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There are many methods of expressing gratitude and esteem. Yesterday, Boston used one of them--the parade-reception-luncheon type. Gen. George C. Marshall was the person honored. I watched the conclusion of the parade at Copley Square. It was inspiring.
I kept my eyes on a sturdy, hatchet-faced man confined in a blue, double-breasted overcoat because he knew what was going on. Most of the people who were attracted by the bunting knew nothing; they just waited for the show. But the hatchet-faced man, who was an official, knew all of the policemen and also many of the tall and short red-faced men in hombergs and Chesterfields who waited on the reviewing stand and elsewhere. He shook hands with many of them and passed remarks, and invariably the tall and short red-faced men smiled wisely or guffawed.
All was in order. Poker-faced patrolmen stood at 50-foot intervals at both sides of the street. They were quiet and alert and expectant. The firemen's band was playing Sousa. Strollers and loiterers, all stone-eyed and half-interested, gathered in front of the Copley Plaza and near the reviewing stand across the street. Motorcycles carrying dispatches buzzed in and departed. Big, black, shiny cars coasted into the Square and discharged more tall and short red-faced men in hombergs and Chesterfields.
One stood apart, alone. He, too, wore a Chesterfield, but the striped trousers of morning dress individualized him. With easy dignity, he carried a mace--a long, metal staff topped by a medallion. Many saluted him, but he stood apart, with his mace and his tall silk hat. And a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
Suddenly, the cold wind blew music and more motorcycles up Boylston Street. An Army band appeared and forced the firemen into retirement. Then there were jeeps and soldiers and sailors and marines and a half-track and more jeeps and a marine band and four fighter planes that kept flying back and forth.
General Marshall came up fast on the outside in an open Cadillac. He looked cold and not very honored, but he smiled at the man next to me. A lot of people didn't see him; the Cadillac swept by the reviewing stand and the General didn't alight. Only the police, the man with the mace and the hatchet-faced man knew what was going on; the hatchet-faced man, I noticed, hovered at the door of the Copley to keep back souvenir seekers. The General went in.
Red Cross station wagons came next. There was also a portable canteen, like those that carried a little bit of sweetness to our boys in the field. These vehicles were driven by housewives who have leisure time. They all wore nice blue-gray uniforms and some had nice blue-gray hair. The drivers became confused when they got to the reviewing stand. There was some tooting and gear-clashing and station wagons all over the place. But only for a moment; the hatchet-faced man directed them and they wheeled their cars to the door of the hotel where the women passengers labored out. I don't know what happened to the portable canteen.
The man with the mace and the other tall and short red-faced men in hombergs and Chesterfields then left the reviewing stand and, protected by three policemen, crossed the street to the hotel. I followed, picking my way among 25 or 30 motorcycles. With the other spectators, I peered at the door of the hotel and waited.
The hatchet-faced man was there; he was wise, calm, and paternal.
"That's all there is," he said to us. "It's all over."
Of course, General Marshall might like this sort of thing.
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