My mother was a news junkie. Her day started with a cup of coffee, one Kent cigarette for the day left on the kitchen table by my Dad, and the daily newspaper read front to back. Newsradio was on in the background and stayed on for the duration. While other mothers accompanied their stay at home lives listening to music, or watching soap operas (her “stories” as my neighbor Joan called them), talk and game shows, my mother marked her day according to the top of the hour chimes, traffic and weather reports on the 8s, and sports updates at 15 and 45 past. The television came on at dinner but not before, for she cooked and we ate in the company of local anchors. My New York dinner mates are lost to memory–though I do remember that Chuck Scarborough broke newscaster protocol during the blizzard of ‘78 and wore a sweater–a sweater!–to anchor the evening news. Wes and Monica (WSB Atlanta) had dinner at my house nightly and provided a clean segue to the highlight of Mom’s evening–ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Oh how Mom loved Peter–and when he closed the show, it was time for her to retire to the family room to read–Newsweek, of course. Saturdays varied slightly, but Sunday, oh Sunday!, that holy day was devoted to the sacred text of The New York Times–cover to cover all day until the stopwatch started ticking and 60 Minutes began. With Andy Rooney’s goodnight, Mom’s week was complete and she was ready to begin again on Monday morning. In her later years she was as devoted to Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and (the absolutely adored) Rachel Maddow as she had been to dear Mr. Jennings, clinging to their nightly shows in a desperate effort at her normal in the face of oncoming dementia.
The great fix for any news junkie is the Presidential election year and, like a cicada on a 4 year cycle, Mom came to life for it. Here her complete cast of characters came together for her greatest show on earth and she never missed a night of a convention. Her news heroes were in their glory and the spectacle and drama captivated her. She marveled at the delegates on the floor, dressed in red, white and blue, wearing hats and buttons and waving signs and banners. Who were they and how did they get so lucky as to be in the thick of those historic events? Some delegates got to speak with the reporters! The delegates looked like ordinary people, but Mom, who never actually participated in a political event other than voting (and going to see President Nixon when he held a rally in my hometown, Eastchester, NY, in 1972 because he was the President and, even though she was a staunch Democrat, he was the President and we should go see him), was sure that those delegates knew somebody or something and somehow some magic had transported them and not her to the convention floor. Who were those people?
I am one of those people and this is my story. Mom died in September 2012, but with each step of this incredible adventure, I think of her and want to tell her that it’s me, just me, an ordinary citizen participating in an extraordinary moment in this nation’s life. This blog will be a chronicle of the delegate adventure. How did a woman–a single mom one shade above roadkill when a great life tsunami dropped her and her 2 boys in the strange land of Michigan in August 2011–find herself, less than 5 years later, the female delegate pledged to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders for President on behalf of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District at the 2016 Democratic National Committee Convention in Philadelphia this summer? Only in America…
Next up: The election of me.