The age of civility in politics was over. Both political parties had pulled out all the stops in order to gain an upper hand — nothing was off limits — not a wife, child, religion, health, or past indiscretions — anything and everything was on the table between these two bitter presidential candidates.
It would go down in history as one of the most contentious elections ever. And we are not talking 2018, or anything in the 2000s.
As one local reporter put it, “Clinton, not to be outdone by the egg, tomato, and waste basket throwing which has characterized the rallies of the presidential candidates this year, was the scene of a horrible incident between political parties.”
Clinton’s Republican Party had rented a store front on High Street as its headquarters during the presidential campaign. Republican women were manning the center on this quiet October afternoon, about one month before the big election. Two guest speakers — Republican women from neighboring towns — were visiting and speaking to the many campaign workers assembled there.
Suddenly there descended upon the group, a gang of about 25 kids, who rushed in, disrupting the meeting and destroying the party’s office. One group seized all of the boxes of campaign buttons, ran onto High Street with them, and threw them all over the sidewalk and in the gutter.
Another group grabbed gummed labels lying on the tables and starting pasting them all over the face of the Republican presidential candidate whose pictures adorned the front windows. Another group took bundles of literature from the front table, tearing them into pieces and spreading the litter all around the office. The place was in total shambles in minutes.
As women screamed, someone called the police and some of the hoodlums were still causing damage when the police arrived. The group had been well organized and perfectly instructed by its sponsors on what to do! Those caught by the police were all boys — ages 8 to 14 years old — who were obviously doing what someone had paid them to do: Disrupt the opposing political party’s meeting.
Nobody could quite believe that this could happen in our community, but it did. It took several days to secure more campaign materials, restore the posters of the Republican nominee, and clean up the mess. One woman had to be checked out by a doctor because she was so stressed after the invasion.
The incident made headlines throughout the area and was damaging to the Republican candidate and embarrassing to the Democratic candidate. More bitter campaign battles were to come before Election Day, but thankfully, no others broke out in our community. Even after the election was well over, the two political parties still did everything possible to discredit and malign their opponent.
Despite all the political shenanigans and the constant “war of words,” Wendell Wilkie went down to defeat, and Franklin Roosevelt won his third term as president.