The death this past week of former Vice President, Presidential candidate, and fine gentleman Walter F. Mondale brought to mind an interesting hobby inspired by him and pursued by me every four years up to the second election of Barack Obama.
“Fritz” Mondale, as Jimmy Carter’s hand-picked Vice President, was allowed to greatly expand the role and closeness of the Vice Presidency to the President and to assist in molding national policy from 1977-1981. He was the first of our modern Vice Presidents, a man steeped in the tradition of Hubert Humphrey and other Minnesota political reformers, and a “happy warrior.” Following the 1980 defeat of Carter/Mondale in 1980 by Ronald Reagan, Mondale ran in 1984 for the democratic nomination as President, in a crowded field.
The New Hampshire “First in the Nation” primary always brought hordes of presidential hopefuls to the Granite State to engage in intimate, retail politics. In February 1984 I thought it would be interesting to see the process up-front and maybe take some photos. So on February 21 my friend Curtis White and I drove up to Manchester, NH for a rally to be held by Mondale at the Chateau Restaurant on Hanover Street. I brought my camera with a simple 50mm lens, thinking I might be able to get close enough for a photo or two. The event was attended by several hundred, with the enticement of “Free Hotdogs.” When Mondale arrived, it was no problem at all to get close to the podium, and during the event I took all two rolls of my film, and had a nice short conversation with the candidate. Boy was that interesting, and easy. The New Hampshire primary can be an intimate setting for both candidates and the public, while following the winnowing of candidates after NH, the candidates become more insulated from public contact.
During the primary season I made several more trips to NH. I learned that if you acted like you should be there and might be a member of the press, your access was pretty good. Among others, I made photos of candidates Senator Gary Hart; former astronaut John Glenn; and activist Jesse Jackson (actually walking on the Manchester Airport tarmac with press representatives to photo Jackson deplaning). After the two conventions, only a few days before the November 4 election, I was able to get tickets to both the Ronald Reagan rally at Boston City Hall Plaza. on November 1, and the Mondale rally on Boston Common on November 2, featuring folk singers Peter, Paul, and Mary. Though losing the election in a trouncing, Mondale showed his class when as Vice President, he announced the results in Congress of the 525 to 13 Electoral Congress vote. Mondale lived out his life in noble terms, including serving as Ambassador to Japan for a number of years. A fine public servant.
Included are several photos I made in February at the Chateau Restaurant, and in November on Boston Common.
Richard B. Trask
April 25, 2021