Why Al Smith is this Sararīman’s hero.
hint: It’s about eclectic reading.
~ I first came across Al Smith in Ric Burns – New York: A Documentary. ~
From a newsboy and fishmonger to four times Governor of the Empire State and the candidacy of his party for President, the rise of Alfred E. Smith had no exact parallel in American history. There have been country boys in plenty, such as Lincoln and Garfield, who rose to the heights, but no other city urchin, earning a precarious living in the streets in his early days, ever rose so superior to his lack of youthful advantages and had so distinguished a public career.
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With his antecedents and environment Mr. Smith naturally became a member of Tammany. His first political job was as a clerk in the office of the Commissioner of Jurors in 1895. A few years later he was selected, because of his wit and appealing personality, as a candidate for the Assembly by the late Thomas F. Foley, then the Tammany district leader. In his first few years in the Assembly he had little to say, but devoted himself to intensive study of the workings of the State government.
It was common knowledge that the number of legislators in both houses who read the annual appropriation bill, a measure of about 300 pages, could be counted on the fingers of both hands. Mr. Smith read the bill carefully each year from cover to cover, so that every item was familiar. 
from : The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York By Robert A. Caro.
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished,
In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain
Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain
And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain
He woulda been dead or destitute without a cent of restitution
Started workin’, clerkin’ for his late mother’s landlord
Tradin’ sugar cane and rum and all the things he can’t afford
Scammin’ for every book he can get his hands on
Plannin’ for the future see him now as he stands on the bow of a ship headed for a new land
In New York you can be a new man