For the recent Winter Economic Reinvigoration Holiday I got Chris a copy of Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, about the worldwide economic collapse that led to the Great Depression. She’s enjoying it tremendously, and the other day picked out a paragraph to read to me, from a section on the World Economic Conference in London in 1933, describing with one of the American attendees.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Key Pittman, Democratic Senator from Nevada, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and Yosemite Sam impersonator:
At an official reception at Windsor Castle, he broke with all social convention by wearing his raincoat and a pair of bright yellow bulbous-toed shoes while being presented to King George V and Queen Mary, greeting them with the salutation, “King, I’m glad to meet you. And you too Queen.” He was usually drunk but even then amazed everyone by his ability to spit tobacco juice into a spittoon from a great distance with remarkable accuracy. One night he was discovered at Claridges sitting stark naked in the sink of the hotel pantry, pretending to be a statue in a fountain. Another night, he amused himself by shooting out the streetlamps on Upper Brook Street with his pistol. Pittman did take one subject seriously—the remonetization of silver, of which Nevada was a major producer—an issue about which he was so passionate that one evening when one of the American experts expressed a contrary opinion on its merits, Pittman pulled out a gun and chased the poor man through the corridors of Claridges.