and the 75 national correspondents were all of different character and disposition, Suydam wrote. Generalizations were inaccurate and foolish, he added. Suydam made note of many other universal problems for Washington reporters including constant interference from managing editors back home, lack of "exclusive interviews," the incessant need to reproduce the same stories already sent out by the wire services, and the daily pressure for new story ideas. Suydam pointed out that Hoover's reticence for speaking with reporters only further aggravated correspondents' usual woes. "The writer has had one private audience with the President since March 4, but what was said on that occasion did not appear in print in the form of an interview," Suydam revealed. The one meeting to which he referred was probably the March 5 dinner with Hoover in which correspondents ironed out press conference guidelines. 67
To add to the president's disappointment, a farm-support bill had stalled in Congress, and other legislation introduced by Hoover on various topics ranging from court reform to education had not moved toward progress. Obstinate regular congressional Republicans were paying the maverick Hoover back. As early as June 1929 stories began to circulate that Hoover would be challenged by Coolidge in 1932 with the backing of regular Republicans. 68
Still, these nettlesome matters were typical presidential headaches and comprised nothing that Hoover had not expected. Though the honeymoon was over, journalists generally praised Hoover on his first months in office. 69 He had even popularized a new game called "Hoover Ball," so that friends and staffers could join him in jovial exercise. Participants tossed a heavy medicine ball back and forth over a volleyball net. Correspondent William Hard joined the friendly game one day in May, only to sprain his ankle and wind up on crutches. 70
But now Hoover was neither the Great Engineer nor the Great Humanitarian, nor even the newly elected candidate. He was president of the United States, and he was leading the country during peace and prosperity, undertaking the distasteful task of dealing with reporters while seeking to move the country in a positive direction.
Then, on October 23, 1929, brokers watching their stock market ticker tapes noticed an alarming trend toward a huge stock sell-off. No one knew for certain what was happening, but the world was about to plunge into a deep hole, derailing one of the most meteoric public careers in the history of the country and dragging the presidency and the country into depression.