Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Campaign of '43

Reminds me of that bitter election in the 4th grade when I ran for President against the class bully, Donald Smathers. It was a grueling campaign as I remember it. There were unfounded reports that the teacher favored me in spelling bees lobbing softballs my way. I wouldn’t call upholstery or genuine easy words.

But rumors took hold when my opponent started a whispering campaign. It didn’t help my chances when he wrote on the blackboard, before the teacher came in, that I wet my pants. He’d been saying that since Kindergarten when he tipped over the milk carton onto my knickers. I think he’d had it in for me ever since he knocked down my blocks and I reported him.  He branded me a tattle-tale, teacher’s pet, bed-wetter.

Donald no longer ran with scissors but he did throw spitballs and didn’t play well with others. That was a minor matter compared to the money he stole when he was milk monitor in the 2nd grade. He blamed it on a hole in his pant’s pocket.

He had his group of trouble-makers come up with signs saying, I’d Rather Have Smathers. My constituency was a coalition of kids I knew, kids I wish I knew and a few who I barely knew but couldn't stand Smathers.

He had won in 3rd grade when he carried the most rows even though more votes went to Ursula Sherashevsky. There were five rows each with six boys or girls. Ursula won the first and fifth but Donald took the middle three. This time we were redistributed and I managed to eke out a win in three rows as well as the majority of votes.  

Then the trouble began. The war was raging across both oceans. Refugees were coming into our class. Donald targeted them for ridicule when they spoke with a slight accent.  All classes were urged to buy saving stamps to fill up a book worth $18.75 which would buy a $25 war bond, payable in ten years.* Our class was in competition with the fifth grade over the most bonds.

When he lost the election, Donald went into a tantrum shouting that he should be president for all time. He always boasted that his family was richer than the rest of us. Now he threatened not to buy any war bonds. Those of us who spent our allowance for the war effort were called Suckers. For this Mr. and Mrs. Smathers were summoned to meet with the teacher. They never showed up but sent a note defending their son. That was the last we ever saw of Donald.

Standing outside the room in the corridor waiting for the raised hands I knew then politics was not my meat. I would have to settle for an illustrious career as a shortstop or soda jerk or shaman.

(Part of this is true. It may not have happened to me but it must have happened to somebody.)

* Those war bonds raised 187 billion dollars during the war years.


  1. I think shaman would be a good fit

    1. Too bad there are no more Yellow Pages. I could have been listed under Shamans

  2. I don't remember the PS99 bully, but I do remember the High School one, Hal Roach (how apt) who used to extort a penny from me each time I would pass him in the hall.

    In the interest of accuracy, it was "Dorothy" Sherashefsky and "Ursula" Oppenheimer. How could you forget them from just 80 years ago?

  3. Of course, I knew that. I'll email you with further thoughts.