Two things Dad didn't readily discuss were religion and politics. He was a man who kept his own opinions very close to his chest and he was a man known for minding his own business. He might hear some really juicy gossip during his day at work in the potato house but he never repeated it when he got home at night. Often times, when something happened, mother would rush to tell him the news and he'd only laugh and say he'd known that for a long time. Mother was never quite sure if he was telling the truth or if he was just pulling her chain.
Since they didn't claim to be religious, mother didn't often discuss religion or our lack of participation in it either. It wasn't that they didn't care about our spiritual needs being ministered to; they had other matters that were more pressing to them at the time. Things, like earning a living, taking care of their eight kids and making sure that we had enough food and a roof over our heads.
Life moved along pretty much the same in our large, rural family until the spring of nineteen sixty. Politics were heating-up with the announcement that John Kennedy was going to run against Richard Nixon in the presidential race. Dad never discussed politics with anyone and least of all mother. Try as she might, she couldn't get him to say who he was really going to vote for. She tried all the wiles she knew as a woman but to no avail, Dad wasn't going to tell her who he was voting for and that was final.
It was a long, hot summer and when fall finally rolled around and election night drew near, Dad would sit and listen intently to the televised political debates and never comment whether he agreed or not. This irritated the hell out of mother and she used to make provocative political statements designed to get a rise out of Dad but he never fell for it. He'd look at her with a grin on his face, a mischievous light in his bright, blue eyes and never say a word. Dad had nerves of steel but we kids were really going to be glad when this election was finally over and done with.
Election night finally arrived and mother had outdone herself. When she was all done up, she was quite striking looking and Dad usually didn't like it if she wore lipstick but that night she'd slathered her lips with a bright red color and her auburn hair was freshly shampooed and curled. She'd sewn herself a new dress and she'd even shaved her legs. Mother was going for the gold! She was using all of her feminine wiles to persuade Dad to tell her who he was going to vote for.
We kids, unused to seeing our mother all decked out like this, stood and stared at her in amazement. As they were going out the door to drive into Ashland to vote, she turned and cast her dark brown eyes on us. "We won't be gone long and I want all of you in bed when we get back." With that, she closed the door.
True to her word, they weren't gone long and when they got home, they had one of the worst "discussions" of their entire married life. It woke us all up and we lay there listening to their heated words go on and on. Finally, it was over and they went to bed. Dad later allowed that it couldn't have been any colder that night if he'd been sleeping in Alaska.
The next morning mother rushed to turn on the television and the first thing she saw was a picture of a smiling Kennedy and a scowling Nixon. That was all Mother needed to see. She hit the television off button with the flat of her hand and stalked into the kitchen to make breakfast. She was a sore loser when it came to politics and it was easy to see who she'd voted for.
The atmosphere was real cool around our house for the next few days and we really didn't understand what was wrong. Finally, it was only when things were back to normal and Dad dared to talk about the election that we learned what had really happened. Mother was a staunch Democrat and Dad wouldn't say what he was one way or the other. But, Mother had finally gotten him to admit that he'd voted for Kennedy and she'd voted for Nixon. They had cancelled out each other's votes.
For some reason or other, all my life, I'd always thought that Dad was a die-hard Republican and when I grew-up and was finally able to vote, to honor my father, I always voted Republican at every election. Just before Dad passed away in 1982, I was home on a short visit. Mother was down weeding the garden and Dad mentioned something about politics. "You know Dad," I said proudly. "I've voted Republican all my life, just like you." Dad raised his tired, old, bald head off the pillow and looked at me with a big smile on his face. "What's that Toots," he asked. "Did you say you're a Republican just like me?" "Yah Dad, just like you." Thinking that he'd be proud and pleased to hear that admission, I waited expectantly for his reply. When he'd finally stopped laughing, he looked at me and with tears of laughter in his tired blue eyes he said, ‘You know Toots; I've been a Democrat all my life but don't ever tell your mother. She still thinks I'm a Republican!" Not only had he fooled mother, HE'D FOOLED ME TOO!
Martha Stevens-David Column Magic City
The Most Recently Republished Articles include:
The Manure Spreader
Aroostook River Fishin
Vengeance is Mine Pt. 1
Aroostook County Memories
Childrens Stories include:
See also Vengeance is Mine a short mystery novel published at Magic City over 4 days.
All works by Martha Stevens-David published at Magic City Morning Star News are her copyright property and may not be reproduced without her permission.