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The Vagabond



Vag's father had always talked to him about the melting pot of golden opportunity that was America. But his father was a buoyant optimist of the 1890's and early 1900's, while Vag was inclined to think of himself as a hard-boiled post-war cynic. His was a practical America, a country of depressions and recessions and bonus armies, not a haven with free land for all and riches for the picking. But occasionally Vag's cynicism was subjected to disquieting qualms. He was particularly haunted by visions of a vitriolic figure with an extremely photogenic face who hopped nervously across the national horizon.

In the biggest, coldest, and most callous city in the world, this mighty mite--part-Italian, part-Jewish, and very poor by birth--had endeared himself to millions of metropolitan hearts. His willingness to express himself frankly and enthusiastically on any subject imaginable had gained Fiorello H. La Guardia the reputation of complete honesty and sincerity among his fellow New Yorkers and among his many admirers all through the country.

The "Little Flower," or "The Roaring Bull of the Pampas" as he was also known, had no need of a publicity agent. He was the type of "happy thyroid" who always supplied newspapermen with reams of copy. Vag remembered pictures of him beaming at a picnic in the country, glowering over some knotty problems at a meeting of the City Council, or mopping the heat of a burning summer day from his plastic countenance. Then there was that tragi-comic look of hurt surprise as he struck back at the disappointed job-seeker who had assailed him on the steps of the City Hall. He was the first man to arrive at the scene of a subway accident, the booted and helmeted director at every big fire, and the first male to dare express his disapproval of women's hats. Speaking over a nation-wide radio hook-up, he claimed to be the living inspiration of Walt Disney's little dwarf Grumpy.

And if not the symbol of a golden age that was, lie was at least the symbol of a golden age that had not entirely died. He had surmounted difficulties that would have been insurmountable in any other country, and pulled himself up to a position of eminence by his own boot-straps. Vag remembered that the Crimson had long ago nominated Fiorello for President in 1944--Vag thought it was a pretty good idea.

(Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia of New York City will speak at the Indoor Athletic Building at 8 o'clock tomorrow evening).

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