Mail Tribune 100, Sept. 16, 1919
The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.
Sept. 16, 1919
WILSON STOPS BUT DOESN’T MAKE SPEECH
The visit of President Wilson to Medford this forenoon was a vivid reminder of the topical stage song of years ago, the chorus of which was: “He walked right in and turned around and walked right out again.”
Thousands of Medford and Jackson county people assembled at the depot to see and hear the most distinguished man of the United States, and the most talked of and discussed man in the whole world, were deeply disappointed because the president during the five minutes stop here did not make a speech. It put a great damper on the occasion. In fact the president did not even vocally respond to the friendly salutations of the monster crowd, except once, but he and Mrs. Wilson stood on the rear car platform smiling, bowing and now and then with waves of the hand acknowledging the salutations.
When the train pulled in slowly and came to a stop there was much cheering which quickly died down, apparently due to the fact that the assemblage expected every second that Mr. Wilson would start speaking. There were hundreds of cries of “speech, speech” without effect and when the train started to pull out without any warning the crowd seemed dazed — so much so that there was no farewell cheering as is customary on such an occasion, tho the president and Mrs. Wilson stood on the platform and still bowing, smiling and waving farewells.
The one exception to Mr. Wilson’s rule of silence was due to the good natured persistence of John A. Westerlund who shouted a reminder of a former visit to Medford Mr. Wilson when the latter was practically unknown.
“Hello, Mr. President,” shouted the big Medford member of the legislature embedded in the crowd about 12 feet from the car platform but conspicuous because of his size, “I am the only man you met here six years ago.”
The president did not hear him, but Mrs. Wilson did and called her husband’s attention to the salutation, which Mr. Westerlund then repeated.
President Wilson this time heard and recollecting at once recognized Westerlund with a smile and shouted back:
“I am glad to see you again, and I am glad that you brought a crowd with you this time.”
The incident referred to was in 1912 when Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey was passing thru Medford en route to Portland and stepped off the train. Mr. Westerlund and Holbrook Withington were the only Medford men at the depot and the future president at once introduced himself and chatted with them all during the train stop.
But while Medford did not hear the president speak it feasted its eyes on the distinguished man and his wife and watched their every movement, and the famous Wilson smile was forever photographed in the brain of each one present. Both were well groomed and attractive to the eye. The president wore a plain dark grey business suit and was bare headed. Mrs. Wilson wore a navy blue dress with crepe de chine sleeves and was also hatless.
The president and Mrs. Wilson stood upon the platform with Secretary Tumulty and several very distinguished and muscular looking men which many thought must have been cabinet members or other high government officials, but who were merely secret service men who travel with the president and are at his side wherever he goes.
The crowd while tremendous would have undoubtedly been much larger had the news been received in time to reach all sections of the county that the presidential train would stop here today. Then, too, the fact that is was known that the train would stop 20 minutes at Ashland kept the people at home from that section of the county.
The school children were all there, the schools having been dismissed at 11 a.m. The small boys of the city were perched on the tops of freight cars on the side tracks and from every other altitudinous point of vantage in the vicinity, thus contributing an added touch of picturesqueness to the scene.