It’s a big deal when the Vice President comes to your school. These students shared a brief interaction with the man of the hour, and I received high praise from the managing editor of a competing newspaper for the picture.
In January of 1978, Walter Mondale visited the area. It was my first experience with a politician of such stature. More interesting than Mondale was the Secret Service.
They stand out like a sore thumb and are all business. Part of the job, I guess.
My legitimacy had to be scrutinized by the men in black. They took particular interest in the cameras and lenses — everything was taken apart and thoroughly inspected. Like in a James Bond movie, someone could masquerade as a photographer with gear a weapon in disguise, right? Later, a colleague and I were standing up next to the official limo when a commanding voice said, “step away, gentlemen.” We had no clue we were under watch.
It was late when the airplane carrying the VP landed and parked off in the distance. Stairs descended from beneath the tail. Several figures carrying small cases scurried into the darkness. Who are they? What are they up to? What’s in the case? An Uzi, we figured.
The next day we media types followed Mondale from stop to stop with the final visit to a grade school. I was at the end of a long hallway as the entourage approached. A female agent was in the lead, talking into her thumb and laughing.
Fun fact, Secret Service agents communicate by talking into their thumb.
Seeing such levity, I thought it appropriate to add a little of my own. I looked at her and said, “they telling jokes in there?” “No joking,” she said, along with a scowl to emphasize the point.
Oops. I guess my clever repartee was unappreciated.