Kennedy Assassination at Oberlin College

November 23, 1963.

I was in the office of the Oberlin College newspaper, the Oberlin Review.

It was my senior year and I was Chairman of the Republican Mock Convention. I went to summer school at NIU in order to be able to carry a light load.

Just hanging out, not a member of the staff.

We were listening to the radio, probably KYW, and heard that President Kennedy had been shot.

The edition had been put to bed and the presses had just started running.

When we realized what had happened I asked if the staff wanted me to ask the pressmen to stop the presses.

The answer was “Yes,” so I did what they do in the movies, went to the press room and shouted,

“Stop the presses!”

Anyone ever imagined themselves doing that?

By now, most newspapers and television shows have stopped remembering the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot.

That was a long time ago.

So, how did a Republican Mock Convention end up at the second most liberal college in Ohio?

In 1962 in what was perhaps the first and only time in what is now a not-so-recent memory, Young Republicans elected half of the student council. We YR’s did it because the student council decided whether the model presidential nominating convention would be for the Democratic or Republican Party.

Six members of the Young Republicans were elected to the twelve-member Oberlin College Student Council. Oberlin is the second most liberal college in Ohio.

Now, all of us did not run under the SCOPE party label, but 2 1/2 years before the Mock Convention took place, we put enough people on the student council to make it a Republican Mock Convention.

Don’t you love Review reporter Anne Speakman’s November 16, 1962, description of the campaign:

“Concluding a ruthless campaign, characterized by heated party politics and scandal-sheet tactics, voting officially closed at 2 P.M.”

Having observed vote fraud on the part of the liberals the year before, the next year we were prepared with adequate poll watchers in the proportional representation (like Illinois used to have for state representatives before Pat Quinn’s Cut Back Constitutional Amendment) election.

By the time the first 10 members of the 12 member council had been announced the conservatives has 6 votes. The reporter describes “the paling faces of the liberals,” in this 75.2% turnout election.

A member of the liberal Progressive Student League “lamented, ‘We don’t know how to behave in a minority.’”

Sounds so much like this year, doesn’t it?

Having spent over two years listening to anything but Republican speakers, we were well-motivated.

We had watched the liberals stuff the ballot boxes the year before and had a ballot protection program in place.

So, we won 6 out of 12. The winners (in order they placed) were

  • Dennis Bathory (SCOPE),
  • Mac Garber (PSL),
  • Pete Anderson (SCOPE),
  • Jon Eisen (PSL),
  • Bob Peterson (Independent, but a Young Republican),
  • Eric Seitz (Independent, a liberal),
  • Bob Kuttner (PSL),
  • Cal Skinner (SCOPE),
  • Paul Keefe (SCOPE),
  • Melinda Kuntz (SCOPE),
  • Ed Schwartz (PSL) and
  • Jon Polier (PSL).

Liberal New Jersey Republican Dennis Bathory wanted to be President of the Student Council.

I don’t know what he traded to win one of the liberals’ votes.  All we wanted was to have a GOP Mock Convention.

And I wanted to chair it.

Bathory got what he wanted and we got what we wanted.

In any event, I was in the student newspaper’s office on the afternoon of November 23, 1963.

The radio was playing.

When we heard the report of Kennedy’s having been shot, I asked if the staff (of which I was not a member) wanted to put something on the front page.

They agreed they did and I asked if they wanted me to tell the pressmen in the next room to stop the press run.

Again, agreement.

So, I got to shout,

Stop the presses!

And I’m sure the Oberlin Review was the first paper on the newsstand, at least in Ohio, perhaps in the entire country.

The headline?

Kennedy Assassinated

My lack of ability to select type faces does not do the heavy block print justice.

As I was rooting around in the basement for a copy of the paper, I also found a second Oberlin Review dated Friday, November 22, 1963. It’s headline was

Campus Mourns Kennedy’s Death

This paper, however, seems to have the wrong date on the masthead, because inside the date reads, Tuesday, November 26, 1963.

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