Sunday, September 09, 2007

September 9, 1887:

Alf Landon's Birthday

Alfred Mossman Landon of Kansas might have lost in a big way to FDR in 1936 -- his reluctance to campaign indicates the he was probably sure he had no chance of winning -- but he does have one distinction among Republican nominees for the presidency, win or lose. He lived longer than any of them, surviving to be 100, his adult life spanning the Progressive Era to the age of Reaganomics.

After he died in 1987, the New York Times published this story about Landon: "Mr. Landon leavened the disappointment of his loss in 1936 with humor. Assessing his two-state victory, Mr. Landon said, 'As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.'

"He displayed the same sense of humor a month after the election, when, as the outgoing Governor of Kansas, he addressed the Gridiron Club, an organization of Washington newspapermen.

'' 'If there is one state that prepares a man for anything, it is Kansas,' he said. 'The Kansas tornado is an old story. But let me tell you of one. It swept first the barn, then the outbuildings. Then it picked up the dwelling and scattered it all over the landscape.

" 'As the funnel-shape cloud went twisting its way out of sight, leaving nothing but splinters behind, the wife came to, to find her husband laughing.

" 'She angrily asked him, "What are you laughing at, you darned old fool?"

'' 'And the husband replied, "At the completeness of it." ' ''

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