Before the convention, Walter staged a benefit concert with the Cryan' Shames

Before the convention, Walter staged a benefit concert with the Cryan' Shames

I also don’t remember exactly how Dan and I got the gig at McCarthy HQ during the Convention, though I agree that all of the factors Dan mentioned would have played a role. Also, if our main role was as campaign messengers, as Dan helpfully confirms, the fact that we were locals and had a car (our family VW) also was a key factor. 

Earlier campaign memories for me include canvasing in South Bend, a few days before the Indiana primary, where the main competition was Bobby Kennedy. Closer to home, I remember that Dan and I were among those who rode in the Glen Ellyn 4th of July parade in a McCarthy car (Marlena Malmstedt, who was with us that day, sent me a photo of us in the car from the Glen Ellyn News several years ago). 

Also that summer at some point between my graduation from Glenbard West in mid-June and the Democratic convention from Aug 26-29—I would guesstimate soon before the Fourth of July parade, but it might have been later in July as well—I played a lead role in organizing a benefit concert for the McCarthy campaign that was held in the gym at Glenbard featuring the ‘Cryan Shames, a Chicago-based rock group that achieved short-lived national prominence in 1967-68, especially with a sweet soft-rock anthem It Could Be We’re In Love.

The person I arranged it with (I have no memory of how I got connected with him) was Isaac Guillory, who played bass guitar with the ‘Shames. I just looked up Isaac on Wikipedia and found out that he died at age 53 in 2000, was from a Turkish Jewish family and grew up in Cuba before re-locating to the States as a teenager. At the time of our connection, he was all of 21.   

In any case, I recall that I hadn’t been totally up front with the Glenbard authorities that the concert was a McCarthy fundraiser, but they found out somehow and informed me sternly the concert could only go forward if we assured them it was not a McCarthy fund-raiser, simply an appearance by the Cryan' Shames, perhaps for some other good cause. I called Guillory to inform him and was relieved that he agreed that the Cryan' Shames would do the concert without mentioning Gene McCarthy, even though we both agreed that the proceeds would go to the McCarthy campaign in any case.

The concert went ahead and I remember that despite doing little publicity beyond word of mouth and a few flyers placed on telephone poles around Glen Ellyn, we had a pretty good turnout—maybe 200 attendees (not surprising because the Shames were at the peak of their fame at that point). Early in the evening I was feeling euphoric about the success of the event, but when they took the stage, one of band members blurted out, “We are so happy to be here on behalf of Gene McCarthy.” 

My heart literally sank into my shoes, but fortunately, either the Glenbard maintenance people assigned to the event didn’t hear it or had not been aware of the administration’s edict. So nobody  came up to me and order that the concert be stopped.

So, the show went on and we managed to raise some money for McCarthy (I have no recollection how much, but I’m guesstimating $700 at 200 attendees at $5 a head with maybe $300 to be paid to Glenbard for use of the venue. Is that about what a venue would take?) In any case that event was both my first and my last gig as an impresario. Beginner’s luck.