Here is a photograph of my parents taken by Life photographer Lisa Larsen. This is a sign that we may not know what times we're living through until we're smacked in the head: they all went to this Joe, not Eugene but Joe McCarthy rally "on a lark," my mother said. They just wanted to "see what it was like." See the people holding cameras and laughing? My parents and their friends. They haven't yet noticed that nobody else is laughing.
The McCarthyites noticed them, though, and their lack of pro-Joe fervor, and the mood began to turn ugly. Finally my parents' little group decided it would be in their best interest to go.
They rose, and moved slowly and steadily toward the exit, as you would if you didn't want to incite a pack of animals to attack.
As they went, a woman swung her purse at my father's head. She missed. So my parents (who were not yet married) escaped without inciting a riot, and lived to tell the tale to me. Had the handbag connected, who knows where I'd be?
Lisa Larsen, by the way, took the iconic photograph of Jack and Jackie Kennedy at their wedding reception, the one where radiant Jackie, all elegant tanned shoulders against white lace, is leaning forward to share something deliciously fey and witty with her companions. You've seen it.
Lisa Larsen was herself a fey and witty presence who died too young. She was, my mother said, a delightful person. She was able to fit into almost any milieu, including Jackie Kennedy's.
But not all of them.
note: if you want to know what a McCarthy rally is like, go to a *Muttonchop Rights meeting.