Stanley, Nellie, Robert and Dorothy

The Great Election Bet of 1936


As told to her daughter Barbara Weaver

In the late 1920s and early 1930s our nation was going through a difficult time financially and a good many families were hard strapped for cash.  Our Daddy, Virgil Jones, was a railroad worker and always had a job, but the money didn't stretch very far as we were a large family.  But we always had food.  Sometimes it was just biscuits and gravy, which we didn’t mind because it was filling; and Mom & Granny could always dress up ordinary food and make you think you were having a banquet.
          We couldn't afford store-bought toys so we made do with what was at hand.  We would get a narrow piece of wood about three feet long, then take one of Dad's old Prince Albert Tobacco cans and mash it flat, put a little curve in it and nail it onto the end of the wooden stick.  We could usually find a discarded iron wheel, maybe six inches in diameter, lying around.  We’d put the wheel in the curve of the tobacco can and roll it up and down the road. That was our play car.
          Oft times, Mom would take two little flat boards, cross them and nail them on the end of an old broom handle. On washdays she would fill empty lard buckets with the old soapy water and we would churn that up and down, making sudsy butter.
          The word television was unheard of at that time. We did have a small radio that brought us the Grand Ol’ Opry, Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, The Stamps Baxter Quartet and The Light Crust Dough Boys.
          We weren't exposed to a lot of news like kids are now so we were mostly unaware of what was going on in the world.  I first became aware of politics in 1936, due only to the fact that two of our citizens, Mutt Goad and John Calhoun, had made a bet on the outcome of the presidential election. One said Franklin D. Roosevelt would win, the other bet on Alf Landon, and it was agreed the loser would pull the winner in a little red wagon from Bradford to Newport, a distance of 18 to 20 miles of gravel highway 67.  Time has erased my knowledge of who bet on Roosevelt, winner by a landslide, but I was there when the two parties, Mutt and John, set out to "collect on the bet." There was also a newspaper reporter present and he made a picture of that incident. My brother Bob overheard the guy that was doing the riding say, "Now when we get down the road a bit, we'll get Chester Stout to come pick us up and drive us to near Newport." The other responded, "No, a bet is a bet and we will go by the rules!" Whether they did all the way to Newport is uncertain. I believe the larger one, Mutt Goad, got to do the riding.  President Roosevelt stuck in my mind after that, and I was more aware of politics from then on.
          While visiting a friend in St Louis, Giles Smith showed me a poem about Roosevelt.  Personally, I think FDR was a great president, but this poem was very funny.  I memorized it so I could tell it to my family when I got back to Bradford. It came from the William H. Murray collection and goes like this:

 A stranger stood at the Gates of Hell
And the devil himself answered the bell.
He looked him over from head to toe,
And said "My friend, I'd like to know,
What have you done in the line of sin
To entitle you to come within?"

Then Franklin D. with his usual guile
Stepped forth and flashed his toothy smile.
When I took charge in thirty-three,
A nation’s faith was mine," said he.
"I promised this and I promised that
And I calmed them down with a fireside chat.

I spent their money on fishing trips,
And I fished from the decks of their battleships.
I gave them jobs on the WPA,
Then raised their taxes and took it away.

I raised their wages and closed their shops,
I killed their pigs and burned their crops.
I double-crossed both old and young,
And still the fools my praises sung.
I brought back their beer, & what do you think?
I taxed it so high they couldn't drink.
I furnished them money for government loans,
If they missed a payment, I took their homes.

When I wanted to punish the folks you know,
I'd put my wife on the radio.
I paid them to let their farms lie still,
And imported food stuff from Brazil.

I curtailed crops when I felt real mean,
And shipped in corn from Argentine.
When they'd start to worry, stew and fret,
I'd get them to chanting the alphabet.

With the AAA and the CCC,
The TVA and the TND.
With these many units I'd get their goats,
And still I crammed it down their throats.

My workers toiled with the speed of snails,
While the taxpayers chewed their fingernails.
When the organizers needed dough,
I closed the plants for the CIO.

I ruined jobs and I ruined health,
And I put the screws on the rich man's wealth.
And some who couldn't stand the gaff,
Would call on me, and how I'd laugh.

When they got too strong on certain things,
I'd pack and head for Warm Springs.
I ruined their country, their homes and then,
I placed the blame on 'Nine Old Men.’"

Now Franklin talked both long and loud,
And the devil stood, and his head he bowed.
At last he said, "Let’s make it clear,
You'll have to move--You can't stay here,
For once you mingle with this mob,

I'll have to hunt myself a job!"