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[From Lancaster (Neb.) County Citizen Feb. 16, 1922]
The favorite story told by Mount Ayr, Iowa, people is of the day when Warren G. Harding, now president of the United States, was mistaken for a tramp printer and kindly given a few hours’ work by the proprietor of the Record-News .
Mr. Harding was a senator at the time, and was out on a chautauqua lecture tour. By a mixup in datings, he found himself in the town with a day on his hands. He was accompanied by Mrs. Harding and they stopped at a boarding house. The senator walked all over town and then struck out into the country, where he accumulated considerable dust on his clothing, so that when he walked into the newspaper office about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the mistake the editor made was a natural one.
The senator said he had been a printer for thirty years, and that it had been said he could set type very well. He asked what the chances were for getting a little work. The editor remarked that it was a long time since a tramp printer had asked him for work, but he took his guest into the back room and put him at a case.
Mr. Harding took off his coat and vest, and started to work. He set type until 6 o’clock, and the editor complimented him on his work. He told him that if he could come around the next day he would give him some.
“No, I’ll be busy tomorrow and couldn’t help you,” he replied.
“What are you going to do?” the editor asked.
“I am Senator Harding,” he replied, “and I am going to deliver a lecture here tomorrow at the chautauqua.”
The editor took the joke and didn’t offer to pay his distinguished guest.
In his speech the next day Harding told of the incident and said that he had set type for the same reason that grandmothers did knitting, that he might collect his thoughts.
While here, Mrs. Harding borrowed a smoothing iron of the landlady and made the senator’s clothes presentable for the next day. The remainder of the time she put in darning her own and the future president’s hosiery.