1970 WASN’T REALLY THAT LONG AGO, EITHER….This Just In, the Bob Schieffer memoir I’m reading, is pretty good. Nothing spectacular, but it’s fun and readable and an interesting personal reminder of some of the events of the recent past.

One of the things he mentions that is indeed hard to believe for someone my age is how open things were up until the 70s or so:

These days, friends are never really sure I’m serious when I tell them that the Pentagon, like most of official Washington, was still open to the public in the 1970s….No one was required to show identification to enter the building, nor were security passes required….During the time that Jim Schlesinger was secretary of defense, I would sometimes drop by on a Saturday morning, and if his door was open, I would stick my head in and ask if anything was going on.

On a similar subject, he talks about how it was that Jack Ruby managed to kill Lee Harvey Oswald in the middle of a police station:

How could it happen? I have been asked that question many times, and when I explain that it was a different time, the answer seldom seems to suffice. But those were the days before metal detectors, identification cards and concrete barriers ? all the security precautions that we have come to accept as a part of modern life….In those days, if you looked as if you belonged, you could usually get in most places….Ruby had been a hanger-on at the police station. Because he looked as if he belonged there, no one had questioned his presence.

That’s a different world, all right.