“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story” The Final Scene 24 of 24, The White House, January 2009

“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story”  The Final Scene 24 of 24, The White House, January 2009


Scene 1: Havana, February 1898

Scene 2: Pawtucket, Rhode Island, February 1898


The Roosevelt Room in the White House

Scene 3: Washington, February 1898



Buffalo Soldiers in Montana, 1896

Scene 4: Montana, February 1898

Scene 5: New York, February 1898220px-StephenCraneandCora1899

Scene 6: The Cuban Countryside, February 1898



1893 edition

 Scene 7

Scene 8: Havana, May 1898

crank 2Scene 9, Siboney, Cuba June 1898

shafter on cart Scene 10

Scene 11negro troops



Scene 12 cuban flag Scene 13Black_Maria

Scene 1420150312-Petes_Tavern-1_0

Scene 15

wash 2

Scene 16Griggs

Scene 17


Scene 18

Scene 19

Scene 20

Scene 23

All scenes 1 – 24

For background, see: (from War, Literature and the Arts)

“Infirm Soldiers in the Cuban War of Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Harding Davis”

“Strains of Failed Populism in Stephen Crane’s Spanish War Stories”

“Imperium in Imperio: Sutton Griggs’s Imagined War of 1898”

“The Spanish-American War as a Bourgeois Testing Ground: Richard Harding Davis, Frank Norris and Stephen Crane”

also On Spanish-American War Monuments and Rochester. And remembering the Buffalo Soldiers on Veteran’s Day

Scene Twenty Four: Washington, D.C., January 2009

It is about a week into Barack Obama’s presidency. The last meeting of the day is over and Obama is headed for dinner with his family.

Aide:  Mr. President. Very briefly. This package marked URGENT just arrived.


The George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

Obama: From where?

Aide: From the George Eastman International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York.

Obama opens the package, quickly reads the enclosed letter and raises his eyebrows.

After dinner, Barack and Michelle are sitting on a couch.

Barack: The kids are in bed and we have the place to ourselves. Ah, I still can’t believe an African-American boy born in Kenya made it all the way to the White House. And in the front door no less. Miss First Lady, what’s your pleasure? (putting his arm around her)

Michelle: I’ve stocked up on old West Wings. You know much I like carefully crafted and trenchant political drama.

Barack: If you want to see the West Wing, just walk down the hall. Can’t we watch old re-runs of The Jeffersons? Movin’ on up, Weesy!

(Michelle rolls her eyes)untitled

Michelle: And they said he wasn’t black enough to be President.

(the phone rings)

Barack: Hello, Hillary. Yes, yes, your trip to China then to Russia then to India. Right, right, then peace in the Middle East. Yes, yes, you’ll do fine. You’re nice enough. Can we talk about this in morning?

(holding his ears and hanging up the phone)

One week in and she’s already going on about her legacy.

Michelle: She has her sights on ’16.

Barack: Bill right back here on this couch. As First Lad. Stock up on saltpeter. Do you think they still have sex?

Michelle: People probably ask that about us.

Barack: Hey, I’ve told you that campaigning for a year straight takes its toll. Don’t worry, O-Bama-rama is back. Commander-in-Mis-chief.

(Michelle starts the West Wing  tape)

You enjoy your trenchant  soap opera. Actually, I am going back to the Oval Office. There’s something I want to watch.

(on his way out, he turns to Michelle)

Aren’t you forgetting something?

Michelle: Shh, I can’t hear. What?Screen-Shot-2015-11-25-at-12.24.37-PM

Obama: You are supposed to salute me.

(Michelle rolls her eyes)

In the Oval Office, Obama opens the packaged, looking at an enclosed CD and more closely reading the letter. He starts the CD.

About two hours later.  Obama has finished watching the CD and sits quietly for a moment.  He then picks up the phone:


Stephen Crane in Greece, the Greco-Turkish War, 1897

Obama: Hello, Oliver, this is Barack. President  Barack. No, I haven’t yet seen JFK. I told you that movie gives me the creeps. Anyway, I am hoping there’s something you can do for me. Now it has to be handled very sensitively. None of your usual grandstanding or sensationalizing.  But have I got a vivid story for you. Mr. Stone, you are going to make a little bit of history.

obama in cuba

U.S. President Barack Obama, center, walks in the rain with first lady Michelle Obama, who is holding the arm of her mother Marian Robinson, during a walking tour of Old Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the island in nearly 90 years. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Scene 23

All scenes 1 – 24

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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