Monday, March 30, 2009

Election 1932

In a letter to my mother dated October 5, 1932, my father (age 21 at the time) wrote: "I had the grandest experience last night! You know Hoover was speaking here, to several select groups, and a mere 'Howdy' to the general public? Mr. Rumsey subscribed heavily to the fund and got seats in the second row of the main floor -- and gave me one. I passed up everything for that . . .

"I felt quite among the elite there, you may be sure -- but Hoover failed to impress me very much. I can't see anything more in him than before. He'll never win the election, you may be sure. Even if you do vote for him!" At the time of this letter, my father was in law school and working as chief driver and all around handyman for one of the founders of Meredith Publishing. I'm assuming Mr. Rumsey was a friend of his employer. Mother was living and working in Janesville, Wisconsin. She had finally accepted his repeated proposals, and they were planning to be married.

In a letter dated February 3, 1933, he wrote to my mother: "What do you think of my Mr. Roosevelt by this time? Oh, I'm much impressed with him -- and more and more. Have you heard of his special message to Congress in regard to beer? Signing his name to that plank of the Democratic platform. Such humor in the President! Why he is human! After Hoover that seems good. Oh! Oh!"

As a reminder, Prohibition was in effect in Iowa from 1920 to 1933. Earlier in the letter my father wrote in apparent reference to the Iowa legislature, "Oh yes, we're getting caught up -- without the aid of beer, too -- thank 'ye!. How does it seem in Wisconsin to be flowing in it? Our pussyfooting legislators have not the nerve to risk a vote at the next election in order to stand by the platform upon which they were elected." The prohibition movement had received much support in Iowa back in the early 20th Century. They also were replete with country bootleggers and gangsters who thrived during those thirteen years. The availability of corn was a great boon to that industry.

In spite of their apparently differing political views, George and Thelma were married February 23, 1935. When George died on May 4, 2004, they had been married for 69 years. Their differing political views did not cause many arguments, however, as George became a Republican, albeit a more open minded one than we often see these days. They seem, however, to have raised a liberal daughter.

One of my last meaningful exchanges with my father took place in the fall of 2003, when he turned to me and said, "I thought you'd want to talk about your recent convention in Minnesota." - a reference to the Episcopal Convention at which openly gay Bishop Eugene Robinson was confirmed. I said, "I'll just say that I'm pretty proud to be an Episcopalian." to which my father with his approving smile responded, "I thought so."

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