Cal. Litig. 2015, Volume 28, Number 3

McDermott On Demand: AND IN THIS CORNER…

By Thomas J. McDermott, Jr.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once ran for president against Wendell Willkie who founded Willkie, Farr and Gallagher after he lost. But he didn’t lose at Franklin Elementary School, in Santa Monica, California in 1940. That was a draw. I was there.

For reasons still mysterious to me, at noon recess three weeks before the election on the large greensward of Franklin, two lines formed. To the West was Willkie, to the East, Roosevelt. Two hundred nine-, ten-, and eleven-year-olds faced each other relatively evenly matched. At some unidentifiable signal, those in the lines began to run at each other. The wave of Willkie crashed into the rock of Roosevelt, spraying every which way into vicious fist-fights — at least vicious for grammar school first-, second- and third-graders.

The recess teachers, musing at the neverseen-before formations, were so taken aback by the fighting they froze, but only for a minute. The ruckus was broken up and no one was punished. Who could you punish? There were two hundred children fighting for reasons unknown to the teachers and barely known to the participants.

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