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The New Frontier's Coming-Out Party

A look back at the 1960 Democratic Convention--when teams were still at the Sports Arena, microwave ovens and videotape were experimental, and mushroom clouds danced in our heads.

August 13, 2000|MARY MELTON


* The Democratic National Convention handed out hospitality kits to each of the 4,506 delegates, filled with California-grown raisins, oranges, tuna, olives, dates and wine, and a jar of "dietetic" fruit labeled, "Welcome Delegates -- Gov. 'Pat' Brown."

* To accommodate feeding as many as 16,000 daily attendees, the Sports Arena installed "new radar ranges that can cook beef, bake potatoes and vegetables in a minute and 10 seconds."

* A consortium that included the DNC exhausted $50,000 and "enough satin to make 120 evening gowns" to decorate the convention hall, featuring 54 gold eagles with 8-foot wingspans to represent each state and territory.

* "The most important addition to the coverage this year is videotape," said an article about press gadgetry. "If two events of importance are happening simultaneously, one will be taped and shown following the other."

* For the convention, Pacific Telephone installed 4,000 telephones in the Sports Arena to handle 22,000 calls a day.


* In 1960, L.A. County's population was 6,038,771; today, it's 9,714,900, up 61%. L.A. city's has risen 52%, from 2,479,015 to 3,764,300.

* The city's white population stood at 80.8% in 1960; as of 1999, it was 33%; its Hispanic population has risen from 9.6% to 45.2%; its black population from 7.6% to 9.5%; and its Asian and Pacific Islander, from 1.8% to 11.8%.

* L.A. County has lost 48% of its manufacturing jobs since 1960; agricultural employment is down 83%; median household income is up 503%. It has added 111% to its miles of freeway, and now boasts 10 area codes rather than 2.


* In the convention's keynote address, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho mentioned "farm" or "farmer" 14 times, "communists" or "communism" 13 times, and made one reference apiece to "thermonuclear war," "switchblade delinquents," "mushroom cloud," "private slums," "traffic jams" and "spiraling interest rates."

* At a Biltmore Bowl press conference, political wives advised that the "profile of the perfect political helpmate" included: "maintain a full cooky [sic] jar" and "be able to pack a lunch that will expand from four to 14."

* According to The Times, one could find "the most action" at Sen. John F. Kennedy's Biltmore Hotel headquarters, where the candidate's supporters included "attractive cupcakes," who were "particularly chic and well turned out."


* In the course of convention week, delegates and sundry party-goers consumed 32,500 hot dogs, 6,000 sandwiches and 3,000 gallons of coffee. In addition, "the influx of politicians sent the cigar consumption soaring."

* The most common problems reported by a staff of interns and nurses on the convention floor were hoarse throats and swollen hands from all that shouting and glad-handing.

* In the Sports Arena restrooms, at least 60,000 paper towels were used and 60 pounds of soap. Campaign signs and debris helped fill seven trucks and took 10 hours to collect, for a total of 15,000 pounds of trash--including 10 empty whiskey bottles.

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