Jack Contemplates Life in a Box
by Judy Westergard
The passionately contested political races this fall take me back to my run for political office. I vied with Ricky Johnson for sixth grade class president.
Classes were smaller for those of us who were born the year before the Baby Boomers. The nine girls and nine boys in Mr. Brink’s room were evenly divided in whom they backed for the coveted roll of class president, a job whose sole purpose was to daily decide whether it would be the girls or the boys who would be excused first for recess.
I campaigned at recess. Ricky campaigned at recess. (I campaigned on the girls' side of the schoolyard. He campaigned on the boys' side.) I made signs. Ricky made signs. (But mine were spelled correctly.) I brought candy. Ricky brought candy. (But he brought more.)
Tuesday came. All 18 of us wrote on our allotted slip of paper the name of our chosen candidate. I did what I thought all girls did in 1955: I voted for Ricky. It was what one did (I thought), and since I knew Ricky would vote for me, what could it matter? Well, it mattered a lot. Mr. Brink counted out the votes. ”Judy has eight votes; Ricky has 10. Congratulations to Ricky Johnson, our new class president.” The significance of the outcome hit me: I lost because I voted for my opponent! He won because he voted for himself! O, the ignominious horror! The growing awareness of the workings of how the world worked! There was a lesson to be learned here, but it's taken me a lifetime to figure it out.