Today, Election Day, is the most holy day of our civic religion. One can only sit back in awe and appreciation for the efforts that so many have made in the past six months that will culminate in today’s voting. The election will prove at least one thing: people really do care about the future of Geneseo.
As I look over my wrinkled canvass sheets, I have many fine memories of new friends made, lots of laughs and a few really astonishing moments. It can truly be said that Geneseo is a wonderfully diverse community, maybe not so much in the traditional sense of racial diversity, but certainly from a cultural perspective.
In large part we have the college to thank for that, as it attracts people from all over the world as students and faculty and many of them decide to make this their permanent home. I was very touched by love stories of young college students and “townies” who found each other, some as much as 50 years ago, married and made a life here.
In other cases, both parts of the couple were strangers here, but found each other and a community that they loved. Of course many of our residents are teachers, not just in the Geneseo public schools, but probably in every school district you can think of within 50 miles.
So Geneseo is an education community but it is so much more. I particularly enjoyed visiting with folks in the town outside the village and along the lake, but I was universally treated with kindness and hospitality no matter where I went in town or village. I hope you will indulge me as I recount a few of my favorite memories. Since I can’t campaign today, I really don’t have anything better to do than blog.
The Miskell Family: I crashed this year’s high school graduation party at the home of John and Zahra Miskell on Center Street, because I was determined to finally meet John who spends most of his time in Africa, and I couldn’t resist the Somoli-style vegetarian cooking of Zahra. Delicious!
Later in the summer, I was riding my bike up and down Second Street looking for signatures for my independent petition when I spotted Mary Miskell, a stalwart of the Democratic Party, sitting on her porch. The first couple of times past I waved cheerily and got no response. That’s strange, I thought, Mary is usually a friendly person. On my next trip past, I stopped right in front of the porch and said hello. “Who is it?” she asked. It was only then that I understood that her vision was so bad that she couldn’t recognize me from just a few feet away.
She invited me up on the porch and we had a nice chat. I didn’t dare ask her for a signature as I knew her fierce party loyalty. Finally she said, “I can’t sign your petition, but I think my son will.” She called Carl from inside the house and he was happy to sign. Speaking of diversity, the Miskell Family is a wonderful example. Of the 7 children I believe that 3 are Republicans, 3 are Democrats and Carl is a blank.
My friend Chris: Another favorite memory of the summer also involves a visual handicap, but in this case, that is just the beginning. On a recent campaign swing I ventured out to the Kingston farm on Groveland Road. This was certainly a demonstration of chutzpah on my part, since I doubted there were many votes for me in this strongly Democratic family.
This was also a trip down Memory Lane for me since I had lived and worked on the farm during the summer of 1964 when I was just 13 years old. After chatting with David Kingston for a while I went through my voter list with him and tried to figure out the 11 voting members of the extended family (All Democrats of course).
I noticed a listing for David’s sister Maureen at his address, but he informed me that she was now living down the street in a house near the corner of Long Point Road. As I drove back towards the village I saw Maureen’s car pull into the driveway and I followed her in. After a 15-minute conversation, she invited me inside saying, “There’s someone I want you to meet.”
Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing person I met that day. Chris, who is about 21 years old, is of much diminished stature and he is totally blind and deaf. Apparently, however, he does not consider any of that to be a handicap. He can speak clearly, and with great humor, and he understands what you are saying by placing his hand on your face.
His communication with Maureen is even better because he can hold on to her hands and follow her sign language. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. David later told me that Chris loves nothing better than to help out on the farm by jumping into the back of the grain truck and help shovel out the corn.
Meeting Chris was a magical moment in my summer and I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet him and so many other people that I probably never would have except by banging on the doors. Win or lose, thanks to everyone for a wonderful 6 months!
Note: As of 3:30 this afternoon, this blog had already set a new record for single-day readership. Thanks for reading!