West Branch Times, West Branch, Iowa, August 23, 1928
Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, December 27, 2018
HOOVER RETURNS HOME
Teacher and Classmates Are On Hand To Greet Him
Enjoys Breakfast in Boyhood Home
Bands Play and Thousands Cheer as Native Son and His Family Tour the City
The West Branch home coming celebration, with Herbert Hoover, the Republican candidate for President, as the guest of honor was a highly successful affair and marks the biggest day in the history of West Branch. The rain storm Monday night no doubt kept many away who had planned to attend the celebration and hear Hoover’s speech. Tuesday, however, was a beautiful day and the crowd, which began arriving early in the morning, kept increasing until the evening audience numbered thirty thousand.
Preparations for the big day have been under way for weeks and the culmination was really three days instead of just one. Sunday was a banner day in West Branch, probably twenty-five thousand persons were in town that day, 2100 registering at the Hoover birthplace on that one day alone. Monday was a day of final preparations, everything winding up in last day arrangements. The electrical storm put out the lights for an hour or two Monday night and greatly handicapped things, but Tuesday morning found the town in readiness for the arrival of its distinguished guests and the homecoming crowd.
The national colors and welcoming pennants hung from every building and from ropes across the streets at frequent intervals throughout the town. When the Hoover special train of nine coaches arrived, promptly on schedule, at 7:30 a.m., it was met by the West Branch Band and the Tipton Legion Drum Corps, and a delegation of prominent citizens. As Mr. Hoover appeared and waved a greeting to the crowd a cheer went up amid the waving of myriad flags.
Mrs. Hoover was second on the platform. She, too, was smiling. Over her tailored white silk dress she wore a transparent black coat with a round shawl-like collar. On her head was a close-fitting, small black straw.
They paused for just a few seconds, and the camera men shot pictures. Hoover alighted from the train and, followed by a score of newspaper men and photographers, walked along the platform to where their car stood.
Mrs. Hoover, whose white hair accentuated the blue of her eyes, smiled constantly and spoke several times to persons she recognized in the crowd.
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Hoover and their two sons, Herbert Jr., who had joined the party at Dodge City, Kansas, and Allan, were escorted at once to the home of Mrs. Jennie Scellars, Hoover’s birthplace, where they were entertained at breakfast. Mrs. J. K. Carran, who was Bert Hoover’s school teacher years ago was honored by the presidential candidate, riding in the car with Mr. and Mrs. Hoover, and was a guest with the breakfast party at the birthplace.
As the flag-draped reception automobile slowly wended its way up the main street, which was lined by residents waving flags, Hoover and his wife carried on a conversation with Mrs. Carran and John Thompson, who rode with him.
Hoover recognized many former schoolmates during the procession.
Led by the white uniformed West Branch band, composed equally of girls and boys, the presidential candidate’s car made the complete run of the main street and then turned off toward the weather-beaten house in which Hoover was born.
The simple country breakfast, sliced peaches and cream, ham and eggs, hot rolls, honey, strawberry jam, coffee, was served, following the Quaker grace, the silent bowing of the heads.
The menu was eminently satisfactory and elicited well bred praise from the guests. The table conversation included an informal anticipation of the day’s program. Mrs. Hoover remarked that the town seemed larger than her recollections of it at the time of her last visit here. Reminiscences included comparisons of weather and local conditions in the long ago and now, and the after breakfast inspection of his boyhood home was enjoyed by Mr. Hoover’s wife and sons as well as by the candidate.
Mrs. Scellars presented to Mr. Hoover a number of pictures and as a gift from the citizens of West Branch and his admirers in the State of Iowa, a cane made from wood taken from the room in which Mr. Hoover was born. The cane was painstakingly made to represent a stalk of corn with the ears on the sides and a golden ear for a handle. Mrs. Hoover accepted from her hostess a bouquet of gladioli from the garden of the old home. The Hoover family added their autographs to the thousands which are written Mrs. Scellars books, recording the visitors to the Hoover birthplace since his nomination in June.
The grounds surrounding the Scellars home were massed with admirers who waited for a glimpse of the party as it emerged from the house, and photographers by the score were clicking away as the Hoovers graciously posed beside the old home.
Mr. and Mrs. Hoover and their two sons have captivated West Branch. While the parents are an honor to Iowa the sons are certainly a compliment to California.
From the Scellars home the party drove to the cemetery. Everyone except the immediate Hoover family, was excluded from the Silent City while they visited the graves of Jesse and Hulda Hoover, and others of the family.
The tour of the town then included a trip to the famous old swimming hole and other points of boyhood interest. Others of the boys, as well as Bert Hoover, enjoyed the trip to the old “stamping grounds” , and during the forenoon many old friends had the opportunity to greet Mr. Hoover and renew old friendships. The home comers included scores who had not been here in many, many years, and the occasion, as a return of old West Branchers was such an enjoyable occasion as will never be forgotten.
The old schoolmates, in a group, met with Mr. Hoover, and chatted through a friendly half hour, afterward posing for the cameras. There were present for the old class, the teacher, Mrs. Mollie Brown Carran, Mr. Hoover, Mrs. Retta Enlow Hollingsworth, Lewis S. Penrose, Bert Leech, Otto Lewis, Bert Coombs, Mrs. Addie Colip Clark, Miss Elva Gruwell, Newt Butler, Mrs. Etta Wright Somers, Mrs. Cora Butler Ervin, Will Gochee and Ed. Smith, and another schoolteacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Chandler Sunier.
Mr. and Mrs. Hoover received, informally, a host of old friends and new, all West Branch folk who are proud of his achievements, and who consider it an honor to shake hands with him and with his charming wife.
Throughout the day important conferences occupied a part of Mr. Hoover’s time, but he was very generous with regard to meeting the home folk, evidently fearful of losing some of the homecoming element or missing a meeting with someone he knew long ago. Snatched from the short busy day was a period pleasantly spent in a drive about the country nearby, viewing the splendid farms and tall corn of which we are so proud.
The noon luncheon hour was spent at the home of Mr. and Mrs. O. O. Yoder where Mr. and Mrs. Hoover, their sons, Herbert Jr., and Allan, Mrs. G. C. Hoover of Washington, D.C., Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Hoover and children of Fairfield and Congressman Cyrenus Cole were guests. The dinner hour, in the evening interval between the two main programs, was passed in reunion with the Hoover relatives at the R. W. Branson home east of town.
During the noon hour a radio program was broadcast from the big tents on the school grounds with music by bands and mass singing led by Sandy Sinclair.
P. Gascoigne, Director of Radio, had charge of the announcements. Congressman Cyrunus Cole had charge of the meeting and gave a short address and introduced the speakers.
Representative L. J. Dickinson, started the discussion of other issues besides the agricultural, on which he indorsed Secretary Hoover’s attitude.
“Now that we have discussed the farm question,” Mr. Dickinson said at the conclusion of his remarks on that subject, “there are other issues in this campaign.
“We Iowans don’t want modification of the Volstead act, do we?” Dickinson asked, getting his answer in prolonged applause.
“What we have to do in November is to make a choice between two men on their qualifications, ability and environments, and when you get back to the farm issue, just suppose that Gov. Smith should call a conference of farm leaders. What could the farm gain from conferences chosen by John J. Roaskob?”
Senator Brookhart was given a rousing reception when he painted Hoover as the farmers’ friend during and after the war, and caustically criticized George N. Peek, chairman of the Committee of Twenty-two. He got his biggest, however, with this declaration.
“You have always known where I stand on the farm question. If Herbert Hoover were not for farm relief, I wouldn’t be for him, if I got kicked out of the senate half a dozen times.”
“It is the Quaker blood of Herbert Hoover that calls out for religious toleration and equal opportunities for all”, Mrs. James A. Devitt of Oskaloosa declared.
This same Quaker blood of Herbert Hoover, says fearlessly, “I do not believe in the repeal of the eighteenth amendment,” and “modification is nullification.”
“Perhaps, it is the voice of Hulda Hoover, his mother, that adds, ‘Racial progress marches in the feet of healthy and instructed children. The final purpose of our government is happier homes!’ As our next president has well said, ‘Every woman has a right to ask us whether her life, her home, her man’s job, her hopes and her happiness, will be better assured by the continuance of the republican party in power.’
“We know that every woman of America prefers to have at its head a man who knows the west as well as the east; who has toiled in the north and who has played and suffered with the sunny south.
“There is an old Chinese proverb which says, ‘he who rides a tiger dares not dismount.’ Surely if the leopard cannot change its spots, the Tammany tiger and he who rides it, cannot change its stripes.
“Our candidate rides like the crusader he has always been on the fierce steed of patriotism. He has ridden it through forest, battlefield and flood, to the rescue of starving children and to the succor of homeless humanity. In such as he we must have faith.”
A crown of thousands practically filled the big top which housed the speakers’ platform and overflowed to the second of the big tents when the second session of the day’s program opened with Congressman L. J. Dickinson in charge.
Following the usual singing program, accompanied by the Coe college band, Congressman Crampton of Michigan opened fire on the democratic hopes of electing a president next November.
Warming into the program of the afternoon, Representative Charles L. Faust of Missouri frankly declared that the program of the republican party was of so great an importance to the voters of his state that a tremendous majority, larger than given to any other republican, would be given to Hoover and Curtis at the November polls.
Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas, publisher of farm papers and magazines, brought the note of dry Kansas and the prohibition issue of the campaign.
“Kansas has no room for the nullification doctrine of Al Smith,” shouted the Kansas senator.
“The women of Kansas will support Hoover and Curtis, the farmers of Kansas will support Hoover and Curtis—just because they do not believe in the Tammany brand of politics.”
Congress Will R. Woods, Indiana, chairman of the appropriations committee of the house, dealt with the history of Tammany and his influence on American politics. Going to its very inception, he declared, “Its founder was that arch traitor of America, Aaron Burr. The men who followed Burr into the wilds of New Jersey after shooting Alexander Hamilton were Tammanyites.”
Committee meetings having taken the women speakers from the platform Congressman Dickinson called on Congressman Thomas S. Williams of Illinois, for the last seven years an important member of the agricultural committee in the house.
Representative Williams, launched into a forceful attack of the representatives of Tammany who are in the house.
“They don’t know that corn is something you plant in the ground and hoe and till and harvest. They think it is a fluid that is carried in bottles. Their conception of a surplus of corn in the west is an overflow of a fluid that they would well know how to dispose of.
“When I think of the home of Hoover here in West Branch I think of that little town of Old Salem on the banks of the historic Sangamon river in Illinois, and the boyhood of our great president, Abraham Lincoln. If I wanted to have a man in whom I could place implicit trust, I would choose a man from just such a small town as this.”
Following a short talk by Mrs. Alice M. Mendenhall of South English, Mr. Hoover appeared at the exit of the school house at exactly four o’clock, the scheduled time. And as he appeared on the platform, Sandy Sinclair called the crowd to its feet. Extending their right hands, the thousands raised their left hands high in the air, brought the two together and shouted “Hello, Herbert Hoover.” A tremendous ovation followed this demonstration and the candidate returned to his conference with the party leaders in Iowa.
Representative Tom Thatcher of Kentucky was one of the outstanding speakers in the series of five-minute talks inaugurated by the presiding officer, Congressman Dickinson, toward the close of the meeting. In his brief talk Mr. Thatcher pledged a substantial majority to the republican party in the blue grass state next November and lauded the Iowans in producing such an illustrious native son.
Striking a new note in the speeches, Mrs. Ida B. Wise Smith, state president of the Iowa W.C.T.U., lauded the presidential nominee’s stand on the “happiness of the American home,” and declared that his staunch support of the Eighteenth amendment would win from the women of the entire country their undivided support.
Elizabeth L. Clark of Steubenville, Ohio, praised Hoover’s war record and dwelt briefly on his invaluable services “as a good will messenger in taking vital aid to the stricken nations during the World War.”
Representative Tom Hall of Bismarck, N.D., mentioned the vote of the women as a hitherto unconsidered factor in presidential races and predicted that in this campaign as never before the women’s vote would be a decided factor.
Thomas Jenkins, a representative in congress from Ohio, spoke briefly and the meeting was adjourned. The speakers’ platform was banked with sheaves of wheat and gladioli.
Music by the Coe College Band, the Cedar Rapids Play Ground Band, the Tipton Legion Drum Corps and the West Branch Band was interspersed throughout the day and evening; and after the arrival of the special train from Rock Island the Rock Island Band gave an evening concert. The West Liberty Band and the Davenport Band were also playing during the evening.
The evening program started shortly after 6 p.m. with community singing and music by the West Branch boys and girls band. Sandy Sinclair, Hoover song leader, was just beginning to lead one more song when a tremendous ovation from the throng announced the fact that the nominee had arrived. His party appeared promptly at 7 p.m.
If any doubts remained as to whether or not the farmers in this section of the state were “for” or “against” Hoover, the roar of greeting that met his appearance dispelled them. He was accompanied by Mrs. Hoover and their two sons, his assistant, George Ackerson, and Governor John Hammill.
Standing below a battery of spotlights at the east side of the vast tent, the party smilingly faced the audience for a full two minutes before the ovation ceased.
Miss Liza Niemack, 22, famed Charles City violinist, opened the evening’s program with “Humoresque.” Radio announcer O. P. Gascoigne, presaged Mr. Hoover’s address with a description of the West Branch community and a narrative of the candidate’s career since he left here as a boy of ten years, through his achievements from the Boxer rebellion to his work during the Mississippi valley flood.
Another indication of the favor with which the Hoovers were greeted on their arrival here came when Governor Hammill introduced Mrs. Hoover and her two sons to the audience. Prolonged cheering awaited the three as they rose and bowed to the crowd.
In his introduction of the guest of honor Governor Hammell termed Mr. Hoover as a man who “has opened the door to success a little wider for the boy who has courage and character combined,” the governor declared the candidate is “admirably fitted both by training and character to make this nation the greatest president it has ever had.”
“The people of Iowa have the ability to solve problems when they have the opportunity to discuss them intelligently,” Iowa’s chief executive declared and he expressed his confidence in their choice for Mr. Hoover at the fall election.
Still another uproar followed when the nominee took his place before the microphones.
In his address Mr. Hoover confined himself largely to reminiscences of happy boyhood that more than once brought a trace of tears to his eyes, and he promised a solution to vexing agricultural conditions with a modest assurance that brought cheer after cheer from the thousands of Iowans who crowded beneath the huge tents.
Hoover did not go into the relief problem in detail. He intimated that a more definite program would be presented later and he touched lightly on the solution of the freight rate problem by inland waterway development, but his references to his boyhood mixed laughter with moments of tense emotion.
Mr. Hoover’s address, the complete text of which is published on this page was enthusiastically applauded throughout.
But the greatest ovation he received came when Mr. Sinclair, after leading the gather in a rousing singing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” at the close of the meeting, stood high on a chair, raised his arms and shouted, “Now! Let’s give one tremendous ovation for Mr. Hoover. The next time you see him, he’ll be the President of the United States.”
The response can easily be imagined. Herbert Hoover had come home and West Branch had bid him welcome.