The Suitcase Lady


November 4, 2008, 6:29 pm

It’s election day, and I won’t have to call my kids and remind them to vote. I tried that once and learned my lesson.

Years ago I phoned my married son to remind him it was election day. When I was shortly into my diatribe, he asked me to stop.

“I know what you are going to say,” he said. “You’re going to tell me about your grandmother.” And then he added, “Of course I’ve voted.”

I laughed and reminded myself that it is wise to desist when your message has been delivered effectively. The following is what I didn’t have to tell him… again.

When I was growing up, we always got a phone call before every election from my long widowed grandmother. “Edward,” she would say, “can you please take me to vote next Tuesday?”

My father unfailingly assisted his mother year after year in the performance of her civic duty.

My father’s family was poor, and my grandmother lived most of her lifetime in a dreary “German” flat. She rented the choicer downstairs flat, thus getting a little extra rent income to help pay the bills. In her final years, climbing the steep, dark and twisted flight of stairs was almost impossible for her. But until the end of her life the pre-election day phone call was ritual.

I must add that she often told my dad, “I have to vote for Frank.” For those of you unfamiliar with Milwaukee’s history, Frank Zeidler was the last in a long line of Milwaukee’s socialist mayors. They studded Milwaukee with beautiful schools, parks, libraries and natatoriums.

To me “socialist” is not an evil word. My grandmother couldn’t possibly have been wrong.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • PS (PSanafter-thought)

    Hey, wow. I also lived in Milwaukee when Zeidler was there. And my mom’s roots are in your little town.

    I never heard my parents complain about the “socialist” leanings of the mayor. He got things done. If I’m not mistaken, he may have lived just a bit east of where I grew up. Well, one of the mayors lived there.

    That was a LONG time ago.