Thursday, May 9, 2013

Whetting

Our family, my parents, were always politically minded. They watched the TV news, sometimes had two newspapers coming into the home as well as news magazines. On vacations, we visited the presidential libraries of Eisenhower and Truman, as well as the historical homes of Lincoln, Washington, Ike, Buchanan. Across the line in Niles, OH, the McKinley home had not been restored, yet, or I'm sure that would have been a Sunday afternoon excursion, as it has been with my girls, now.
History and politics went hand in hand. We watched both conventions, wall to wall. I continued that after I was married. Enjoying Mondale's honesty about raising taxes to pay for all his social programs. I applauded it, actually, earning my vote. And what young woman in the early eighties could resist voting for the first major party female vice presidential candidate.
We were passionate about debating, but politeness reigned. We didn't call each other names, or say degrading words about the other side. We may have believed Reagan was heartless because he called ketchup a vegetable, but we always said, he'd make a great neighbor. We could see qualities of value in each man.
For me to get involved in the Synod of the Trinity's Youth in Government seminar in Harrisburg was only a natural development. I'm sure my mom read about it or Dad heard about it a session meeting. Bob from my church and Lisa from Sharon First Presbyterian church and I ventured for this week sponsored by the Presbyterian church. We met at Lisa's home on Highland Road, her father was a doctor, a vision into a different life. I considered any family that used a hired cleaning lady a step above us, at least. They had several side rooms, Bob and I waited in one for Lisa. My father drove us the five hours to Harrisburg on a dreary February day. I snuggled under a pink flowered bought quilt, while Bob and I talked about the fun of missing school. Lisa joined in some, but she was a quiet stranger at first from a different school.
Bob stayed at one big inner city Presbyterian church, while we girls slept in another, barrack style. I believe they fed us one or two meals a day, sometimes a snack at night with a group activity. The three of us spent all the time we were given alone together, eating at wonderful restaurants and shopping at album stores- remember those, mostly head shops. Bob gravitated close to me because a clerk, who actually had nail polish and mascara on, but was male, wanted to hit on Bob.
Harrisburg, a big town, yet possessing small city quirks, like openly gay men, homeless people, begging physically impaired, street musicians. We were three sixteen year olds stuck like glue to each other, alone, exploring this strange world from Sharon, Pennsylvania.
We had workshops, hearing a KDKA reporter assigned to Harrisburg, who happened to also be a Christian, in one. I remember listening in the morning to the radio after this week feeling more of connection to Sandy. We visited the capital building for a meeting with Rep. Pratt. He managed to get jobs for my dad. Later, his wife was my maternity instructor at Jameson School of Nursing.
The weather mixed rain and snow, but I still fell in love with the small city life with the walking in the night,under the street lights and bustling restaurants. I still love oregano on my roast beef hoagies and just about anything else.
I attracted a boy, who was hesitant to approach me because he thought Bob was my boyfriend, then he thought maybe we were brother and sister. He finally found the answer on Thursday that Bob and were friends since babyhood, only. He moved fast after that. He wrote and called, but even though he lived south of Indiana, Pennsylvania, we couldn't do much dating. He was going to take me to prom, but I think SAT's got in the way. Just after he started at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he walked to West Middlesex one day to see me. Oh yeah, I met him once at Westminster College in New Wilmington, he was there for something with his youth group, the summer before that, after Harrisburg. I remember being very nervous driving our silver Nova with him in the car with me, only about my driving skills, not him per say.
Harrisburg taught me the basics of state government, but I needed more. So again, Mom scouring the paper found the Washington Workshops later that spring. A whetting of my appetite and dreams for political or journalist career continued from this trip.
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