The Old Days

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And so we huddled together in small groups on the dock watching the crowds stream down the hill onto the gangway. They were a rumpled, raucous, exuberant lot, all fired up by the briskness of the air and the excitement of the game. We sat on some benches by the pilings on the wharf—Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Dewey, Willard and Connie Rockwell, the Douglas Aircrafts, and ourselves—and made small talk until it was time to go aboard. Not really impatient. Resigned. You could see The Highlander , now at anchor out in the middle of the river, bobbing like a toy boat on the tide. The conversation was fitful. Everyone was pretty much talked out.

And then, in one of the interstices in the conversation, as we sat watching the crowd streaming down the hill to the wharf, Tom Dewey sighed and said slowly, deliberately, with a sort of wry laugh, “You know, in the old days they would have waited for us.”

I have always thought that in 1948 the voters sensed he had such an attitude toward them, and that was why in the end, Harry Truman beat him out—in that election he couldn’t lose—by a nose.

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