In short, the weatherman seemed bent on dampening Glassboro spirits, already slightly subdued by journalistic pundits, who, in Cassandra-like prose, were already prophesying a token Summit Meeting, held solely to provide President Johnson and Premier Kosygin with a forum for reassuring an anxious world that they did not intend to blow it up. Subsequent meteorological developments produced a humid, soggy, and overcast Friday. It turned out to be a day that caused a reporter recently returned from the Mid-East battlefields to remark, "This is worse than the temperatures we suffered through on the Sinai Desert." Another journalist was overheard saying, "It's a good thing they placed those air conditioners in Holly Bush, for L.B.J. would not appreciate working without them in this kind of weather."
Pre-Meeting ActivitiesThe coming of daylight revealed more than the threat of inclement weather. Swarming over the campus grounds was an army of security forces with fire power the hard-pressed marines in Viet Nam would have welcomed. Mobilized were 330 New Jersey State Policemen, about 400 Secret Servicemen and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, and 150 local policemen, sixteen from Glassboro and the remainder from eight neighboring communities, which had responded quickly to Glassboro Police Chief Everett Watson's call for volunteers. This allied body of law enforcement officers made an impressive appearance; the military-like State Police attired in colorful uniforms and wearing wide gun belts from which hung ominous-looking revolvers; competent appearing Secret Service officers identified by conservative business suits, yellow identification buttons in coat lapels, dark sun glasses, and walkie talkies; and local policemen in variegated uniforms carrying riot sticks and sidearm weapons. A Secret Service man, commenting on the large number of his fellow agents present at Glassboro, opined that "East coast counterfeiters will be busier than usual today, for 'they know where most of us are."
At 6: 30 A.M. police protection of this magnitude appeared unwarranted, at least to an observer of the early-morning Holly Bush scene who mused, "They've sent too many men to do a boy's job." Virtually the only persons on campus, other than the security forces, were workmen putting the finishing touches to Summit preparations. In front of Holly Bush stood a few reporters, a young lady of about sixteen, an older woman, and a youth graduated from Glassboro two weeks previously. Sensibly most of the town's inhabitants were still abed, catching up on sleep they had lost in milling about Holly Bush until 2:00 A.M. or listening to late-evening and early-morning Summit Meeting radio and television reports. But by 8:30 A.M. over 200 people moved freely on campus with most of them gathered in the vicinity of Holly Bush. Thirty minutes later, however, security officers cleared the campus of all persons without credentials. At this time people made their decision to go where they believed the action would take place. Some chose to stand on Whitney Avenue adjoining Holly Bush. Others drifted to the Bosshart Hall area on Route 322, and a sizeable[sic] number lined up along the railroad tracks bordering the athletic field, where President Johnson's helicopter was scheduled to land.
Wherever they stationed themselves, the crowds saw security men everywhere, both on land and in the air. Secret Service officers mingled in the crowds, which by 10:00 A.M. had grown large enough to dispel the worries of some Glassboroites concerned with the paucity of early-morning spectators. Rifles ready, State Troopers stood guard on top of college buildings. Seventy-five others formed a security wall along the railroad embankment facing the athletic field, while still others searched the thickly wooded area on the western edge of Glassboro's campus. Observing the process, a college official claimed that the sleuths covered every clump of shrubbery on the grounds. And by 8:00 A.M. local policemen had sealed off, to automobile traffic, sections of Whitney Avenue and Route 322. Overhead, State Police helicopters emitted their harsh staccato sounds, as observers on high maintained scrutiny of the crowds below. Chopper occupants also enforced the Federal Aviation Agency's warning that aircraft keep at least five miles distant from the Summit site or fly at least 3,000 feet above Glassboro. A private-plane operator who violated this warning landed at the Cross Keys Airport to find Secret Service agents waiting to arrest him.
Some Secret Service officers carried out their assignments away from eyes of the watching crowds. Thus agents plied college official Richard Smith with questions such as: Were there any students who might have hostile attitudes toward President Johnson? What were the possibilities of student demonstrations? Can you. identify both students and nonstudents in the crowds? Other agents asked similar questions of Police Chief Watson. Occupants of homes on Whitney Avenue in close proximity to Holly Bush came in for special attention. Persons entering and leaving these abodes were checked out, and the Secret Service maintained a close surveillance of the premises throughout the conferences. The Secret Service had learned a bitter lesson at Dallas, and although the Glassboro preliminary investigations indicated few if any problems, the federal officials took no chances.
The names "Kennedy" and "Dallas" probably were far from the Summit crowd's thoughts on that Friday, June 23, but they were very much on the minds of responsible government officials. While hoping for the best, they prepared for the worst; and if, despite the most stringent precautions, tragedy should strike, they were determined to be ready. Hence the Elmer Community Hospital and Woodbury's Underwood-Memorial Hospital were requested to be on the alert. Reporter Bert Silvotti, writing in the Camden Courier-Post, gave a graphic word picture of the hospital preparations made to handle the dread possibility of an assassination attempt:
At the Glassboro Summit scene itself, officials too made preparations to meet a disaster threat. On duty around-the-clock, three nurses and a doctor manned the college infirmary. Police Chief Watson directed the placing of five ambulances at strategic locations–Holly Bush, Whitney Avenue, and Route 322. In the event of another Dallas, Glassboro was in a position to go into immediate action.
To the north of Glassboro, in Woodbury, the Underwood-Memorial Hospital was also making preparations. Teams of doctors and nurses were put on standby duty, and emergency rooms were staffed and left in constant readiness. Lab technicians checked blood supplies to insure that all types were in the blood bank. Emergency helicopter landing areas were cleared; equipment, checked and re-checked.
Fortunately, the Glassboro Summit passed into history without a breach of security regulations. Major credit for this achievement belongs to the decency and courtesy of Glassboro students and townspeople, a judgment expressed by federal and state security officers alike. One veteran Secret Service official informed reporters that he "had never seen a nicer crowd in all my travels around the country."
But praise should also be given to law officers, who, in the interest of security, carried out difficult and disagreeable assignments. On Friday morning before the Summit meeting started, it was no pleasant task to order fifty Upward Bound youngsters from their Laurel Hall dormitory quarters with fifteen minutes notice; nor was it any more palatable to inform sixteen members of the Campus Players dramatics group that they would have to give up their Oak Hall rooms. Neither did Secret Service agents endear themselves to faculty members who discovered that they would be unable to make final preparations for their summer session classes, because Bunce Hall's offices were closed. More aggravating was the delay faculty experienced in getting pay checks. This holdup was caused by the security force take-over of both the Bunce Hall and Administration buildings.
Others fell victim to the need for maximum security. Field Service Director Charles G. Walker and his staff were barred from the Administration Building and a final opportunity to put the finishing touches to preparations for opening the summer session. Postmaster Joseph Sorelle found that, for the first time in Glassboro history, his truck drivers could not enter the campus to pick up college mail. John E. Hunt, Gloucester County's and Glassboro's Congressman, discovered his high office was no ticket to approaching Holly Bush during the Summit Meeting, a galling experience for a former New Jersey State Police Captain. Glassboro 's new Mayor John Wilson suffered the same fate, for he too found the "Secret Service treating him to a display of its most deft negativism." He did not get near Holly Bush.
Even the Master and Mistress of Holly Bush felt the impact of tight security restrictions. In the midst of the Holly Bush renovation project, Secret Service men urged Dr. and Mrs. Robinson to vacate their home to register at a hotel, with the United States government paying the bill. Mrs. Robinson's response dealt the security agents their sole conference defeat, for the lady of the house was in no mood to leave Holly Bush at 2:00 A.M. on a stormy night, especially when it meant taking her son Timothy, his wife Joan, and granddaughter Kathy along with them. The agents had to be satisfied with a compromise which saw the Robinsons retiring to a little-used, third-floor sleeping quarters. But they were to have no sleep during the remaining few hours of darkness, for the clanging of hammers, slamming of doors, clumping of heavy feet, and the din of shouted orders made slumber impossible. Six A.M. found Dr. Robinson, son Timothy, and daughter-in-law Joan on their way to the college cafeteria for an early breakfast. Mrs. Robinson remained at Holly Bush to minister to little Kathy's needs.
Later on Friday Dr. and Mrs. Robinson played the roles of gracious host and hostess to the two world leaders upon their arrival and at their departure. After the meeting ended and President Johnson and Premier Kosygin had invited themselves back on Sunday, Presidential Assistant Marvin Watson asked New Jersey Secretary of State Robert Buckhardt to talk the Robinsons into leaving Holly Bush until the following Monday.
Gingerly approaching the Mistress of Holly Bush, the Secretary said "It has been a wonderful meeting, Mrs. Robinson, but under the circumstances we are going to have to secure the house."
"Fine," replied Mrs. Robinson, "We'll sleep here tonight and tomorrow night and get out on Sunday morning."
Responded Mr. Burkhardt, "That is not what I mean by securing the building. They want no one in the house except Secret Service guards."
At this rejoinder Mrs. Robinson appeared slightly disturbed, but Marvin Watson came to Mr. Burkhardt's rescue with the explanation that there was always the possibility that Holly Bush could be "bugged" with electronic devices unless Secret Service agents alone kept a constant vigil. The Watson approach made sense to Mrs. Robinson, who, with her husband, found shelter for the remainder of the Conference period in one of Mullica Hall's dormitory apartments.
Later, when quizzed by newsmen on whether he and his wife were disturbed by being evicted from their home, President Robinson replied, "Not in the least. This was a high-level conference and we were happy to open our home. It seems to have served the purposes of the conference well."
The Big Two MeetResponsible for uprooting the Glassboro way of life was the meeting scheduled at 11: 00 A.M. between a former Texas school teacher and the erstwhile director of a Leningrad textile mill.
Lyndon Johnson climbed out of his White House bed at 4:30 A.M. that Friday morning to do some homework for the big test coming up seven hours later. At 8:00 A.M., over a White House breakfast, he reviewed notes and checked his thinking with Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Llewellyn Thompson, and Nicholas Katzenbach. The President left the White House at 9:53 A.M. to drive to the Washington National Airport where he boarded a swift, compact Jetstar, which landed him and his party at 10:28 A.M. on a Philadelphia International Airport runway. Here he changed to a huge helicoper with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA emblazoned on its side and an American flag painted near the nose of the ship, not far from the four, elongated propeller blades. At 10:40 A.M.-ten minutes before the big meeting was due to begin-the craft, hovering like a giant bird of prey, finally made a gentle landing on the right field area of Glassboro's baseball diamond.
The President emerged from the chopper followed by Rusk, McNamara, and Thompson to be greeted with a ringing cheer from several hundred people standing about 100 yards away along the railroad tracks bordering the athletic field. He exchanged greetings with the Glassboro welcoming party headed by Governor and Mrs. Hughes, Robert Burkhardt, and Dr. and Mrs. Robinson, after which this group and the President entered a black limousine to ride, as part of an eight-car calvacade, the quarter-mile to the Holly Bush Summit site.
Observers noted the President and his advisers wore strained expressions as they alighted from their cars in front of Holly Bush. Newsmen attributed the worried looks to Presidential awareness of the seriousness and complexity of the issues that soon would be threshed out in the Holly Bush mansion. The stakes were high. Mr. Johnson knew he had to make the right moves and countermoves in the diplomatic chess contest with Mr. Kosygin. In this introspective mood, the preoccupied President hardly seemed to notice the agitated antics of cameramen, photographers, and reporters jostling for position while packed five deep behind a rope stretched in front of the building.
Suddenly the President's expression relaxed appreciably. His ears had picked up the swelling roar of cheers that came rolling up from the throats of 3,000 people gathered on Whitney Avenue about 150 feet from Holly Bush. Strangely, the crowd was cheering a man it could not see. A long row of shrubbery partially concealed Holly Bush, and a small army of news media personnel and Secret Service men, maneuvering into new positions, completely blocked any chance the people had of seeing Mr. Johnson. But they knew he had arrived, for the strident voices of announcers blaring over transistor radios kept the crowd informed of the President's movements.
At this point, however, the Chief Executive made no move to recognize the prolonged applause. Instead, he entered the Holly Bush building to inspect the miracles that Sherwin Markman had performed in its interior. A few minutes later Governor Hughes escorted Mrs. Gladys Bowe and her family into Holly Bush and introduced them to the President, who graciously expressed his condolences on the untimely death of Mayor Bowe the day before. After the Bowe family had departed, Mr. Johnson reappeared on the screened-in front porch to confer with White House aides. Suddenly he broke off the conversations, barged throught the front door, seized Governor and Mrs. Hughes by the arms, and stalked with them to the nearby Whitney Avenue embankment, trailed by distraught Secret Service men. The President came to a halt at an opening in the shrubbery, standing there flanked by a rose bush on one side and honeysuckle and lilac bushes on the other. Packed twelve-deep across Whitney Avenue was a dense crowd; students and townspeople, men and women, young and old, white and black. Sprinkled in the crowd were women holding infants, and seated on the curb were youngsters, some with thumbs in mouths, others hunched forward, elbows on legs and closed fists holding up tired heads. A rope had been stretched in front of the people to keep them from standing too close to Holly Bush. Twenty-six Glasboro volunteer firemen, spaced in eight-foot intervals, stood guard facing the crowd.
Lyndon Johnson raised his right arm in salute. This was the sign that started the greatest surge in Glassboro's history. Orderly and slowly, but irresistibly, the people moved under and over the rope barrier to inundate Whitney Avenue. Like a slow-moving glacier, they kept the forward thrust moving until the vanguard reached the foot of the embankment bordering the Holly Bush grounds, a short twelve feet from the President. Shaking off a Secret Service agent, the Chief Executive started down the eight-foot rise, but the slope was too steep and security men too determined. The President retraced his steps to stand at the embankment summit once more.
Fire Chief Chris Siebert who was there later described what the great surge was like:
Mr. Johnson had to be satisfied to look at a sea of waving hands, to listen to the din of cheering voices, and to read friendly, makeshift signs: CONGRATULATIONS GRANDPA; WORK FOR PEACE; GLASSBORO LOVES GOD, COUNTRY, AND LYNDON JOHNSON; GLASSBORO STATE LOVES AMERICA; and GSC LOVES USA. These would win no prizes in an art exhibit, but their messages communicated to the tall man standing atop the embankment. For over five minutes the crowd roared its affection, and the grateful President, alternately waving one arm and then the other, whispered almost inaudibly, "Thank you, thank you." No doctor could have prescribed a more effective prescription for the overburdened Chief Executive.
We had the people on the far side of Whitney Avenue with a rope stretched in front of them and firemen stationed along it. When President Johnson came out, the crowd went under and over the rope and the firemen went with them. When a wall of people moves, you move with it. If the embankment hadn't been there, L. B. J. would have been in the crowd shaking hands. He just stood and looked down, as if asking how he could get down there.
It was a friendly crowd, warm-hearted and open-minded. The people seemed to be saying to their President: "Mr. Johnson, we want peace in this world and we want to help you get it." Assuredly it was not an "anti" group of people. Tracy Fallon, Glassboro senior, expressed the predominant feeling: "We are here to show that Glassboro isn't like Berkeley. All students aren't anti-everything." Earlier that morning Tracy, along with classmates John Troxwell and Roberta Gough, had set the crowd's mood by holding aloft the sign GLASSBORO LOVES AMERICA.
Glassboro housewife Mrs. James Craft also gave utterance to feelings held by many in the crowd:
Reluctantly the President left the embankment to return to the front of Holly Bush. Here he resumed the wait for Mr. Kosygin, listening to voices over the Secret Service walkie talkies intoning, "He will be here in three minutes, two minutes and twenty seconds, two minutes...."
I hate to be in crowds, and I can't remember the last time I cheered for anyone. At first I had decided to stay home and watch the show on television, but, living in Glassboro, I felt duty-bound to see the events first-hand. So I joined the crowd on Whitney Avenue.
When I saw the President, I was awe-struck to think he was in our town on a peace mission. Involuntarily I found myself cheering and waving my arms wildly. I was pushed and shoved but enjoyed every minute of it. I was proud the President was here but even prouder of the behavior and attitude of my fellow citizens.
Preparations for Premier Aleksei Kosygin's trip to Holly Bush began on Thursday evening after agreement was reached on the Big Two meeting. To gain preparation time for the event, the Russian leader cancelled plans for attending Mozart's Opera "The Magic Flute" held at Lincoln Center's opera house. As an apology Mr. Kosygin sent a huge basket of flowers costing about $150 to the opera house along with a proper proletarian note reading, "To the workers of the opera house."
At 8:05 Friday morning, the Premier emerged from the Soviet United Nation mission building and jokingly remarked to waiting newsmen, "No more questions on whether we will hold a meeting or not." Thereupon he climbed into the back seat of an air-conditioned black Cadillac limousine bearing license tags DPL-8. Sitting next to Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and the Soviet Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Dobrynin, Mr. Kosygin started off on the first leg of the 11 7-mile trip to Glassboro.
The Premier's Cadillac reached the New Jersey exit of the Lincoln Tunnel at 8:20 A.M., well ahead of the scheduled time set by State Police officials. Timing and protocol were important, for it was imperative that the Russian leader not reach Holly Bush before President Johnson, host of the Summit conference. But if the Kosygin cavalcade traveled the New Jersey Turnpike at the sixty-mile speed limit, the Premier would be at Glassboro waiting to greet the President. A worried Major Eugene Olaff, stationed at the State Police command post in Glassboro's Administration Building, radioed Captain William Kennedy, in charge of the State Police turnpike detail, to "go good and slow and give the Russians a good chance to see the Jersey countryside." It was this order that produced New Jersey's most famous sightseeing episode carried out in the best Sunday-driver manner. Premier Kosygin's ten official cars, protected by three State Trooper vehicles in front and five in the rear, crept along the turnpike at thirty miles an hour.
Security officials, intent upon depositing Mr. Kosygin at Holly Bush after Mr. Johnson's arrival, concocted an emergency plan for extending the cavalcade's turnpike trip to Exit One, the Deepwater Exchange. From here the Premier's cars would proceed leisurely northward to Glassboro through Salem County's rural countryside. But the State Police failed to reckon with the Russian leader's fondness for sightseeing, a penchant that later caused the tension-driven security men to abandon the Salem trip. Mr. Kosygin was more than willing to drive at a slow pace, for it gave him an opportunity to observe an American landscape foreign to his week-long New York City environment. From his car window he saw North Jersey's industrial might, together with South Jersey's open farm lands. One reporter in a trailing press car was convinced that the former textile mill director counted every cow along the way.
Security on the trip was tight. Well in advance of the motorcade, State Police closed turnpike entrances and blocked exits from Howard Johnson restaurant areas. Armed policemen guarded the turnpike's twenty-five overpasses. Most of these were off limits to spectators except for some in South Jersey. At an overpass near the Camden exit more than 150 people gathered to watch the Kosygin caravan pass below them. Absent, however, was helicopter cover. The only choppers in view were the two chartered by the New York Times and the American Broadcasting Company. These flew unmolested as low as 200 feet above the motorcade, a protection gap that annoyed security officials exceedingly. Later that day the pilot of the New York Times helicopter ruefully admitted that Federal Bureau of Investigation and Secret Service agents gave him a blistering scolding for having flown over the Kosygin fleet of cars.
When President Johnson arrived at Glassboro at 10:40 A.M., Mr. Kosygin was thirty-five miles away between the Moorestown and Camden turnpike exchanges, firmly convinced that his decision to refuse President Johnson's offer of a helicopter as a means of transportation had been a wise one. By this time, however, State Police officers at the Glassboro Administration Building were disenchanted with the slow pace of the Kosygin trip. They sent an urgent radio message to Captain Kennedy, informing him that the President had arrived and was awaiting the Premier. They also ordered the motorcade to pick up speed. From that point on, the Kosygin cars sped along the turnpike at seventy miles per hour, ten miles in excess of the legal limit. At Swedesboro's Exit Two, the caravan slowed down to forty miles an hour and was motioned through the toll booth without paying fees.
The Premier's cars sped on Route 322 headed for Glassboro ten miles distant. Along the way were crowds of well-wishers cheering and waving American flags. At Mullica Hill Glassboro English Professor Richard Mitchell and his three daughters greeted Mr. Kosygin, waving their hands and a crude, homemade sign on which was scrawled PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP. Upon seeing them the Russian leader lowered his car window, raised his arm in salute, and gave a pleased smile of recognition.
As he entered the Glassboro borough limits, the Premier had a foretaste of what was to be a hallmark of the Summit Conference-the friendliness and warmth of the Glassboro citizenry. Packed five-deep on Route 322 between the large parking lot and Bosshart Hall, the crowd cheered ·and waved American flags. It was evident early that Glassboro by the force of sheer good will was determined to make the meeting a success. A Los Angeles Times reporter caught this mood when he wrote, "The people had little chance to secure Soviet flags in view of the fifteen-hour advance notice, but there is no doubt they would have done so if opportunity had been available."
The Kosygin motorcade turned right into the college gounds and drove past "Check Point Charley," a small enclosed structure used by college employees to control parking in the faculty area. Traveling along winding driveways, the Premier saw a beautiful campus on which were oak, chestnut, holly, laurel, pine, dogwood, and linden trees; flower beds containing a profusion of lilacs, geraniums, hollyhocks, roses, peonies, and lillies of the valley; and emerald-green grass freshly moistened by the latest of many spring rains.
At 11:20 A.M. Mr. Kosygin's limousine reached the Holly Bush entrance, twenty minutes after the scheduled meeting time and thirty minutes after President Johnson had arrived at the Summit site. American officials forgave his tardiness, for they knew that it was courtesy for his host that prompted the Kosygin slowdown. In any event, the friendly appearance of the Russian leader quickly dispelled any fears that his. lateness might be another manifestation of Soviet rudeness.
First to greet the Soviet Premier was Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson, who then introduced Mr. Kosygin to President Johnson. To onlookers it was heartening to see the two world leaders finally meeting, the tall, deeply-tanned Texan dressed in a dark gray su1t, pale blue shirt, and silver-blue tie, and the much shorter Russian attired in a gray suit, white shirt, and blue tie. With the survey of college grounds and buildings fresh in mind, the Premier's first words to the President were: "You have chosen a beautiful place."
After a round of introductions, the President and the Premier posed for photographers and television cameramen. The two smiled broadly and shook hands warmly. At 11:23 A.M. they entered Holly Bush. Their entrance signaled the beginning of the seventh summit meeting held by the United States and Russia since 1943 and the first since the chilly get-together of Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy at Vienna in 1961.
The First MeetingInside Holly Bush, the two leaders and their aides gathered first in the swing room to sip, according to their preferences, either cooling draughts of ice water or iced tea. Here the Americans renewed an old acquaintanceship with Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin; and here, for the first time, President Johnson really talked to Premier Kosygin. They had, of course, corresponded numerous times and, in that fateful first week of June, 1967, had used the hot-line teletype machine to pledge American and Russian nonintervention in the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. But never had they conversed face to face in the same room. The initial exchange of pleasantries was in a light vein marked by Mr. Kosygin's congratulating the President on his two-day-old grandfather status, while at the same time chiding him for his tardiness in achieving this goal. Slyly pushing his advantage, the Russian leader stressed that he had been a grandfather for eighteen years.
Obviously delighted with the subject, Mr. Johnson grinned and expressed appreciation for being inducted into the grand father club. At the same time he mentally blessed daughter Luci for her timing in bringing infant Patrick Nugent into the world. Her thoughtfulness gave the President a common bond with the Russian Premier, who obviously was proud of his eighteen-year-old grandson and seven-year-old granddaughter. Subsequent developments indicated that the grandfather theme was the chemical that thawed the cold-war ice frozen to a dangerous state by the harsh, threatening harangues of Soviet United Nations Ambassador Nikolai Fedorenko at the debates during the Arab-Israeli war. Mr. Kosygin speeded the thawing process when he, playing the role of the proper visitor, presented Mr. Johnson with a gold, Russian baby cup. Not to be outdone, the President reciprocated by giving the Russian leader a watch. This display of good will and good nature later helped to remove the stiffness from the conference between the leaders of the world's two nuclear superpowers.
The exchange of humorous banter lasted five minutes. At 11:27 A.M. Mr. Johnson guided his visitor into Dr. Robinson's library, while other Russian and American officials took seats at the College President's handsome walnut table in the large conference room adjoining the library. Led by Secretary Rusk and Foreign Minister Gromyko, they began discussing the same topics their chiefs would soon be considering. In addition, they laid plans to supply background material for the two leaders in the event they needed the information.
Entering the library with its tasteful furniture of another century, Mr. Johnson seated himself in the Robinsons' Victorian, pedestal rocking chair. Mr. Kosygin chose a comfortable, upholstered chair. At the start, the Russian interpreter Viktor Sukhodrev stood behind the men ready to translate, while the American linguist William Krimer sat in a comer of the room awaiting his tum to interpret.
While the two leaders prepared to converse, an attentive world, kept informed by far-flung radio and television reports, literally held its breath. Emotions understandably were mixed. Debate at the United Nations came to a virtual standstill, as delegates focused on Holly Bush, hoping for a sign that the Big Two would find the key for opening the door of reason to the bitter Mid-East impasse. Arab leaders zeroed in on Glassboro's events with feelings of trepidation, fearful that Russia might abandon them in their hour of humiliation, while Israel, on the other hand, stirred uneasily with the thought that Mr. Johnson, at the urging of the Russian Premier, might agree to pressure Israel for a return of conquered lands before peace negotiations could get under way. In Moscow the Summit Meeting was watched eagerly by the man in the street. The Russian hope was that the United States and the Soviet Union might somehow make a package deal to include a start toward settling the Middle East's unpleasantness and the brutal war in Viet Nam. Reflecting the Russian people's views was a statement made by a prominent Soviet editor to American correspondent Edmund Stevens: "Whether we like it or not, our countries have got to get together." Communist China's explosion of a hydrogen bomb six days before lent urgency to the necessity for a Soviet-American rapprochement. Reaction of the Chinese Reds was predictable. They viewed the Johnson-Kosygin meeting as further evidence that the Soviets were betraying the vital interests of the communist world. To the Chinese it was a clear case of the United States calling the tune, with the Soviets keeping in step to the imperialistic music. In Mr. Johnson's country the predominant mood was one of hope that the Glassboro Summit would find an honorable way for arriving at a peaceful world, although there was some skepticism whether the hastily arranged meeting could produce any panaceas.
As they prepared to reason together, both the President and the Russian Prime Minister were aware that the world was looking over their shoulders. Despite the intense universal interest in their meeting, the two leaders devoted a large portion of their first two hours discussing topics far removed from matters that disturbed an anxious world. Reporter Henri Nannen, fortunate to have gained a post-Summit interview with President Johnson at his Texas ranch, revealed in the West German magazine Der Stern intimate and previously unreported details on the first meeting.
From the German newsman's account, it was apparent that President Johnson and Premier Kosygin were determined to get to know each other before delving into the touchy items on the prepared agenda. Thus the Premier asked his host whether he was really a farmer, and if he actually owned that large Texas ranch. The curious Soviet leader also wanted to learn more about the State of Texas. "Did," he asked, "the Colorado River in Texas (sic) drive electric power plants?" On his part, the American President plied his guest with personal questions too, asking the Russian leader about his work as a young man in a Leningrad textile mill, his experience as director of the mill, his wartime ordeal in besieged Leningrad, and activities for twelve years as Stalin's deputy.
It was during this friendly exchange of delving into personal backgrounds that the Premier expressed to the President his dislike of urbanized New York City and of the frantic pace set for him there. He hinted at an opportunity to see portions of the U. S. A. which were less megalopolitan. An alert President quickly invited his guest to visit any place in the United States he wished, including the Johnson ranch, but the Russian leader expressed a desire to see Niagara Falls with its beautiful scenery and giant power plants, tourist attractions dear to the Kosygin heart. Later, when agreement was reached to meet again on Sunday, Mr. Johnson set in motion plans that resulted in the Premier's Saturday visit to the great falls.
The two leaders talked about their families and of the joys of family living, especially of loyal wives as sources of strength to men bearing global leadership responsibilities. Mention of wives brought sadness to the Russian leader, who had lost his wife only two months before his American visit. The conversation, however, reverted to a cheerful note when the two once more picked up the grandfather theme, with Mr. Johnson earnestly expressing the hope that their grandsons would live in a peaceful world, rather than one that could find them shooting at each other from opposing battle lines. It was at this point that the Russian Premier introduced the only jarring note in the day's meeting. While agreeing with his host that it would be far better for their grandsons to talk matters over rather than shoot them out, Mr. Kosygin with a skeptical smile accused the United States of waging war to foist the American way of life on an unreceptive world. In a blunter tone he added, "You are for war, and we are for peace."
Mr. Johnson reacted to this unexpected thrust by keeping his blood pressure down. Secretly counting to ten, he took his time in giving a calm reply, the burden of which was to assure the Soviet Premier that the American people earnestly desired peace; and Mr. Johnson went on to list his own efforts to reach understandings with the Soviet Union: the signing of the treaty for the peaceful use of outer space, the Consular Treaty, the Civil Air Transport Agreement, and the Cultural Exchange Agreement. Without pausing, Lyndon Johnson continued a recital of his efforts to reach agreements on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and the need to refrain from building a vast network of expensive and war-breeding antimissile defenses. Mr. Johnson put the finishing touch to his reply by reminding his guest that, "Despite the Viet Nam War, Russia and the United States have signed more agreements during my term as President than ever before."
It was a deft response to Mr. Kosygin's American warmongering charge. In a further attempt to establish an atmosphere of moderation, the President emphasized the special responsibility that the two powerful nations–over 400 million strong–had for securing peace not only for themselves but for the world's three billion people. Later that evening, in Los Angeles, Mr. Johnson voiced the common responsibility theme to a larger audience:
Premier Kosygin was in complete agreement with the Johnsonian theses on both the desirability of a peaceful world and the responsibility the two great powers had for maintaining an earth free from war. But the pragmatic Russian leader was not at all certain that his country and Mr. Johnson's were in harmony on the specific methods for bringing Utopia to a war-frightened world. At this point the discussion veered from generalities to the specific headaches of Viet Nam and the Mid-East.
There are deep and very serious differences in our two societies, but one thing we do have in common, as chairman Kosygin himself said when he addressed the United Nations, is a grave responsibility for world peace in a nuclear age. Every crisis in the last twenty years has necessarily invoked that common responsibility and repeatedly we have seen the dangerous consequences of incomplete understanding.
These were the dynamite-laden topics which, if handled carelessly, might have been disastrous. Fortunately both the President and Premier chose to discuss them as if they were items under consideration at a graduate seminar session. Calmly the Russian leader gave his nation's well-known arguments for a halt to the United States' bombing of North Viet Nam. Just as dispassionately, Mr. Johnson explained his country's stand calling for the promise of a reciprocating Hanoi gesture if the bombing were to end. Again, as he had urged at the United Nations, the Premier called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces form conquered Arab territories. In answer, the President re-stated the American position which held that withdrawal must be part of a general peace move, one guaranteeing Israel's security. Both leaders agreed that it was important to reach an international understanding on methods for halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Despite the meeting's amity neither leader, however, had any easy solutions to difficult problems. Later that Friday night in Los Angeles, the President, in commenting on the first Summit meeting, remarked, "We reached no new agreements–almost, but not quite." The tantalizing word "almost," overlooked at the time in the nation's press, was an indication of how close the United States and Russia had come on Friday, June 23, to making the world a safer place to live. It was also indicative of the kind of meeting that, in the face of widespread news media pessimism, almost but not quite confounded the diplomatic prophets of doom.
Although those first two hours spent in Dr. Robinson's library produced no startling agreements, both the participants found them fruitful. For each leader made an effort to get to know the other, and each was determined to maintain a harmonious dialogue. There was no table pounding, no vituperative shouting, no condescending talk, no baiting, and no jockeying for position. The two leaders conversed earnestly without pause, except when they leaned back in their chairs to allow the interpreters to communicate in either Russian or English the points being made. Each had done his homework, for at no time did they refer to position papers. At times, however, they did jot down notes or make sketches on scratch pads. Each spoke quietly but firmly in outlining his government's viewpoint, but both listened courteously and attentively to opposing arguments. One of the few persons privileged to know how that Summit meeting was conducted wrote later:
This was the kind of meeting that some felt produced something as important for the world's long-term peace of mind as any signed document: the bond of respect that developed between the Big Two. President Johnson found the Premier a man who would sit down and reason with him. The Prime Minister discovered the President to be a far more flexible person that he had ever expected. In short, it was a meeting in which two powerful men agreed to disagree, but in a manner that left the· door open for future negotiation. Hopefully the bonhomie of that first "Grandfather Summit" meeting made the future of Soviet-American relations a little less dangerous.
When Johnson talks about Kosygin, he cannot hide his respect. The Russian is what in America is known as an eye watcher, a man who looks you constantly in the eyes when talking. Johnson did likewise. Kosygin sat in an easy chair on Johnson's right. A small table stood between them. The Russian interpreter, Victor Sukhodrov, translated simultaneously. Kosygin kept his eyes on the President as if they were radar beams, as if he wanted to read what went on behind that forehead. When he wanted a gulp of coffee, his hand probed over the table, felt for the cup and he drank from it. In the same way Johnson's big hand searched for the glass of water; the conversation never broke off for an instant, and the eyes never strayed away.
At 1: 30 P.M., after two hours of intensive talks, officials summoned the two leaders to lunch. Symptomatic of the way the session had gone was the Premier's jocular comment that he was a tough old grandfather who could talk on without the need of sustenance. But after a little coaxing he followed his host to the Robinson dining room where they found a meal of shrimp cocktail, roast beef, rice pilaf, domestic red wine, and a choice for dessert of pineapple sherbet with blueberries or butter-pecan ice cream with caramel sauce.
At the luncheon the distinguished diners talked as well as ate. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, for example, presented the American views on the advantages of a mutual freeze in producing anti-ballistic missile systems. Foreign Minister Gromyko gave the Soviet's stock answer: the Russian needed an ABM network for protection against American missiles. And it was at lunch that President Johnson offered a gracious toast in which he pressed home once more the need for the United States and Russia to lead the world to peace, safe and secure for his and the Premier's grandsons and for grandsons all over the globe For his part Mr. Kosygin repeatedly expressed his delight with the Holly Bush setting-its air of nineteenth-century gentility, its decor, and its furniture, particularly rocking chairs. From his viewpoint Holly Bush was a charming farmhouse vastly preferable as a meeting site to a more formal, twentieth century urban environment. While agreeing with the Premier's assessment, President Johnson, however, pointed out that Holly Bush was a cut above the typical American farmhouse.
Lasting one hour and forty-five minutes, the luncheon was both profitable and pleasant. After it was over, the President and the Premier returned to the library sanctuary to continue their reasoning together. One hour later, as the meeting neared its close, Mr. Johnson started to prepare a statement for the press. It was at this point that the Premier made the suggestion destined to send Glassboro and a good part of the world into a flurry of hope and anticipation. The Soviet leader disclosed that he had decided to extend his American visit one day, and, if the President agreed, he was prepared to come back to Holly Bush for a second meeting. A startled but delighted Mr. Johnson quickly assented to meet at 1 :30 P.M. on Sunday.
It had been a much longer meeting than even the most sanguine and naive of peace lovers had expected. Initially Premier Kosygin had made plans to leave for New York City at 2:30 P.M., while federal security men had predicted a 3:00 P.M. ending. Actually the Premier and President had closeted themselves in Holly Bush for over five hours.
Post Meeting DevelopmentsAt 4:30 P.M. a Russian aide carrying a blue suitcase emerged from Holly Bush. His appearance signaled the end of the discussions. He was followed by another Soviet official, whose exuberant behavior–the bestowal of a big smile and hug upon a Russian-speaking American newsman–was a clear sign that things had gone well in Holly Bush. Moments later President Johnson and Premier Kosygin appeared, arm in arm and wearing broad smiles. A relaxed President, speaking over a microphone mounted on a podium bearing the Presidential seal, read a prepared statement to the press. In it Mr. Johnson told how he and the Premier had gotten acquainted, had exchanged views on a number of international questions, and had ordered Secretary Rusk and Foreign Minister Gromyko to continue discussing these matters in New York. To newsmen it was the kind of statement that many of them had expected to emerge from the Holly Bush conference, correct but dull. But political virtuoso as he is, the President had saved his punch line until last. Almost casually he said, "We are inviting ourselves to return here at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon, and we will continue our discussions here then. And those of you that have Sunday afternoon off–we’ll be glad to have you come, too." This was the news blockbuster that startled and impressed the most hardened and blase reporters.
It was now Mr. Kosygin's turn to report. Graciously he thanked the President for holding the meeting "in so pleasant and beautiful a locality and town." He also expressed appreciation to the Master and Mistress of Holly Bush "who have given us a roof over our heads under which we could meet." The Premier went on to explain that a second meeting was necessary because he and the President needed more time to discuss important questions. Concluding, the Russian leader apologized to the newsmen for keeping them waiting so long to receive so little information.
Mr. Kosygin's remarks seemed to ring down the curtain on Act One of the Summit drama. At least this was the impression newsmen had as they watched him climb into his limousine for the trip to New York. But the Kosygin car had gone only a few yards when he ordered it to a halt. Startled officials and newsmen watched the stocky figure disembark and stride purposefully toward the sound of the rhythmically clapping hands of the huge crowd gathered on Whitney Avenue. These people had waited nine hours on a hot, sultry day to demonstrate once more their belief in positive thinking. The Premier made his way to the same spot where President Johnson had met the crowd that morning. There in the shrubbery opening framed by a rosebush on one side and lilac bushes on the other, the Prime Minister of Russia stopped to face the multitude with security agents nervously hovering around him.
For only an instant the crowd was too stunned to react, for their surprise at Kosygin's appearance was complete. The citizens of the small town had wishfully hoped for a chance to see their President once more, but not even the most sanguine expected the Kosygin appearance. But there he stood, the leader of Soviet Russia. This was not the Kosygin that they had seen on their television sets, frozen-faced and glowering as he listened and watched Israel's Abba Eban counter Russian charges at the United Nations General Assembly. This was a man standing on the brow of an embankment, smiling and holding out his left arm in a gesture of friendship. At that moment the humid air seemed charged with an emotional current needing only a spark to set off an explosion. Kosygin's gesture was the spark, for, when he held out his arm, pandemonium broke loose. The people shouted, screamed, waved arms continuously, and displayed signs of friendship and peace. It was a spontaneous outpouring of good will with no cheer leaders to direct the cheering. All participated–Catholic nuns, Protestant ministers, staid faculty members, students, town officials, and Glassboro's plain people. At the height of the din, the Premier clasped both hands over his head like the prizefighter acknowledging the cheers of his fans. Without the aid of a microphone, the Premier began to speak, with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin translating his Russian language remarks. Few in the crowd heard nor understood what was said, for the cheering never stopped. Later they learned that the Russian leader had told them, "I would like to assure you that our Soviet people want only one thing–to live in peace with you and for war everywhere to be stopped.'' Pausing, while the cheers rolled over him, he continued wistfully, "There are many beautiful and wonderful things to be done."
With this thought Premier Kosygin prepared to leave the crowd. Before he left, however, John Russack from nearby Mullica Hill, broke through the grasp of a guard to stretch out his hand saying to the Premier, "Tovarich! Tovarich!," Russian for comrade. Mr. Kosygin turned and with a grin grasped the oustretched hand in a gesture that surprised even his aides.
It was an amazing three-minute performance even on this amazing day, and it was an experience impossible to communicate adequately through the medium of cold prose. But feature writer Jimmy Breslin came closest to capturing and conveying what the Kosygin-Johnson Glassboro love affair was like:
President Johnson, pleased with the Kosygin venture into American-style politicking, was careful to let the Premier have the crowd to himself. Not until 5:16 P.M.–twenty minutes after Mr. Kosygin's limousine had departed for New York–did Mr. Johnson emerge from Holly Bush to greet the crowd for the second time that day. Again the ovation was deafening and prolonged, but the President had greater success than his distinguished guest in quieting the cheering people. In his best school-teacher manner, he kept motioning for a moment of silence, extending both arms in front of him, slowly lowering and raising them until he could be heard. The Chief Executive thanked the people for their good behavior to the guest in their town and drew a thunderous burst of cheering when he informed the crowd that, "We liked things so well here that we are coming back Sunday afternoon." At that moment he saw a woman at the front of the crowd waving an envelope. The President beckoned her forward and took the envelope from her. On it was scrawled CONGRATULATIONS GRANDPA. Grinning broadly Mr. Johnson read the message aloud and left his constituents with the parting words, "We had a good meeting here today, and you people of this fine community have served your nation well."
The people are crowded in the street, 2,000 of them, more maybe, and their arms are up in the air and they are waving and clapping their hands and they scream to this little Russian Alexyei (sic) Kosygin who stands up on a dirt embankment and clasps his hands over his head and shakes them The people in the street scream for Kosygin.
He smiles eagerly. His eyes glisten. He tries to talk to the crowd, but the people keep screaming for him and everybody who is watching this thing is shaken by the beauty of what he is seeing. When the people who govern the world think of the world as they would like it to be, they are thinking of Glassboro, N. J., at 4:45 on a hot summer afternoon yesterday.
On this note, the President departed to climb aboard his helicopter, which deposited him at the Philadelphia Inter national Airport at 5:31 P.M. There he boarded Air Force One for a flight to Los Angeles where a far different kind of crowd awaited him, one neither friendly nor courteous.
With the departure of the two principals, Glassboro's first Summit Day officially came to a close, but for officials of lesser rank the end of the first meeting signaled the beginning of preparations for the second. Accordingly, Sherwin Markman once again emerged from the shadows that the Johnson-Kosygin presence had cast over him. Calling together state officials and college officers Walter Campbell, Ward Broomall, and Stanton Langworthy, Mr. Markman evaluated with them the effective ness of Holly Bush as a Summit site. While the fastidious Markman was pleased with the praise both the President and Premier had lavished upon the Holly Bush meeting place, he felt that improvements were in order. Hence further plans were agreed upon to alter the old mansion's interior in preparation for the Sunday meeting. It was these changes that would keep Walter Campbell and his staff from enjoying a relaxing Saturday.
Summit MemoriesWhen historians begin writing about the 1967 Summit Conference, they will naturally focus on what transpired in the meetings between the American President and the Russian Prime Minister. But the entire Summit proceedings did not revolve around the activities of these two men alone. Other lesser-known personalities also took part and provided the touches of color and warm human interest that deserve mention in any account of what happened at Glassboro on Friday, June 23, 1967.
For example, Glassboro's most famous displaced person, Dr. Thomas E. Robinson, will not soon forget an incident in front of Holly Bush when he was seized by a Secret Service man and ordered to get behind the rope with the rest of the newsmen. The over-zealous security official had mistaken the College President for a reporter. Neither will the Glassboro prexy quickly forget the conclusion of the first Johnson Kosygin meeting when Secretary of State Dean Rusk approached him to say rather diffidently, "Dr. Robinson, the President and the Premier are planning to return for another meeting on Sunday. May they have the use of Holly Bush again?" Always the impeccable diplomat, Mr. Rusk was merely going through the protocol of asking a question. The answer had already been decided. As partial compensation for his Summit inconveniences, the Glassboro President, however, could be seen that Friday showing friends attractive gifts the Soviet Premier had given him: a Baltic amber cigarette holder, a set of Baltic amber cuff links, and a small paper weight.
Other incidents crowd themselves into memories of that Summit Friday: the nine-year-old boy, evading security officials to obtain Secretary of State Rusk's autograph on a newspaper; a weary reporter snapping, "If I hear one more T. V. guy call Glassboro a sleepy little town, I'm going to clobber somebody"; Walter Marshall, Glassboro lawyer, surveying his broken shrubbery and littered lawn across the street from Holly Bush exclaiming, "Guess I’ll get President Johnson to declare this a disaster area"; Barber Frank D'Amico and clothing merchant Irving Levy alone in their business establishments explaining, "All customers are up on Whitney Avenue where they should be"; Bell Telephone employees Ralph Delaney and John Norris, together with Atlantic City Electric's Phil Miller, spending nine hours in the damp Holly Bush basement and acting as watchdogs over circuits whose malfunction could cause a Summit Meeting disaster; Mrs. Richard Hughes, the governor's wife, dozing in her air-conditioned limousine away from heat and the crowds; and teenager Dave Kohlman spending all of his money for a Russian-English dictionary and a magic marker to make a Russian-language sign reading PEACE FOR ALL.
And that Summit Friday brought disappointments to some: teen-agers Elsie Kelly and Elizabeth Henry whose eight-box gift of freshly picked Jersey strawberries never reached President Johnson nor Premier Kosygin; workmen whose huge Delsea Drive billboard signs GLASSBORO WELCOMES PRESIDENT JOHNSON and GLASSBORO WELCOMES PREMIER KOSYGIN never were seen by the two leaders, for the signs were located on the wrong spot–the President landed by helicopter and Mr. Kosygin's limousine traveled on Route 322; the eighty-six piece Glassboro High School band whom the Summit announcement found far away at a band festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Rushing home by bus on Friday, the bandsmen survived a mishap to the vehicle and reached Glassboro barely in time to play a few numbers at President Johnson's and Premier Kosygin's departure. Disappointed too was Glassboro Enterprise publisher William Schwoebel, Jr., whose 1800 weekly papers hit the newstands[sic] Thursday morning about nine hours before the Summit announcement. Having missed covering Glassboro's biggest news story in his regular edition, the publisher came out with a six-page extra the following Monday.
These were a few of the recollections that Glassboro citizens will file in their memory books. But on Friday night, as they gathered by the hundreds in front of the Holly Bush shrine, their thoughts were focused more on the future than the past. For on Sunday there would be a repeat performance, and Glassboro's anticipation was tinged with an element of fore-boding. For there was always the possibility that big-city demonstrators would have ample time to mar the Glassboro image that had shone so brightly on that Friday. In the meantime, Glassboroites had an interim day to savor the events of the first Summit performance and to make preparations for the second act of the drama.
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This page references:
- Squad of NJ State Troopers
- President Johnson and Premier Kosygin June 23rd in front of Holly Bush
- Premier Aleksei Kosygin's Cadillac limousine
- Crowd at Whitney Avenue
- Dr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Robinson outside of their Holly Bush home
- President Johnson's remarks following the first meeting with Premier Kosygin at Hollybush