Recalling My First Vote For President And The Year I Helped Report The News
There is no way on a day like this not to recall the first time I voted in a presidential election. I penned the memory in my book Walking Up The Ramp and wish to share this small portion.
By the time 1980 rolled around there was no doubt where my political perspectives were headed, and they were not with my Dad’s party. For the first time I voted, and while many sons might recall a fishing trip or ball game while bonding with their father I can think of no other event that clicked better for us than his picking me up as we headed for the small village polling place in Hancock. Dad always felt his fighting in WWII was for the bigger reasons concerning the freedoms we enjoyed, and perhaps none more important than that of voting. It was not lost on him that I was so interested in the election, and so eager to vote for the first time. It did not matter to either of us that we cancelled each other’s votes out that election. Upon leaving the building we encountered Leslie Wetmore, who worked with Dad, and he gave me thumbs up as praise for taking the time to vote. From there it was home for the dinner which Mom had prepared, and on to watching the reported returns.
At the end of the evening, after the election was called, Mom popped into my bedroom and remarked that perhaps Reagan’s victory would not be so bad, and everything would work out. I never thought that to be her most sage observation, though she was usually an optimist in general. She always enjoyed watching new families move into the White House, regardless of their partisan natures. I would have been happy to have extended the Carter’s lease for another four year term.
The following presidential election would prove to be one of the more gratifying ones as I was able to broadcast from WDOR as the results were coming in from the nation and around Door County. With our national feed from ABC News, along with a reporter at the local courthouse, I was able to weave the narrative of the night, throw in tidbits and trivia, and anchor the proceedings from the studio. I had prepared a binder of all sorts of information on state races and historical oddities that made their way over the airwaves that night.
If one can ever be ‘in their element’ that was certainly one of the moments for me. The 1984 presidential election will forever be recalled as a night when the national Democratic ticket imploded, but one where I was pleased with the product WDOR put out over the airwaves. After it was all over, and the station had signed off shortly after midnight a friend and I met at Country Kitchen in Sturgeon Bay. I still recall the dark ceramic platter that housed the eggs and hash browns and the tea-pot brought to our booth. We talked far into the early morning hours, recapping events, and talking politics. Though I was not making much money, and had not really decided how to make it to my next career goal there remains a glow in my memory about that time of my life.