The March

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Since Wendell Willkie’s name had been in the news this past week, it’s time for this scribe to tell a story … a past memory of this fascinating would-be politician. So, here goes.

Once upon a long-time-ago, Wendell Willkie was in the news as a possible candidate for president of theUnited States. He didn’t make it, but he sure had some help behind the scenes. For some strange reason, the “Women for Willkie” (which this scribe organized) began with a parade downMain StreetinLos Angeles, to honor our possible candidate. We liked his boyish smile, slightly chubby face, sparkling eyes (can’t remember if they were blue or grey, perhaps a mixture), but we all thought he was handsome.

I gathered all my lady friends at my house for the big plan to make our good-looking candidate president. Everyone agreed and we went to work. For a parade, we had to have signs to inform the public. For signs, we made posters. We needed paint, brushes, posters, and, of course, amateur painters … girls on the social register but not in the painters’ union.

The night before the big parade, we gathered and handed out brushes and canned bottles of red, yellow, and white (also some green and blue) paint to the enthusiastic socialites. Armed with enthusiasm and a hope we would never be caught, we went to work. We made signs that took until the wee hours of the morning, vowing our names be kept secret.

The parade was to start later that day, so there was no sleep for my purloined painters but plenty of excitement. All hid our masterpieces and met for coffee later in the morning.

Finally, the time arrived. We all fought over which signs looked the best, but everyone was thrilled. We had the masterpieces clutched in our hands. All I remember was we had no permits, letters of commendation, or praise from the White House. So, hopefully avoiding being arrested for our patriotic prank, downMain Streetwe marched. Traffic stopped. People ran for their lives. Police got out of their squad cars but we were faster than any “good” criminal could be.

So, for some strange reason we became fearless, and were determined to make a mark. Naturally, the Republicans did not speak to any of us for several days. Democrats thought it was funny and hoped it would help them win.

Our families went into hiding. As for the rest of us, we became proud rascals. We ended up hiding in somebody’s underground bomb shelter. As for our gang of lovely lady thugs, all we did was borrow the evidence, use it in our parade, block traffic, and cause a few car crashes. Still we didn’t shoot, maim, or terrorize anyone.

Did it do any good? Was our candidate elected president because of our publicity? NO. Still the name of Wendell Willkie made the press and people were talking about our happening. There were some 150 socialites, a few Junior Leaguers, Junior Auxiliaries, etc. But somehow we kept our names out of the public eye. Oh, yes, no talking to friends or foes, and we even turned down a trip toNew Yorkto explain how we got the organization going without any organized help. And only women were involved. Did some of us leave town? You bet!

Remember we had no money, no financing from the big boys, families, or politicians. On our march one rotten egg hit me squarely in the head which I am not bragging about. But this did not dampen our spirits.

Was it a success? In our diaries, it was. Even if we could not brag about our escapade, we did have fun. Don’t remember what happened to our signs. They actually disappeared after the parade. Maybe some jealous boyfriends took them. They were great souvenirs after all. And we kept on marching…..

If you care to comment about this column, please email me at pattebarham@hotmail.com.

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