Weather and What Hoover Will Do in Parade Worry Washington’s Big Crowds

Damon Runyon

St. Petersburg Times/March 4, 1929

It seems that two questions agitate the public mind in your Uncle Samuel’s main town, as 100,000 visitors pull and haul for space in the hotel lobbies and streets, with all hands on tenterhooks of anxiety against the inauguration tomorrow of Herbert Hoover as the thirty-first president of these United States.

The tow questions are: (a) what will the weather be? (b) How will Mr. Hoover react to the mumble of the mob as he rides in state, and also in an automobile, through the packed streets?

The last question seems well high fatuous to an unsophisticated bystander, but I find it debated with even more anxiety than the weather.

Taft Had Blizzard

And the weather is certainly something to worry about. The weather can bust up this entire show if it chances to be in mean mood. The older inmates of Washington are recalling how Mr. William H Taft now the chief justice of the supreme court who will swear Mr. Hoover onto his new job tomorrow was inaugurated in 1909 with a blizzard giving everybody chilblains.

“How was the weather the day before inaugural day that year?” I inquired this afternoon, peering from a window into the pleasant sunshine of a veritable springtime glow, seeking meteorological omen of the morrow.

“It was bad for several days prior to inaugural day,” informed Mr. Arthur Bugs Baer, the humorist, who infested Washington as a steady thing in 1909. “And,” he added “for several years afterwards.”

The prediction of the weather sharks for tomorrow is showers, and showers at this season of the year on the banks of the old Potomac are apt to be cold showers. But such transplanted sons of the soil as Mr. Fraser Edwards, the Washington correspondent, and Sergeant Mike Donaldson, the hero of the Forty-second division who has been in Washington about a year seeking a pension, assure me that it will be fair.

Thunder Yesterday

They base their exception to the ruling of the weather sharks in favor of showers, on the fact that it thundered yesterday morning.

“Any country boy knows that when it thunders early in March it wakes up the snakes, and is a sure harbinger of spring,” asserts Mr. Edwards with authority.

“I don’t know nothing about snakes,” said Sergeant Mike Donaldson, “but I dreamt last night that I saw an old time bock beer sign, and I woke up thirsty, so I know it isn’t gonna rain no more. At least not tomorrow.”

It will be a tough break for Washington if it does, though Washington has become somewhat accustomed to punk weather around inauguration day time, Mr. Coolidge had good weather four years ago, but Mr. Coolidge always had good luck with the weather, experts in such matters inform me. Wherever he went good weather trailed him.

He was a sort of “Sunny Jim” Coffroth of the president in the matter of weather. “Sunny Jim” Coffroth is an old time Pacific coast promoter of the sour science who got his monicker because of the unfailing sunshine that attended his promotions. Still, anybody can get sunny weather in the state that claims the gentleman who tomorrow becomes the head man in this country.

It seems however, that Mr. Hoover has a disposition that isn’t quite as sunny as his adopted state especially where crowds are concerned, and it is for this reason that there is speculation as to his demeanor toward the multitude that will give him hail – that is bad Mister Printer—tomorrow.

What Will He Do?

Will he permit his pudgy stern set features the relaxation of a smile? Will he wave his high hat, or plump hands in response to the greetings as he was taught to do by his campaign managers on his tours? Will he manifest outwardly the inward pleasure that must be his at his elevation to the highest office in the gift of the American people, as the spellbinders put it?

These questions, as I say, seem fatuous, and yet I find them being asked by veteran and perhaps somewhat punch-drunk warriors of the political arena.

For they assert that, since his election, Mr. Hoover has become the political Gene Tunney in his attitude toward the press and the public. That he has become somewhat remote and aloof, though to be sure, there is no chance that he will ever forget his dignity to the extent of belting away at cameramen. So they will be watching with eager interest his reception of the roaring crowd tomorrow when he goes from his palatial home on A street to the White House to pick up Mr. Coolidge for the journey to the great gray capital with its pot-bellied dome.

Mr. Coolidge, the little New England Yankee, who goes back tomorrow to the $42-per-month half of the double house he used to occupy in his beloved Northampton, Mass, is also described as sour in spots. But the veterans say Mr. Coolidge has a certain sense of Yankee humor that is lacking in his successor.

Leaves Immediately

Mr. Coolidge has already shipped his household truck back to New England. He departs by train tomorrow right after the inaugural ceremonies. The Montrealer is his train. It leaves at 2:35 p. m. You will see that Mr. Coolidge stands not upon the order of going, so to speak, but goes at once, leaving everything to Mr. Hoover Mr. Coolidge takes but one of the many dogs that are so familiar to the cinemaniacs of the land. Can you recall ever seeing a picture of Mr. Coolidge, or Mrs. Coolidge, without a dog?

The canine that goes to New England with the Coolidges is Mrs. Coolidge’s chow. So passes into private life, at least for the time being, the mild looking little man with the “dead pan” expression, and the funny hats, whose hand has guided our ship of state for over seven years.

He will leave behind him the grumble and grind of rolling artillery in the streets of Washington, the shuffle of marching feet, and the roar of the crowd. Perhaps he is glad to go. Who knows?

Mr. Hoover will be sworn in by Chief Justice Taft on the east steps of the capitol. Senator Charles Curtis, the part-Indian, ex-jockey out of Kansas, who become vice president of the United States, succeeding Charles G. Dawes, of pipe fame, will be sworn in in the Senate chamber. This ceremony takes place at noon.

At 1 o’clock, Mr. Hoover will be inducted into office by Justice Taft, and will deliver the customary inaugural address before a battery of “Mikes” that will carry his words out over the world. Millions of ears will be taking them in—more ears than ever before in history gathered in the wisdom, if any, of an individual at the same time.

The radio outfits have arranged what they call a world-wide hookup, and will have expert announcers spluttering their varied and various versions of the proceedings into the “Mikes”, before Mr. Hoover takes charge of the talking.

The parade is always the big feature of inaugural day. Theodore Roosevelt and his wild west, rough rider following, perhaps produced the most colorful show of all time, yet great pomp will attend the inauguration of Mr. Hoover tomorrow. It will be mainly a military show, but it will also have its western trimmings of cow punchers, and Redskins, which strikes me as a strangely incongruous adjunct for a man of Mr. Hoover’s temperament, and nativity.

From over the country have come distinguished officials—governor, mayors, and what-not, including both Democrats and Republican, to honor the Republican who came within an ace of being a Democrat. A big reception for the governors was held today at the white house. The political big wigs of the east and west are in town, along with the notables of the big business world who look upon Mr. Hoover as their star of hope.

The Hoover family is re-united here for the first time in weeks Herbert, Jr., who is an instructor at Harvard, and his two children, and Allan Hoover, who is a student at Stanford, out in California, are with their parents. Herbert, Jr. is said to be serious minded like his daddy, while Allan is accounted a lively lad.

As part of the military show tomorrow, there will be a great serial pageant, with 90 airplanes, and two dirigibles, one of them the huge Los Angeles, taking part. In the evening, there will be a big charity ball in the Washington auditorium, instead of the old time official inaugural ball, which Mr. Hoover declined to sanction.

It’s a big day in Washington tomorrow, and a big night tomorrow night. Try and get a room.

(Source: Google News,,18991)

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