A Memory Of Rush Limbaugh
If you look up his Wikipedia page, you can read the history of Rush Limbaugh's radio career that started in the 70's and spanned into a sixth decade, The Twenties. You've probably heard of him for his unapologetic rhetoric towards any number of subjects across time. Agree or disagree with him, he was a major voice for the increasingly farther right conservatives throughout his career. Back when he awoke from his Top 40 radio cocoon to become the political editorial pundit, he captured an entire generation on the back side of the 1980's conservative boom.
Back in those early days, before the internet was an everyday thing all people had basic access to, you either listened to Rush on the radio and/or read his thoughts and opinions in his newsletter. Since you couldn't just email a newsletter back then, postage cost real money, so subscribers had to pay $30 a year to receive it. One day, a listener named Dan Kay called into the show explaining that his wife wouldn't give him the $29.95, so he asked Rush for a free subscription. Without missing a beat, Rush said "Hold a bake sale and you'll have the money." It was a jab at President Clinton who famously told kids to have bake sales to help reduce the national debt. The plan came together.
Dan's Bake Sale - May 22nd, 1993 - Fort Collins, Colorado
It sound innocuous, innocent, and uneventful doesn't it? Who would drive any considerable distance to buy cake and cookies? Turns out, about 8,000 people from almost every state turned up to see Rush give his opinion live.
I was ten years old, we lived in the Denver suburb of Westminster, and Fort Collins is only about an hour drive. I remember my mom telling us we were going to see Rush Limbaugh speak in person. We had no clue who he was. I'm fairly sure it was mom, my middle sister, and myself all headed up there in my moms Mercury Cougar. It was white with the ugliest crimson red interior you've ever seen. Pure 1980's fashion.
Fort Collins was a small town back then, about the size of Lawton today. The roads weren't prepared for it. The traffic was so backed up, impromptu parking lots sprung up along the side of the road. I remember parking in a field and my mom putting the art work my sister and I made up in the windshield. Four pieces of notebook paper spelling out "RUSH" in marker. As we made our way to wherever the stage was set up, I can't remember if it was a park or the city center area, but there were people as far as you could see. It rained on us. A quick little Rocky Mountain downpour, not a big deal. Mom had somehow lead us almost to the front of the stage. When Rush came walking up, mom put me on her shoulders so I could see, we were about ten feet from him. I, being ten, still had no clue who he was, I just know my mom was excited and he was famous.
I couldn't tell you what he talked about over the course of his speech, you know how childhood memories go. You only remember bits and pieces of the good stuff. I don't remember how it ended, the walk to the car, the baked goods we bought, or even arriving home, but I'll never forget Dan's Bake Sale. It was a conservative Woodstock in the time ultra-liberals started gaining big popularity. You should see some of the videos on YouTube from that day. It was near the beginning of the political spiral into the vicious world of editorial news and political spin it is today, and perfectly encapsulated the world as it was then in 1993. If you see a kid with a chili bowl haircut on his moms shoulders right in front of the stage, odds are, that's me.