Hoover's 1928 Campaign Visit
Considering the almost “round-the-clock” media coverage of speeches by modern day presidential candidates, Herbert Hoover was by comparison, according to Timothy Walch, Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, practically a political wallflower:
“In fact, Herbert Hoover gave very few major addresses during the '28 campaign. To be sure, there were these motion picture trucks traveling the country, playing a silent and sound version of 'Master of Emergencies,' which portrayed Herbert Hoover as something of a superman, helping people in need. But Hoover, himself, was shy, and so he was really giving relatively few addresses, one of them was going to be in his hometown. And so the idea was, you return home to reaffirm that your values were shaped by the community where you were born, and to carry-forward as a representative of those values as a candidate for President of the United States.”
A select group of the community’s business and agricultural leaders were chosen to make arrangements for Hoover’s August 21st homecoming. Well aware of what a history making event this would be, the newly formed “Hoover Birthplace Committee” set about making sure that West Branch put its best face forward to the world. Along Downey and other streets, houses were painted and lawns were trimmed. Dozens of food stands were set up. Bundles of tall Iowa corn shocks decorated the town. And given the unpredictability of Iowa weather in August, two canvas tents were brought in from Chicago to provide covered seating for 18,000 people. They were set up, along with the speaking platform, which was draped in yards of red, white and blue bunting, in the athletic field between Poplar and Oliphant streets, about two blocks north of here.
Hoover and his family arrived by train early on the morning of the 21st. In the tiny cottage where he was born, they ate a breakfast of Iowa ham and farm-fresh eggs, and then visited the graves of his parents, Jesse and Hulda. They even stopped by the swimming hole on the West Branch of the Wapsinonoc Creek. For Herbert Hoover, the powerful connection to home and family was very much alive. Says Timothy Walch:
“And the pride – the derivative pride that everybody from West Branch had that one of their sons "whose roots were in this soil," as he was fond of saying from time-to-time, would grow up to become a multi-millionaire, and a worldwide humanitarian, and most likely the next President of the United States was a source of great pride. So the tent is long gone, but the memories are still here.”
Did You Know?
Herbert Hoover's birthplace was a tourist attraction as early as 1928. Jennie Scellers, the house's owner, charged 10 cents for tours and set up a souvenir stand on her lawn. More...