Balloons and Boland Girls: 1968 Campaign
Boland never lost an election, but he did face a serious challenge to his Congressional seat in 1968. Amid the controversy over the closure of the Springfield Armory, Charles V. Ryan, the Mayor of Springfield, ran against Boland in the election. The 1968 Campaign pulled out all of the stops in response to Ryan’s challenge.
Boland’s campaign mobilized a tremendous number of volunteers to spread the message about how his experience, knowledge, and strong work ethic would keep delivering for the 2nd District. Phone banking, signs, bumper stickers, buttons, balloons, sashes, and even a giveaway comb were all used to spread the word about voting for Boland. Another effective campaign tactic were the ‘Boland Girls’, dressed in hats and sashes. They would congregate in front of department stores and, holding placards, walk in circles and tell people to ‘Vote for Boland!’ It was also common for the girls to sing campaign songs extolling the virtues of Boland within the lyrics.
‘We’re betting big on Boland
Yes we’re backing Boland
So let’s shout it loud and strong’
Mary Hurley, former Mayor of Springfield, was once a Boland Girl, and, when pressed into campaign service by her father, she asked him “What is a Congressman?” His response was that in Eddie’s case it is someone that helps people. She remembers that as she worked on the campaign, everyone had a story about how Eddie touched their lives to make things better. She credits his example as inspiration for her career in public service, and described him succinctly: “His was not to brag or boast. His was not concern over publicity. His was concern for people.”