A Backward Glance at Eighty eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about A Backward Glance at Eighty.

There were occasional humorous incidents connected with this task.  There were opposition and prejudice against names offered.  Some one proposed a “St. Francis Boulevard.”  An apparently intelligent man asked why we wanted to perpetuate the name of “that old pirate.”  I asked, “Who do you think we have in mind?” He replied, “I suppose you would honor Sir Francis Drake.”  He seemed never to have heard of Saint Francis of Assisi.

It was predicted that the Taylor administration with its excellent record would be continued, but at the end of two years it went down to defeat and the Workingmen’s party, with P.H.  McCarthy as mayor, gained strong control.  For two years, as a minority member, I enjoyed a different but interesting experience.  It involved some fighting and preventive effort; but I found that if one fought fairly he was accorded consideration and opportunity.  I introduced a charter amendment that seemed very desirable, and it found favor.  The charter prescribed a two-year term for eighteen supervisors and their election each alternate year.  Under the provision it was possible to have every member without experience.  By making the term four years and electing nine members every other year experience was assured, and the ballot would be half the length, a great advantage.  It had seemed wise to me to allow the term of the mayor to remain two years, but the friends of Mayor McCarthy were so confident of his re-election that they insisted on a four-year term.  As so amended the matter went to the people and was adopted.  At the following election Mayor James Rolph, Jr., was elected for four years, two of which were an unintentional gift of his political opponents.

I served for four years under the energetic Rolph, and they were fruitful ones.  Most of the plans inaugurated by the Taylor board were carried out, and materially the city made great strides.  The Exposition was a revelation of what was possible, and of the City Hall and the Civic Center we may well be proud.

Some of my supervisorial experiences were trying and some were amusing.  Discussion was often relieved by rare bits of eloquence and surprising use of language.  Pronunciation was frequently original and unprecedented.  Amazing ignorance was unconcealed and the gift of gab was unrestrained.  Nothing quite equaled in fatal facility a progress report made by a former member soon after his debut:  “We think we shall soon be able to bring chaos out of the present disorder, now existing.”  On one of our trips of investigation the City Engineer had remarked on the watershed.  One of the members later cornered him and asked “Where is the watershed?” expecting to be shown a building that had escaped his attention.

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A Backward Glance at Eighty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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