Following Hubert Humphrey's trail

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Paul Bengston never got to meet Hubert Humphrey -- not in person, anyway. But the acquaintance he's forged with the Happy Warrior through campaign buttons, political posters, tickets to DFL bean feeds and the odd key chain has, in a way, been as personal.

Bengston has many of the Christmas cards Humphrey sent over the years, whether as mayor of Minneapolis, senator from Minnesota or vice president of the United States. But he's always on the lookout for more holiday greetings, especially from the mayoral years. "Christmas cards I will chase," said Bengston, whose collection is among the largest troves about Hubert Horatio Humphrey.

May 27 is the 100th anniversary of HHH's birth, and the range of his more than three decades in politics is clearly and artistically evident in his many campaigns. From a mid-1940s photo of a horse-drawn carriage festooned with "Humphrey for Mayor" posters to a button from the 1960s with the psychedelic graphics of Peter Max, Humphrey's campaign trail doubles as a history lesson.

As is often the case, Bengston didn't realize that he was actually collecting when he began. He remembers buying his first button in 1968, when he was 7, "and my parents dragged myself and my two brothers out to Waverly, Minn.," he said. "A presidential candidate was going to speak on the steps of the town hall."...

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