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MY BRUSH WITH HISTORY

Looking For Adlai

March 2024
1min read

It was 1956, and Adlai Stevenson was running against Dwight Elsenhower for the Presidency. People who supported Stevenson tended to feel an almost personal emotion for him, and I felt as if a beloved relative were running.

Sometime during the summer I heard that he was making a swing through the state and would give a speech in a hotel in Vancouver, Washington. His itinerary would take him from Spokane in the far east over to the Columbia River and then many miles west along a winding road outstandingly beautiful but narrow, not a road good for anyone in a hurry.

On the day that Mr. Stevenson and his party wended their way to Vancouver, I happened to be driving into the next county on the same Evergreen Highway. My children and I watched like hawks all the way up the river.

It was close to four o’clock in the afternoon when we started back, and we thought it a reasonable hour to spot them. The speech was scheduled for eight o’clock, and they might be on the last leg of their trip as we drove home. We were weary of watching and of all the false alarms when we finally came to the suburbs of Vancouver.

The Evergreen Highway goes straight through to the city center, but I turned off at the outskirts for some shopping and then took a main street that crossed Evergreen. As we approached the intersection, we had a moment to realize something was going on. Motorcycle police were at the head of a long line of traffic.

Suddenly I realized this must be them . We were the first in the traffic line, and my eyes filled with tears as I saw the great limousines, one of them almost certainly his car. Suddenly carried away, I rolled down the window of our shabby old station wagon, leaned out, pounded on the door with my open hand, and shouted at the top of my voice, “I hope you win.”

There must have been a number of puzzled people stopped at the light. I realized a stately funeral cortege was making its way across the intersection.

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