Monday, October 31, 2016

standing in the Serb Hall door

------------------------[excerpt, Hunter Thompson] ---------------- ...They ignored the Wallace rallies that, night after night, packed halls in every corner of the state.  That was all Wallace did -- except for a few TV spots -- and every one of his rallies attracted more people than the halls could hold.

I went to one at a place called Serb Hall on the South Side of Milwaukee -- a neighborhood the pols said was locked up for Muskie.  ...One half of the hall is a "Lounge & Bowling Alley," and the other half is a fair-sized auditorium with a capacity of about 300.

The Serb Hall rally was a last-minute addition to the Wallace schedule....I got there at 4:30, thinking to get in ahead of the crowd and maybe chat a bit with some of the early arrivals at the bar . . . but at 4:30 the hall was already packed and the bar was so crowded I could barely reach in to get a beer....

For the next two hours I was locked in a friendly, free-wheeling conversation with about six of my hosts who didn't mind telling me they were there because George Wallace was the most important man in America. 

"This guy is the real thing," one of them said.  "I never cared anything about politics before, but Wallace ain't the same as the others.  He don't sneak around the bush.  He just comes right out and says it."

It was the first time I'd ever seen Wallace in person.  There were no seats in the hall; everybody was standing.  The air was electric even before he started talking, and by the time he was five or six minutes into his spiel I had a sense that the bastard had somehow levitated himself and was hovering over us. 

It reminded me of a Janis Joplin concert. 

Anybody who doubts the Wallace appeal should go out and catch his act sometime.  He jerked this crowd in Serb Hall around like he had them all on wires.  They were laughing, shouting, whacking each other on the back . . . it was a flat-out fire & brimstone performance.

(Voting on Election Day in Denver)
{Fear and Loathing:  On The Campaign Trail '72.  Hunter S. Thompson.  Simon & Schuster.  1973.}


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