A recent headline in The Baltimore Sun, "Police
Escorts at BWI to End for Celebrities," prompted a
recollection of a police-escorted ride, at breakneck
speeds, from the airport to Homewood more than 40 years
Students had invited candidates for the 1964
presidential nomination to speak on campus. One of them was
Republican Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, an old
friend of then JHU president Milton S. Eisenhower. Both had
served in the 1930s and '40s in various federal government
positions in Washington, D.C., and each had been involved
in Latin American diplomacy.
Rockefeller had accepted the students' invitation,
promising to arrive in time for a 4 p.m. speech at Shriver
Hall. Eisenhower and his driver, Charles Morgan, went out
to the airport to meet him, arriving early, as was
Eisenhower's custom. He never was late for an appointment
and expected everyone around him to develop the same high
regard for punctuality.
Rockefeller's private plane arrived nearly an hour
Meanwhile, in a packed Shriver Hall, students, faculty
and staff were growing restless. In a day before cell
phones, no one knew what was causing the delay. The
director of special events, John Synodinos, went on stage
numerous times, urging patience.
Fortunately, Eisenhower's office had arranged for a
police escort — four helmeted and black-booted
officers on gleaming white motorcycles — to lead the
president and his guest to Shriver Hall.
It was rush hour in downtown Baltimore. With sirens
screaming, the motorcycles led Eisenhower's car through one
red light after another. Eisenhower said later he was
certain that they would be broadsided by a driver failing
to heed the sirens. Rockefeller gave no indication that it
was anything but a normal ride, conversing almost without
interruption about the affairs of the day (though not about
his recent divorce and remarriage, which had made
headlines). Occasionally he would call Eisenhower "Milt," a
nickname Eisenhower detested. No one called Eisenhower
Arriving to a cheering crowd in Shriver Hall,
Rockefeller immediately launched into a stump speech about
nuclear energy, numbing the audience, most of whom had
stayed long past their dinner hour.
Perhaps his inability to be on time for appointments
and his poor choice of topics for lively university
audiences helped contribute to his decline in popularity
among Republicans. He eventually withdrew from the race,
leaving the door open to Arizona's Barry Goldwater, who
lost to Lyndon B. Johnson.
Today we cannot count on a police escort from BWI for
a tardy presidential candidate. Gone, too, are the romance
and excitement of another time.
Ross Jones is vice president and secretary emeritus of
the university. A 1953 graduate of Johns Hopkins, he
returned in 1961 as assistant to President Milton S.
Eisenhower and was a close aide to six of the university's