I met John Glenn forty-some years ago when he was Sen. John Glenn (D) Ohio. I was new to the newspaper business and he was new to the Senate. I had just signed on as full-time editorial cartoonist for the Journal Herald in Dayton. He was meeting with the Editorial Board in the editor’s small office, so it seemed like an intimate gathering of friends, but I was new to the club. I was just hoping I didn’t have spinach in my teeth.
I was very impressed with not only him, but me and my good fortune. I was meeting a world-class hero, a man everybody knew about, an American legend. I was as impressed with his blast into space as I was his past as a World War II fighter pilot. I never wanted to slip the surly bonds of Earth as he did in Freedom 7, but I desperately wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was twelve years old. I don’t remember what we talked about in that meeting, or if I even heard a word. The screaming in my head––”That’s John Glenn! That’s John Glenn! He shook my hand!––was too loud. He wore gold cufflinks in the shape of the Friendship 7 capsule.
This was the first of many encounters with heros and scoundrels, pioneers and profits, the rich and famous that the newspaper business dropped at my professional doorstep. It was the beginning and I have savored every one.