Spreading the Word, North Puffin Style

There exists a photograph of me in a manure spreader, waving to the crowd.

Yeah, there’s a story behind that.

Vermont has a biennial election cycle so politicians show up in force at events like Franklin County Field Days every other year. Vermont politicians also (usually) had a pretty good sense of humor.

That particular photo-op likely came in about 1988 when I chaired one of North Puffin’s two political committees. Every other year, we had a booth at Field Days (the booth lived at the telephone company for a number of years, and then in my barn for a decade, and then on to another good home). That year was Lt. Gov. Peter Smith‘s first run for Congress.

Yes, Mr. Smith went to Washington.

Anyway, Peter was at Field Days, trying to go to Washington, and I spent part of the day introducing him around. That always took a while. He and I both like to talk to people. One fellow told him all about his apple orchard and the little roadside stand his dad ran each fall. In great and glowing detail.

As we walked on, Peter turned to me with that “Why did we spend so much time?” look.

“Oh, Steve is also the president of the bank.”

Field Days has a tractor parade and there isn’t a politician born who can resist a parade. The Field Days committee didn’t want to politicize their event but they weren’t above making a political statement.

John Deere Spreader“Dick, if you can find someone with a trailer, you can tow all the politicians around together.” I think there was some hope that someone, somewhere at Field Days, was exhibiting tomatoes.

Always ready to rise to the challenge, I found a beautifully restored John Deere ground-drive spreader. OK, it had been swamped out with a fire hose, anyway. We crammed the whole load of politicians of every persuasion and party in there and everyone had a good time.

That’s just common sense.

Common sense seems to have been in short supply since then.

Shades of Chicago, Vermont
This story is from a Town about 75 miles south of North Puffin. A newcomer to politics had hoped to make a difference by running for the Selectboard in his adopted hometown this year. Sadly, he died one day before Town Meeting. That didn’t stop voters from electing him to a 3-year term; no one told them that he collapsed at his home and died.

The Town Clerk said state election laws prohibit campaigning or discussion of candidates within a polling place. An announcement about the man’s death might be interpreted as urging voters to cast their ballots in a certain way, she said.

Ya think? Like maybe that they should vote for someone who was, well, alive?

Politics, the art of the possible? Nah. Politics, now the art of the weird.

Fortunately, I was unable to unearth a copy of the photo of us spreading the word.


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