My father ran for Assemblyman when I was six. I didn’t know what that was then (… and I’m only just a little bit sure I could tell you all about it now …) but I knew he was up to something. There were parties, there where photographers and reporters and speeches. Not every day, but sometimes. There is one famous-in-our-family photo from that Assembly run, the family portrait I describe on my About page. That picture is such a perfect little campaign photo. And a few others (but the first two are hazy in my memory):
- The first is my dad and some white guy, each holding the other’s infant. It’s cute. I know the white man’s name, but can’t remember what his significance was in our lives or in the campaign. He was big, somehow.
- There’s a busy-busy, full-of-people photo of some indoor rally or something. My father has on his candidate smile and I think he’s extending a hand to someone, about to give a nice firm shake. I think Bess Meyerson is in that picture, too. And maybe Humphrey? (Mother, big brother, Fox, can you confirm or deny?)
- And finally, there’s the solo portrait of my dad, the clean-cut, fresh-faced candidate. It’s a great photo. He is so young, younger than I have any memory of him ever being. And he actually looks like the word ‘idealism’ if that makes any sense to you. There’s something so hopeful and honest about his face.
He didn’t win. I’m sorry for that. I’m not sure what his becoming Assemblyman would have meant for any of our lives, but I wish we could have found out. I read the news articles that describe his ideas and his platform, and I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. But he didn’t win. I have to say, though, that the guy who did win (the father of one of my classmates) was later jailed for corruption. See? They should have gone for my dad. But it wasn’t to be.
Tomorrow I’m going to walk down the street and around the corner and wait on what I think will be a very long line. I’m going to walk into a voting booth, and I’m going to cast a vote for a young black man who is a few years older than my dad was when he ran for the Assembly. I might just cry as I pull that lever. I’m tearing up just thinking about it now.
I wish my dad had lived to see this day, that he could walk into a polling place tomorrow and put his hands on this history. Instead, he will be a part of it through me, as I carry him, all of my grandparents and all my family before them into that booth with me tomorrow, as I hold my hand a long time on the lever, long enough to give them all a chance to get the feel of it with me, and then together we’ll pull that tiny, enormous sliver of metal down and have a say we’ve waited for all our lives.
is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.