• U.S.

POLITICAL NOTES: The Scout Leader

2 minute read
TIME

The most imposing feature of the Kansas City (Mo.) landscape is a Boy Scout leader named Harold Roe Sturdyvant Bartie, who weighs 282 lbs. and is outsized only by his own voice. As the salaried head of the area’s Boy Scout Council, and as a businessman (he is a member of 17 boards of directors), part-time lawyer, landlord (he has an interest in a Caracas, Venezuela apartment project), farmer and cattleman (he owns 5,000 acres in Missouri and Oklahoma), educator (he was president of Missouri Valley College at Marshall), civic leader and public speaker (some 200 speeches a year at fees ranging up from $1,000). Bartle is all over the place. Last week Kansas citizens bowed to the inescapable: they elected H. Roe Bartle mayor.

Bartle’s opponent was Berl Berry, who bills himself as the world’s largest Lincoln-Mercury dealer. Berry’s style of living became the main issue of the campaign. Noting that Berry was promising lower taxes, Roe Bartle roared: “I have seen his lovely master bedroom with the especially designed bed ten feet wide and ten feet long. If a man can enjoy his night’s rest in a bed of that type, he ought to be willing to pay more taxes than those of us who have te sleep in ordinary beds. If he desires to bathe in a Roman bath like the Caesars of old, he should have the opportunity of paying a few more pennies in taxes for that privilege.” In pained tones Berl Berry replied that Bartle had been a guest in his home and had abused his hospitality by taking notes on the furnishings.

Berry ran as an independent candidate. Bartle’s chief support came from the powerful, nonpartisan Citizens Association, which swept the Pendergast machine out of the City Hall in 1940, has been busily reforming Kansas City ever since. But in his winning (by a 2-to-1 vote) effort, H. Roe Bartle also had the endorsement of the Pendergast organization, now led by James Pendergast, the nephew and pale shadow of old Tom—who did not favor Boy Scout leaders for public office.

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