Living: George Babbitt, Delegate

Conventions are as American as HELLO MY NAME IS badges, loud sports coats, straw hats, brass bands and George F. Babbitt, the Middle American Everyman of his era whose adventures at an annual gathering of realtors filled a trenchant chapter of Sinclair Lewis' satirical 1922 novel Babbitt:

They met at the Union Station for the midnight train to Monarch. All of them . . . displayed celluloid buttons the size of dollars and lettered, "We zoom for Zenith." The official delegates were magnificent with silver and magenta ribbons.

The meetings of the convention were held in the ballroom of the Allen House. In...

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