Last week I blogged my 1968 experience with national politics and campaign trains in my blog “Robert F. Kennedy 1968.” A little more than two years later, I got the opportunity to put into action what I had learned when I was given the assignment to cover 1970 U.S. Senatorial candidate John V. Tunney. The press arrangements required reporter Fred Youmans and me to meet the train twelve miles south of Modesto in Turlock. We identified ourselves to Tunney’s campaign staff and security and got on board the historic observation car known as the “El Dorado” — built in 1924 by Union Pacific and previously used by President Franklin D Roosevelt. I quickly got to work photographing candidate Tunney and actor Burt Lancaster. All too soon, we were in Modesto. Photoshelter The minute I jumped off the “El Dorado,” I hurried to get close under the observation deck. Tunney was rousing the crowd with a rip-roaring speech and they were responding with enthusiastic cheers. Tunney’s security guards were out in force because there were demonstrators from opponent Senator George Murphy’s campaign. For me, the guards were easy to deal with because I followed their rules and checked in with Tunney’s staff on the train.
While on the ground, I used my newly acquired Nikkor 20mm f3.5 lens to get good images from the east side of the train.
Burt Lancaster, 1960 Oscar winner for “Elmer Gantry” and politically-ahead-of-his-time Hollywood star, was easy to photograph in the “El Dorado.” I also spotted Rafer Johnson in the “El Dorado” but didn’t get to photograph him before I had to go. (for more on Rafer Johnson, see last week’s blog “Robert F. Kennedy 1968.”)
Before I left the “El Dorado,” I got a chance to shoot behind the candidate. This 105mm shot into the audience shows the face of Stanislaus County in 1970.
Took this basic talking head shot of Tunney talking to Fred Youmans. You should always shoot lots of portraits and talking head images. These images or mugs always become more important later.
I jumped up on the step below the observation deck and held on with one hand while photographing the crowd with the other.
The protesters and the supporters seem to be having a little pushing match with their campaign signs.
By the time I got over to the west side of the train, Burt Lancaster was speaking. According to the briefing, this meant the train was going to pull out of the station soon.
While I was behind Tunney on the observation deck, I used the old hands-over-my-head with the 20mm to make this image.
As planned, Ted Benson picked me up at the train station and gave me a ride south to Turlock to pick up my car. This image was taken a couple years later of the two of us walking together after a similar campaign event. Can’t remember who gave us this transparency. The photographer documented our appearance. Need I say more?