From the archives of LIFE magazine, rare photos of John Glenn.
John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth in a space craft. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He was a United States senator from 1974 to 1998. A Democrat from Ohio, he ran for the presidency in 1984 and 1988.
As President’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of meeting John Glenn in 1984, when he was on a campaign visit to Boston, Massachusetts. At the time I worked in downtown Boston, in the financial district. Just a few blocks from Faneuil Hall, where Glenn was speaking, I decided to spend my lunch hour hearing what he had to say. Later that year I also went to see Ronald Reagan campaign for re-election, and Fritz Mondale, the Democrat who beat out Glenn for the party nomination.
The crowd for John Glenn was too big for Faneuil Hall, so I couldn’t get into see him. I went back to my office, which was across the alley from the John Glenn campaign headquarters, on the third floor. A little while later I could see some kind of hubbub over there, so I stepped out onto the fire escape to get a better look.
John Glenn saw me and opened a window. All the TV cameras were pointed in my direction. John Glenn yelled across the alley to me, “Are you registered to vote?”
I said, “Yes, I am!”
He called, “Are you going to vote for me?”
Without really thinking, I said, “Hell, I don’t know!”
John Glenn gave me two thumbs up and closed the window. By that time the TV cameras were already down, my response apparently having been deemed un-newsworthy.
Now I know that I *would* have voted for John Glenn, if he’d made it that far. He certainly had all the credentials. I suspect that if Ronald Reagan hadn’t been tall, and John Glenn hadn’t been short, he would have won that race.
Here’s another shot of Glenn, at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California, in 1964.
The main photo, of course, is John Glenn with President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Here are the rest of the photos.