ketplace grew Pete's conviction that two things were crucial to the men and women -- and particularly Communists -- who sought to persuade their countrymen: what they said, and how they said it. Indeed, Pete fought not only for the right to speak but for the duty to speak well.
Methodical in all things, Pete was a demon for preparation for public speaking. He regarded stumping as an ancient, honorable and democratic art, a tradition carried on from the New England town meeting through the village green, the candidate's front porch, down to the chromed microphone. He saw it as an art at once as old as the handclasp of friendship and as modern as stainless steel.
Because Pete respected people and, above all, the plain people, the working people, the so-called little people, he was death on slovenliness, both in appearance and speech. He prepared as meticulously for a kaffee klatch in a neighbor's living room as for a speech before a municipal body. No split between form and content for Pete. He spoke with the same zeal and care from a ladder platform at a factory gate as in the staid City Council chamber.
Busy as he was in the City Council in his first term, he insisted on conveying to the movement his thoughts on reaching people. Somehow he found the time to write a pamphlet on the subject. A collector's item now, the little booklet may be considered artless or dated by modern sophisticates, but a thoughtful reader perusing its thirty-two pages, brilliantly illustrated by some anonymous cartoonist, will draw a different conclusion. It was widely popular in its time and is no period piece even today. (See Public Speaking, A Speaker's Guidebook by Peter V. Cacchione , Workers Library Publishers, New York, 1942.)
"Speaking," Pete wrote, "is nothing more than conversation -- only on a larger scale. Instead of conversing with one person, you are conversing with a group."
This may be hardly novel, but the tone is significant. Pete was addressing himself to thousands of "little people," men and women in local unions, shop and community gatherings who had something to say and frequently were fearful of their ability to say it. His was the advice of a plain man who had mastered the art form and sought to encourage others to do likewise. "Public speaking," he wrote, "is an art acquired through experience, like the art of playing music, singing, or painting. Good speakers are not born. Every public speaker has to start at the same level. A public speaker always strives to improve himself or herself."