A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLI
The "Sadness of Farewell"

CALVIN COOLIDGE died the first Thursday in January and they buried him Saturday. It was a cold, dour, rainy day in Northampton, but the largest crowd assembled that Saturday that the town had ever seen. People from all over the wide Connecticut Valley motored in, and parking space, half a mile from the Edwards Congregational Church, was taken in the early morning. The Mayor announced the day before that the stores would not be closed.

"Every nickel counts," said he in a public statement. "If the business places close they might lose some sales and that is exactly what Calvin would not want."

So with Puritan thrift and to give the place a solemn air while saving the nickels, the Mayor asked the merchants to draw down the window shades. Nor did he drape the town in mourning, being frugal: " Calvin was a simple man. He would not want the people to go to all that expense," the Mayor said! So they tied crape on the City Hall.

From all over the land visitors who came thronging in, that cloudy day, saw there the bedraggled black cotton limp and listless, and a wilted flag hanging at half mast. Before nine o'clock the sidewalks on Main Street and in front of the church were packed. The windows of the stores and the high school across the street showed the buff of curious faces. Most of the seats in the church were reserved.1 James Lucey sat in one of these-- exalted in his friendship to the last. Only the galleries were free. When the doors of the church swung open it took less than a minute to jam the galleries. The crowd outside reflected symbolically the disorganization and disorder of the times. The President and members of the Supreme Court

____________________
1
The Coolidge pew well back in the Auditorium was marked and remained vacant.

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