Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics 1942-1950

By William D. Barnard | Go to book overview

5

FOLSOM IN RETREAT:
The Fruits of Victory Denied

The hotels were packed, more crowded than ever in Montgomery's history, veteran hotelmen said. 1 Big Jim had invited all of Alabama to his inaugural and many of them came.

Montgomery had never seen an inauguration such as this. The crowds were larger and the parade longer than those of the past, but it was more than that. Not that the formality and dignity which accompany such affairs of state were absent. Richard Rives of Montgomery presided over the formal ceremonies in front of the stately capitol with aplomb. Chief Justice Lucien Gardner, who had served on the supreme bench since 1915, lent his "solomn mien and felicity of phrase" to the proceedings. 2

No, the customary formality was not absent. It was just overwhelmed. The inaugural address was followed that evening by one of the strangest inaugural balls ever concocted. Big Jim had invited his campaign audiences to come to his inaugural and come they did. A two-day drizzle that had left the spangled bunting bedraggled failed to dampen the spirits of the plain folk come to town to celebrate. They were there in force, 6000 strong. The Strawberry Pickers, the hill-billy band that had campaigned with Folsom, was there, playing alongside Montgomery's leading society dance band. At first dancing was spasmodic, the floor was too crowded. Later, as the crowd began to thin and as the older celebrants shifted to the chairs along the sides of the auditorium, the floor was abandoned to the young, daring, or inebriated. Folsom promised to dance with every girl there, but he soon had to give it up. Girls had come dateless and were soon dancing with each other. Bobby-soxers, with their "shabby runover shoes, blue denim slacks with blouses," were there in impressive numbers, as well as jitterbug exhibitionists. 3

There was mass confusion. The Strawberry Pickers tried to organize a square dance, but their efforts foundered. The hall was too crowded, the crowd undisciplined. Cheers and applause filled the hall when the

-72-

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