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Friday, October 19, 2012

"Small Town": Dirty Politics

"What really committed us to the struggle was a conversation we had with Harvey Dakin.  We knew that he had been suggested for the post of chief of the auxiliary police, and we went to ask him if he planned to accept.  It was in the early evening, and he was taking a nap after a day in the woods and a hearty supper.  He roused himself and sat on the couch, his hair rumpled and his lumberman's shirt full of wrinkles.  he knew as well as we why he was being considered: because he was fearless and because he was universally respected in the town, though not universally liked.  The politicians realized that he could do the job, and there was almost no one else who could, and though they must have lamented the necessity, they were willing to appoint him.  He smoked and scowled and looked up at us.  Did we know what would happen, he asked.  Sooner or later the politicians would double-cross him, there would be one hell of a row, and the whole organization would break up.  We insisted that the politicians could be beaten, and he began telling us stories of dirty politics in the town, stories that seemed incredible then though we have since come to know that they were true.  Again and again we assured him that we wanted to fight, no matter what the odds.  He brought out the list of men whom the politicians had recommended as auxiliary policemen and characterized certain of them with profane eloquence.  We promised to support him if he made his acceptance conditional on his being given the right to select his own men.  And when in the end he agreed to take the job, we knew that we should never be forgiven if we let him down."

Hicks, Granville. Small Town. New York: Macmillan, 1946.


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