CHAPTER 15
Titular Head

One night in June, 1937, while driving back from one of his oil properties in a heavy rain, Landon came to two wire-fence gates; he opened them, drove his car through, and then walked back to close them. Wet and muddy, and groping in the dark for the gates, he suddenly chortled, remembering that exactly a year before he had been nominated for President of the United States. Alf Landon had lost that, election, but not his sense of humor.

Nor had Landon lost his sense of reality. During the depression, his governorship, and his campaign for the Presidency, he had slipped financially--and he had to make a living. He had held on to most of his properties and leases during the depression, but the income from them had been small: to remain prosperous, an oilman has to make strikes and have a good market. Although he was reputed to be a millionaire, he did not have the resources or income to match. Indeed he had to use some of his family's funds and his own emergency capital to buy 170 acres of undeveloped land west of Topeka after the 1936 election. It was here that he built a home, operated a small farm, and sold off his remaining acreage for building sites. The house (into which the family moved in December, 1937) was a large, Georgian structure, which caused one observer to quip that if Alf Landon could not get tenancy of the White House he would build a white house of his own.

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