Election In A Small Town

Election in a Small Town

Once upon a time, in a small town there was a family with four boys. The oldest was 18, a ne’er-do-well alcoholic. Then, there was the 16 year old crippled by polio (we’ll call him Bob). There was a 12 yr old that happened to be severely retarded. Finally, there was a 4 yr old who was about to become an orphan when their parents died unexpectedly. Frankly, the community was surprised when the oldest boy took charge of the situation. He got a job working nights. That way, he could still be there during the day to take care of the younger boys while Bob had a chance to finish high-school (and watch the younger boys at night). It was tough, requiring sacrifices from those boys that full-grown men would have crumpled under. But, they did it because you do what you have to do for family.

Bob finished high-school a year early so he could find some kind of job to ease the financial burden. What he found was that there weren’t so many jobs available for young men like him. Sure, he could have gone to college. He was an exceptionally bright likable fella. People would have helped with scholarships and such. But, that would have left the other brothers in a bind. He got to thinking, and Bob was good at thinking. The county clerk (in charge of records) was running for re-election. It was a desk job with decent pay. That was the answer! Except for the fact that the popular incumbent had been the County Clerk for years, a big fish in a small pond. But Bob wasn’t afraid of up-hill battles. However, as campaigning went along, it became increasingly clear that things weren’t going well for Bob …

My grandmother was a gentle soul who rarely lost her temper. In thirty years, I heard her lose her temper mildly about three times. (Imagine how you feel on the first truly fabulous Spring day, after a really horrific Winter. That’s how my grandmother made people feel. She was grace incarnate.) Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated by this story about Bob. It drove her mad with fury, sending her absolutely around the bend.

She had taken my father to get a haircut one Saturday morning a few weeks before the primaries. I forget exactly why she waited until Saturday morning, something must have come up during the week One just doesn’t spend Saturday morning in the barbershop in a long line if you can help it. Anyway, there she was mixed in with a long line of little old men talking about the weather, and politics, and the up-coming election. As it would happen, the current County Clerk was sitting in the barber-chair. Someone asked him if he was worried about Bob. Woe to the man that said what he said. Something about not being worried about a worthless crippled orphan that had no one to help him, and then he laughed. My grandmother, in a fit of passion, jerked my father up and went home without even waiting for his haircut!

Oh, she was beside herself. Imagine the nerve of that man making fun of that poor motherless boy who was doing the very best he could to be a good decent son, trying to take care of his family! Perhaps, if he hadn’t laughed … but we’ll never know. The reality is that he did indeed laugh at Bob. And the more she thought about it, the madder my grandmother got. The madder she got, the more women she went to visit. Then, the madder they ALL got. It became the general consensus among women in the county that if you loved your family, you should vote for Bob who actually “walked the walk” about family. Women talked about it at church, and at school, and at the store, and at home. Especially at home. Very few men really cared about who the held the position of county clerk. (Its not a position full of power to actually do things and change policies. The county clerk just keeps the paper-work straight.) However, most men did seem to care that their wives were in a complete furor over the insult to motherhood and family. The best way to restore peace on the homefront was to vote for Bob. Thus, Bob was carried into office by a shocking landslide.

Bob held the office of County Clerk for more than 40 years, but he didn’t know that the first years. He just knew that his older brother could quit his night job, and take care of the younger boys full-time. He just knew that his retarded brother could stay at home where they loved him, instead of being shipped off to some cold institution. He just knew that the little brother would have some stability and continuity, instead of being abandoned in an orphanage where they might lose track of him altogether. He just knew that he had tried to do the right thing, and had won respect from the community.

Sometimes elections are about doing the right thing, even if its tough or risky. Sometimes elections are about respect. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to elections since I read about the recent elections in Spain. Its tempting to call them cowards, but would we have behaved any differently? I’d like to think so. I really want to believe that Americans would rise up and vote their convictions, not cower in fear about the economy and whine about foreign unpopularity. I guess time will tell.


For a while there I was wondering if this story was about Bob Dole, since I believe that was Dole's first elected office. But it's obviously not him.

Neat story though.

Dean Esmay | 03/16/2004 - 11:31 AM


Jimmy | 11/04/2004 - 06:18 PM

Different people in all countries get the loan in different creditors, just because it is easy and fast.

MackLolita19 | 09/08/2010 - 12:07 AM
Make Waves

Remember personal info?

Please enter the security code you see here

Note in a Bottle
Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):