Election Day in Oak Park

Opinion: Columns

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

Stan West

It was a brisk fall morning. The brown autumn leaves were in a huge pile on the street of my polling place in South Oak Park. The usual hawkers were notably absent. The "Hawk" was not. The Fifth Third Bank clock said it was freezing, 32 degrees.

Inside crowded Precinct 36 at Lincoln School, activity was teeming. Standing in line was a neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Fairchild, whose college-age son (like my twin sons) voted for the first time.

"It's a good omen to see you this morning, Mr. West," said Mrs. Fairchild.

"Ditto," I responded.

Another neighbor, Rory, was seen passing out political literature at the Blue Line Oak Park stop. "It's a great day for winning," he said, asking about my sons, whom he said "probably voted for whatever presidential candidate best represented fiscal hope."

My Intermediate Italian teacher at Triton College, Professor Joe Bertolli, explained the election this way: "The guy you know versus the guy you don't is an easier pill to swallow."

The Popeye's Restaurant drive-thru clerk on Madison was nervous about the early exit polls that seemed favorable for a Massachusetts-based candidate. The Jewel's cashier down the street, on the other hand, gave thumbs up for the Illinois-based candidate. The barber near Ridgeland projected, "The incumbent will prevail, despite their dirty tricks."

Later that night, when the voting was all over, I cruised to half a dozen night spots. Things were rather still until I hit FitzGerald's in Berwyn. The local Democratic Party hosted a lively election night party. One of its staffers, Bonnie, greeted me at the door and reminded me she hadn't seen me since a similar presidential election party in 2000. It wasn't so upbeat then.

"We're still here, I see," she said.

Meanwhile the MSNBC pundits were reporting how "the industrial heartland responded well to President Obama's automobile factory bailout." The numbers kept trickling in until an announcement projected "President Obama is the winner."

A lady in front of me named Kay, who had offered me a chair, yelled, "This needed to happen. I'm so happy." She told me a story about how she went knocking on doors in Iowa last week for Obama. "I met an old lady who said Governor Romney made her sick. That made me laugh."

Laura, an administrator with the state, said, "Obama's victory is a defeat of racism. It is the coming together of people in the United States. I'm so happy!"

Perhaps a black case worker next to her summed it up best when she said, "It means everything. It's a wonderful day in history. I was a little worried. Not anymore. I can finally go to sleep."

Check out this bonus election song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwnwEPfLEIE.

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad