I can remember going to the polls with both my parents in the mid and late 1950s. My mother would take me during the day, and my dad would take me in the evening when he got home from work. Although we lived across the street from the closest polling place (the high school) for some reason our ward had to vote at a small parish hall on Third Street, I believe it was. So we would walk over there, and if I was lucky, the parent I was with would allow me a few spins on a lonely merry-go-round in a small playground next to the hall.
It seems like it was always cold outside, and the hall felt overheated as we entered wearing our heavy coats. My parents waited their turns to vote in the wonderful old voting machines with the curtains around them. I watched, fascinated, as voter after voter entered the booth and closed the curtain, seeing only their legs as they did - whatever it was one did - in that secret place. Those machines seemed straight out of The Wizard of Oz, and it has since occurred to me that perhaps that is exactly what the movie intended. ("Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.") But I digress. How thrilled I was the first time I entered one of those booths on my own to cast my first vote - for George McGovern, to be sure.
I can't remember where Ben and I voted when we lived in the apartment on Washington Avenue. The church across the street? The American Legion Hall on Gulf Road? Nope. Can't remember. When we lived on Longford, we voted at St. Jude's, and in 1980, Ben and I had to take turns going in to vote, as one of us had to stay in the car with our newborn son while the other voted. We just couldn't risk exposing him to all those germs that would surely be found in that public place.
When we lived in Eastern Heights, we voted at Eastern Heights, of course. I loved voting there. In later years, my walk down the hall to the polling room took me past photos of Tom and Julie and their friends, hung on the wall for their academic excellence. It was with great pride that I took each of them there twelve years ago to cast their first votes. (Tom and Julie I mean. Their friends were on their own.)
In Kent, we voted at the shelter house at Fred Fuller Park. That was a great place to vote. It was great to vote in Kent, in general, where everyone voted just like me, of course, but it was more than that. There was always a fire burning in the big fireplace, and I loved that some voters brought in armloads of firewood when they came to vote. One year I was asked to remove my campaign button from my jacket as I stood in line there. I thought it was a pricky thing to do, but legally correct, so I removed it.
I think in the near future we will probably be able to vote online, and I am sure I will do so. But, I tell you, something is lost when parents no longer bring their children to see our democratic process at work, to eagerly await the day when they can vote, just like mommy and daddy. And I'm not sure being able to vote in one's pjs will make up for that.