November 8, 2012 ·
Fall of 1952 in York, Penn., provided autumn colors, pumpkins and the presidential election between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. It’s not that I didn’t like IKE, but I knew that my parents were committed to the Democrats, for reasons that I did not understand.
Late on a weekday afternoon I left my trombone lesson and crossed Market Street to wait for my city bus back to “East York.” A few people and then more and more seemed to be gathering at the place where railroad tracks crossed Market.
A train entered the intersection from south to north stopping at the intersection with a fancy caboose with red, white and blue bunting attached. A moment or two later, Stevenson appeared on the rear deck, called a rowdy crowd to attention and began what we would now call his “stump speech.”
I don’t recall all that he said but I do recall him taking a spontaneous moment to rebut a message made from the second floor of an old wooden building on the northeast corner of the intersection. A woman dressed in a housecoat held a broom out of her window and urged the crowd to “Sweep” the Democrats out of office. The Dems had been in continuous office for 20 years or more.
Stevenson replied, “Madam, every Pennsylvania housewife knows that a broom broken in can always do a better job in the dusty corners than a new broom.” His crowd applauded in agreement and the candidate went on.
Stevenson did not mention the historic nature of the two-story wooden building from which the broom was waved.
In 1952, the building housed a first floor peanut shop and an apartment above. But for 19 days during the Revolutionary War the building served as the capital of the United States, and George Washington had actually slept there.
As the speech ended, several adults and a child or two approached the candidate who was pressing the flesh from the back of the train. I approached Mr. Stevenson, trombone case in hand, shook his hand and he asked me if my folks were in his corner. I answered affirmatively, and asked me to thank them for their vote.
I can’t imagine what would happen today if a person of any age would approach a presidential candidate with a trombone case. At home I became a brief local hero, and my dad told me not to wash my right hand, his idea of a joke.
My vote has always been very important to me, as yours should be to you. On its face, the right to vote we each “own” is as valuable as any other right or property that we ever own. But obtaining and keeping the vote was never free.
Men and woman have fought and died for the vote since the Revolutionary War and, to some extent, in every war since, directly or indirectly. Winning complete citizenship and the right to vote for our black brothers and sisters in the War Between the States cost more lives than each of the World Wars. The efforts of many presidents, particularly Lyndon Johnson through the Voting Rights Act, finally guaranteed the vote for all.
The woman’s vote in the United States was not given freely, but fought for and finally won through the courage of the women’s leaders and many men who understood, or were made to understand that to do otherwise was not a good idea.
Those of us who have lived in Florida since the Bush v. Gore election know how important one vote can be. I know that the current race between President Obama and Governor Romney may be another Bush/Gore. I also know that not all of us live here agree on party or person.
I’m on the “stump” today for one and only one reason, to ask, suggest, implore, and hope that you all vote, and that God bless all candidates who put themselves and their families under the microscope for all of us.
Michael H. Gora has been certified by The Florida Bar Committee on Certification and Education as an expert in matrimonial law and practices with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton, Florida and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (561) 477-7800.