13 August 2017

The passing a few days ago of Glen Campbell, The Rhinestone Cowboy, brought back a very vivid memory for me and I would like to share it with you this week.

I take you back to 1972, May 7th, to be exact (I remember the date because it was my Dad’s birthday). Richard Nixon was President of the United States, and Dr. Norman Borlaug, the farm boy from Iowa, had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for being the leader of the Green Revolution in the 60's. The story of his research work, developing rice and wheat that would grow in the tropics, is told the book titled “The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives”.

President Nixon decided to salute Dr. Borlaug and American agriculture by hosting a dinner at the White House, inviting 160 guests. I was fortunate to be one of those guests and at the table that I shared with seven other people, were Senator Bob Dole of Kansas and the entertainer for the program following dinner, Glen Campbell.

During our dinner conversation Glen and I discovered that we had a lot in common. We learned we were staying at the same hotel, the Hay Adams across the street from the White House. So he said, “look, when the evening event is over and you have finished what you have to do and are back at the hotel, call my room and join me for a nightcap, so we can continue our conversation”.

So at midnight I joined him and several of his musicians in his suite, he was already relaxing in his bathrobe, and we continued our dinner conversation. We shared quite a few similarities, we grew up in farm houses that did not have electricity or indoor plumbing, we went to one-room eight-grade country schools, and we learned at an early age to do heavy farm work. We did have one big difference - he grew up on an Arkansas farm with 12 siblings, I grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm with one sister.

We also had similar reasons for choosing careers that took us off the farm. Glen put it this way “I spent the early part of my life looking at the north end of a southbound mule, and it didn’t take long to figure out that a guitar was a lot lighter than a plow handle.” For me, after spending my younger years getting up at 5:00 in the morning to milk cows, I decided it would be a lot easier to talk about it than do it, so I became a broadcaster.

Our conversation finally ended at 2:00 AM. I will be forever grateful to Glen for making dinner at the White House even more memorable for me. I will miss the Rhinestone Cowboy.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.