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Who will be be? Now or never for Raymond Cooper
Good folks of Lennox Valley
Lennox art-full

The morning of "The Great Valley Runoff," I listened at the breakfast table as my parents discussed their options while considering how they would cast their votes.

I think my father, who sold books by day and repaired TVs in our basement at night, summed up how many good folks of the Valley felt when he said, "I’m not sure it’s worth the time it takes to vote."

Raymond began "Renderings with Raymond" in earnest at 7 a.m., five hours earlier than usual. He kept saying something about his public duty to keep the town informed, but most folks realized he was trying to gain a few votes in an election that was getting closer by the minute.

"Silver Tongue" Dick Bland held a campaign rally on the town square at 8 a.m., hoping to influence any voters sitting on the fence. He kissed Christine Schmidt’s baby – noting it was quite possibly the most beautiful baby he had ever seen – and shook hands with the 40 or so folks in attendance, making his final attempt at convincing Juliet Stoughton’s adherents to follow her wishes and cast their ballots for him.

You would think the county fair, 11 miles away in Springfield, would cut into town activities. However, Caroline’s Beauty Salon and the Hoffbrau, both normally quiet on Thursdays, were hubs of activity. Most people, it seemed, were sick of the campaign, but weren’t sick of talking about it.

Raymond tried in vain to get Brother Jacob to offer a prayer during the show, but his minister was "extremely busy" with pastoral duties away from town all day.

Eventually, Cooper turned to his "Book of Famous Prayers," offering up this petition, yet not revealing the words came from Gen. George Patton, "Graciously hearken to this soldier who calls upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, I may advance from victory, and crush the wickedness of my enemy and establish justice among men."

Though Cooper was not a popular figure among the regulars at Caroline’s, most bowed as Raymond prayed.

"He may be a schmuck, but he does have a way with words," Essie Kennemer noted.

Knowing folks on both sides of the political fence would be calling his show that day, Raymond asked Marvin Walsh to man the phone and determine which calls he had "time to take" on the air.

At 6 p.m., Sarah Hyden-Smith, Iris Long and Juliet Stoughton monitored events from a booth at the ‘Brau, where they ordered supper and discussed the events of

the day.

It was bound to be a smaller turnout at this week’s 7 p.m. ballot count, as Thursday night was "Wrestling Night" at the Spring County Fair. This year promised an especially exciting show as stars from the past, including The Sheik, Jerry Lawler, Gorilla Monsoon and Dory Funk Jr., highlighted the card.

By 7, barely 100 folks gathered in front of the Town Hall for the vote count. Chief Dibble announced, "Due to the smaller turnout this week, we will attempt to allow everyone inside the proceedings." Then with a gruff voice added, "No chaos," as the crowd filed in.

Little did he know how prophetic his words would be.

Vera Pinrod, election coordinator, addressed the crowd. "Votes cast totalled 764."

An audible mumble rose from the crowd. That was 170 fewer votes than were cast a week earlier. Could most of Juliet’s supporters have stayed home, refusing to support either remaining candidate?

"You’ve got this one in the bag, Raymond!" shouted Elbert Lee Jones from the rear corner of the room.

A quick stare from Chief Dibble stopped Jones in this tracks.

Silence overtook the room as Vera began her ballot count.

"Cooper!" she roared, looking at the first ballot. "Cooper!" she shouted again.

Pausing as she looked at the next ballot, she lowered her volume. "Cooper," she said.

Iris Long shook her head as she tallied the votes on her note pad. She realized this was going to be another long night.

Write to Kevin Slimp at

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