“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 6, 1920, Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California

Almost over. Thank God.

The endless Democratic National Convention is finally coming to a close. 9 days. 14 candidates. 44 ballots.

Tkt GuestPassDemNatlConvSanFran06281920

Guest pass to the 1920 Democratic Convention

H. L. Mencken, 39, reporting for the Baltimore Sun, who had hated the smelly Chicago Coliseum where the Republicans had held their convention last month, rhapsodizes about the Democrats’ choice of venue, the Civic Auditorium:

So spacious, so clean, so luxurious in its comforts and so beautiful in its decorations, that the assembled politicos felt like sailors turned loose in the most gorgeous bordellos of Paris.”

Novelist, playwright and former full-time journalist Edna Ferber, 34 (but she only admits to 31), on special assignment for United Press, is as unimpressed with the Democratic delegates as she had been with those from the other party:

It was, in its way, almost as saddening a sight as the Republican Convention had been…Once the opening prayer had piously died on the air, there broke out from two to a half dozen actual fist fights on the floor of the assemblage—battles that raged up and down the aisles until guards separated the contestants. The meeting droned on. Nothing seemed to be accomplished.”

The New York Tribune’s Heywood Broun, 31, however, gave the edge to the Republicans:

They were able at Chicago to say nothing in just about one-tenth the number of words which the Democrats needed to say the same thing.”

Every time a woman delegate was given the floor to nominate or second a candidate, the band played the ragtime hit, “Oh, You Beautiful Doll.”


Sheet music

By yesterday, everyone was so frustrated at the group’s inability to decide on a candidate, the Missouri delegation cast a .50 vote for sportswriter Ring Lardner, 35, whose syndicated columns have been delighting the country. He says he will run on the same platform he used to not be elected mayor of Chicago:

More Beer—Less Work.”

Ring Lardner

Ring Lardner

Finally, at 1:43 am today, on the 44th ballot, Ohio Governor James M. Cox, 50, received enough votes to secure the nomination. When he is informed of this by the Associated Press telegraph wire three hours later in his Dayton office, he is stunned.

Now there is the matter of the running mate. Who to nominate for vice president?

Cox favors the new, young star of the show, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and fifth cousin of the late Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 38. As Cox says,

His name is good, he’s right geographically, and he is anti-Tammany [Hall].”

And FDR has been running around the convention making friends, wooing the rest of his New York state delegation by turning his rooms on the battleship New York into a Prohibition-violating reception.

That’s good enough. The convention nominates Roosevelt by acclimation. Exhausted acclimation.

FDR_standing and_James_M_Cox

Franklin D. Roosevelt and James M. Cox

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at kaydee@gpysyteacher.com.

My presentation, “Such Friends”:  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table [Heywood Broun was a member] is available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre. The program begins at the 11 minute mark, and my presentation at 16 minutes.

This fall I will be talking about writers’ salons before and after the Great War in Ireland, England, France and America in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

4 thoughts on ““Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 6, 1920, Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California

  1. His time would come … thank goodness … and as for James M. Cox, was it a case of his time came and went without too many people noticing?

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