Chuck’s World columnist inspires reader’s writing | Letter

Jan 29, 2016

Editor, The Beacon:

The year was 1960, and I was ensconced in my room furiously scribbling in my diary.

My frenetic behavior was a reaction to the presidential debate between John Kennedy (JFK) and Richard Nixon that was aired on TV.

My melodramatic 9-year-old self was steeped in fairy tales and Disney movies. JFK was the handsome prince or the white knight. Richard Nixon was the ogre.

My late mother, Louise, credited herself for my initiation as a Democrat.

Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy was a major player the 1950s. The senator was a zealot who branded liberal Democrats, government employees and artists as “communists.” Many, many people’s lives were ruined.

The radio broadcast about McCarthy’s quest played constantly in the background as Louise tended to her housework and children. She claimed that the news entered my subconscious.

Perhaps there is a scintilla of truth in her claim as Senator Richard Nixon, an accomplice in Senator McCarthy’s witch hunt, became the bête noir in my 1960 journal.

Years later, I volunteered for Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy’s (no relation to Joseph McCarthy) presidential campaign. Senator McCarthy was vying with the incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, to become the Democratic nominee for the 1968 presidential race.

One summer day, we were standing on the railroad platform handing out leaflets to the commuters boarding the train for New York City. A housewife who dropped off her husband called Louise to inform her that “one of her daughters was distributing Communist literature at the train station with a group of hippies.”

My mother asked the caller two questions. “Were they smoking marijuana?” and “Were they dressed nicely?” The caller answered “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second. Needless to say, my mother did not send me to my room.

The year was 2008, and my mother called after casting her ballot for Barack Obama. She also felt compelled to tell me a long-kept secret. “Your father voted for Richard Nixon in [the presidential election of] 1972.”

My father, a lifelong Democrat, passed away in 1991.

Louise passed away, peacefully, in September 2012.

We honor our mothers by eliciting fond memories. We each have our own rituals, some public some private. I write.

As writer Chuck Sigars tells us, “We look at [memories] and see [them] from different angles and points of view [“The kid in the hall,” The Beacon, Chuck’s World, page 5, Jan.15].”

Mr. Sigars is right. By sharing my memories, I reach out to those of you who have lost a mother. I silently walk beside you in the journey through the grieving process no matter how long it takes.


Barbara Tipton,



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