Indiana University Bloomington

Wily politician ... a grand old fellow

John R. Krueger

1. When I came to I.U. from Berkeley in 1961, an ordinary new assistant professor, it was already past the time when every new arrival could have a personal meeting with President Wells, but I soon got to know him at university functions. Once, perhaps in the early 1970s, when in need of small supplementary funds to attend a conference in Communist Mongolia, he granted me $500 travel money. On my return in the fall, I should have written him my thanks, but I knew I would soon encounter him. When I did, I just called out to him, "Herman, thanks again for your travel grant!" He instantly replied, "Yes, I got your note!" The funny part was of course that I HAD NOT SENT HIM ANY NOTE! Wily old politician that he was, his reactions were calculated. What a grand old fellow!

2. I was not present for this episode, but it was reliably reported from those who were. At an anti-war rally, perhaps at the end of the 1960s, a young protester cried out as he spoke, "Be quiet, you old f—-!" In a moment, he turned toward her and said disarmingly, "Now, my dear, you had a comment, could you just repeat that? I didn't quite hear!" With the eyes of the crowd upon her, the rude girl was not bold enough to repeat the insult aloud. Everyone knew, of course, that Wells had heard it perfectly well. Marvelous!

From Remembering Herman B Wells, 1901-2000:, March 21, 2000

Thanks to the Bloomington Herald-Times for allowing Digital Wells to publish these excerpts from their archive.