Cast your vote … eat some pancakes

Suzi dropped the two envelopes into the slot, and with them our votes for president, Congress, local offices and a couple proposed laws — choices for which we filled in little bubbles while sitting at our kitchen counter.

About 30 feet away, people were lined up — masked, six feet apart — waiting to go into the town hall so they could fill in the little bubbles that represented their choices.

All of it a little more than two weeks before “Election Day.”

Things sure have changed since I was first eligible to vote 30 years ago.

There was one voting machine. One … until the town’s population got big enough that it needed to buy a second one — used, as my father proudly pointed out.

The town hall where I grew up is a plain, one-story building.

Inside is a meeting room and a small number of offices. I want to say there’s only one, maybe two, but I haven’t been there in years and memory fades.

My grandmother used to be town clerk, and if you want to meet with the current office-holder, she has office hours Wednesday, Saturday and by appointment.

My father was on the town board, and my mother is the clerk for the planning board, where my grandfather was a member for decades. My parents’ neighbor is the town justice.

Yeah, it’s a small town.

The town hall is also where people in town vote. My brother and I were once waiting in line, and we realized that the guy we were going to vote for as highway superintendent was the candidate for something called the Improved Roads Party in addition to either the Democrats or Republicans.

He and I ended up being two of the five votes for the Improved Roads Party. We’re still waiting for our invite to the national convention.

There was one voting machine. One … until the town’s population got big enough that it needed to buy a second one — used, as my father proudly pointed out.

And what a machine it was … a huge hunk of metal. To vote, you had to walk in and pull a rod to shut the curtain, then push a tab for each candidate.

The last step was to pull down on a lever to register your choices, which also whipped the curtain open.

Then it was time for pancakes.

Chances were good we’d know someone at our table, because I grew up in the kind of place where everyone knew everyone else.

Next to the town hall is the old firehouse, which is now used for functions like my surprise 18th birthday party.

We also had a surprise birthday party for my father there. Pulling that one together was a challenge, because as my brother and I were setting up tables, we could see our father a few hundred yards away on the other side of the town hall, holding court at the dump.

(Even though I have succumbed to suburbia in that I all-too-often call the place where you take your garbage, recycling and yard waste a “transfer station,” a significant part of me will always think of it as “the dump.”)

Our father must have run into someone he knew while bringing the garbage, so he was shooting the breeze while my brother and I desperately hoped he wouldn’t see us or our cars the way we could see him.

Somehow, either we pulled it off or he never admitted he figured it out.

On election night, the firehouse hosted a pancake supper. People sat around long tables, and the food was served family style, with volunteers bringing plates of pancakes, applesauce, scalloped potatoes and other goodies.

It was all-you-could-eat, and I took full advantage. It helped that the pancakes were thin, which meant they were good, but not too filling.

The setting was, to use one of Rick Steves’ favorite words, convivial. Chances were good we’d know someone at our table, because it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else.

Voting now may be easier than it used to be, but it doesn’t have pancakes at the end, and that’s just a shame.



3 thoughts on “Cast your vote … eat some pancakes

  1. Pingback: The week gone by — Oct. 25 – A Silly Place

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