Last night I stayed at the McLure Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia. Harry and Bess stayed here on their trip back East. The McLure was also the site of one of the twentieth century’s most notorious political speeches: On February 9, 1950, speaking before a meeting of the Ohio County Republican Women’s Club, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy declared, “While I cannot take the time to name all of the men in the State Department who have been named as members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who, nevertheless, are still working and shaping the policy in the State Department.”
McCarthy, of course, had no such list, but his speech launched the witch hunt that would take his name: McCarthyism.
Before dinner last night, I dug out a copy of the article about McCarthy’s speech that was published in the next day’s Wheeling Intelligencer. It said the speech took place in the hotel’s Colonnade Room. On the way to dinner, I figured I’d ask the night clerk if he knew where that room was.
When I left my room, I noticed for the first time that there was a banquet room directly across the hall from my room: the Colonnade Room. It was locked, but I could look through a window in the door. The room was dimly lit. White tablecloths covered large round tables. The chairs were all in place. It reminded me of something in The Shining and really creeped me out. If not for the Tylenol PM, I would've had a hard time sleeping.
This morning I drove to Columbus, where I did some guerilla research: in and out of the city in three hours. (Me, panting, at the Columbus Public Library reference desk: "Give me everything you've got on the Deshler Hotel - STAT!")
I'm now at the Motel 6 in Richmond, Indiana, where I have some research to do in the morning. Then I'm off to Indianapolis to meet with a woman whose parents hosted the Trumans on their trip.
I still can't shake this cold, but otherwise I'm not feeling too bad. Allyson, meanwhile, has been given a temporary assignment in Conakry, Guinea, where she will be working for the next two weeks. Suddenly, Richmond, Indiana doesn't seem so bad...