Hang On

I’m reading Ralph Nader’s memoir The Seventeen Traditions (HarperCollins 2007). and much to my surprise it is well worth the read. It is the gentle telling of his growing up life in Connecticut. Nader has never been one of my favorites and today I have suspected and tentatively confessed my prejudice. For the younger among us, Ralph Nader ran as a third party candidate for president on the Green Party Ticket in 2000. Perhaps, he drained enough votes from the Democrats to give the election to George W. Bush.

The Naders were immigrants and as they established themselves, they became active politically and in civic events. Their senator was republican Prescott Bush who is the father of a president and the grandfather of another. In August, 1955 a hurricane destroyed main street of the Nader’s home city. Ralph’s mother determined that only a dry dam could prevent the city being so damaged by every storm that followed. She talked to a friend who had connection with Prescott Bush to push for that dry dam.

“Alas, came the report, Bush responded with no more than a smile.” (page 140)

One day, that mutual friend invited Mr. Bush to speak in the area. Mr. and Mrs. Nader went to hear him. Let Ralph Nader’s words describe the event.

“After his speech, my mother went over and introduced herself. As she was shaking hands with him, she said, ‘Senator Bush, Winsted, Connecticut needs your support in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to build a dry dam to prevent future flooding.’

“Bush smiled, but said nothing.

“Mother always loved recalling what happened next. ‘I wouldn’t let go of his hand,’ she said, ‘until he promised to help.’ She had a tremendous grip”

Prescott Bush did help. A dam was built. There hasn’t been a flood since.

Mrs. Nader said, “If you want to get a politician to stop smiling and start promising,” she always said, “just don’t let go of his hand.”

©2016 D. Dean Benton—Benton Books, Blogs, & Blurbs.

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