Letter from High Chimneys by Jack Rue: The Knot Hole Election

 

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LETTER FROM HIGH CHIMNEYS

Have not you readers had enough? If I cannot tolerate myself, how can you? If I bore you, call me collect!! I went to my psychiatrist last week. He asked, “What is your problem?” I replied, “I have amnesia.” He asked, “How long have you had it?” “How long have I had what?” I replied.
He had put me on the couch, and then said, “MOVE OVER!!” Now you’ve got me crazy Jack!” I told him I was available Jack and I was already spoken for! KEY OF C
“Just a gigolo – everywhere I go.”
When we returned to the waiting room there was a client with a duck on his head. My psychiatrist asked his problem. The duck spoke up and said “get this dude’s head out of me!!
Ken, you’ll have to launder this article to keep from getting sued by me!
Imagine publishing trash like this that I write about myself! Get yourself an attorney!
What do these old jokes have to do with building a hospital? You figure it out. As I mentioned before we took our problem to the County for advice. We had two interested Citizens from each district and our board met at the library.
Dr. Honey, a Doctor of Theology (no less) from New England, a professional fundraiser, present his program. He was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever met. His presentation was not a sales pitch whatsoever. The cost of raising matching funds was $24,000.00. Salaries were $12,000.00 and expenses $12,000.00. We had the usual dissenters and he spent a lot of time explaining how his program worked. After he left we appointed a committee to make the decision if whether to go it ourselves or retain his firm.

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St. Mary’s Circuit Court Judge Philip H. Dorsey summons up a stem-winder endorsing the candidacy of Roy Dyson, left, for the House of Delegates in 1974; Sen. J. Frank Raley sits at right.

A week or so later, we met in Ollie Guyther’s office. Ollie, Bascom Broun, President of First National, Allen Coad, President of County Trust, (State Wide), Bob Dean, Frank Abell, Ben Burroughs, Ernest Bell and maybe a couple of others.
They had had a meeting before this one and decided that the committee was going to put on the fundraising drive themselves at the cost of $18,000.00 for supplies and a secretary.

St. Mary’s County States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey

The Bell Brothers loaned us the old County Trust Building. I asked who was going to run the Campaign and they had selected Guyther.
Ollie said, “I am a Lawyer (and a good one) know nothing about raising money but sure know how to spend it!”
They turned to me and said, “You are Chairman of the Board – you run it.” I said, “Gentlemen – I’ll fly you in an airplane, mix you a drink, play you a hoe-down on my fiddle but know nothing about fundraising.
There was much conversation about what to do. I said, “Gentleman” There is $600,000.00 donated by the Federal Government. We are about to lose it due to amateurs doing their best to put the campaign together. Without success. We are discussing $18,000.00 (Our cost) or $24,000.00 (Dr. Honey’s cost).
This is a difference of $6000.00 and we are about to lose $600,000.00. Ollie get me a set of dice and I’ll roll with these odds day and night! (they thought Ollie was going to reach into his pocket and hand me a pair). They said that they had never thought of it that way. You just won that roll!! 

Now we are off and running. I feel really good and confident. Dr. Honey sent three professional fundraisers, two were college graduates, man, and wife – great people. We got the literature, pamphlets, etc. printed. They handled no funds. We had Bascom Broun and Charles Fenwick as Treasurers.
Dr. Fishbein, M.D. came to the kick-off dinner at Little Flower School. He was head of the American Medical Association. His speech lasted forty-five minutes. Igor Sikorsky talked the same length of time at the “O” Club.

St. Mary’s County has a long and recent history of slot machines, with the most recent surge in slots taking place seven years ago as thousands of illegal slot machines spread throughout liquor stores, bars, and restaurants, all with using various charities as fronts with no independent accounting of the funds. The charities were gullible and were happy to take the money until the officials managed to get their act together and shut it all down, hauling away scores of slot machines. These slots were lined up in the Brass Rail in Great Mills. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

You could hear a pin drop during either of their speeches. Dr. Honey solicited me and it took Penny and me several years to pay our pledge. Then I had to solicit my board and the Doctors.
It was one Heckuva job to raise their sights. I told him what I pledged and their reply was that we were rich. I said I am absolutely not rich and only act that way and still do!!
Harry Ocker and Frank Barley collected the funds on the base for us. I had a rough time getting money out of the Park because of the Leonardtown – Lexington Park friction.
Many called me the Leonardtown kid and still do. One of my cleaner nicknames!The big stumbling blocks were the slot machine operators. WHAT GREED. WHAT IGNORANCE. I couldn’t believe it. It was sickening.
There was no state tax on them at the time. Louis Goldstein had a law passed over in Calvert County taxing their machines and giving it directly to the Hospital. I had to listen to that and the greed of the slot operator over and over.
Time was of the essence. This thing had floundered about two years before I got on the board. (I do not mind a bit of self-flattering.) Thank God we had the good St. Mary’s Countians backing me up.
Things are moving forward and we can smell sweet success. We open the bid at the hospital and Colonel Duke (a fine gentleman) gets the bid. Oh, before I forget it, Fulton Lewis, Jr. had a big affair for us. He had so many people we used the Drill Hall on the base. Some of his guests included Senator Joe McCarthy, Jack Rue, Jeannette McDonald, Jack Rue, Charles Laughton, Jack Rue, V.P. Nixon, Jack Rue, etc.

You folks are too young to remember me in the silent flicks and when I ran for Vice President with Teddy Roosevelt and that’s why he lost the second time. We had some tireless workers helping us. Many gave private coffees or lunches to help solicit.

 

Central Air Conditioning was first being perfected and was not in our plans. Eleanor Peabody air conditioned that hospital with window units single-handedly and we never forget her. The hospital is now being constructed. We get our first $300,000 from under some and are using our funds. Colonel Duke called me on a Monday and said they were going to shut the job down in a week as we were out of funds.
The other $300,000 had not arrived, I got on the phone. The money had to go through our State Treasury from the Federal Government Mervel Dean came in the Roost one day. He was V.P. on the Board. What to do? He said I’m going to call my political enemy.

Ribbon cutting by Commissioner Bailey at Bushwood Wharf. Bailey is the namesake of the Samuel M. Bailey which is operated by his grandson. Photo courtesy of Walter B. Dorsey for THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY.

A little later Phil Dorsey walked in. We talk. Phil went to the phone. He never said who he called. After a few drinks, the phone rang for Mr. Dorsey. He said, “Mervel, Jack, the money will be here tomorrow delivered by a state trooper.”
I have no idea who he shook up. He was people’s counsel at the time. Later he told me some bureaucrat had mislaid it in his desk.
These were the good old days when this was DORSEY LAND (Paul Bailey and Joe Weiner were his junior partners) and don’t you forget it. Many people resented it but it was true. If they didn’t like the Democratic candidate that won the primary, they put in a Republican. This was with a five to one Democratic to Republican registration.

The Dorseyites met the night before the election at Cecil’s Store in Great Mills and then went politicking. Two Dollar bills and miniatures of whiskey were very conspicuous on election day.

George Hopkins penned this toon for The Chesapeake depicting how elections were held in St. Mary’s County with a ballot and a buck slipped into a voting booth in Valley Lee. Walk-around money and liquor sales were banned in Maryland and now only the dead and illegal aliens can get special voting privileges.

THE KNOT HOLE ELECTION.
Now don’t forget this one. We had wooden precincts sort of like outhouses in some districts. One of our outstanding citizens stood in the back of the precinct, the ballot was passed out through the Knot Hole, he worked it and passed it back with the bill curled up in it. This was done by a stalwart member of the loyal opposition to the Dorseys. Don’t you just love it? Who is holier than thou?

I took my mask off for Halloween!! Went to my favorite bar naked and backed in as a parker house roll and the girls autographed my buns.

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