January 16, 2009
When Al Smith Lost Thunder Butte
Al Smith Waves to Supporters
Funny, but I was seven years old when Al Smith ran against Herbert Hoover for the office of President of the United States. This election was preceded by months of talk about the candidates. When you stop to think about it, general conversation was all there was then. I don't think we even had a radio at that time. The depression was falling on the country then and everybody we knew thought Herbert Hoover was pretty much responsible for it. On the other hand, Al Smith had captured the hearts of America.
Finally election day came and I could not wait to find out what my parents did. Did they vote for Al Smith? When they finally got back to the Butte after having been gone all day to vote -- they probably went to Coal Springs to vote -- I rushed out to the wagon to hear the news of the day.
"Did you vote for Mr. Smith?” I asked. When my parents said, "No, he could not have won and we didn't want to waste our vote, so we voted for Herbert Hoover," I was heart broken. Since my own parents didn't vote for Al Smith, I was resigned to his having lost the election.
The United States then plunged in to the darkest depression of the Western world. Perhaps Herbert Hoover and Al Smith had very little to do with it -- but I was always convinced that life would have been OK if Al Smith had won.
Editor's Note: With the inauguration Tuesday of a new President, it seems only fitting to revisit another election from days gone by and how it was perceived around Thunder Butte. Al Smith, then governor of New York, was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1928. John Crowley was so affected by his loss that he has been a Republican ever since.