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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Is It Us?

In June 1992, my father and I were doing yard work at my grandmother’s house in Columbus, Ohio. Once finished, we began the two-hour drive to my parents’ place in Cincinnati. We needed to stop for gas first, so my dad pulled into the nearest pump he could find, a Shell station on the corner of Broad Street and Bryant Avenue. As I pumped the gas, I looked out over to the spot where in 1968 I shook the hand of Robert Kennedy as he campaigned for the Ohio primary.

Suddenly, something caught my eye: a sign alerting all to an upcoming appearance by President George H.W. Bush scheduled for the next day.

Like many other urban neighborhoods, the area around Broad and Bryant had been subject to gentrification. Consequently, a lot of rich people live there now. No wonder Bush chose that spot to stump for re-election.

I then noticed that my father had seen the sign too. “Bush’ll be here tomorrow,” he wistfully commented.

“Yeah,” I said, nodding.

After a brief pause, he asked, “Remember that night when we shook Bobby Kennedy’s hand?”

“Yeah.”

“Remember how stoned he was?”

“Yeah,” I smiled. “And six weeks later, he was assassinated.”

After putting the hose back on its hook, a thought occurred to me. Turning to my dad, I asked, “Do you think it could happen twice?”

Dad thought about it for a couple of seconds, and replied, “You, know, it’s almost worth it to stay in Columbus another day and find out.”

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