By Perry Mann
In 1921, the year my mother received the right to vote, I was born. She became a Democrat and my father was a Republican. Thus, the one canceled the other's vote. Whether my mother voted in the election between Alfred Smith and Herbert Hoover, I know not. But I am certain my father voted for Hoover. I remember after the election seeing the picture of Hoover on the front page of the Gazette.
It was the days of the booming Twenties. My father, a farm boy with an 8th grade education, had become a loan officer in the Security Bank and Trust Co. He prospered. He had a newly built house, a Packard car and golf clubs. Came 1929 and the market crash, the bank holiday and the subsequent Great Depression, he was back at square one. When Hoover ran against FDR, I am certain my father voted for Hoover. But I suspect my mother voted for Roosevelt.
I remember when FDR won over Alf Landon by a landslide. Landon carried only Maine and Vermont. I remember when FDR won over Wendell Willkie. I was working at a board boy at Harris Upham and Co. Roosevelt had come to Charleston and motored in a limousine up Virginia Street. I saw him waving to the crowd.
I was in Tunisia in 1944 when FDR rain against Thomas Dewey. I voted an absentee ballot for the president. I was walking across part of the Sahara Desert near Biskra, Algeria, when a fellow soldier informed me that FDR had died. He had been president nearly 14 of my 23 years. I was concerned about the nation's loss.
Harry Truman's victory over Thomas Dewey was an enjoyable upset. Dewey was as surprised as Mitt Romney recently was. Both thought they had the election won until returns showed otherwise. Hiroshima at the time was a happy occasion. I was going home. But after reading a book on the apocalyptic effects of the bomb, I felt shame for having rejoiced.
I voted twice for Adlai Stevenson instead of Eisenhower. I could not understand how a nation could reject a man with the character and abilities of Stevenson. Not once but twice. I never got over that political defeat and lesson.
Nixon was a mental case. From the fur coat tears to Watergate, he never caught my interest. I was painfully disillusioned when he won 49 states against George McGovern. I was beyond happy when he lost to JFK. And I was beyond comfort when JFK was assassinated. Nixon helped make the South Republican and opened relations with China. I give him credit for making the South honest and establishing relations with a future competitor.
Lyndon Johnson brought relief to the poor and civil rights to the South, but ruined his political career in the killing fields of Vietnam. I remember the newspaper photo of his lifting a hound dog by its ears.