Monday, June 25, 2012

Durham's day in the sun

I live in the "small New Hampshire community" that got a bit of publicity over the weekend because our Town Administrator asked the Obama campaign to pay the $20,000-$30,000 cost of hiring off-duty policeman to manage traffic and public safety when Mr Obama makes a speech here today. (The campaign and the town both got off the hook when an anonymous "citizen" stepped forward to guarantee the expense up to $20,000. Just your typical small New Hampshire community!)

What a change from 1952, the last time an incumbent president made a campaign stop here. That was Harry Truman, who was scheduled to swing around the circle in the Thompson Hall parking lot and shake hands with the university president. (T Hall is the UNH administration building, a wonderful Victorian structure with a bell tower and a porte cochere.) Alas, one of the fraternity boys let off a firecracker. The Secret Service of course interpreted that as a gunshot, and the presidential motorcade speeded up, passing the welcoming committee without a pause.

Durham at that time was indeed a small community. The university employed one policeman, named Louis Bourgoin, who was also badged as Durham's chief of police. As its contribution to public safety, the town paid the salary of Louie's assistant, a portly gentleman named Ben. They never had any trouble keeping order, and there were never any off-duty cops brought in to supplement them. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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