It was a wet February night, with a full moon shining on the lakes and sleepy ranch houses of Winter Haven, Florida. A twenty-eight-year-old man, Byron Hileman, whose credentials are impressive—professor of political science, husband, father, founder of a dozen political action groups—was standing on the balcony of the Holiday Inn, sighing and swabbing his forehead with a handkerchief.
He shuddered and turned to his friend. “Well,” he said, “come on in and meet the Tiger Lady.”
The second man hung back. He bent in to look in the window of the motel room and saw a dark-haired young woman in jeans, sitting on the bed with a telephone at her ear.
“That figures,” Byron said. “Rose tells me so many things to do that when I leave her room, my head is spinning. I took two tranquilizers tonight for the first time in nine years. I’ve gained five pounds in the past two days because I’m a compulsive eater when I’m nervous. And my wife cried yesterday and the day before.”
The friend slapped his leg and whispered: “Is that right!”
Through the window, they saw Rose hang up the phone and walk quickly to the door. Byron moaned. “Here goes. Lambs to the slaughter.”
In the two days that Rose Economou, advance woman for Senator Edmund Muskie, had been in Winter Haven to prepare for a thirty-minute rally at the train station the next weekend, she had given Byron Hileman, her only “local contact,” responsibility for the following: getting out a crowd; moving people in buses; setting up a phone bank; recruiting volunteers; calling all churches, clubs, and schools; inviting bands, black leaders, unions and politicians; buying refreshments; and sending literature to all registered Democrats.
So far, Byron had not done one of those things. He had no helpers. There was no one but him, solitary and quaking, taking Rose’s orders. By the end of the week, a total of ten people were to be drawn into the effort. Most of them wanted to help Muskie be elected President of the United States. But by Friday, what they wanted more than that was to see Rose Economou leave town.
The advance man has been a character in American politics for as long as anyone knows. He arrives on location from two to ten days before the candidate, and attends to every detail: the choice of VIPs to ride in a motorcade; the eruption of a “spontaneous” demonstration; the packing of a hall with excitable, photogenic bodies. He is rarely paid, and has little to go on but his wits and nerve and other people’s needs and gullibility.
The job did not have a name until 1959, when Jerry Bruno built advance work into a science for John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. In 1972, the presidential candidates opened the field to women. The Muskie organization received a windfall of publicity by introducing the first two advance persons: Marsha Pinkstaff, a former Miss Indiana; and Rose Economou, a social planner from Chicago. The women have functioned no more and no less effectively than the men, for it turns out that sex counts less in advance work than age. Nobody could do this job much after thirty. It requires one to travel constantly, to have no private life and to need no income other than living expenses on the road. The advance man will never be sent back to the same town or to his home state, because he is expected to make enemies and to take the blame for anything that angers local supporters. Advance work is called, by one veteran, “the absolute lowest level of politics. The goal is serious, but the exercise is silly. Politics becomes an effort at making things look good.”
The effort to make Muskie look good on a two-day train trip down the central gut of Florida had its origins last December. Muskie’s chief advance man, Michael Casey, sold the whistle-stop to campaign strategists on the grounds that it would generate “a media explosion. Because of the nostalgia element, we’ll make all three nets.” Casey did not worry about details until February 2. Then he ran into so many problems trying to lease railroad equipment that the dates had to be changed three times. “I’m starting to sweat,” Casey said, “and I’m a calm guy.”
On February 10, he closed a rental agreement with Amtrak for $5,800, pronounced the train “go” for February 18 and 19 and assigned advance people to each of the eight towns on the route from Jacksonville to Miami. Rose Economou (the name is Greek; it’s pronounced like economy but with a “moo” at the end) was deployed from New Hampshire to Winter Haven. “Rose is really something in a small town,” Casey said. “She’s twenty-five, she’s been advancing for tour months and we’ve gotten a dozen letters from people who want her back.”
I met up with Rose at the Tampa airport at two in the morning, Saturday, February 12. She had not slept in several days, but words were spilling from her in a whisper-jet voice, easy on the ear but persistent. “I have one contact here, and our organization tells me they’re having trouble with him. I thought, uh oh, another dictator.”
Rose was wearing aviator glasses and a white coat lined with fake fur. She is slim, long-legged, with a wide face and strong jaw. “I feel so awkward coming into Florida,” she said. “But I can visualize just how I want this stop: old-fashioney, with lots of bunting, little kids with flags and high-school bands. Just one big party. Won’t that be fun!”
We slept four hours at an airport motel, then drove sixty miles inland, past groves of orange trees and flat, lime-green fields with cows grazing. When we reached what seemed to be the center of Winter Haven—an intersection with four corners of parking lots and a banner announcing a Guy Lombardo concert—Rose said, “This is it? Oh, I’m starting to feel sick inside.”
She checked into the Holiday Inn, which was in the midst of welcoming the Boston Red Sox to their winter quarters, and called up her local contact. An hour later, he walked through the door: a short, slightly overweight man wearing a brown suit with a Kiwanis pin in the lapel. He gave her his card:
Byron P. Hileman, Professor Political Science, Polk Community College
She asked him to take her to see the train station. They had lunch at a drive-in called Andy’s Igloo and while waiting for hamburgers and pineapple milk shakes, Rose asked Byron about the town. He ran down the statistics: twenty-five thousand people in the city, fifty thousand in the area. Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one. Main industries: agriculture and tourism (because of Cypress Gardens). “The county went to Wallace in ’68, but things are changing. The fact that I myself am involved in local politics is evidence. I’m considered ‘wildly liberal.’ I am to Winter Haven what Jerry Rubin would be to New York City.”
Byron said he had worked for McCarthy in ’68, but then became “terribly disillusioned with the phoniness of the so-called New Consciousness. To me, Muskie represents the antithesis of this phoniness, while he has the right position on the issues. I volunteered to help out in his campaign, but there were no other volunteers in the area so they dumped the chairmanship in my lap.”
As he drove Rose back to the motel, he said, “When they told me you were coming, I thought, that’s the strangest name I’ve ever heard. But it grabs you.” He laughed merrily. “Once you get the hang of it, you can’t get it out of your head.”
When Byron left, Rose said, “I don’t think he’s so horrible. I’m going to have him call a meeting tomorrow.” She began thumbing through the phone book. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could draw two thousand people? We could outcrowd Miami. Wouldn’t that be out of sight?” She bounced on the bed in excitement.
The phone rang. “Rose, I’m here!” It was Rich Evans, the chief advance man in Florida, who was driving up the route of the train, checking every stop. When he walked into Rose’s room, he was, as is his custom, grinning. “I think the secret to good advance work is a big smile on your face. It throws people off.” Rich, a tall, hale blond, used to organize singles clubs across the country before he became an advance man. “Everybody likes Rich,” Rose said.
Rich suggested they go to a reception celebrating the start of the annual Florida Citrus Showcase. They found the hall packed with red-faced men and ladies wearing chiffon dresses, platinum hair, orange plastic shoes and lavender eye shadow. Rich introduced himself to everyone he saw. One man stepped back aghast. “Is Muskie coming here? I’ll tell you, whatever he’s for, I’m not.”
SUNDAY. Byron was nervously eating a piece of Danish pastry in the coffee shop. Rose asked about volunteers. “Can we get ten people for chairmanships?”
Byron’s face reddened. “Let me explain something to you. I’m not enthusiastic about this visit at all—it’s come too late. I’ve been sitting here the past two months screaming bloody murder because nothing was getting done. Then last Friday, out of the blue, I get two calls, one telling me to open two headquarters next week, and the other telling me about the train. After that, I had one of my infrequent fits. I tore a newspaper in half, cussed everybody out, called the state office and told them to go to hell. When I got over the fit, I figured, oh, what the hell. Now I’ll help you all I can to do this job, but your plans are overdrawn. I don’t have any organization. I just have one helper—Charles Davis. I’ve got classes to teach and my family to take care of. Things aren’t gonna work out the way you think.”
Rose stayed in her room the rest of the day, washing her hair, making calls and humming “The Swanee River.” She spoke to the head of the Muskie office in Tampa and asked if he could send busloads to the rally. The man complained that no one in the state had been consulted about doing a whistle-stop. “No Floridian would have recommended it.”
Rose hung up calmly. “What he doesn’t understand is that this is being done primarily for the media. It will also give our supporters a feeling of momentum, but the effect on the general public will be slight. It always is, except through the media.”
The Muskie staff is “media sensitive,” partly out of an awareness that in 1968, according to a series of Galiup polls, less than 6 percent of the people saw any one of the presidential candidates in person. Yet Muskie’s schedulers continue sending him to shake hands at factories and shopping centers, asking for votes one at a time. A partnership between the media and the candidates seems to keep politicians locked in this ritual dance. The candidates say they must stage crowd events and “visuals” like the train because the press demands them; the press complains about “contrived routines,” yet continues to reward “visuals” with extra coverage and to judge a candidate’s merit by the crowds he draws. The press even helps subsidize such campaigning. The Muskie organization, for example, made back half the cost of renting the Florida train by charging each reporter sixty dollars to ride it.
MONDAY. I spent the day driving to other towns along the train route; when I returned to Winter Haven at sundown. Rose was pacing in her room, swearing. “I’ve had a terrible day. The local newspaper printed the wrong information because Washington sent them the old schedule. I have no leaflets. No people to give out leaflets. And I can’t get phones installed—it takes two weeks.” She stamped her foot.
“I’m goddamned pissed! I’ve never been part of anything as bad as what’s going on in this town. And it’s all my fault, because I trusted these people.” The phone rang — it was Byron. “We’re gonna mail cards to everyone on the Democratic voter list,” Rose said. “We’ve got to get twenty-five volunteers to address twenty-four hundred envelopes. I don’t care how.” She hung up. “I said that just to make him nervous.” She laughed. “I got four hours sleep last night. That’s why I’m acting this way.”
That night, Byron drove to Lakeland, the largest town in Polk County, for a meeting called by former Mayor Joe Ruthven to organize the Muskie operation in the region. Byron had taken two tranquilizers and was just calming down. “Rose has scared me out of my wits all day. I figured she’s the professional, right? If she’s cracking up, it must really be bad. I couldn’t believe the language she used, right in a store!”
I asked why he didn’t give up. “There’s too much of the Protestant ethic in me. I feel like I can’t let this poor girl down.”
When Byron walked into the meeting at the OK Tire Store in Lakeland, Mayor Ruthven asked, “Well, you all set to open the headquarters?”
Byron fidgeted. “We had planned to do it this week, but we’ve been having a problem with this, uh, advance work. Senator Muskie’s coming to Winter Haven Friday, and we’ve got Rose Economou in town. (He pronounced it Econo-mew.) She’s the lady advance man, and she says we have to send out twenty-four hundred invitations. Could you loan us some volunteers?” Ruthven told him to bring the cards to Lakeland and they would address as many as they could.
Byron walked out euphoric. “The weight has been lifted. I thought I’d have to address twenty-four hundred envelopes myself, stay up seventy-two hours and die of a cardiac when Muskie steps off the train.” Byron said he had never been this upset, “not even over my oral exams. But I’m not suited for this work. I’m an academic. I can write speeches like nothing, but when Rose hands me this broad organizational task, I feel like it’s a problem in calculus.” There were three passengers in the back seat, and all were howling with laughter at Byron’s style of exaggerated self-pity and terror. “And I like Rose,” Byron said. “If she’d take off her tiger suit she’d be a real nice girl.”
Byron had the effervescence knocked out of him when he stepped into Rose’s room. “Good news,” he said. “I bear glad tidings. The Mayor’s people will address those envelopes. Okay? All right? Rose, you don’t seem very positive.”
Rose did not look up. “What else did the Mayor say?”
“You answer me first. You’re not gonna send them out, are you?”
“Why?” Byron asked weakly.
“I called Tampa. They have an offset machine and professional secretaries. If we get the list there in the morning, they can do it in a few hours.”
She began rattling off the things to be done the next day. Byron perched on the edge of the bed, struggling not to slip off, smoking and trying to write down what she was saying. “Honey, wait, please wait. We can’t do ninety-two things at once.”
“I’m gonna do more than I did today, goddamn it!”
TUESDAY. Rose woke up to heavy rain—a bad omen. Crowds shrink from rain. In the afternoon, a box was delivered with five thousand handbills printed in antique script: “Picnic at the Station, Meet Ed Muskie.”
“Oh, super,” Rose said. “Aren’t they beautiful?”
Byron nodded grimly. “I was happy for a moment, then I thought, What am I happy for? They all have to be handed out.”
He picked up the phone to order roses for his wife Becky. “She screamed and broke four dishes this morning,” Byron said. “She’s too young to take this kind of tension. We’ve only been married six months, and she thinks she hardly ever sees me because of politics.”
Rose suggested bringing her along. An hour later, Byron returned with Becky and his two children by a previous marriage, a five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. The kids watched television and took to following Rose around, chanting her name. Becky, a blue-eyed, warm-spirited girl of nineteen, found herself gradually sucked into the chaotic process. She recruited her friends to work in the evening, ran errands, typed, sewed and even made phone calls saying she was on Senator Muskie’s staff. “That’s a laugh,” she said. “I’m probably voting for Wallace.”
Rose instructed Byron to find a school band to perform. “Tell them the band will get to be on television, in Life magazine and all the big newspapers.” Byron tried every school in the county to no avail. Before he went home, Rose gave him the evening’s plan:
“Put two people on the phones, calling clergymen and asking them to tell everybody they know. Have the other volunteers leaflet at shopping centers and all the clubs that meet tonight, especially the Knights of Columbus. They’re a sure winner for us.”
When Charles Davis came by, Rose told him, “Hit the high school basketball game. Pass out handbills and recruit too. Go up to everybody and say, ‘Do you wanna help us with Senator Muskie’s trip?'”
Charles scratched his head. “I don’t feel right asking strangers to work. This is the first time we’re having a big-time campaign in Florida. The kids are kinda apathetic.”
“We have to change things,” Rose said.
Charles, who is twenty-three and teaches geography in junior high, picked up his fifteen-year-old sister Carole. She wore braces and saddle shoes with pompons tied on the back, and carried a comb for her hair, which was wet from swimming practice. “Now, Carole, we’re supposed to ask anybody and everybody that wants to and will, to work with us on this train trip. The boss says to just ask people cold.”
Carole stood at the entrance to the gym, and most of the students who passed her looked at the handbill and said something on the order of “Ick.” She forgot about recruiting. Charles fared no better. They drove back to Byron’s and announced, “We bombed.” There were three college students in the dining room, and one said, “So did we. The shopping center was dead. The American Legion wouldn’t let us in, and the Knights of Columbus didn’t even meet. I wonder how Byron’s doing at the Coin Club.” Becky rolled her head back and laughed. “I’m in a good mood now. I think this is fun that it’s all bombing.”
Byron came home and asked Becky to get him a tranquilizer. He swallowed it and called Rose. “Things are a mess. The clubs are not accepting us so far.” Rose told him to call the Grand Knight of Columbus at his home. When Byron did, the Knight told him he couldn’t make an announcement to his group because they don’t take political stands. Byron said, “Being as Muskie is a Catholic, we were kind of depending on the Knights . . .” He slammed down the phone. “What incredible goddamned stupid people we have in this county! Who’s asking for a political stand?”
Becky said, “You wanna call some ministers?”
“Preachers?” Carole said.
“It was Rose’s brilliant idea.”
“Who is this mysterious Rose?”
“She’s the boss, and you should see her,” Becky said. “She doesn’t eat, she doesn’t sleep. She’s gonna kill herself. And she doesn’t get paid. I think Rose is crazy. Why else would she drive herself like that?”
WEDNESDAY. “There’s a jinx,” Rose said. She and Becky drove around town, shopping for supplies, and could not find one person who knew about the train.
The motel room was becoming a disaster zone. Every surface was obscured by stacks of paper, posters, bits of lumber, fliers, buckets of plastic American flags (made in Japan), cases of beer, bunting, old sheets, crepe-paper streamers and Styrofoam fake-straw hats. The motel was close enough to the station so that whenever a train passed, there was a faint whistling. The sound grew progressively more ominous.
Rose said she was on a “downer. I have no band. I need more people and not Byron at the top. I just don’t feel I’m being effective with Byron.”
At six that night, there was supposed to be a sign-painting party at Byron’s house. Rose got there at eight. Seven people were sitting on the floor, still working on their first sign. They were measuring with rulers, outlining in pencil and laboriously coloring in spaces. George Harrison was singing “Wah Wah” on the stereo. Rose took a brush and started painting directly on cardboard:
“The sun shines on Senator Muskie.” Byron returned from his night class in a sweat. “Where is she? Rose, where were you at six? We had seven people here sitting on their asses for two hours.”
Rose said, “They still are,” and walked off to the back room.
Byron, startled, turned to the seven limp forms. “Look, we gotta have some organization. All fifty signs have to be done. Don’t measure. Just eyeball ’em.”
The group groaned and came to life; they began scrawling on the signs: “Ed,” “We like Muskie,” “Super Ed.” Rose, alone in the back room, was making a master banner out of three bed sheets. Byron sat at the phone, calling everyone he could think of and begging them to help decorate the station. He made a list of people who could work. “Rose, we’re making progress,” he called.
Rose yelled: “Tell them to bring hammers, stepladders, rope, tables.”
“Damnation,” Byron said. “Hey, Rose, I’m gonna assign all my classes to come. That’ll be a small crowd.”
Byron: “I never get any reaction from that woman.”
He opened his third cigarette pack of the day. “This whole thing has put me in a real personal quandary. I have a desire myself to run for office. I can see myself on the floor of the State Capitol being some classy legislator. It’s appealing. But if I had to live under this tension . . .”
Everyone was leaving now, and one young man got in his car, started the motor and smashed right into Rose’s car. “I didn’t see it,” the young man said. “I just didn’t see it.”
THURSDAY. Rain again. But at last, a story about the train appeared on the front page of the Winter Haven News-Chief. Rose asked Tom Skinner, a round-faced, slow-moving young man, to find a place to buy popcorn and rent Early American costumes. “Rent one for me, Becky, and Byron.” Byron said, “I will not be in costume.” Everyone laughed.
Rich Evans called up for a report. Rose said, “Oh, baby, I have no music, no VIP guests. What’s my program? The band that we don’t have will be playing when the train pulls in, and we’ll have two hundred wet people, because it’s raining. If it rains hard we’ll be lucky to get fifty.”
Four hours later, a local rock band was talked into playing for free. Tom got a friend who works in a dime store in Lakeland to promise to pop four sacks of corn, as a special favor. And Byron arranged for the Florida Citrus Queen to present Muskie with a glass of orange juice.
At four-thirty, Byron, Tom and Becky’s teen-age brother Jim tied a rented speaker onto Rose’s car and took off to cruise. Byron picked up the microphone. “Senator Edmund Muskie . . .” Jim laughed and scrunched down. “I hate to be stared at.” Tom said, “Me too.”
One old man on the street booed.
Tom said, “I’m waiting for a bullet to hit the windshield.”
They pulled up to a canning plant just as the workers were getting off. Byron began his pitch, and the mike went dead. “What next, what the hell next! Jim, can you fix it?”
Jim was jiggling the wires. “It’s just like my amplifiers. But I have no confidence in myself.” He held the wires at an angle and the power came back. By this time, the workers had disappeared.
They drove to the Northgate Shopping Center, which, to their joy, was teeming with traffic. Byron started to speak, but now the mike switch wouldn’t work. He began to laugh, groan and pound his head on the upholstery. “Every goddamned thing I touch turns to shit! I want to go home. I want my mama is what I want. Tell Rose I died. Tell the Senator tomorrow I’m indisposed, I’m being driven to the hospital.”
Jim was using a can opener to take the microphone apart. Tom hit the brakes suddenly, and all the tiny wires, screws and microscopic curlicues spilled down the cracks in the floorboard. Everyone collapsed with manic laughter. Recovering, Byron said, “They call Rose the ten-percenter because she turns out ten percent of the population in some towns. Winter Haven is gonna lower her average severely.”
Back at the motel, Rose told Tom and another student to get something to eat and charge it to her room. “Go on, you’ve been working hard.” Byron said lightly, “You’ve never offered to buy me dinner.”
Rose: “You haven’t done any work.”
Byron did a double take. He stalked out to the restaurant with the others, ordered a hamburger and paid for it himself. He was so furious he could hardly swallow. “I’ve been abused once too often. When this is over I’m resigning. It’s never enough, no matter how hard you try, and I’ve tried to the best of my ability. Rose has never said I’ve done a good job—not one word of praise or thanks. If she had, I’d have felt a lot better about things.”
Tom was staring sadly at his plate. “I think Rose should apologize to you.” Byron shook his head. “She doesn’t care about people’s feelings. She just used me as an instrument. If she’d been a man, I’d have punched her in the mouth.”
When Rose heard later that Byron was angry, she said, “Is that the royal screw. If the stop goes well, Byron will get all the God-blessed glory and I’ll disappear. I don’t mind it if people hate me. But when Byron gives everyone this defeatist attitude, they end up hating politics.”
FRIDAY. Miraculously, the day began with clear sunlight. Byron had stayed up most of the night writing Rose a twelve-page letter explaining why he was hurt. He dropped it at the front desk and left to teach his classes. Rose put the letter in her purse without opening it. Seconds later she had forgotten it. Her mind was fixed on a single point—3:55 P.M.
Through the morning, she ran nervously around the train station in jeans and a yellow sweater. She threw bits of crepe paper on the palm trees and cactus, while others wrapped streamers around poles, hung bunting and attached pairs of American flags to the walls.
At noon, she went back to the motel to pack. Byron arrived at the station, missing her by minutes; after checking the scene, he went home to change. When Rose returned, dressed in a suede miniskirt and high-heeled sandals, the station was deserted. She started blowing up balloons. She had a dozen on strings when she suddenly remembered something. “Where’s Byron?” She stood still, blinking, as if the lighting had just been altered. “I wonder why he wasn’t here?”
Without warning, a gritty wind came up, tearing the crepe paper from the walls. Tom asked Rose who would be picking up the popcorn from Lakeland. “No one,” she said. “I decided to get hamburgers from McDonald’s instead.” Tom flushed. “My friend got up at six this morning to fix that popcorn.”
At one-thirty, the first official crowd members arrived. They were mostly senior citizens, who lined up their cars facing the tracks and just sat in them, waiting. At three, the buses from Tampa delivered one hundred fifty students, and the grounds took on a festive air. The students danced in the parking lot, drank beer and tossed Frisbees. Byron drove up with his family and started furiously passing out buttons. The handmade signs popped up above the crowd, hovered a few minutes and then all but three went under. “They’re hard to hold in the wind,” one girl said.
At three fifty-five, the crowd pressed toward the platform. By my estimate, there were at most four hundred. Rose said, “Let’s sing ‘God Bless America!'” No one did, so she started cheering loudly by herself: “We want Muskie!”
At four-ten, a whistle floated in from the north, followed by a black engine. Byron turned his eyes heavenward. Rose was jumping up and down screaming, “Muskie! Muskie!” The train chugged through with Rich Evans hanging over the side, Roosevelt Grier singing “Aquarius,” girls waving, flags flying, TV cameras poking out, and, lo, why, there was Ed Muskie! Right there on the back platform, in a bright blue shirt, smiling and reaching for hands.
After Byron introduced him, the first thing Muskie said was how much fun it was to do a whistle-stop. Muskie knew—all the candidates know—what went on in Winter Haven, in all the towns, in preparation for his arrival.
Muskie spoke about “pollution of the human environment.” He described the pollution due to “unkindness, fear and hatred,” and said the goal of Americans should be to reach “not the moon but each other’s hearts.” “A-a-a-men,” Rosie Grier sang. The train started off; the crowd waded up the tracks until Muskie was only a blue spot with arms. Five minutes later, the station was empty.
There was no celebrating, no after-party for the volunteers. When the decorations were ripped down, everyone went off in the hissing wind. Charles Davis said, “I think it was worth it. I think Muskie got a lot of publicity, and I had some fun.” Becky was leading her two exhausted children by the arms. “Peace,” she whispered. Tom Skinner said he would do it all again, “with somebody other than Rose. I don’t think you oughta step on people like she did.” Byron sighed. “Maybe in two weeks I’ll be glad I went through it. Maybe.”
Rose herself was disappointed at the crowd. “But for here, I think it was a success. And I only got three people angry at me. That’s not so bad. That’s the nature of my job. There are so many forces pulling you in every direction, you just can’t leave everybody happy. That’s why women haven’t done it before. No one thought they could be tough enough.”
In the car driving off, she read Byron’s letter. When she finished, she said, “I had to be brutal with these people because they didn’t realize the magnitude of the thing.” She said she had known the day she arrived that it would be “criminal” to rely on Byron. “But I was dependent on him. He was the only one who had information, and contact with Muskie sympathizers. I think by the end of the week, he reached a much greater capacity to do this work than he thought he was capable of. And I don’t think he’ll quit, because he’ll find out he likes it.”
At midnight, Rose got on a Greyhound bus headed for Miami. She planned to sleep in the airport until she could get a plane north, where she had two days to advance a labor rally in New Hampshire. While in transit, she would write her report on Winter Haven, and perhaps work on a needlepoint pillowcase for her mother.
At the depot, she stood in her coat in the milk-warm night, her skin still winter pale. “I feel just full of energy,” she said. “Even though I know I didn’t do a good job here, I feel at peace. It’s as if I haven’t been working.” She picked up her suitcase, spun around abruptly and waved. “I can’t wait for the next advance to start.”