--Part XIII--Officer Walter Blunt was looking forward to getting away for a few hours. The last several days had seen his caseload increase dramatically and everybody seemed to have an emergency, real or imagined. The small Pennsylvania town where he was a police officer rarely saw much action and he usually spent his shifts babysitting the townspeople in a small matrix of semi-serious confrontations typically stemming from one generation to the other or from one sex to the other. Officer Blunt had received formal training in everything from riot control to public relations but the past couple of years his sole focus had been much closer to the latter.
He had not voted for Eisenhower for president since Eisenhower was a Republican and Blunt came from a long line of Democrats and yet Blunt felt that the man was honest and well-intentioned and probably idealistically correct. It was all a moot point at the moment because Officer Blunt had a job to do and he would do that job no matter his personal feelings about the man. Blunt was to be a part of a joint task force comprised mostly of local police officers who were to provide crowd control while the president made a stop in a neighboring town as part of his effort to drum up support for an interstate highway system.
Blunt checked in and got instructions. He was to keep well-wishers and gaukers off of the roadway so the president's limo could pass by without anybody getting hurt. When he got to his station he saw several people had already lined up along the curb and some were already copping a squat right next to where President Eisenhower would be entering the hotel. The scene was chaotic with local police running into federal police and being screamed at all the while by Secret Servive. Local police had the black cotton uniform, the federal agents would be in suits and ties and the secret service would be in nice suits and ties and wearing sunglasses.
News crews in awkward looking panel vans were setting up right in front of Blunt and he first asked them nicely to leave and then when he was ignored he and two others gave the crew a stiff warning about where that van would wind up if it was not moved promptly. Promptly it was moved and another immediately took it's place. Blunt and the others skipped the nice part and proceeded to threaten which worked pretty well after some moaning and question-asking. Another officer from another city smiled at Blunt and said,"Say what you want as long as you do what I say! Right, officer?" Walter smiled. It beats breaking up a family squabble about who drank who's beer. Blunt felt like he was doing important duty here and he was glad to help.
President Eisenhower's car pulled up in front of the hotel accompanied by various other vehicles doing various other duties. Red velour ropes cordoned off the pathway from the car to the hotel entrance. The car had Presidential Seal flags flying on both front fenders. The 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo was black with a soft vinyl top and tons of chrome that enjoyed it's long journey from the collection at the front bumper and streaked down the side to the back door and accentuated the sexy curve of the cars hips and down to the sultry fins on the back.
At the same time as a Secret Service officer stepped forward to open the limo door for Eisenhower, Officer Blunt stepped forward to encourage a few stragglers to move away from the velour rope.
"Move away, please. Thank you... Move away from the rope, please...Step to the curb, please...Thank you..."
Seeing a young girl holding the rope, Officer Blunt put his hand gently but firmly on her shoulder to demand that she move back.
"Move away from the ro..."
The president stepped out of the car and took a few steps smiling broadly and waving to the crowd. He was almost actually glad to be there and his smile was less artificial than at other times. He was willing to shake a few hands and make a show of enjoying his small-town stops and this seemed like a good time and place with plenty of reporters, cameras and security.
Seeing the local police officer with his hand on the young girl's shoulder would be a good place to start so President Dwight David Eisenhower moved rapidly to the pair. In spite of what seemed like an odd exchange of glances between the two, Ike held out his hand to the pretty little girl and gave his standard greeting.
"Dwight Eisenhower", he said with a nod.