Expressing disappointment about his narrow loss to Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has vowed to continue fighting, recalling the time when Thomas “Steam Engine” Murphy seemed poised to defeat him in the 1950 Brooklyn all-city track meet.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” the Vermont senator told a crowd of mostly college-aged supporters late Monday night. “I knew I was a better athlete than ol’ Murphy, but on the day of the track meet nearly 65 years ago, I got sick from drinking sour milk, because many of us didn’t have refrigerators back then.”
“And boy, were my feet blistered, because we didn’t get fancy running shoes like the youngsters today,” Sanders said of the incident that was so long ago that Mickey Mantle was still playing in the minor leagues. “Back then, in the middle of the last century, you’d get your father to punch holes through a piece of a used tire, and they’d tie that to your foot with leather from a horse’s’ bridle.”
According to Sanders, Murphy handily defeated him in the hurdles and high jump events before the future politician forced himself to vomit to feel better, allowing him to go on to win the 400-meter dash and long jump.
“The competition might have been stiffer, but I was lucky because a lot of boys in my neighborhood had been crippled by polio,” he said. “The vaccine wouldn’t be invented for several more years, you see.”
When a 20-something dreadlocked supporter in a “Feel the Bern” t-shirt asked the candidate if as a young boy he had been influenced to enter politics by John F. Kennedy, Sanders pointed out that JFK wasn’t even a blip on the political radar way back then.
“It was 1950, so Eisenhower was president, have any of you heard of General Eisenhower?” Sanders said to blank stares. An aide whispered in Sanders’s ear before the candidate corrected himself. “Make that Truman. President Truman was still in office. Vice president under Roosevelt. Hiroshima? Does that ring a bell? Anybody?”
Sanders then listed off the names of the 13 men (Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama) whose presidencies he has lived through, drawing more confused looks from the crowd.