By Jerry Lips
Thousands of 3×5 cards were filled with the names and information of everyone he met while traveling the state. The young political science professor was surprised that no one had ever attempted to organize the state’s political parties. With his $6,000 annual salary, a wife, two small children, and the energy of his early 30s, George McGovern traveled to every South Dakota community and collected the names of local business leaders and successful farmers. He was looking for leaders and people who were popular in their own communities to run with him in the fall of 1956.
George won his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives with a full lineup of other Democratic candidates for local and state government. It was a clean sweep; the state went from one elected Democrat to a majority with that election. In a state where Republicans outnumbered Democrats 2-1, and where the “I like Ike” buttons were as popular as hula hoops, it seemed unbelievable.
My mother was state chairman of the Democratic Party. My father, Virgil Lips, was elected that year to the state House of Representatives. Over the years, George McGovern has kept in touch with our family and I must say that he’s one of the people I respect and admire most. So when he called me a few weeks ago and asked if I could help make arrangements for him to speak at Dennis Weaver’s memorial service, I was honored to travel to Mitchell, South Dakota, pick up George, and bring him to Centennial.
At the service, George told of Dennis’ support during the ’72 presidential campaign and how, even with Dennis’ help, he was having difficulty getting the attention of the press. Then one day, while traveling on a United flight to Chicago, George’s press secretary said excitedly to George, “There are three television stations and many newspaper reporters waiting at the gate. We’re finally getting some attention!”
George said, “I took out my comb and ran it through my thinning locks. I straightened my tie, and as I stood up, a little early before the plane came to a complete stop, the stewardess immediately reprimanded me. She said, ‘Sir, you’re going to have to remain in your seat until we come to a complete stop. And if you don’t mind, we would appreciate you remaining in your seat for a few moments, as the press is meeting Chubby Checker, who’s on board this flight.'”
George still has his great sense of humor, and as a student of American history, he’s unique in his perspective on American moral destiny to help feed the hungry children of the world. See McGovern story on page 5-B.
In addition to our new Northern California Airport Journal, we’re pleased to announce our special Airport Journals National Edition. This edition will accommodate our growing pressure to distribute copies outside the busiest GA airports where we have specific airport community newspapers. It also provides the national coverage to general aviation and business aviation not served by one of our networks of airport-specific publications.