Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Post-Election Day Story

       Back during the 1950s, I read a short memoir by an elderly woman, a reminiscence of a striking childhood event in her life. I can't begin to recall her name, and I can't vouch for the truth of the account. But it's still a good story, and appropriate for today. My version is, of course, a paraphrase.
      The old woman remembered a day when she was quite young, I think seven or eight. She'd become angry with her parents, and determined to run away from home. Not long after she started her journey down a dusty country road, a large man in a horse-drawn carriage pulled up, and asked where she was off to. She explained that she was running away from home.
      "Well," said the large man. "That sounds like a long trip. Would you care for a ride?"
      The girl decided that sounded good, and hopped up beside the man. He questioned her about her situation, and she told him why she felt she had no choice but to do what she was doing.                 "That's a very big decision," the man said. "Don't you think you should perhaps reconsider?"
      "Oh, no," said the girl. "There's no more chance of me changing my mind than there is of Cleveland running again."  
      The man seemed surprised, and asked her to explain.
      "That's what my father always says when he thinks something can't possibly happen. Mr. Cleveland was the last president, but he lost the next election. Some people say he might run again, but my father says there's absolutely no chance of that."
      The man and the girl rode on a good way. The day was warm, the girl became sleepy, and she finally fell asleep, her head resting against the large man. When she awoke, the carriage was in front of her house. "You'd best go inside and talk that matter over with your parents," the large man said. "I'm sure they'll be glad to see you. And it's always well to resolve a dispute with honest talk."
       The girl felt sheepish, and not a little tired. It had been a long day. She thanked the man for his kindness, and for the ride. He smiled. "And by the way, you may tell your father that he's wrong at least about one thing. Mr. Cleveland will indeed run again."

Of course, the large man was Grover Cleveland, a neighbor of the girl's family, and our 24th president, who served from 1885 to 1889. After losing the 1888 election to Benjamin Harrison, Cleveland did run again in 1892, and won a second, non-consecutive term. To date, he's the only president to have done that.

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