Monday, October 20, 2008

Lovecraft and Franklin Roosevelt (1936)

Lovecraft and politics? Lovecraft in crowds of maddening, sweaty people? Well, apparently. This is a very different Lovecraft than we sometimes think of, a man who gets out and doesn't mind the hoi poloi.

{To Barlow, 30 November 1936 in O Fortunate Floridian} On Oct. 20 I had my first sight of Pres. Rooselvelt, who was in town in the morning & who spake from the terrace of our marble state-house. Despite the crowds {see article below, highlight}, I obtained several close & excellent glimpses of the distinguished visitor whose coming triumph was so obvious - my third sight of a chief executive; T R & Big Bill Taft constituting the others. The subsequent election was satisfying enough! ... Arounf election-time I came damn near having a family feud on my hands! Poor old ostriches.

Yes this is certainly a different Lovecraft than we have in our mind's eye.


Time Magazine of Monday, Nov. 02, 1936

Frenzy in New England

In the long hot weeks of summer Franklin Roosevelt looked down his nose, disparaging the idea that he should campaign for reelection. When late in droughty August he began making "nonpolitical" campaign speeches newshawks plagued him with demands for the date of his first political speech. "About Jan. 4," he jibed. But last week when New England's birches were yellow, her maples orange, her oaks red, Franklin Roosevelt had lost his coyness about campaigning. He was out on the stump with other politicians, waving his hat at the electorate. His weekdays and nights were full of political speeches, bis Sundays with going to church, his face with smiles, his mouth with greetings to "my old friend. . . ."

At the last moment he considered making a trip back to Ohio and Indiana, later reconsidered, deciding it would be an admission of nervousness about the election outcome. For this week, the last of the campaign, he dated himself up for a series of speeches that would take him from the Statue of Liberty to his polling place at Hyde Park by way of Wilkes-Barre. Harrisburg, Camden, Wilmington, Washington, Brooklyn. Madison Square Garden and a microphone in Poughkeepsie. Only sense in this zig-zag itinerary was that it would take him through a maximum number of places where the New Deal needed votes.

Not so far fetched but equally fabulous was his campaigning last week when with the same urge that drove Alf Landon to invade New Deal California, the President took a swing through anti-New Deal New England. One fair autumn morning he woke up aboard his special train in Providence, and began greeting people: Mrs. Roosevelt who had arrived before him, Rhode Island's Governor Green and a fine figure of a man in a cutaway and topper.

"Jim, how are you?" said the President. "I'm glad to see you." Governor James Michael Curley of Massachusetts beamed. Although there is little love lost between them, Franklin Roosevelt cannot afford to have Boss Curley's machine knife him in Massachusetts and Boss Curley needs all of Franklin Roosevelt's popularity that he can borrow if he is to be elected to the U. S. Senate.

One more greeter appeared before the President left the railroad yards, an old Negro.

"Will you," he asked, "shake this black hand?"

"You bet I will!" said Franklin Roosevelt, and did.

To the 30,000 greeters who stood before the Rhode Island Capitol, men, women and plentiful numbers of children Franklin Roosevelt made the first of many speeches. Afterward, with Governor Green beside him, he drove the short distance to the place where Rhode Island ends and Massachusetts begins. There began one of the most frenzied episodes of the campaign. From town to town the Democratic procession roared down broad highway No. 6, past great "Roosevelt & Curley" posters, sometimes racing three abreast. Questions of precedence were settled by stepping on the accelerator. Moving vans and beer trucks joined in the careening motorcade. Newshawks' hair stood on end but Governor Curley is used to fast driving and there were no accidents.

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