It is not news when a loud-mouthed roughneck gets a black eye. But it is news when a U. S. Senator in his cups commits a nuisance on the trouser leg of a guest at a Long Island party.
That fact accounted for the columns and columns of space the Press of the country gave last week to the bruise which Huey Pierce Long, Louisiana's tousle-headed, button-nosed "Kingfish," received on his left eye in the washroom of the Sands Point Bath Club fortnight ago.
The club was giving a Saturday night charity show at $6.60 per plate. Some 600 guests attended, among them Senator Long. His host was Songwriter Gene Buck. The Senator had been drinking before he arrived at the club. His strident voice rang out louder than usual as he barged around among the other diners. He sat down with strangers, made himself objectionable with vulgar greetings. Spotting a plump girl with a full plate before her, he marched to her table, snatched the plate from her, yapped: "You're too fat already. I'll eat this." He danced just onceuntil his partner's husband took the lady away. He thrust himself behind the bar, shoved its tender aside, loudly proclaimed that he would show the world how they mix and shake them in Louisiana. The Sands Point Bath Club is not noted for decorum on Saturday nights but Senator Long's behavior was far over its mark.
When about midnight the lights went down for the amateur floor show, Huey Long went shuffling off to the washroom. There were others there. The raucous Senator was impatient of any delay. Imperiously he ordered a young man to stand aside for the "Kingfish of Louisiana." "Take it easytake it easy," replied the young man. Unable or unwilling to restrain himself, Senator Long proceeded to commit a gross indignity upon the young man. When he felt what was happening to his leg the young man wheeled around, drove his knuckles with all his might into the offender's face. The Senator staggered back groggily, brought up against the washbasins. Blood streamed down his face from a cut over his left eye. Attendants and friends put him back on his feet, iced his eye, buttoned him up, ushered him from the club. He was put into a taxicab, sent back to his Manhattan hotel where a house physician patched him.
It was 36 hours before the Manhattan Press got wind of the Sands Point fracas. By that time Senator Long was in Milwaukee to address the convening Veterans of Foreign Wars. When a New York Sun reporter called the Senator by long distance telephone for his version of what happened, an angry splutter of unprintable profanity came over the wire. Finally from his Milwaukee hotel the Louisiana "Kingfish" issued a statement. Excerpts:
"... I walked into the washroom. Just as I faced the basin and the wall someone struck me from behind and upon my turning three or four men covered me. I saw one strike at my head with a knife or something sharp and I ducked just so that it grazed my forehead. One man was blocking the door but I stumbled low through him and managed to wriggle clear. I felt blood coming down my face. . . . We have tried to find out the persons who did the ganging. ... I have been repeatedly threatened. I was lucky to have escaped and am grateful."