LOUISIANA: Mourners, Heirs, Foes

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All that was mortal of Huey Pierce Long was buried last week in a copper-lined vault sunk in the front lawn of the State Capitol at Baton Rouge. From the 33-floor tower of the Capitol which the murdered Dictator had built as a $5,000,000 monument to himself and which now served as his headstone, reporters saw that the vast funeral crowd had choked the roads for miles around. Below, ringed by 100,000 spectators, of whom some 200 fainted during the long wait before the services began, lay a great bright field of floral tributes: little bunches of daisies from up-country folk, every one of whom Huey Long had promised to make a king; a blanket of red & white roses from his colleagues in the U. S. Senate, whom he had harassed so long; orchids and lilies of the valley from the Louisiana Legislature, which had done its boss's bidding even after death.

Also present in a body were Huey Long's many and various political heirs. Observers were given a prime opportunity to study them collectively, appraise them individually, speculate on their destinies and the destiny of the Long tradition in State and Nation.

There was the Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith, the Dictator's unofficial chaplain and national organizer of his Share-Our-Wealth Clubs. This onetime pastor of a rich Shreveport Christian Church congregation surpassed himself in a 15-minute eulogy over his dead chief's bier. It began: "Greater love hath no man. . . . The lives of great men do not end with the grave. They just begin. This place marks not the resting place of Huey P. Long, it marks only the burial ground for his body. His spirit shall never rest as long as hungry bodies cry for food, as long as lean human frames stand naked, as long as homeless wretches haunt this land of plenty." It ended: ''His unlimited talents invariably aroused the jealousies of those inferiors who posed as his equals. He was the Stradivarius, whose notes rose in competition with jealous drums, envious tomtoms. His was the unfinished symphony."

Notwithstanding this valedictory, Dr. Smith was not credited with much influence among his lay colleagues in the Long machine, aside from making a few conversions among them to teetotalism.

There was Governor Oscar Kelly Allen, who with tears coursing down his cheeks, gave out the first official statement on the Dictator's death: "It . . . marks the passing of the greatest hero in the fight for the common rights of all the people of America.'' "The Kingfish" had no truer friend than Oscar Allen. Twelve years Long's senior, he had grown up with him in Winn Parish. Waxing wealthy in oil and merchandise, he had staked Long to his political start in 1918 when Long ran for a place on the Louisiana Railroad Commission. As Governor, Oscar Allen had been utterly subservient to Long, taken his cursings with a smile, contented himself with being what he called "The Little Fish." In mortal fear for his own life, Oscar Allen last week had only one thought: to get his daughter quietly married (see p. 55) and to retire from public life as soon as possible.

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