Whitey Harwood: Things aren’t funny anymore

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 31, 2020

By Whitey Harwood

This story is not about being 6 feet apart, staying at home or Donald Trump, but it is about presidents.

Last spring, on a morning radio show, the D.J. was giving a prize to the first person who could answer his trivial question.

Here goes his question: “Who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?” He, the D.J., said to the first caller, “Do you have an answer to the trivial question?”

The caller said, “Was it Roosevelt?”

The radio went quiet. I went quiet. The D.J. went quieter then finally said, “I think you must have misunderstood the question. I’ll give you another guess.”

The caller said, “Well if it wasn’t Roosevelt, I don’t have another guess.” The D.J. said, “I’ll leave the line open for a few more minutes to see if I can get a winner.”

No one else called in.

I thought that was about the funniest thing I had ever heard on the radio. And I couldn’t wait to get on the phone to tell people.

I picked out some of RoCo’s finest, most educated folks to tell. I thought all of them would enjoy it. I had to change their names to protect the guilty.

The first “genius” I picked had retired after 30 years with the federal government. His last 10 years, he was chief of his service. He has two college degrees and is an Eagle Scout. He knows which side of the house to fly his flag.

I figured he would be as tickled about it as I was, but I figured wrong. I’ll call him Albert.

I asked Albert the same question and told him the caller’s answer.

Instead of hearing laughter, I heard some clickin’.

Whitey Harwood: What are you doing?

Albert: I’m looking it up for you. Don’t you want to know who it was?

WH: You don’t need to look up anything. I know who it was. I was hoping you knew!

Albert: I think it was the secretary of state.

WH: Well, I hate I bothered you. This ain’t as funny as I thought it was. I think I’ll call someone else.

My next call was to a state employee. He’s in charge of a small office with between 15 and 17 workers. I’ll call him Bozo.

WH: Who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?

Bozo: Was it Adams?

WH: Which one?

B: What do you mean which one?

WH: Which Adams was it?

B: I don’t know. I didn’t know there was more than one. I was never too good with history.

WH: Yeah, I noticed that as soon as you answered Adams.

The next call was to my cousin, who knows everything, even the secret recipe for the colonel’s fried chicken. He retired as a supervisor from a state job.

WH: Do you know who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?

Cousin: Sure I know.

WH: Well who was it?

C: It was grant.

WH: Yeah, what was his first name?

C: Now I don’t remember that.

I tried the federals. I tried the state. I thought it might be time to move to the county. The first RoCo employee I called was, as Gary Page would say, “one of my top men.” I’ll call him Dilly.

WH: Who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?

Dilly: I think it was Ford.

I stayed with the county, but decided to give up on the boys and give the girls a chance to show their stuff. My next call was to a middle-age lady with a very respectable job with RoCo. I’ll call her Ellie Mae.

WH: Who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?

Elli Mae: I want to say Harding.

WH: Well if you want to say, why don’t you?

EM: Was it Harding?

I thought of one more scholar I needed to call before I gave up. This lady has a four-year degree from Catawba College and retired from a very high-profile position with RoCo.  Do you remember the move “Sling Blade” when Doyle said, “I don’t get you Frankie?” I think I’ll call this one Frankie.

WH: Who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?

Frankie: how would I know that? I wasn’t even born in 1945.

WH: Who was the first president?

Frankie: George Washington.

WH: How would you know that? You wasn’t even born in 1789.

Frankie: Well everyone should know that.

WH: Yeah, and everyone should know who the president was that dropped the bomb.

F: What bomb?

Then this quote came to me. It’s also from RoCo, a politician.

“Enough is enough. This will end.”

I wanted it to end. So I figured I’d be “better off, much better” to get out of RoCo .

I called my very best friend in New York. He has a sixth-grade education. I’ll call him Bomb.

WH: Who became president in 1945 after FDR died in office?

Bomb: Is this one of your trick questions?

WH: No, it was a trivial question on the radio answer and far there’s been seven wrong answers.

B: Harry S. Truman.

WH: Thank you very much.

Now here’s a little note to the Rowan Public Library writer of some non-fake news about presidents. Herbert Hoover was the president when the stock market crashed in 1929.

The next question is, “who was president during the Great Depression?”

Now is the time to answer, “Was it Roosevelt.”

Keep on smilin’.

Whitey Harwood lives in Rowan County.