MEMORIES OF THE DEWEY ADMINISTRATION
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: Ill have the usual.
BARTENDER: Well, well, well, if it isnt Elliot Barrington. I havent seen you, in whats it been now
MAN: Four years. Almost four years to the day. Dont remind me.
BARTENDER: Four years to the day.
MAN: So can I have my usual?
BARTENDER: Coming right up. Gin, right?
MAN: Thats right, gin. I see you remember.
BARTENDER: Thats right. Almost four years to the day. I havent seen you since election night in 48 when you were working for Dewey and
MAN: I dont want to talk about it.
BARTENDER: I understand . . . .So, this year looks like its going to be a big Republican year, doesnt it?
MAN: I suppose.
BARTENDER: Thats what Im hearing here. Ikes the man. I swear, every other fellow in here is wearing an "I Like Ike" button.
MAN: Then that must mean the other half arent.
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, Id suppose.
MAN: And how many are just doing it for show? To impress the boss, or their friends? Because they think its the fashionable thing to do?
BARTENDER: Oh, no, theyre solid. Im sure of it. This whole Korea mess is whats 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. Thats all I hear about.
MAN: There were scandals in 48, too. Didnt help us. Didnt help us one damn bit.
BARTENDER: Well, I suppose theres always a scandal of some sort in Washington. Just how the place is, you know.
MAN: My point exactly.
BARTENDER: I dont 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! Howd we let it get away from us, Jake? Howd we do that?
BARTENDER: I dont 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 didnt 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 dont recall.
MAN: The Dewey Victory Special. Thats 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 didnt even have to get off the train to hear it. They could just sit in their seats. Air-conditioned!
MAN: Hell, they didnt 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 Trumans train and ours said he was 40 years behind us. Forty years! Hell, sometimes, they didnt 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 were in the fix were in.
MAN: So howd 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 werent alone. I still remember the headline in what was that paper out in Chicago that had that famous headline "Dewey Defeats Truman"?
MAN: Ill tell you what the problem is: Its just damned hard to win when you cant win a single state south of the Mason-Dixon line; thats all there is to it. It means youve got to run a dead-solid perfect campaign everywhere else.
BARTENDER: I suppose youre 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 shouldnt lose California.
BARTENDER: Ikes got his running mate from California, too.
MAN: For all the good itll do him.
BARTENDER: Youre right down on Republicans this year, arent you?
MAN: Wouldnt you be, too, after what Ive been through? I was supposed to get a job in the administration. Probably in the White House, too. Thats what theyd 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 dont think much of Ike?
MAN: Oh, hes all right, I reckon. But hes an amateur. Dewey was a pro. Hed have been a great president. Good for business. Ike might muddle through, but thats about it.
BARTENDE: So you working for him?
MAN: What? Me working for Ike? Nah. Im 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 dont want to talk about it.
BARTENDER: I see.
MAN: Thats why you havent 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. Were paving over those swamps and selling em. Im in real estate now.
MAN: You seem surprised.
BARTENDER: I just never took you for a Southerner.
MAN: Well, Floridas so far South its not really Southern anymore, if you know what I mean.
BARTENDER: So are there any Republicans in Florida?
MAN: A few. Therell be more. Just you wait and see. So how bout another one?
BARTENDER: Coming right up.
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CAST OF CHARACTERS
Cast of two men
Man, who worked for Dewey in 48
1791 Mount Pleasant Church Road
Fincastle, VA 24090
Days: 540 981 3113
Nights: 540 473 3313
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performed by Dan Naff and Ross Laguzza