copyright © 2004 Dwayne Yancey


By Dwayne Yancey

Copyright 2004; all rights reserved.

(The action alternates between Tom Dewey’s campaign train in 1948 and Harry Truman’s campaign train. The Dewey campaign operated with what has been described as "junior executive briskness." The Truman campaign was more seat-of-the-pants. Scene begins with the Dewey staffer near the seats on the Dewey train; the Truman staffer near the seats on the Truman train.)

DEWEY STAFFER: All aboard! All aboard! All aboard the Dewey Victory Special! With stops in Des Moines, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and the White House!

(Two reporters, Harris and Williams, enter, carrying bags and passes.)

Ah, welcome aboard, gentlemen. How are our friends in the fourth estate this fine morning?

HARRIS: It’s all right.

DEWEY STAFFER: May I see your passes?

Ah, Harris from the Herald. That will be easy to remember. And Williams, from the Tribune. Very good. Right this way. Your seats will be here on the right. The dining car is two cars up; I believe the bar is already open if you’d care for a martini before we get going.

* * *

TRUMAN STAFFER: All right, come on, come on. Don’t be lagging behind. We need to get this show on the road.

(Two reporters, Smith and Jones, enyer.)

SMITH: All right, all right! We’re coming, for cris’ sakes.

TRUMAN STAFFER: President Truman doesn’t like to run late, you know.

SMITH: No, but how’s he feel about running behind?

JONES: Let’s hope he likes it because that’s where he is and where he’s going to stay!

(Smith and Jones laugh.)

TRUMAN STAFFER: Very funny. Go get a seat.

(Truman staffer exits.)

SMITH: So you got an open bar on this train?

(Jones shows off a bottle.)

JONES: Doesn’t matter. I came prepared. I figure the way the Truman campaign is going, we’re all going to need some of this before it’s over.

(Smith and Jones laugh.)

* * *

(Harris and Williams are sipping martinis. The Dewey staffer comes through the train with copies of the candidate’s speech.)

DEWEY STAFFER: Here’s a copy of Governor Dewey’s next speech.

HARRIS: What? He’s got a speech tonight? I thought there weren’t any events until tomorrow?

DEWEY STAFFER: Oh, no, it’s not until tomorrow. But the governor likes to have all his speeches written 24 hours in advance. It’s embargoed, of course.

WILLIAMS: Of course.

DEWEY STAFFER: But this way, if you’d like to get a head start on tomorrow’s story you can. Don’t want to miss the bridge tournament back in the club car.

WILLIAMS: So what’s the weather going to be like tomorrow? I hear we’ve got a heat wave going on across the Midwest.

DEWEY STAFFER: Oh, don’t worry about that. We’ll pipe all the governor’s speeches into the press car through the public address system. You won’t even need to leave the train.

(Dewey staffer exits.)

HARRIS: Well, that’s convenient.

WILLIAMS: I think I’m going to like this assignment. They gave me a choice between covering this and the Truman train and I said, hell, who wants to be stuck with the loser, even if he is the president?

HARRIS: I agree. Cheers.

* * *

(Smith and Jones are playing poker.)

SMITH: I’ll see your eight and raise you five.

JONES: Don’t try to hide it; I know you’re working on a full house.

(Truman staffer enters.)

TRUMAN STAFFER: All right, boys. Everybody off the train. Everybody off the train now.

SMITH: What’s going on? Where are we now?

JONES: I didn’t think we had any more stops on the schedule.

TRUMAN STAFFER: Schedule, hell. There ain’t no schedule. The president heard there were some people waiting in this next town up ahead, so he’s gonna stop. You wanna see it, you better get off now.

(Truman staffer exits.)

SMITH: Damn it, what kind of crazy campaign is this, stopping at every damn whistlestop in the country to wave at a few voters?

JONES: That’s a good line. You gonna use it?

SMITH: Use what?

JONES: Whistlestop. Truman’s whistlestop campaign.

SMITH: You can have it. But you better fix me a bourbon to make up for it.

JONES: Deal.

SMITH: Well, guess we better so see what kind of yokels are out there waiting on him.

JONES: Yeah, come on.

SMITH: No looking at my cards now.

JONES: I’m not gonna look at your cards. Geez.

* * *

(The reporters on the Dewey train are relaxing in style.)

WILLIAMS: So what kind of crowd did Dewey draw back there in Kansas City?

HARRIS: Hell, I don’t know. I didn’t get out to look. I just wrote the story off the speech they handed out.

WILLIAMS: You didn’t count the crowd?

HARRIS: Nah. I figure what the hell, doesn’t matter what kind of crowd he draws, he’s going to win anyway, so why bother with crowd counts. It’s not like it’s going to tell us something we don’t know.

WILLIAMS: Well, you’ve got a point there.

(Dewey staffer enters.)

DEWEY STAFFER: Here’s a copy of tomorrow’s speech.

HARRIS: So what’s the president in waiting saying tomorrow?

DEWEY STAFFER: He says America’s future is ahead of it.

WILLIAMS: Really going out on a limb there, aren’t you?

DEWEY STAFFER: This is a unity campaign. Positive, uplifting. Besides, off the record, we figure as long as don’t make any mistakes, we’ve got this thing in the bag.

HARRIS: Won’t argue with you there.

DEWEY CAMPAIGN STAFFER: Yep, we figure this is a smooth ride into Union Station. So are we going to see you at the bridge tournament tonight back in the club car?

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













Six men

Dewey campaign staffer -- neatly dressed, brisk, like a junior executive

Harris, a reporter

Williams, a reporter

Truman campaign staffer — rumpled

Smith, a reporter

Jones, a reporter


Dwayne Yancey

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Fincastle, VA 24090

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