copyright © 2004 Dwayne Yancey


By Dwayne Yancey

Copyright 2003; all rights reserved.

(The scene: A bar somewhere in the urban Northeast, November 1952, only days before the presidential election that saw Eisenhower elected for the first time. The bartender is working behind the bar. A man in a rumpled suit walks in and sits down at the bar, as if bearing a grudge.)

MAN: I’ll have the usual.

BARTENDER: Well, well, well, if it isn’t Elliot Barrington. I haven’t seen you, in what’s it been now –

MAN: Four years. Almost four years to the day. Don’t remind me.

BARTENDER: Four years to the day.

MAN: So can I have my usual?

BARTENDER: Coming right up. Gin, right?

MAN: That’s right, gin. I see you remember.

BARTENDER: That’s right. Almost four years to the day. I haven’t seen you since election night in ‘48 when you were working for Dewey and –

MAN: I don’t want to talk about it.

BARTENDER: I understand . . . .So, this year looks like it’s going to be a big Republican year, doesn’t it?

MAN: I suppose.

BARTENDER: That’s what I’m hearing here. Ike’s the man. I swear, every other fellow in here is wearing an "I Like Ike" button.

MAN: Then that must mean the other half aren’t.

BARTENDER: Well, I suppose, if you want to look at it that way. Here you are.

(Bartender hands the man a drink.)

MAN:So how many of those who are wearing "I Like Ike" buttons are really gonna vote for him?

BARTENDER: Why, all of them, I’d suppose.

MAN: And how many are just doing it for show? To impress the boss, or their friends? Because they think it’s the fashionable thing to do?

BARTENDER: Oh, no, they’re solid. I’m sure of it. This whole Korea mess is what’s getting to ‘em. And, you know, just the sorry way Democrats have run things the past four years. Just one scandal after another, you know. That’s all I hear about.

MAN: There were scandals in ‘48, too. Didn’t help us. Didn’t help us one damn bit.

BARTENDER: Well, I suppose there’s always a scandal of some sort in Washington. Just how the place is, you know.

MAN: My point exactly.

BARTENDER: I don’t follow you.

MAN: Oh never mind.

(He looks pensively into his glass.)

BARTENDER: So, whatcha been doing with yourself the past four years?

MAN: I mean, God-damn!

(He bangs his fist on the bar.)

BARTENDER: Easy there, Elliot. There might be ladies present.

MAN: We had it in the bag! We had it in the God-damn bag! And we let it get away from us! How’d we let it get away from us, Jake? How’d we do that?

BARTENDER: I don’t know, Elliot. Things happen. You tell me.

MAN: It was over by Labor Day! The Democrats were split three ways from Sunday; the polls had us up big time – hell, Roper quit polling in September because he said the race was already over and he was going to spend his time on more important things. He said the campaign didn’t matter, because people had already made up their minds.

BARTENDER: Guess he was wrong.

MAN: I mean, even so – we had a great campaign, too. A great one. Did I ever tell you about being on the campaign train?

BARTENDER: If you did, I don’t recall.

MAN: The Dewey Victory Special. That’s what we called it. The Dewey Victory Special. Can you get me another one?

(Man hands the bartender his empty glass.)

BARTENDER: Sure thing.

MAN: I swear, we had the most sophisticated campaign operation ever. Ever! Like the PA system. Let me tell you about the PA system. We had this internal PA system rigged up on the train, see? So whenever we stopped for the governor to give a speech, hell, the reporters didn’t even have to get off the train to hear it. They could just sit in their seats. Air-conditioned!

BARTENDER: Impressive.

MAN: Hell, they didn’t even have to listen to the damn speeches. We always had advance copies to give to the press – 24 hours in advance!

BARTENDER: Here you go.

MAN: The reporters who had been on both Truman’s train and ours said he was 40 years behind us. Forty years! Hell, sometimes, they didn’t even know where they were going to spend the night. Can you believe that? Just typical of the Democrats, though. What a haphazard, slipshod, seat of the pants kind of operation. No wonder we’re in the fix we’re in.


MAN: So how’d we lose, Jake? What happened?

BARTENDER: Maybe you shoulda gotten off the train some, huh? See what the people thought of those speeches?

MAN: We just never saw it coming. Never saw it coming.

BARTENDER: Well, you weren’t alone. I still remember the headline in – what was that paper out in Chicago that had that famous headline "Dewey Defeats Truman"?

MAN: I’ll tell you what the problem is: It’s just damned hard to win when you can’t win a single state south of the Mason-Dixon line; that’s all there is to it. It means you’ve got to run a dead-solid perfect campaign everywhere else.

BARTENDER: I suppose you’re right. They say Ike might win some Southern states, though. So there goes your Solid South.

MAN: But hell, we wound up not even doing that.

BARTENDER: Doing what?

MAN: Win the states we were supposed to win. Ohio! We lost Ohio! That should be a solid Republican state. Illinois. Iowa. Same thing. We lost California. Hell, our running mate was from California. We shouldn’t lose California.

BARTENDER: Ike’s got his running mate from California, too.

MAN: For all the good it’ll do him.

BARTENDER: You’re right down on Republicans this year, aren’t you?

MAN: Wouldn’t you be, too, after what I’ve been through? I was supposed to get a job in the administration. Probably in the White House, too. That’s what they’d told me, anyway. The White House! Hell, we should be running for re-election right now. We should be talking about all the great things President Dewey had done. Not this Ike character.

BARTENDER: You don’t think much of Ike?

MAN: Oh, he’s all right, I reckon. But he’s an amateur. Dewey was a pro. He’d have been a great president. Good for business. Ike might muddle through, but that’s about it.

BARTENDE: So you working for him?

MAN: What? Me working for Ike? Nah. I’m done with politics.

BARTENDER: Done? Thought you were a die-hard Republican.

MAN: Through. Finished. Caput. Have been for four years. Ever since – well, I don’t want to talk about it.


MAN: That’s why you haven’t seen me in four years. Right after ‘48, hell, I had to get out of here. It was just too much to bear. I just needed a clean break. So I moved down to Florida.

BARTENDER: Florida? Down in the swamps?

MAN: Not anymore, Jake. We’re paving over those swamps and selling ‘em. I’m in real estate now.


MAN: You seem surprised.

BARTENDER: I just never took you for a Southerner.

MAN: Well, Florida’s so far South it’s not really Southern anymore, if you know what I mean.

BARTENDER: So are there any Republicans in Florida?

MAN: A few. There’ll be more. Just you wait and see. So how ‘bout another one?

BARTENDER: Coming right up.

-----------THE END --------------


Cast of two men

• Bartender

• Man, who worked for Dewey in ’48

Dwayne Yancey

1791 Mount Pleasant Church Road

Fincastle, VA 24090

Days: 540 981 3113

Nights: 540 473 3313



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