFC_In Color

The speech was videotaped using RCA color cameras, but the version that the Reagan Foundation features on their YouTube channel (and supplied by the Reagan Library) is a black and white kinescope. Per Mr. Blackwood, the Reagan Library recently found what they thought was an original color copy of the tape, but someone had taped over it. The Library is still trying to obtain a color version of the speech.[26] There is, incidentally, some evidence that A Time for Choosing was broadcast in color in 1964. An October 27, 1964 Albuquerque Journal newspaper ad promotes the speech as being “In Color.” Of course, this could also just be a mistake.[27]

After the taping was completed, Kilroy told us that he and a couple others worked on editing it because their star had gone long by a few minutes.[28] There is just one obvious edit in the tape and it occurs near the end of the speech exactly as Reagan concludes his famous “thousand years of darkness” line.[29]

The finished product was not your average “TV talker” featuring a bland politician reciting a stump speech into a static camera in an empty room. From the first overhead camera shot slowly tracking in on Reagan speaking at the podium in the studio dressed to look like a rally hall, the viewer knows that this is going to be different. By most accounts, including his own, Reagan insisted on bringing in an audience and it was this decision that made all the difference.[30] The enthusiastic reaction shots of a mostly youthful audience packed with Goldwater Girls provide what appears to be a palpable energy to the speaker. By the time Reagan wraps up his address to a standing ovation, it is clear that the definitive version of “The Speech” has just been delivered.

Standing O-2 

Kilroy’s next task was to get Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s approval of his cut of the tape. The Reagans, according to Kilroy, were initially against the campaign contribution plea at the end of the broadcast. “The money pitch was a hard thing to do,” he told us. “Ron and Nancy didn’t like it, so we convinced them. Nancy was the hardest to convince.”[31] The reluctance on the part of the Reagans to solicit donations may seem quaint in today’s world of billion dollar presidential campaigns, but in 1964 fundraising from televised political ads was unprecedented.[32] And it was an innovation that did not always sit well with Goldwater’s high command. Campaign manager Denison Kitchel vetoed an appended appeal for donations at the end of the stolid half-hour campaign film Conversations at Gettysburg that featured Goldwater talking to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower on his Pennsylvania farm. Kitchel was concerned about cheapening the dignity of the presidency when he should have been worried about producing a boring advertisement.[33]

Consternation at Gettysburg

Kilroy told CONELRAD that A Time for Choosing was broadcast in local markets around California “several times” before its nationwide network debut.[34] CONELRAD was only able to find one example of a local broadcast: October 23, 1964 on KNBC in the Los Angeles market. It was advertised in local newspapers without a title, but with the promotional line of “Ronald Reagan speaking out on the important issues of this campaign.”[35] Kilroy recalled that “the response was tremendous wherever it played.”[36] According to the campaign’s advertising agency documents reviewed by CONELRAD, the network time for the October 27th airing of the speech was purchased on October 22nd - the day before the local broadcast of the speech.[37] Therefore, the money used to buy the network time must have come from appeals for donations from other TV for Goldwater-Miller Committee programs such as the “Captive Nations Rally telethon” that aired on October 18th[38]

Captive Nations Rally Ad

A claim that has been made in at least two books holds that a group called “Brothers for Goldwater” of Greenwich, Connecticut chaired by movie star John Wayne contributed the funds necessary to get Reagan on the air in 1964.[39] The story, the source of which is a 1984 letter from former General Electric employee J.J. Wuerthner, Jr. to Michael Deaver at the White House, is that the Brothers presented Goldwater with a check for $60,000 at his Madison Square Garden rally on October 20, 1964. Wuerthner goes on to state in his letter that his G.E. boss, Lemuel Boulware, asked Goldwater to “earmark the money for a nationwide Reagan radio and TV broadcast on October 27th.”[40] There are three problems with this claim: 1.) The Goldwater rally was held on October 26, 1964, not October 20th. 2.) The airtime was bought from NBC on October 22ndbefore the Madison Square Garden rally and 3.) A report on 1964 campaign spending published by Congressional Quarterly reflects that the total receipts and expenditures for the Brothers group during the period of September 1, 1964 through December 31, 1964 was only $26,317.[41]

Goldwater Victory Rally_Poster_lo

Could some of that money have found its way into the collection plate for Reagan’s airtime? Maybe, but even if all of it was used for the Reagan speech it would have covered little more than the “preemption” fee charged by the network (see next section). The likelier explanation, and one supported by the contemporaneous advertising agency documents, is that the funding came from the contributions brought in by the televised appeals.

MAD MEN

According to the records of the Republican National Committee’s official advertising agency, Erwin Wasey, Ruthrauff & Ryan (EWR & R), not everyone was thrilled with the idea of using network time during the closing week of the campaign to feature someone other than the candidate. EWR & R’s account executive for the RNC, Albert Tilt, noted in his October 23rd meeting summary that such a plan was “strategic suicide” and that the agency “strongly protested the use of these funds at the expense of a last week of spots.”[42] The agency produced spots to which Tilt refers include one in which Goldwater defends himself against being labeled as “imprudent and impulsive.” In another, the candidate answers a tea-sipping housewife’s concerns about communism. And there was even a twenty second version of Conversation at Gettysburg featuring Eisenhower saying the word “tommyrot.”[43]

EWRR_Logo

How much money did it cost to put Ronald Reagan in prime time on NBC for a half hour in 1964? According to Tilt’s memo, the final charge was $115,236 which included a “preemption” charge of $22,300 presumably for knocking David Frost’s That Was the Week That Was off the air for another week.[44]

Reagan Show

On October 25th, campaign manager Denison Kitchel and self-appointed guru William Baroody tried to have A Time for Choosing withdrawn from the network schedule and replaced by an agency produced Goldwater program. Accounts of this showdown have been published in slightly altered versions many times before, but Kitchel and Baroody ostensibly objected to a passage in the speech about Social Security and prevailed upon Goldwater to call Reagan in order to have the speech pulled. Reagan first asked Goldwater if he had heard the program and then explained to him that the time was not his to give up. The end result, according to most versions of this tug of war, was that Goldwater heard the audio of the speech and asked his advisers “What the hell’s wrong with that?” The decision to proceed had apparently been made by the candidate himself.[45]

But Kitchel and Baroody would not give up so easily. In his inside account of the 1964 election, A Glorious Disaster, campaign treasurer J. William Middendorf II reveals that the duo was trying to “substitute a Goldwater re-run” three hours before the Reagan broadcast was set to air.[46] Kilroy backed up Middendorf’s recollection and told CONELRAD that TV for Goldwater-Miller was a separate entity from the campaign advertising arm and he was resolved not to surrender the air time that had been purchased specifically for Reagan. “We weren’t in the business to finance a Barry speech,” an emphatic Kilroy told us. “Our responsibility was to Reagan. We told them no. I told Dean Burch that if Goldwater doesn’t want the speech to run to call me. Barry liked the speech. The problem was with his advisers.”[47]

Kitchel_Baroody

In his book Middendorf speculates that Kitchel and Baroody may have been “goaded” by EWR & R to take action because the agency stood to lose a significant amount of commission money on the airing of the independently produced and sponsored Reagan speech. Middendorf recounts in his memoir that he had already heard the agency’s complaints directly.[48]

EWR & R’s meeting summary memos written by the aforementioned Albert Tilt provide a fascinating window into the efforts to diminish and then outright replace A Time for Choosing. The following are excerpts from the memos that deal directly with A Time for Choosing.

October 19, 1964 EWR & R Report # 42 to the RNC:

Ronald Reagan Speech – This would appear useful only in its full length as a half-hour for local use.

October 22, 1964 EWR & R Report # 45 to the RNC:

It was noted that the TV Committee had purchased 9:30-10 on NBC Tuesday, October 27 direct. Agency questioned running of Ronald Reagan film. It was suggested that the Madison Square Garden rally be taped for possible use on this date or that the October 21 show be repeated.

October 24 & 25, 1964 EWR & R Report # 47 to the RNC:

Agency was asked to set up a screening of “Brunch with Barry” as a possible re-run for October 27 half-hour purchased by the TV Committee.

BrunchwithBarry-Screenshot

It should be noted that Tilt’s summary memos repeatedly mention the TV Committee and their representative, Robert Raisbeck, beginning with the September 3, 1964 issuance. In fact, Raisbeck and the TV Committee, headed by Kilroy, are the only entities referenced in connection to the Reagan program. [49]

SHOWTIME: RONALD REAGAN VERSUS MIA FARROW

Reagan_Farrow

At exactly 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, 1964 voice actor Art Gilmore introduced A Time for Choosing and launched Ronald Reagan into history.[50] The speech ran against ABC’s hugely popular nighttime soap opera featuring Mia Farrow, Peyton Place, and CBS’s rural sitcom Petticoat Junction. Ironically, this pivotal and triumphant moment in Reagan’s political evolution came in dead last in the ratings. It earned an 18.0 share of the audience in the Arbitron rankings compared to Peyton Place which won the time period with a 42.0 share.[51]

Ratings

But based on the reaction at Republican field offices, RNC headquarters and Western Union, the core Republican audience that night was watching Reagan, not Farrow.[52] Lucille Boston, who was in charge of the Westwood Goldwater for President Headquarters (in Los Angeles) and who was a personal assistant to Reagan for a period during the campaign, told CONELRAD in an email:

What I remember the most vividly was that just after the speech, the phone board in the headquarters lit up like Times Square and we could not handle all the calls coming in. All said, “Reagan is fabulous. We need to have him run for office.” The people were ecstatic and there is no question but that the speech propelled Reagan into the forefront.[53]

F. Clifton White, the architect of the Draft Goldwater movement and the Director of Citizens for Goldwater-Miller, sent Reagan a telegram from RNC headquarters the following day congratulating him on the telecast and noting that the “phones are ringing off the hook here.” White was just one of hundreds of people who shared their sentiments about the speech via telegram, letter or phone call. The legendary film director John Ford was another: “GREAT RONNIE GREAT,” was the succinct review he transmitted from Honolulu. And Wilma Batz of Peoria, Illinois asked Reagan via telegram: “I know you’re an actor, but are you running for president?” The Reagan Library has a comparatively small sampling of the telegrams some of which can be viewed here. The Dean Burch Papers at Arizona State University in Tempe contain a much larger cache of fan mail which CONELRAD has perused.[54]

Lo-Batz-Reagan-Telegram

Many of these communications from the public and regional Republican officials begged for a re-run of A Time for Choosing.[55] They got their wish on Halloween when the speech was broadcast nationally for a second time on NBC in prime time. It was paired with a separate half-hour campaign plea for Goldwater starring John Wayne entitled A Time for Courage.[56] The Reagan speech went on to be run repeatedly on local television stations.[57]

P.O. BOX 80: FOLLOW THE MONEY

Of course, in addition to the letters and telegrams praising Reagan’s speech, checks came pouring into berry king Walter Knott’s P.O. Box 80 at the Terminal Annex Post Office in downtown Los Angeles. Kilroy confirmed to CONELRAD that the P.O. Box screen seen at the end of A Time for Choosing belonged to Knott, an arch conservative who was also chairman of the Citizens for Goldwater-Miller Committee of Orange County.[58]

End Title

The donations were processed by Security First National Bank which charged a fifty cent fee per contribution to provide a “Thank You” note to each contributor and to provide financial reporting to the Congressional Oversight Group, the Republican Party and the TV for Goldwater-Miller Committee.[59]

In the many campaign memoirs and autobiographies that have been published since 1964, there have been a wide variety of claims concerning how much money Reagan raised with his televised speech. Reagan’s own figure in his 1990 book may be the highest estimate at $8 million. On the lower end of the spectrum, Stephen Hess and David S. Broder guessed $600,000 in their 1968 book The Republican Establishment.[60]

End Title-2

Congressional Quarterly published the most extensive accounting of 1964 campaign finances in a special report published in their January 21, 1966 issue. According to CQ, during the last six days of the campaign—the period that Reagan’s speech would have had its biggest impact among contributors—a total of $2,800,000 was raised. But this figure includes all campaign appeals not just Reagan’s. However, CQ singled out Reagan’s “direct television appeal” (a.k.a. A Time for Choosing) and appeals by actor Raymond Massey and RNC head Dean Burch in their tabulation. CQ also reported that “at the end of the calendar year 1964, with all but a few campaign debts paid, the Republican National Committee had a surplus of $314,000; Citizens for Goldwater-Miller $309,006; and the National TV Committee for Goldwater-Miller $506,534.”[61]

Goldwater_7-Up_Lo Res

CONCLUSION

The internecine bickering over the unused GOP funds and the bitter debates over the party’s future in the wake of Goldwater’s staggering loss to President Lyndon Johnson was still playing out as Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for governor of California on January 4, 1966.[62] Reagan’s long, occasionally bumpy ascent to the White House was officially underway. And with his election to the presidency in 1980, A Time for Choosing became an even more important event in his life and career. Had he lost, of course, the title of the speech would by now be the answer to a particularly difficult trivia question. But because Reagan was victorious, the then sixteen-year-old broadcast was prominently mentioned in Time magazine’s Man of the Year issue and other effusive profiles on the new President-elect.[63] And it is because Ronald Reagan eventually became president of the United States that the 1964 election will forever be remembered for two remarkable television advertising events, not just one.

Daisy_Reagan_64

POSTSCRIPT

John B. Kilroy, who once memorably described himself to Newsweek magazine as a “damned capitalist,” retired from his company, Kilroy Realty Corp. at the age of 90 in 2013. He had started the companies that ultimately became Kilroy Realty in 1947.[64] The former surfer and all-around modern Renaissance man is currently enjoying life with his wife Nelly and tending to his various philanthropic missions. You can watch a series of biographical videos of Kilroy here, but don’t expect to hear him talk about A Time for Choosing. He’s moved on.

Kilroy-Smiling

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Goldwater, Barry with Jack Casserly. Goldwater. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

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Kelley, Kitty. Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Kilroy, Jim. Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win : In Business, In Sailing, In Life. [S.l.]: Smith Kerr Assoc., 2012

McGirr, Lisa. Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Middendorf II, J. William. A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Morrell, Margot. Reagan’s Journey: Lessons from a Remarkable Career. New York: Threshold Editions, 2011.

Morris, Edmund. Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan. New York: Random House, 1999.

Nofziger, Lyn. Nofziger. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1992.

Patrick, Curtis. Reagan: What Was He Really Like? Volume 1 (ebook edition). New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2011.

Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.

Reagan, Nancy with William Novak. My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan. New York: Random House, 1989.

Reagan, Ronald and Richard G. Hubler. Where’s the Rest of Me? The Ronald Reagan Story. New York: Van Rees Press, 1965.

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Schoenwald, Jonathan M. A time for choosing: the rise of modern american conservatism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Schuparra, Kurt. Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Conservative Movement, 1945-1966. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1998.

Shadegg, Stephen. What Happened to Goldwater? The Inside Story of the 1964 Republican Campaign. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965.

White, F. Clifton and William J. Gill. Suite 3505: The Story of the Draft Goldwater Movement. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1967.

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Wills, Gary. Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home. New York: Doubleday, 1987.


[1] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[2] Ronald Reagan, An American Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 139-140. For other books dealing with the 1964 election, see the Bibliography Section in this post.

[3] Carl Greenburg, “GOP Planning $1,000-a-Plate Dinner Series, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1964, 3.

“Miller Slated to Talk Here on Thursday,” Los Angeles Times, September 30, 1964, 7.

[4] Steven D. Edgington and Lawrence Brooks De Graaf. The "Kitchen Cabinet": four California citizen advisers of Ronald Reagan: Interviews (Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, 1983), 114. “Miller Slated to Talk Here on Thursday,” Los Angeles Times, September 30, 1964, 7.

[5] Curtis Patrick, Reagan: What Was He Really Like? Volume 1 (Kindle edition) (New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2011), 302.

[6] Curtis Patrick, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, September 26, 2014.

[7] Carl Greenberg, “Goldwater to Kick Off State Drive Sept 8,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1964, D1. For Reagan’s campaign duties see: Reagan, An American Life, 139.

[8] Reagan, An American Life, 139-140.

[9] Reagan Foundation YouTube video of A Time for Choosing: http://youtu.be/qXBswFfh6AY.

Articles mentioning John B. Kilroy: “Where the Money Is,” Newsweek, May 17, 1965, 39-40. David S. Broder, “G.O.P. Film Lacks a G.O.P. Sponsor, New York Times, July 2, 1965. Walter Pincus, “Goldwater Funds Still Used,” Washington Evening Star, September 15, 1965, A-5.

Kurt Schuparra, Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Conservative Movement, 1945-1966 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1998), 184.

Interview of Gardiner Johnson, California State Archives, Oral History Program, 1973; 1983, 212-215.

[10] Reagan, An American Life, 143. John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[11] Reagan, An American Life, 126-130; 137.

[12] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011. Peter Raisbeck, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, March 6, 2011.

[13] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[14] Jim Kilroy, Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win: In Business, In Sailing, In Life (Kittery, Maine: Smith Kerr Assoc., 2012), 78.

[15] Fundraising letter, John B. Kilroy and Patrick J. Frawley, Jr., September 14, 1964, T 36, TV for Goldwater-Miller, Right Wing Collection, University of Iowa.

[16] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, May 15, 2011.

[17] Alexander Zaitchik, “Meet the Man Who Changed Glenn Beck’s Life,” accessed October 26, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/

[18] “Anti-Red Youth Program,” Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA), August 31, 1961, A-7. Display advertisement, “Hollywood’s Answer to Communism,” Los Angeles Times, October 16, 1961, B6. Display advertisement, “Anti-Communism Rally,” Los Angeles Times, December 10, 1962, 13.

[19] Peter Raisbeck, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, March 6, 2011.

[20] “In Memoriam,” SAG / AFTRA, Spring 2013, Volume 2, No. 1, 50.

[21] Reverend Doctor Thandeka, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, September 25, 2014.

[22] “Radio and Television Program Reviews,” The Billboard, November 13, 1948, 12.

[23] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[24] R. Duke Blackwood, e-mail message to Bill Geerhart, September 19, 2014.

[25] EWR & R Conference Report # 31, October 5, 1964, Box 3H514, Goldwater Advertising: Erwin Wasey, Ruthrauff & Ryan Ad Agency, Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection, 1949-1956, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

[26] R. Duke Blackwood, e-mail message to Bill Geerhart, October 24, 2014.

[27] Advertisement, Albuquerque Journal, October 27, 1964, A-5.

[28] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[29] Reagan Foundation YouTube video of A Time for Choosing: http://youtu.be/qXBswFfh6AY

[30] Reagan, An American Life, 140. Edmund Morris, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (New York: Random House, 1999), 331. Lee Edwards, Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1995), 334.

[31] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[32] Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001), 441.

[33] Ibid.

[34] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[35] Display Advertisement, The Independent (Pasadena, CA), October 23, 1964.

[36] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[37] EWR & R Conference Report # 45, October 22, 1964, Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection.

[38] EWR & R Conference Report # 46, October 23, 1964, Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection.

[39] Thomas Evans, The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 168-169. Marc Eliot, Reagan: The Hollywood Years (New York: Harmony Books, 2008), 333-334.

[40] Letter from J.J. Wuerthner, Jr. to Michael Deaver, May 4, 1984, Lemuel R. Boulware Papers, University of Pennsylvania.

[41] Peter Kihss, “Goldwater Exhorts 18,000 in Garden ‘Victory’ Rally,” New York Times, October 27, 1964. EWR & R Conference Report # 45, October 22, 1964, Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection. “1964 Campaign Receipts and Spending Reported by 164 Groups,” Congressional Quarterly, January 21, 1964, 72.

[42] EWR & R Conference Report # 46, October 23, 1964, Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection.

[43] Goldwater Spot on being Imprudent and Impulsive: http://youtu.be/k3t6aptzn2A; Goldwater Spot on Communism: http://youtu.be/Uyzg0pPkFNc?list=UUuOUjQf3K8r6XmDhPBGiTJQ; Conversation at Gettysburg Spot: http://youtu.be/Lly3jANwMZM?list=UUuOUjQf3K8r6XmDhPBGiTJQ.

[44] EWR & R Conference Report # 46, October 23, 1964, Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection. Val Adams, “G.O.P. Pre-Empts ‘T.W.3’ A 4th Time,” New York Times, October 24, 1964.

[45] Reagan, An American Life, 141. Edwards, Goldwater, 335. Perlstein, Before the Storm, 500.

[46] J. William Middendorf II, A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 207.

[47] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011.

[48] Middendorf, A Glorious Disaster, 207.

[49] Review of all EWR & R Conference Reports in Stephen Shadegg / Barry Goldwater Collection.

[50] Bruce Weber, “Art Gilmore, the Voice of Coming Attractions, Dies at 98,” New York Times, October 2, 2010.

[51] Arbitron Ratings, Broadcasting, November 2, 1964, 59.

[52] Accounts of the reaction and CONELRAD’s examination of telegrams and letters.

[53] Lucille Boston, e-mail message to Bill Geerhart, April 9, 2011.

[54] Telegrams, Box C35, Folder “66: ‘The Speech’ 1964 (Telegrams in Response)” 1-3, Ronald Reagan Governor’s Papers. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Telegrams, letters, phone call notes, Boxes 12-13, “TV, Ronald Reagan Speech for Senator Goldwater,” Dean Burch Papers, Arizona State University, Tempe.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Display advertisement, Washington Evening Star, October 31, 1964, A-7. “A Time for Courage,” John Wayne final dialogue script, Folder 7, Box 23, Barry Goldwater Collection, Arizona Historical Society.

[57] Reagan, An American Life, 143.

[58] John B. Kilroy, telephone interview with Bill Geerhart, February 12, 2011; Perlstein, Before the Storm, 500.

[59] Kilroy, Kialoa US-1, 79. Note: Kilroy refers to the bank that processed the contributions as the “Security Pacific National Bank.” Per “Committee Expenditures,” Congressional Quarterly, January 21, 1966, 47, the bank was Security First National Bank.

[60] Reagan, An American Life, 143. Stephen Hess and David S. Broder, The Republican Establishment (New York: Harper and Row), 253.

[61] “Record $47.8 Million Reported Spent in 1964 Elections,” Congressional Quarterly, January 21, 1966, 57-58.

[62] Walter Pincus, “Goldwater Funds Still Used,” Washington Evening Star, September 15, 1965, A-5. Carl Greenberg, Reagan Announces He’s Candidate for Governor,” Los Angeles Times, January 5, 1966, 3.

[63] “Man of the Year,” Time, January 5, 1981, 11.

[64] “Where the Money Is,” Newsweek, May 17, 1965, 39. “Founder, chairman of Kilroy Realty Retires,” Associated Press via Yahoo News, February 28, 2013.