In the mid-1960s I was one of the principal interviewers for the John Foster Duties Oral History Project, which meant, simply, that I went around the country, armed with a tape recorder, interviewing people who had known or worked with Duties during his lifetime.
In the course of my travels, my most interesting brush with history was hi the early summer of 1964—indeed, on the very day that the Republican convention nominated Barry Goldwater for the Presidency. By pure chance I was scheduled to interview Winthrop Aldrich, who had been the American ambassador to Great Britain in the Eisenhower-Dulles era, at his summer home on an island in Penobscot Bay. I arrived hi tune to have dinner with the family—a dinner that, as I recall, involved silverware unknown to me and that, as each course was served, required quick sidelong glances to make sure I didn’t commit some social gaffe. Dinner over, Mrs. Aldrich invited me, if I wished, to watch the Republican convention on the living-room television set. Further, she added—and with considerable disdain—in view of what “they” were doing to “Cousin Nelson,” no member of the Aldrich family intended to watch the proceedings and I would have the television to myself.
So in solitary splendor—in the summer home of a man who had been a major contributor to the Republican party—I watched Barry Goldwater’s stinging triumph over Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. And for the first time I fully realized the extent of the split within the Republican party between the new conservatives and the Eastern establishment. And I also sensed not only that Goldwater would receive not a penny of Eastern money but that, even at the moment of his nomination, his defeat was certain.