Editor’s Note: The following story was written by an associate editor of the Kentucky Kernel and was first published by the College Press Service.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (LNS) — George Wallace, a man who has contributed greatly to the political polarization of this country, visited the University of Kentucky recently and was greeted by a complete reversal of the polar stereotypes.
While eight straight-looking anti-Wallace pickets paraded and a number of neatly-attired members of a campus action group passed out anti-Wallace leaflets, some 35 scroungy, bearded, beaded, sandaled, longhaired “hippies” (as they called themselves) demonstrated for nearly two hours in support of the former Alabama governor.
Carrying placards reading “Turn on with Wallace,” “Keep America Beautiful, get a haircut!” “Sock it to us, George!” “America, Love It or Leave It!” “Hippies for Wallace,” and shouting slogans like “Law and Order Now!” and “We’re for Po-leece Power,” the group was curiously received.
Some of the crowd of 10,000 who turned out to hear Wallace were able to perceive the tongues in the hippies’ cheeks. But many were unable to cope with the reversal of stereotypes.
After watching the hippies parade for several minutes, one elderly woman asked uncertainly, “They ARE hippies, aren’t they?”
Another said, “If someone like that is for Wallace, I don’t know if I’m supporting the right man or not.”
Even Wallace was somewhat bewildered by the group when they gained his attention during his oratory. It was a typical Wallace speech, complete with catch-phrases, Wallace witticisms and emotional appeals to the working man.
As the atmosphere grew tense, as the fervor spread in the crowd, the hippies came through to lighten the mood. They started to chant: “Sock it to ’em, George, sock it to ’em George.”
Wallace, thinking the shouts came from one of the usual groups of adversaries who attend his speeches, pulled out several patented retorts from his repertoire. “All right, you’re not goin’ to get promoted to the second grade… You people don’t know how many votes you get me each time you…”
Then, pointing toward the group which was sitting high in the balcony he said, “You need a haircut,” though he was too far away to see how correct he was. The hippie group began chanting even louder. “We want Wallace.”
Wallace hesitated, took a step backwards, approached the mike again and said, “Oh, I think they’re for us up there,” which brought wild applause from the group. The little man with the slicked-back hair had been goofed on and didn’t know it.
Later at the airport, when asked about the hippies he said: “If they’re really for me, I’d be glad to have them.”