The Highway Supervisor

A road in Crawford Lake Park

Eddie Eddy challenges the system and, from Palmer’s point of view, wins.

An Eddy and McClure Story

TUESDAY, JUNE 15Eddie Eddy leaned back in the porch chair and stretched his arms over his head.

“Ella,” he said to his wife (her name was Eloise),”It was hot out there today — unseasonably hot. Though it wasn’t the heat so much as the humidity.” Eddie smiled at his favorite phrase. Think I should order another 500 flyers? They seem to go over pretty well.”

“Um-mmm.” Ella Eddy still had her apron on from washing up the dishes after dinner. She fanned herself with a magazine her daughter Lizzy left on the porch. The title was”BeauCoupe” and it was all about the latest hairstyles. The model on the cover had long purple hair knotted around her throat held together with a coat button on an elastic band.

“Why, I don’t know, Ed. They’re awful expensive. And what do people do with them after? Throw them away! It’s awful wasteful.”

Eddie folded his arms across his chest. Well, what would you have me do? I knock on doors, I shake hands, I tell ‘em I’m the best for Highway Supervisor. Then it feels like I should leave ‘em with something to remember me by.”

“What does Pat DeGregorio do?” Patrick DeGregorio, the other candidate for Highway Supervisor, had deep pockets and the backing of the party machine.

Eddie leaned forward on the arm of the porch chair. ”He hands out pens with his name on ‘em and — get this! — combs! With his name on them! Combs!!”

Ella cocked her head. ”That sounds expensive.”

“You’re damn right it’s expensive. Makes my flyers look like a bargain.”

“I don’t know, Ed. Winning the primary for Highway Supervisor is so important for you. You’ve got your Facebook page, you’ve handed out hundreds of fliers, there’s the debate coming up—”

“It’s not a debate. It’s a Candidate Forum.”

“Okay. But what I’m saying is there must be other way to get your name out.”

They sat in silence for a while. The early evening heat washing over them. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance just as Ella said, ”What about Sydney McClure?”

“What about Sydney McClure?”

Ellla fingered the hem of her apron. ”She’s in P.R. Maybe she’d have an idea.”

“Nah. Too expensive. Know what those folks charge? Per hour? Just talking on the phone, they charge.”

“Well, maybe since her son Doug and our Hale are best friends, she’d do a favor.”

Eddie smirked. ”Just because the boys are friends? You got to be kidding.”

Ella bristled. ”Not at all. That’s how women work. Ask her.”

“Nah. I’d feel funny.”

“Edward Eddy, don’t be pig-headed. All she can say is no.”

“Yeah. And think I’m an idiot for asking.”

“All right, then. I will ask her for you. How silly will you feel then?”

Ella looked her husband in the eye. ”There’s a PTA meeting on Thursday. Let’s ask her afterwards. I’ll do it with you.”

Eddie sat forward, elbows on knees thinking. Then he sat back and wiped his face with his bandana.”I guess so. Okay. Let’s ask her.”

Palmer Eddy sat on the porch steps listening to his parents. He’d been with his father on Saturdays going door-to-door handing out fliers. It was hard, boring work. At 12 years old, Palmer was starting to become aware of the world around him and was fascinated by what adults had to deal with.

His father had a point. Not only the humidity part, but that his way of getting the word out was too slow, too time consuming. His dad had been at it since early April and now in June, Palmer could see that unless everyone was talking about ”Edward Eddy, Crawford Highway Supervisor,” he was doomed to lose the primary.

Palmer listened and thought. Maybe there was some way he could help.


“Sanford, it’s time to go!” Sydney McClure checked her makeup in the hall mirror and patted her hair in place. The PTA meeting at the high school was 10 minutes from their house and she wanted to get there right on time.

Sanford McClure was brushing his teeth in the guest bathroom. ”Iz only quarer pas sevn!”

“Judy Davidson always starts PTA meetings at seven-thirty sharp. I’m going out to the car.”

Sydney settled into the passenger seat of their new SUV. They had gotten rid of the old one last month and went for an electric. It cost, but she loved how quiet it was. And no gasoline. No smell. No exhaust. No pollution. Nancy and Doug actually said they were proud of them getting an electric. E-vehicle, they called it. Teenagers…

She had just reached over to tap the horn when the driver door opened and Sanford slipped in.

“Reaching over to greet me?”

“Mmm…yes.” They kissed.

Somewhat later Sanford started the car and Sydney checked her hair in the passenger side mirror.

Sanford settled himself behind the wheel.”So, what is this meeting all about anyway?”

“It’s an orientation for parents with children entering middle school. What to expect, what’s different from grammar school — K through six, as they say. It’s also a chance to meet parents of other middle school kids before the school year ends.”

They drove in silence for a while.

“But Doug’s already in middle school.”

“This is for Nancy, Sanford. She’s twelve. A very grown up twelve.”

“Syd, she’s not grown up. She’s still a little girl.”

“Not lately. She’s menstruating, her breasts are starting to show. And that’s just physically. She’s very, very smart, Sanford, and mature beyond her years.”

Sanford McClure shook his head.”They grow up so fast, Syd.”

“Yeah. And here we are.”

Sanford and Sydney entered the brightly lit gymnasium bubbling with the sounds of parents and teachers greeting each other, talking and laughing. The smell of coffee was in the air and a group of men were over by the refreshment table to get the jump on the PTA meeting favorite — Mrs. Sackett’s chocolate chip cookies.

They made their way among the rows of folding chairs already askew as groups of parents congregated and earnest teacher-parent conversations pulled them out of line.

Sanford spied Eddie and Ella Eddy and waved. Ella motioned to open chairs near them. Sanford sat next to Ella.”Evening, Eddie, Ella.” Eddie looked around past his wife.”Hi, Sanford. Hello, Sydney.”

His voice sounded strained, tense to Sanford’s ear. Wonder what’s going on? Argument? The kids?

The PTA president brought the meeting to order and wasted no time on the agenda. She ran down the usual stuff, the need for school supplies for each student, when the school day started in middle school (“It’s early, folks! 8:15 am on the dot!”). Changing classes for the first time. Expectations for homework. Then she launched a slide show about bullying that the State Chancellor had sent to all school districts. She talked about ecology at Crawford Middle School and asked parents to use recyclable materials when packing lunches. (“No plastic film or sandwich bags, please!”) which drew applause and a couple of good-natured boos.

Then a panel of 7th, 8th and 9th grade teachers seated themselves on stage. Each made a little speech about student life in the middle school years. About boys and girls starting to be interested in each other. Competition in dress. Provocative dress. Fights over boys. Sydney nodded as Sanford whispered, ”This is mainly about puberty.”

The teachers then took questions which ranged from how they encouraged good study practices to the importance of after school activities.

Then one parent asked,”How are you prepared to support and instruct around the issue of LGBTQ students? What about lavatory facilities? Locker rooms? How are you going to protect and inform?”

The teachers looked at each other. The 7th grade teacher said, ”Um, we have no authority over lavatories or locker rooms. We’ll have to refer that to the principal, who’s not here tonight unfortunately. The 9th grade teacher added, ”Middle school teachers teach specific subjects, I teach English, Mr. McGuire here teaches Social Studies, and so forth. This question should be for the Health Education teacher, who unfortunately is not here tonight.”

The room of parents, already murmuring at the question, broke out loud at the answer. ”Not an answer!” someone called out. ”This is important!” ”You’re dodging!” ”What century are you from?”

“Or-derrrrrr Or-der!!! Please ladies and gentlemen!”  Judy Davidson, the PTA president stepped up to the microphone. ”Is there a motion that this discussion be explored in committee with the school principal, teachers, and interested parents and a report back to the Association be made before our next meeting in September?”

Sanford raised his hand and called out, ”I so motion!”

A hand went up in the back and a voice called out, ”I second!”

“All in favor?”

A huge” Aye!” filled the room.

“Against?” Silence. Parents looked around the room and then at their watches.

“Motion is carried. Meeting is adjourned!”

Over the sound of clattering folding chairs the PTA president called out, ”Thank you all for coming!”

Eddie took a deep breath. Now was the time he was supposed to ask Sydney for a favor to help with his campaign for Highway Supervisor. But he was trapped next to Ella, two seats away from Sydney. Nowhere near close enough to ask for a favor.

The two couples stood up. Ella was asking Sydney about Doug. Sanford stepped aside to let them chat and moved next to Eddie. The situation was worse than ever.

“Some meeting.” Eddie felt grumpy. Things were not going as planned. It had seemed so simple back there on the porch with Ella — just ask Sydney after the meeting if she had any ideas to help him get the nomination for Highway Supervisor.

“Pretty interesting finale, I’d say.” Sanford looked at Eddie. Something was on his mind, definitely. ”So, what’s up Eddie?”

Eddie paused. Maybe Sanford was the one to ask.

“Well, you know I’m trying for Highway Supervisor. And I’m in a stall. Not making enough waves. I go door-to-door with my flyers, but is that doing me any good? No way to tell. Until it’s too late. I decided I need some fresh ideas. So, Ella —”

“I have an idea,” Sanford looked at Eddie seriously.”You should go to the baseball game I coach this Saturday and speak to the crowd.”

“How? Why?”

“It’s the big playoff for the season. Everybody is going to be there. They are there for their kids. Their kids go to school by bus. They want safe roads, working signal lights, rapid snow removal, standard signage—”

“Signs are county, not town…”

“Whatever. You get what I’m saying? The parents will be at the game. You can meet and greet just like you are doing now only you are going where the people are. If it goes well, go to supermarkets, the train station, bus depot, church services — as many as you can before the primary and meet parents, working people, seniors. See where I’m going with this?”

Eddie thought about the hours he had spent trudging door to door. He sighed. ”I get it. More efficient.” He brightened. ”Maybe I’ll see some of the people I met door-to-door. That would be good! I like it! Good idea, Sanford!”

Sanford McClure looked pleased. ”Come to the game on Saturday. I’ll introduce you to the umpire and you can do your thing.”

Sanford and Eddie had dropped behind their wives. They caught up with them in the parking lot just as Ella was saying, ”Thanks again, Sydney! Say hello to Doug and Nancy for me.”

Sydney smiled and joined her husband. ”Let’s talk soon! Good night, you guys!”

On the way home Eddie and Ella were lost in their own thoughts. They both smiled simultaneously. Then looked at each other and laughed.


Sanford and Sydney McClure came home through the side door to the kitchen. Sanford headed for the family room to catch up on the Oakland A’s game against Texas. Sydney called from the bottom of the stairs, ”Nancy? Got a minute? I have an idea I think you can help with.”

Nancy was reading on her bed with Mischief the family beagle by her side. She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and called back, ”Sure, Mom! Want me to come down?”

“I’ll come up!” A minute later, Sydney’s head appeared around the doorway.

“I have an idea I think you can help me with.”

“Sure, Mom. What’s up?”

“After the PTA meeting tonight, Palmer’s mother asked me to think of a way to help her husband who’s running for Highway Supervisor.”

“I heard. From Palmer. He goes out with his dad and hands out fliers to people. Sounds boring.”

“Maybe. Eddie — Mr. Eddy — is not reaching enough people going door-to-door. And he’s up against Peggy DeGregorio’s dad who’s already the Highway Supervisor. Mr. Eddy is what they call the primary challenger. Plus, Mr. DeGregorio has the whole party machine behind him.”

“Not good, right? But what do you want me to do about it? This feels like grownup stuff.”

“Well, you are going into middle school in September and you are becoming a young woman. You need to know how our elections work. Plus, if Greta can raise awareness for climate change, you can rally for Eddie.”

“’Rally for Eddie!’ I like that!”

“Mrs. Eddy tells me there is going to be a primary debate in July and I offered to help promote it. I want to start a Twitter account and energize Mr. Eddy’s Facebook page. So I need photos. Do you think you could help? You got a nice iPhone for your birthday and you are a good photographer. I’ll need photos of Eddie, his family, the roads and streets around Crawford, like that.”

“Cool! I can do that!” Nancy thought for a minute. ”I’ve got some pics from last winter. That big snowstorm. And the ones from last spring when we caught Doug and Hale at the bank…”

“Maybe not the bank ones, but the winter ones, definitely. You see where I’m going with this?” Sydney didn’t know that she was mimicking Sanford’s case to Eddie earlier that evening.

“Sure, Mom. It’ll be fun. Can I get Palmer to help? When do we start?”

Sydney looked out the window. Dusk was falling and a gentle breeze was just starting to dispel the brazen heat of the day. ”As soon as we can. The primary is August 16.”

Nancy jumped up. ”I’ll start right away!”

“This absolutely cannot interfere with your final exams. Start after that. I’ll catch up with Palmer’s mom tomorrow.”


That night, Sydney lay across the bed and let the AC play over her. It was way too hot for early June. They usually only used the air conditioner in August to cool the room off, then would let the night air do the rest.

Sanford came into the room brushing his teeth. ”I told Edy to ome to the yame swaraday.”


Sanford returned after rinsing his mouth.”Because I want him to speak to the parents at the game about running for Highway Supervisor.”

Sydney sat up. ”That’s brilliant, Sanford!”

“Why, thank you, dear!”

“Ella asked me to help Eddie, too. I’m going to promote his being at the debate.”

Sanford sat on the edge of the bed. ”So that’s what you and Ella had your heads together about. That is truly brilliant, Syd.” Leaning over he whispered,”Can we pick up where we left off in the car this evening?”


Somewhat later Sanford drew the sheet over her and got up to turn the air conditioner off.



“I would wait to talk to Ella until after Eddie goes to the game on Saturday. We should hear what he has to say and how he comes across.”



Early Friday morning, the phone rang. Ella wiped her hands on her apron and answered, ”Ella Eddy! Good morning!”

“Ella! It’s Sydney! Are you free this morning for coffee at my house? I want to fill you in on ideas for Eddie’s campaign.”

Ella thought for a moment.”Why, yes. But I should be back by 12:30 when Palmer comes home for lunch.”

“Palmer doesn’t eat at school?”

“He’s got allergies and we don’t want to risk it.”

“Makes sense. How about 10 o’clock?”

“Wonderful! I’ll be there at 10!”

Sydney hung up and wandered into the breakfast room coffee cup in hand.

Ella hung up and began assembling the ingredients for a very easy coffee cake with cinnamon sugar topping.

At 10, the doorbell rang and there was Ella, a freshly baked coffee cake resting like a crown on the palms of her hands.

“Hello, Ella! That smells wonderful! Come on in. I’ll make coffee.”

The two women went into the kitchen and while Sydney started the coffee and set up cups, plates, forks and spoons, milk and sugar, she explained how she and Nancy discussed promoting the debate, that is, the Candidate Forum, with a Twitter account the night before.

Ella followed closely. Palmer had explained Facebook and Twitter to her saying that they were for old people. That kids used Instagram and SnapChat. Armed with this and other dubious knowledge, she ventured,”Why, won’t you need ‘followers’ to get the word out? Is there a way to advertise for ‘followers’?”

Sydney looked admiringly at her friend. You just never knew with Ella. She seemed so old fashioned, but every once in a while…”You are absolutely right, Ella. Should we spend 10 or 20 dollars on some ads?”

“Of course!” Ella looked down at her coffee cup thinking. ”All this is leading up to the primary, right? Getting the word out and all. Doesn’t it seem like we need a Big Event right before the day to remind people to vote for Eddie? How about a picnic in Crawford Park – Eddie’s home base? August will be 10 years Eddie’s been at Parks. It could be an anniversary celebration. Come one, come all!”

Sydney remembered how last spring when Doug and Hale went missing, it was Ella that came up with the best idea how to find them. Now she’d done it again.

Sydney sat back looking at her friend. ”Ella, you are a marvel. A marvel!! That’s perfect. I can’t wait to tell Sanford —oh!”

“Oh, what?”

“I think I promised not to do anything – or tell anyone – until after the Sanford’s baseball game on Saturday.”

“Sanford’s game? Why?”

“Cause Sanford has arranged to have Eddie make a speech to the crowd. Reach more people that way.”

Ella shook her head in wonder. ”That is so generous. And what you are doing is so generous.” She looked at her friend affectionately. ”Sydney, you and I are so different. Some would say like night and day. But when you are friends being different doesn’t matter does it. Friendship does.”

Sydney and Ella smiled at each other. Sydney helped herself to another piece of the still warm coffee cake.

Suddenly she said, ”Ella, let’s go to the game on Saturday. Not tell anyone. See what happens.”

Ella’s eyes widened. ”Why, that would be something wouldn’t it. Alright. You’re on!”

Then the conversation turned to the advent of middle school for Palmer and Nancy, how Doug was doing and how Ella noticed that Hale looked like he was starting a beard. She just made it back by 12:30 to make Palmer’s lunch.


That night the Eddys were having Friday dinner. The whole family. Eddie, Ella, Hale, Palmer, even Lizzy Eddy, were ranged around the kitchen table. Which wasn’t a kitchen table, really, but a genuine picnic table where you had to step over the seat to get your legs underneath. Six wood planks for the table part and two on each side for seats. Eddie sat in an armchair at one end and Ella took the first seat on the side of the picnic table closest to the stove.

Eddie was holding forth. ”So I go up to a house over on Lowey Street this afternoon after work. White house with big windows. Nice place. They had one of those video doorbells. I press the button. Nothing.”

Hale looked up.”Ma, any more biscuits?”

“Yes. Don’t interrupt your father, Hale.”

Ella refilled the basket from the baking sheet cooling on the stove top.

“So…” Eddie continued, ”I wait. It was hotter today then — well, you know.”

“Hotter than what, Dad?” This was Palmer. ”Hotter than two hamsters farting in a wool sock?”


“Aw, Mom. Just a joke.” Palmer commenced gnawing on a crispy fried chicken leg.

“Ahem!” Eddie cleared his throat for attention. ”I hear giggles on the other side of the door. I dig out my bandana and wipe my face. More giggles. Finally, I say, ‘Look.’ Get it Ella? Look? Video doorbell?”

“We get it, Dad.” Lizzie at 18 was proud of her existential ennui.

“So I say, looking into the doorbell, I say, ‘Look. I just want to introduce myself. I’m Eddie Eddy and I’m campaigning to get the nomination for Highway Supervisor.’ I hear loud laughter. But no one answers the door.

“I was vexed, Ella. It was so hot and I thought I heard a rumble of thunder. So I turn away and all of a sudden the door opens and they—they was kids, golldarnit—no parents in sight. They let a Great Dane out who goes for me at speed. Barely got back in the car. Dropped about twenty fliers.”

Ella looked concerned. The rest of the family was convulsed with laughter. Hale hooted so hard he blew a mouthful of iced tea towards Lizzie who was rocking back and forth with tears in her eyes. Palmer smiled. He’s been on those door-to-door jaunts with his dad and could picture the scene perfectly.

“14 Lowey Street, Dad?” he said. ”If so, I know those kids. They were in my class last year. Tough nuts, those guys.”


“He means nut as in peanut, Mom!” Lizzie sighed. ”Can I be excused, please? All this is getting to me.” She untangled herself from the picnic table and sauntered outside to the porch.

Eddie sat deep in thought, visibly reliving the scene. He looked over at his wife wearily.

In the silence, Hale got up and mumbled to his mom, ”Going out. Back later.”

Palmer just sat and listened.

“I spoke to Sanford McClure at the PTA meeting last night. He said I should go to the baseball game he coaches on Saturday and meet people there.” Eddie leaned both arms on the picnic table. ”I don’t know. Maybe trying for the nomination is not my thing.”

Ella reached over and stroked his arm. ”Ed, you’ve put a lot into this so far. Don’t be discouraged. Sanford’s idea is a good one. You didn’t think much of asking for help but now he’s helping. Go. See what happens.” Ella smiled one of those secret wifely smiles. ”I’m almost positive things will turn out right.”

As Palmer watched his parents, he knew he needed to think of something to help his dad out.


Saturday’s game day arrived. The two teams were the best in the league and their rivalry brought out parents and friends, relatives, and friends of relatives, until the stands were packed.

As coach, Sanford McClure took the microphone and addressed everyone from the mound. ”I want you to meet my friend and neighbor Edward Eddy who has thrown his hat in the race for Highway Supervisor. He’s here to say hello to everyone and lend his support to the two best teams in the county. Eddie, do you have a few words for everyone?”

Eddie was standing on the sidelines scanning the crowd for anyone he had given fliers to going door-to-door. He thought he had spotted a few when Sanford calling his name cut into his thoughts. He looked around and trotted out to the mound thinking,”Okay this is what I asked for…” Taking the microphone from Sanford and taking a deep breath, he shouted out,”Hi, everyone!” and stopped dead at the sound of his own voice came booming back over the loud speaker.”Um, hi,” he said lamely. Taking courage, he started again.”Hi! I’m Ed Eddy. Folks call me Eddie Eddy. Funny name, huh?”

Someone in the stands laughed. Then others caught on. Laughter sprinkled though the stands. ”Start with a joke,” Eddie thought. ”Get ‘em on board.”

“Well, I hope you will remember it. Eddie Eddy. I’m going for the nomination for Highway Supervisor.”

Eddie began to warm to his task amplifying his door-to-door pitch to stadium level. “You all drove your cars here, right?” A couple of yeahs came back from the crowd. ”On the way here you saw the faded road markings. Hit the bumps from uneven blacktop patches and crumbled roadbeds.” More yeahs. ”How about those streetlights out near the entrance to the Safeway on old Route 35? I’d say that is downright dangerous!” Eddie started becoming passionate. ”And what about the traffic light at the intersection of Bank and Broad? Why is it always blinking caution?” The crowd was now fully aroused.

“You know, folks, Highway has more than 100 people in the department with an average salary of over $80 thousand a year. Add to that road equipment like graders and snowplows and maintenance and materials – gas and oil for the trucks and salt for the roads, you come up with a taxpayer burden of more than $11 million.”

The crowd began to murmur darkly. Eddie intuitively realized he was stirring people up maybe a little too much. So he backpedaled a bit.

“Now I don’t begrudge Highway the budget or the salaries – very, very good money, by the way — but are our roads in good shape? I say, NO!” The crowd roared back”NO!”

“Let’s make Highway work for you! I’m running for Supervisor to make sure that happens. The primary is August 16th. Please come out and vote for me.”

The crowd started to cheer, when Eddie realized he’d left out an important point he’d always made when going door-to-door. ”And! And!” he cried out over the crowd, ”My opponent has been Supervisor for more than eight years. It’s time for a change! Time to make the most of taxpayer investment in the Highway Department! Crawford’s highways and roads! You can by voting for me Tuesday, August 16th!”

The crowd hurrahed and whistled and clapped. Someone began chanting ”Go Eddie!” It was like a political rally, which it sort of was except that for the next hour and a half the center of attention would be two dozen boys and girls under five feet tall determinedly playing baseball to the delight and anguish of their parents.

With the crowd still cheering, Sanford took the mic and said firmly, ”Now all stand for the National Anthem.” And that was that.

Eddie was exhausted and energized at the same time. He’s never experienced anything like this before. He went and sat in the stands, slowly returning to post speech reality.

“Good speech, sir!” One man leaned over offering to shake hands. ”You’re right. The Highway Department needs better oversight.”

Eddie shook the man’s hand and gave him one of his fliers—folded up so it wouldn’t blow away in the breeze.

“When’s the primary?” asked a young woman with a toddler on her knee.

“Tuesday, August 16th. Would you like a flyer?”

“Thanks! And one for our neighbor,” said her husband who had been listening in. ”We live near Bank and Broad.”

The rest of the afternoon passed in a dream. Later, Eddie remembered standing for the national anthem after his speech but didn’t remember singing it. He remembered the homer in the 6th inning by a 10-year old girl who ran like the wind but couldn’t remember who won.

Walking to his car after the game, more people came up to say hello or shake hands. He gave them all flyers. He looked around for Sanford who seemed to have disappeared. Maybe because the team he coached might have won and they were celebrating. Or maybe they lost and he was commiserating.

After dinner that night, Eddie sat on the porch with Ella. She was fanning herself with a magazine Palmer had left out. The cover of”Gaming Aficionado” featured ”Bill Drake: Clash of the Titans Mastermind” and ”Tips for Monetizing Fortnite (You’d Be Surprised!)”

“Ella, there was nothing like it!” Eddie had finished recounting his amazing afternoon and reached for his bandana. It was seven p.m. and as hot as ever. ”I really think I may have a chance.”

Ella gave her husband another one of those wifely secret smiles. ”I think you will,” she said.”Wait and see.”

Earlier that Saturday, Palmer suddenly decided to go and check out the baseball game for himself. He arrived early and sat up in the top row of the stands. He saw Mr. McClure arrive and huddle with his team. He saw his dad arrive and start looking around. Palmer scrunched down and pretended to fuss with his shoelaces. When he looked up his dad was talking with Mr. McClure.

Then he saw his mother and Mrs. McClure come in through the back entrance along third base. They were looking furtive, as Hale would put it. ”Sneaky, I’d say.” he thought. They sat behind a large family, mom, dad, some folks what looked like they could be aunts and uncles, and an assortment of small kids all squirmy and restless. ”Good cover, Mom.” Palmer thought.

Someone sat down next to him and gave him a shove. He turned ready to be annoyed, but it was Nancy McClure.

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?”

“Checking out my dad. I heard he was going to hand out flyers at the game.”

“More than that! My dad’s going to introduce your dad and your dad’s going to make a speech.”

“My dad make a speech!? That’ll be good. Though he does make some pretty good ones at the dinner table.”

“And…and! My mom started a Twitter account to help him get to word out. And — wait, is that Hale?”

Palmer followed Nancy’s pointing finger. There was his brother Hale —and Nancy’s brother Doug— lounging along in the outfield headed toward the bleachers.

“Who’s taking care of my twin brothers?” Nancy wondered to herself. ”Everyone else is here.”

“Look! My dad’s heading out to the mound!”

Eddie’s first words were really loud. Nancy cringed. Then, when Eddie started again and made fun of his name, someone in the stands started to laugh. ”I’d recognize that laugh anywhere, Hale!” Palmer thought. But the laugh caught on in the crowd and he could see his father visibly relax.

Nancy turned to Palmer admiringly. ”He’s really pretty good!”

“It’s all straight from his fliers.”

They watched as the crowd started to get worked up. Palmer saw his mother and Mrs. McClure shouting ”Yeah!” as loudly as the next guy.

After they stood for the national anthem and the game started. In between spurts of action on the field, Palmer picked up the conversation.

“You going to help your mom with Twitter?” he asked.

“Yea. I’m taking pictures of the mess the roads are in.”

Just then, lanky boy Palmer recognized of Boy Scouts hit a pop fly. They stood up to cheer.

“Like last winter,” Nancy continued, ”when they took so long to remove the snow and all the cars were blocked in. Anyway, you want to help?”

Palmer started to say ”Sure.” when the crowd roared as a pudgy kid in the outfield caught a fly ball and the out meant his team had won and the game was over.

Everyone started leaving the stands. Palmer stood hands in pockets fingering the mysterious butterfly hair clip he he’d found. Unthinking he took it out rolling it around in his fingers. “What’s that?” Nancy pointed to the hair clip.

“Um. Nothing really.” Palmer closed his hand over the clip.

“Wait. That’s my hair clip! It went missing a couple weeks ago. How did you get it?”

“I really don’t know,” Palmer said honestly.”It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later.” Maybe,” he thought to himself.


Palmer sitting in front of his computer logged into Eddie Eddy’s Twitter feed.

Profile name: Edward Eddy for Crawford Highway Supervisor

600 followers 72 Following

Underneath was a post from Eddie Eddy himself.

Edward Eddy @VoteForEddie – July 2

Happy Independence Day tomorrow, everyone! I’ll be at Crawford Stadium for the All-Star Fourth of July game and fireworks. Stop by and say hello!

12 replies 16 retweets 134 likes

Dalman Schmidt @dschmidt132

We’ll be there! Can’t miss it. Hope DeGregorio keeps the streetlights on til the game is over!

Tweeting as Dalman Schmidt, Palmer hit the Reply button and the reply count went from 12 to 13.

He logged out and logged back in as Mary Jacobs.

Mary Jacobs @bestbabyall

Whoa! @dschmidt132! Let’s keep it clean! All we gotta do is go to the game and vote on August 16.

14 replies.

Just as Palmer, posting as Mary Jacobs, hit reply, the feed updated and a photo was posted by Barry St. James @bigsaint. It was of a gaping pothole. ”Add this to your Pothole Perils list!” the post said. ”At Main and Claremont. An axle breaker for sure!”

Palmer quickly logged out and back in as Harold Davis @harolddavis68 replied to @bigsaint, ”Saw that. Be careful!” Then he switched to Messenger and texted Nancy McClure. ”Great photo @bigsaint!” Nancy texted back with a thumbs up emoticon.

And so it went. Each evening from about 7 to 9 pm, Palmer logged on and off as three or four different people and Nancy posted photos for Pothole Peril. Sydney wrote tweets for Eddie to post when he got home from work. And Ella bought ads encouraging Crawford to vote in the primary, send in photos for Pothole Peril, and, as of this week, to have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Sydney McClure’s Twitter campaign was well under way.

Hale Eddy was conspicuous for his lack of interest in his father’s campaign. Lizzy Eddy was home pretty much to sleep and eat and then back to work and beauty school over in Sanders about 10 miles away.

So it was something of a surprise when Lizzy sat down next to Palmer as he logged off Twitter that night.

“I know something about Patrick DeGregorio,” she said.

“Huh?” Palmer was still in Twitter-land.

“I told Dad but he didn’t get it.”

“What did you tell him?”

“That Patrick DeGregorio and his crowd systematically discriminate against gay people.”

“How do you know that?”

“I go to cosmetology school, okay? Let’s just say that’s one place where you can find out stuff like this. Guy in my cut and color class is working at Highway this summer and is the target of everything they can think of. And he knows that the Supervisor is in on it all the way.”

At that point, Hale poked his head in.”Know what I just heard? Duffy’s dad is getting his driveway blacktopped for free. By way of guess who?”


Sanford McClure sat back and looked around the table at Eddie, Ella and Sydney.

“These are serious allegations,” he said. ”Sexual orientation discrimination is a developing area of the law and appropriating of public property for private use is prohibited by town ordinance §705.63 Prohibited Uses of Town Property. Both are actionable — but not by you Eddie. It would be the end of your campaign if you brought unproven charges against DeGregorio or his guys. We need a third party investigation that you can refer to.”

“Can you do that?”

“Nope. I’m too close to your campaign, Eddie. But, I’ll talk to Harry Styles our legislator and see what can be done.”

“Um. Nancy just got some video of the driveway being paved. Town truck right in the frame.”

“Hold off, Syd, till it goes public.”

“I guess that would be the same for Lizzy’s friend from school. He said he’d make a statement.” Ella looked worried.

“He needs to file a complaint with the town. You know, be a whistleblower.”

“What’s next?” Eddie asked.

“You just keep doin’ what you’re doin’ until you hear from me.”

Ella turned to Eddie.”This makes it all a little bit different doesn’t it.” He nodded, his forehead crinkled with concern.


As summer rolled on toward the debate (ahem, the Candidate Forum) and the primary. Eddie had shown up at the Fourth of July ball game (Crawford Ravens won 7-4), the Home Depot on Saturdays, supermarkets after work, and Denny’s Bagel Shop on Sunday mornings handing out flyers and handshakes, delivering what he now called his ”Stadium Speech” to anyone who would listen.

The Thursday before the Candidate Forum, Sanford called Eddie after dinner. ”I’ve got news and a plan,” he said. ”Can you and Ella drop by?”

Sanford, Eddie, Ella and Sydney sat around the McClure’s kitchen table for the second time in a month. Ella had brought a magnificent lemon meringue pie with droplets of caramelized sugar glistening on perfectly browned peaks of meringue. Sanford poured coffee while Sydney cut through the drift of meringue and the tart lemon custard to the flaky crust serving up a slice to each.

“Harry Styles is taking up the investigation about harassment and the section 705 violation. But there won’t be any ammunition for you Eddie at the debate unfortunately. There probably won’t be any news until after the elections in November.”

“But misuse of town property! We all know it’s happening! And we’ve got Nancy’s video!”

“Eddie, that video has been handed over to Styles. It’s evidence for the investigation now.”

“Well, shoot.” Eddie glowered, stabbing a forkful of pie. ”What I’ve been telling people all along and I can’t talk about the fact that it’s being looked into?”

“Sorry, Eddie. But this is bigger than a talking point. If Harry can get corroboration, DeGregorio could be permanently out of a job.”

“Bah, his cronies in the Town will cover for him and he’ll get off scott-free. It’s a club and they are all in it.” Eddie was disgusted. He was hoping this bit of detective work would put him on the map as a straight shooter, not part of the Town machine politics.

“Wait and see, Eddie. Let’s wait and see,” Sanford looked at his friend and sighed.


Even with the emerging scandals, all the activity on Twitter, Eddie’s tireless visits to public gathering places, and the looming debate, Ella had not forgotten her idea to have a Big Event just before the primary.

She got Eddie to pull some strings at Parks and get the pavilion picnic area reserved, the one with the roof shelter in case of rain. She reached out to the parents of Lizzy, Hale and Palmer’s friends inviting them to come and asking if they’d bring their friends and neighbors. Hale offered to supply music from his collection of tracks on his phone.”Just no metal, okay, Hale?”

She asked the manager of King’s Supermarket to donate hot dogs and buns.”Anything to shake up the Highway Department,” he said. Gene Murray, the manager at United Discount Beer and Soda gave her a couple of cases of Sprite and threw in two cases of Dr. Pepper saying he was sick of the way the Highway Department handled his calls for snow removal.”I got a business to run!” he grumbled.

Mary Deare, Ella’s friend from high school, ran the Hallmark Store. Rummaging through the backroom, they came up with a variety of napkins and plates from discontinued designs. Jack-in-the-Box plates and napkins, pumpkin plates. Mary pointed to packages of Little Miss Sunshine cups and napkins.”Ever see that movie?” she asked. An avowed film buff, she never lost a chance to expound upon her knowledge. ”Steve Carell got a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. He plays an unemployed, gay professor.”

“Um, no.” Ella held up Batman and Robin paper plates. ”Okay to use these? Batman’s still popular.”

“Sure, go ahead.” Mary continued, ”Though Nathan Lane in Birdcage scored all kinds of awards. What a movie. Robin Williams’ dance was hilarious. See that?”

“No. How about these cups with pinecones on them?”

“Take ‘em.” Mary rubbed her short crop of hair. ”There are serious titles like Midnight Cowboy, Death in Venice, and Brokeback Mountain — Heath Ledger, Ella! — it’s a growing list of mainstream movies featuring LGBT themes.”

“There’s drama in real life too, Mary. That young fella in the Highway Department we learned about.” Ella found a stash of just plain white napkins. ”How about these?”

“I wondered where they went. They’re mine. But go ahead. I didn’t miss them, so they are yours. What’s the deal with the fella?”

“Why, I guess I’m not supposed to talk about it. What with Eddie running for Supervisor and all, but we heard about someone that works at the Highway Department and because he’s gay, he’s been the butt of nasty practical jokes, called him a homo, a pervert, laughed at, made fun of — all kinds of stuff. There’s a complaint filed with the town. Movies are one thing, but this is real life.”

Mary stopped. ”What’s that now? Queer folk at the Highway?” She clenched her teeth and looked very fierce. ”Ella, that’s discrimination. I know a bunch of people that would be very displeased to hear that. Those guys at Highway can be rough. I know, my girlfriend worked there and had to quit.”

“Well, we’re supposed to keep it quiet ‘til after the debate on the 14th.”

“This is meaningful to me, Ella. You know I’m gay, right?”

“Why, yes, Mary. I’ve known you’re gay since high school.” Ella calmly went on gathering plastic spoons and forks into the bag she brought with her.”Thanks for all this, Mary. You are a good friend. I think Christopher – ah, that is to say, the whistleblower – will win out in the end.”

Mary watched her friend put the bags in the back of her car. ”Ya just never know with that woman,” she mused.


3:00 PM

Eddie was getting ready to leave for the debate – ah, the Candidate Forum. Ella had insisted that he wear a jacket and tie. ”Makes you look in charge,” she said. Eddie disagreed. He was comfortable in a polo shirt. It’s what all the guys wore at work and he was running to work not sit in an air conditioned office and talk on the phone. Eddie had tucked a polo shirt in his bag.

“Hope George turned up the A/C over at the community center,” he said running his fingers around the inside of his collar wrapped in a navy blue tie.

“Of course, he will! Heavens, Eddie!” Ella was irritable with nervousness.

“Yeah, well. Just sayin’”

“Save your ‘Just sayin’ for the debate.”

“All right. All right. We’re both jumpy. Let’s just sit together on the porch together before we leave.”

Palmer was sitting on the porch step when they came outside. His shirt was ironed and he tied his tie himself with appreciable skill.

Hale was nowhere to be found and Lizzy was at work until seven.

“Some family support.” Grumbling, Eddie sat down in his favorite chair.

“Now, Eddie,” Ella smoothed her dress and adjusted the pearls at her throat — her mother’s pearls only worn on terrifically special occasions.

“Here comes Mr. McClure,” Palmer remarked.

An SUV swung silently into the driveway. The driver’s side window slid down and Sanford McClure called out, ”Hop in! We’re headed over to Crawford Community Center. Save you a drive!”

“Why, how nice of you!” Ella stood up and looped her handbag over her shoulder.

“Ella, I want to go by myself.”

“Oh, Eddie. Sanford’s being nice. Come on.” Ella looked closely at Eddie’s stubborn face. ”Ah, Palmer? Go say hello to Mr. McClure, would you?”

She looked hard at her husband. Then her face softened and she bent and kissed his forehead. ”Alright, dear. See you there. I’m rooting for you.”

Palmer and Ella got into the SUV. Eddie could hear the bubble of conversation through the Sanford’s open window as he backed out onto the road.

Eddie sat quietly after they left. He thought about the hours he had spent going door-to-door. The speech he made at the baseball game, the people he shook hands with at the train station. And outside King’s Supermarket. How Patrick DeGregorio had outspent him with his giveaway combs and”DeGregorio Knows Roads” signs all over town.

Then Eddie thought about the young man that Lizzy knew and how he was treated by the Highway Department because he wasn’t”normal” in their eyes. How paving a residential street included blacktopping supporters’ driveways. The scandals that Patrick and his supporters had so carefully kept under wraps. And Eddie’s plan to confront DeGregorio with this at the debate even though he was sworn not to bring it up.”People gotta know!” he thought.

Eddie looked at his watch. Time to go. He was sweating in his jacket and tie in the August heat.

“Nope! Not gonna do it!” Eddie headed indoors, shed his coat, stripped off his tie and swapped his limp dress shirt for the polo that he felt most comfortable in.

“Now, I’m ready!” he thought. Eddie got into the Honda and headed for the community center.

4:15 PM

The debate was held in the Crawford Public Library’s multipurpose room usually home to craft fairs and piano recitals. Today it was debate central. Not only were Eddie and Patrick DeGregorio on the roster, there were debates scheduled for ward contests, the mayor of Cuttersville, and some state legislators. Eddie and DeGregorio had a half hour near the end of the day.

By that time, there were about 15 people left in the audience looking a little weary but committed. A camera was set up in the back of the room and League of Women Voters volunteers were greeting any late comers with big smiles, voting literature, and index cards for audience questions.

Palmer sat at the end of a row next to his mom who was next to Mr. and Mrs. McClure. Palmer excused himself to use the men’s room and once away from the grownups, he took an index card and wrote his question for the candidates, folded it up and put it in the box with an assortment of other questions from the audience. There. He’d finally done something to help his dad.

At the last minute before the start, a large group arrived some of whom could only have been staunch supporters of Patrick DeGregorio. When the debate started, the room was full. ”Twitter pays off!” Palmer thought seated again next to his mom.

“Good afternoon, everyone.” The League of Women Voters president began. ”Here are the rules of this event. Our moderator, Linsey Raeburn, will first ask the candidates to introduce themselves. Then she will read the questions you have submitted on the index cards. If you have a question, please get a card from our volunteers and put it in the box. The candidates will have two minutes to introduce themselves and, to allow for as many questions as possible, 60 seconds to answer a question and 30 seconds to rebut the statement of the other candidate.

“Ladies and gentlemen, a reminder: This is not a rally. No applause! This is a non-partisan event to help voters decide who to vote for in the primary and the election in November. With that said, welcome to the Candidate Forum! Linsey, please take it from here.”

Some people reflexively started to clap, looked around, and stopped abruptly.

Linsey Raeburn motioned to Eddie. ”You won the coin toss, Mr. Eddy. Please make your opening statement. Two minutes please.”

Eddie stepped up to the microphone. He heard a small gasp from one corner of the audience and realized Ella was seeing him not in a tie and jacket but his comfortable polo shirt. He took a deep breath.

“Hello everyone. I am Edward Eddy. I live over near Crawford Lake with my wife Eloise and our three children, Elizabeth, Hale and Palmer. I’ve worked for the town in the Parks Department for ten years come this August. I’ve been part of the upgrade to Crawford Lake Park with better parking, resurfaced tennis and basketball courts and the designation of Crawford Lake as a wildlife refuge by the state last year.

“Living and working in Crawford, I am on the road every day, all day. For my job and for my family. And I’ve seen our tax dollar appropriation to the Highway Department wasted. How do I know? Take a look around you and see for yourself—disintegrating pavement, worn out road markings, sketchy snow removal, burnt out streetlights, and more.

“The Highway Department has a generous budget, but where is that money going? If named as your candidate for Highway Supervisor, I will make it my first priority to review all procedures and expenditures and put the Highway Department back on track working for you. Thank you.”

Linsey nodded to Eddie.”Thank you, Mr. Eddy. Now Mr. DeGregorio, your opening statement? Two minutes, please.”

Patrick DeGregorio strolled up to the microphone and unhooked it from its mount on the lectern addressing the crowd like a televangelist.

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! Thank you all for coming out today to meet the candidates for our primary and the next election! I applaud the citizens of Crawford for taking the time on a hot summer day to exercise your rights and responsibilities as citizens. Congratulations!”

A smattering of applause.”No applause, please!” Linsey called out.

“I’ve been Highway Supervisor for the last eight years, thanks to your support and trust in me. I have grown the budget allocation each year because I can stand up for you with the town legislature. We have been able to improve the transportation infrastructure in numerous ways including the business district by-pass to get our commuters home quickly. The bus turnaround at the train station to ease passenger pick up and drop off. Widening the shoulders along Route 44, and new plows for two of our four dump trucks.

“My opponent has no experience in highway development or maintenance. Just because he uses the roads in Crawford doesn’t mean he can run a multimillion-dollar department efficiently and manage 100-plus highway workers.

“Let me tell you a little story. My family has been in Crawford since World War II. My father served in Normandy and my brothers went to Viet Nam. My wife and I have been volunteers for the ambulance service and served on the board of the PTA and our church. We are devoted parents of our two children Margaret and Patrick Junior, both Honor Students at Crawford High School.

“When I was growing up in Crawford the roads were dirt. Oiled down each summer with gravel spread on them. In winter, the roads were rutted and icy. If you didn’t have skid chains, you were sunk. Even as a young newspaper boy, I vowed that someday I would make a difference in our highway infrastructure.

“As the years went by, I watched as Crawford’s roads and highways, under my predecessor, our party chairman Ray Duffy, became a vibrant, thriving system for safe travel – not only for vehicles, but pedestrians as well. And I—”

“Time, Mr. DeGregorio!” Linsey pointed to the ticker on the table next to her.

“Just one more thing…” DeGregorio started.

“I’m sorry Mr. DeGregorio, your time is up.” Linsey was curt.” We will now take questions from the audience.” There was a moment while the box of index cards was brought to the front and Patrick DeGregorio took his seat, a dark look on his face. He was unaccustomed to being cut off. There were some murmurs in the audience.

“Quiet, please. Our first question for both candidates. Mr. DeGregorio, how would you manage an overnight snowstorm with little advance warning?”

Patrick DeGregorio turned professorial. ”As you are all aware, the Highway Department is taxpayer funded. Taxpayers that live and work in Crawford. As taxpayers, you expect your roads to be passable under all weather conditions. Snow is no exception. The Department is always ready to respond to weather events winter or summer, but particularly when it comes to snow. Our equipment is the best…”

Eddie was tuning out. Patrick DeGregorio was so…so boring. The room was stuffy and the tension he felt earlier had dissipated now that the Forum had started and left him feeling tired and sleepy. Eddie jerked out of his reverie when he heard Linsey calling his name.

“Mr. Eddie, your response?”

“Ahem. Yes. Thank you. Ah…” Eddie strove to focus. He looked out at the crowd and there was Ella waiting expectantly for his answer. He took a deep breath. ”In my experience, snowstorms generally allow for sufficient warning—if you keep up with the weather reports. But they can change hour by hour. What is forecast as snow can quickly turn to wintry mix or sleet.” Eddie paused, thinking. ”Or rain, for that matter. Anyway, I think taxpayers would expect the Highway Department to always be ready for any weather event that affects travel in Crawford.

“In my view, preparedness goes beyond response to an immediate storm, it goes back to late fall when inspection should be made of tree limbs endangering power lines, road repairs anticipating plowing, and sufficient salt and brine supplies. In the advent of a storm, my first option would be to brine the major streets. That way, whether the snow turns to sleet or even if it never materializes, we have a first response. Brine, by the way, is more cost effective than salt.”

“Thank you, My Eddy.” Patrick DeGregorio’s hand immediately shot up. ”Mr. DeGregorio, you have a reply?”

“Sure do, Linsey. Once again, my opponent shows that he doesn’t have a clue how to run the Highway Department. Brine versus salt? Brine requires special spreading equipment and operator skills as opposed to salt. Salt can be applied both before and after – after, mind you—the storm. Brine is only effective as a pre-treat option – when you have enough time to respond to the arrival of the storm. Which, I think, was the original question, if I recall.”

Eddie looked up and saw Sanford giving him a thumbs up. This was harder than he expected. He thought about when he would break the formal Q and A with his big announcement. But the questions kept coming. DeGregorio expounding on the virtues of the Highway Department, Eddie pointing out inefficiencies and lapses.

“There’s always flooding at the four-way intersection of Route 44 and Dwayne Avenue. If elected or reelected Supervisor, what will you do about it?”

“Why do we always see three highway crew working and five more just standing around?”

“I want to know what your response time is for reports of dead animals on the roads.”

“How would you change the traffic pattern at Broadway and Cumberland? When Crawford High School lets out, the intersection is a nightmare.”

5:10 PM

Palmer was getting squirmy waiting for his question to be asked. Suppose they didn’t get to it in time? Or decided it was too controversial? He looked around the room and saw Mary Deare his mom’s friend sitting near the back. He wondered what would happen when she heard his question.

DeGregorio was glib with is answers, laughing off some of the questions saying they answered themselves. Eddie was serious, making the most of his 60 second replies and when he could the 30 second rebuttals.

“Our time is almost up,” Linsey announced.”We have time for just one or two more questions. This for Mr. DeGregorio first. ‘I have heard there is a whistleblower complaint filed with the Town about LGBTQ discrimination. Where do you stand on sexual equality?’”

Dead silence.


“I’ll repeat, Mr. DeGregorio. The card reads: I have heard there is a whistleblower complaint filed with the Town about LGBTQ discrimination. Where do you stand on sexual equality?”

Mary Deare and several others hooted.”Yeah! What about that?” An obvious DeGregorio supporter shouted,”Shut up! Let the man speak!”

“SILENCE!” Linsey stood and turned to the crowd. There is no calling from the audience. If you persist you will be ejected. Mr. DeGregorio?”

Patrick DeGregorio cleared his throat. Twice. ”The Town of Crawford has a strict policy on fairness regardless of age, sex, or race. The Highway Department is part of the town so that policy extends perforce to us in the Highway Department as well. As a department we have a cross section of individuals from, ah, several nationalities and, ah, races and we—”

A man next to Mary Deere called out, ”Yeah. But where to you stand?”

“..and we recognize the equal opportunity laws—that is, the equal employment opportunity laws— as do all the departments in the town. My wife and I are churchgoers. As churchgoers, our faith tells us that everyone is equal on this earth and everyone deserves the same opportunity for advancement as anyone else.”

“Thank you, Mr. DeGregorio. Mr. Eddy?”

More calls from the audience. ”You didn’t answer the question!” ”Answer the question!”

“Silence please ladies and gentlemen! Mr. Eddy?”

Eddie didn’t know where that question came from but boy this was his golden opportunity. He stood up and took the microphone.

“I too have heard about inequality – sexual discrimination – at the Highway Department. I have heard that it is going on as we speak. I have asked that the Town investigate the claim that an employee has been harassed because of their sexual identification. That this person has been the subject of callous practical jokes — if you can all these grotesque actions jokes— and that they have to endure a hostile work environment. If elected as your supervisor, I will write up the ringleaders and work to create a department that recognizes employees for the quality of their work, not their color, nationality or sexual preference.”

Part of the audience erupted with applause while others booed vigorously.

Then one man stood up and shouted, ”DeGregorio for Supervisor! Who is the whistleblower! Let’s see the complaint!” In response three women, one of whom was Mary Deare, shouted, ”Gender discrimination is against the law!” ”We need facts!” Another man stood up shouting, ”This is a farce!” when his chair fell backwards on the man seated behind him. That man pushed the chair back knocking the shouter forward into the row in front. After that, the scuffle went general.

Supporters of Patrick DeGregorio quickly headed for the stage, surrounded their candidate, and left by the side door.

Eddie was left standing alone. He looked down and realized he still had the microphone in his hand. He looked out at the crowd and shouted,”EVERYBODY SHUT UP! SHUT UP! BE QUIET! SIT DOWN!!!”

Remarkably, his words had effect. People stopped and stared at the stage long enough for Eddie to say, ”I’ve known about this charge. My daughter learned of it a few weeks ago. I was advised not to say anything because it might hurt people. Well, the cat’s out of the bag and the story is true.

“Also true is that Patrick DeGregorio’s crowd had been paving people’s driveways while resurfacing the roads nearby. The Town has been asked to check into that too.”

Linsey Raeburn aflame with indignation, mounted the stage and took the mic from Eddie.”La-dies and gen-tle-men! Let’s close this forum in a civilized fashion that reflects the non-partisan basis for the event. Mr. Eddy please sit down. Thank you all for coming. Remember to vote on August 16.”

5:30 PM

Joe Burke, the camera operator in the back of the room had originally been tasked to video the candidates on stage, C-SPAN style. But Palmer’s question and the succeeding ruckus was too much to ignore. Video reporting was his dream. He swung the camera on his shoulder and caught the chairs going over, zoomed in on DeGregorio being scuttled out the side door, caught Eddie shouting and his speech, and panned the Crawford Community Center Multipurpose Room now being put to a purpose not intended by the architects. He was in bliss. Just then the reporter from The Crawford News and Journal Inquirer tapped him on the shoulder.

“Want to go up front and get some footage of candidate Eddy for our website?”

Sanford McClure took a look around and deemed it appropriate to get Eddie out of the room before he put his foot in it any further. As he approached the stage so did the reporter and her new cameraman.

“Mr. Eddy! Emily Taggart, Crawford News! Can you tell us more about sex discrimination at the Highway Department?”

Sanford motioned to Eddie with hand swipes at the neck meaning”Quit! Don’t say anything!” But Eddie was on a roll.

“What I know,” Eddie said, ”comes from very reliable sources – the source in fact – that the Highway Department has systematically made life miserable for a person working there this summer. I can’t go into details because, frankly they are too gross for your newspaper audience, but the crew at Highway, DeGregorio included, should be put under investigation. And I believe, again from reliable sources, that that is the case.”

Joe Burke got a nice medium close up of Eddie and Emily with Sanford looking horrified in the background. Then he panned slightly to get Sanford out of the shot and held steady while Emily from The Crawford News tried to get Eddie to name names. Luckily, just in time, Eddie caught sight of Sanford and clammed up.

Ella and Palmer were waiting outside with Sydney McClure when Sanford and Eddie emerged from the side door of the Community Center. Sanford looked concerned, Eddie looked exhausted. They all piled into Sanford’s SUV. ”I’ll get the Honda later,” Eddie said.

“What I want to know,” Sanford growled, ”is who the hell knew enough to ask that question! This is going to be all over the news.”

Palmer slid down in his seat in the back and looked fixedly out the window.


Initially, Eddie was seen as a hero of the Candidate Forum and DeGregorio a machine candidate skulking away from the event rather than face the crowd. But the glow faded as DeGregorio’s supporters started pounding Eddie’s record at Parks on radio talk shows and on social media. They interviewed Eddie’s bartender Bud Rawlins at Pete’s Saloon. ”How drunk would he get?” They somehow found Mrs. Sackett who was not afraid to talk about the condition of the Eddy’s yard. ”They never mow their grass! And for a guy in the Parks Department, really! And that Hale Eddy. He’s a troublemaker. Mark my words.” And so on.

No one took polls on the favorite for Highway Supervisor. The newspaper and the local community college were more interested in the race for mayor of Cuttersville. But Eddie could tell. When he was at the train station or outside the Safeway, people just walked past him where before they would stop and chat. There were more cars with ”DeGregorio Knows Roads” magnetic stickers on their cars. The kind Eddie couldn’t ever afford.

But he stayed the course. What else could he do? At work his buddies said they would vote for him anytime because he was ”true blue,” whatever that meant. At home Ella was quietly supportive and the kids were, well, the kids. Lizzy was busy, Hale removed, and Palmer particularly thoughtful these days.

Despite the to-do at the debate and the fallout from it, the plans for the Big Event moved forward. Ella baked hundreds of cupcakes and decorated them with chocolate frosting and a bright yellow double line curving through the middle. She cooked gallons of sauerkraut and bought giant size mustard and ketchup dispensers at the outlet store. Sydney McClure came up with a four foot banner she had printed at Kinkos that Nancy designed on her laptop. Blue skies and a road with the caption”EDDIE EDDY, 10 YEARS at PARKS, OUR NEXT HIGHWAY SUPERVISOR”.

Now it was two days before the primary. And it was raining buckets on the Big Event.

“This is a waste of time,” Eddie grumbled. ”The whole thing was a waste of time.”

“Now, Eddie..” Ella sighed.

“Don’t ‘Now Eddie’ me! I’m tired of the attacks on me, the grind of getting my name out there. And now that it’s out there, people don’t want anything to do with me. The whole thing was a waste.”

“Well, for my part, I’m committed to the picnic. I’ve got six dozen cupcakes, two gallon-size mustard dispensers and donations from businesses all over town.”

“It’s raining cats and dogs. No one is going to show up. I’m not standing in the rain for nothing.”

“Eddie, your wife and your children are going to be there. They have all given of their time to help you. Even Hale, Eddie. The McClures are coming and they deserve a huge thanks. You think of one more speech and then you can relax.”

Eddie looked at his wife. Humble, able, positive, patient. A man was lucky to find a partner like her. He smiled and said quietly. ”Ok, Ella. I’ll be there.”

All morning Lizzy and her friends had been driving around town in the rain with an increasingly limp banner that said ”PICNIC IN CRAWFORD PARK TODAY FROM 1 TO 4.” Then in smaller print ”EDDIE EDDY FOR HIGHWAY SUPERVISOR.”

And still the rain came down.

At the park, Ella was getting things set up.”Lucky we got the pavilion for today,” she mused. ”When the sun comes out, it will be steamy.”

Eddie was lighting the two rain-soaked barbeque grills. ”The sun won’t come out and neither will anyone else.”


“Sorry.” Eddie squirted more fire starter on the briquettes.

The McClures arrived early wearing hooded ponchos with water streaming down their backs.

“Hello, Eddie!” Sanford was in a terrific mood. He had a bright red T-shirt with ”My Way (f)or the Highway” on it and a baseball cap to match. ”Great day! We’re in the home stretch now!”

“You can’t be serious Sanford. It’s pouring. My name is spread all over town as a do-nothing drunk unfit for office and you think it’s a great day. Well, I don’t.”

“That’s all right, Eddie. You are allowed to feel down. It’s always the case when you work so hard and take such a drubbing from your opponent. Take heart. If nothing else, this will all be over soon for better or — for better!” Sanford chucked at his joke. ”Come on let’s hang up this nifty banner Nancy made.”

While the banner was being hung, Nancy and Doug began helping Ella set up the refreshments. Then Doug and Hale got the music going.

“What do you think your dad’s chances are, Hale?”


“Um. Okay. Put this speaker here?”


Around 1:30 the rain subsided into a dreary drizzly mist. Four cars pulled up and neighbors of the Eddy’s got out. Then folks from Parks arrived. All in all about 20 people for a picnic expecting 100 or more. But the hot dogs were roasting and the cupcakes were tempting and there was plenty of Dr. Pepper and Batman napkins to go around.

Mary Deare and her friends arrived. Then Lizzy and her pals from beauty school. The music revved up and it started to feel like a party.

Sanford McClure was tending the grill. He suddenly gave a hearty shout of laughter. ”Hey, Eddie! Whether you win or not, this is a celebration of how hard you worked to get here!” He swing around to the crowd, ”Hey everybody!” Like Nancy once said, you could hear Sanford McClure into the next county. ”This is a celebration of Eddie Eddy. Champion of diversity, defender of integrity, lover of nature. Family man. True grit bedrock of Crawford! Let’s have a cheer!”

Fifty people filled their lungs and let for a bellow. ”Hooray! Hooray for Eddie Eddy!”

Just about then, Nancy noticed a bunch of cars just pulled up on the park rim road and people started getting out. But they didn’t look very friendly. ”Dad? What’s that?”

Sanford looked where she was pointing. ”Uh-oh.” he said. ”Nan, get out your cell phone. Got it charged? Okay. Open your phone app and when I give you a signal dial 9-1-1.”

Ten muscular looking men were striding toward the pavilion. ”Where’s Eddy?” One called out. Steadily they walked toward the picnickers.

The leader came up to Sanford. ”You’re a cheat and a liar, Eddie Eddy and we’re here to show you how.”

Sanford let out another hoot of laughter. ”I’m not Eddie! Just because I have a colorful T-shirt and look like I can take charge and run the Highway Department better than your boy? You got the wrong guy!”

The lead thug looked around and zeroed in on Eddie. ”There he is! That’s his face from the TV news.” The men surrounded Eddie.

One guy stuck his face in Eddie’s, ”You’re a gay lover, snowflake.” ”Yeah, Eddy the pansy!” shouted another brandishing a meaty fist. Others sing-songed, ”Eddie Eddy! Eddie Eddy!” The leader pushed Eddie shouting, ”Yuh gonna lose this vote, okay? And yuh gonna go home and forget that yuh ever mentioned investigations, right? The party’s over. Got it?”

Eddie wasn’t small, but he wasn’t burly like these guys. Yet, he took a moment and looked his accuser in the eye. All the work and abuse he put up with to run for Highway Supervisor flashed through his mind. Slowly and deliberately he made a fist and swung as hard as he could at the lead guy’s nose.

Sanford watched in horror and amazement. He turned and gave Nancy the signal then waded into the crowd of thugs to help his friend.

By the time the police arrived the uninvited guests had been subdued by the overwhelming press of Eddie’s coworkers at Parks. They were sitting in a row on a picnic bench with the most intimidating members of Parks standing guard over them. One fellow had a burgeoning black eye and another was wiping his nose on his shirt leaving blood stains behind.

The police were trailed by two reporters and a camera operator from Channel 64 (“News from Right Next Door and Beyond!”) who was already filming the aftermath of the fracas. One of the reporters stuck her microphone in Sanford’s face. ”What can you tell us about what happened here, Mr. Eddy?”

Sanford said nothing. Just pointed to Eddie hair awry, shirt untucked, rubbing the knuckles of his right hand. The reported headed over to Eddie.

As the camera swiveled to cover the interview, Eddie quickly slicked down his hair and tucked in his shirt. In a rare moment of savvy, he kept massaging his fist.

“What’s going on you ask?” he said. ”The folks here were celebrating my 10th year with the Crawford Parks Department and my campaign for Highway Supervisor. It has been raining all day and just when the sun starts to come out, these fellas from the Highway Department (I know them all, Dave Willis, Gene Reynolds, Bert Taylor and his son, Jeremy…) show up hunting for trouble. They made it plain as day they were not happy that I have come out in support of LGBTQ rights and that I let it be known that that department has a shaky record on sexual equality. Things got a little crazy, but everyone’s temper is under control. We’re ready to take it to the voters on Tuesday and may be best candidate win!”

As had become usual when Eddie made a speech, he started out slow and powered up as he went along to a blazing finish. Sanford, following closely, knew that that final statement needed a rousing cheer that would be picked up by the reporter’s mic. ”Hooray!” He shouted waving his arms for everyone to join in. ”Yay!” ”Hooray!” ”Eddie Eddy for Highway!” resounded over Crawford Lake.

What made the news that night was a windblown looking Eddie, a close up of his knuckles, a long shot of the park and a quote excerpted from Eddie’s speech.”Things got a little crazy, but everyone’s temper is under control. We’re ready to take it to the voters on Tuesday and may be best candidate win!”


Palmer was up in his room on Election Night scouring the Internet for results for Highway Supervisor. CH64 was covering the legislative races with charts and maps, pointers and markers. Commentators were going over the same highlights again and again with almost frantic intensity.

But not a word about the race for Highway Supervisor.

Not that it really mattered. His dad was out of the running back in August when the primary results were in. “Trounced” was the word the newspaper used. ”Trounced by Incumbent DeGregorio” was the headline. Palmer had clipped the article for a scrapbook he was keeping. Trounced despite all that bad news about corruption and discrimination in the Highway Department. Now DeGregorio was up against the candidate from the opposing party.

It really didn’t matter who won at this point, but Palmer somehow wanted to see the whole thing through to the end. He flipped to the online version of the newspaper – The Crawford News and Journal Inquirer (Serving Crawford, Cuttersville, Eaton, and New Gainsville Since 1947). Live blogs from reporters stationed at the various campaign headquarters posted blow-by-blow descriptions, interviews, and videos of hopefuls, jubilant winners, and stone-faced losers county-wide.

But not a whisper about the highway race.

There was a new mayor – Willie Donaldson – in Cuttersville. And a tough contest between Ward 6 contenders projected to be a win for Amy Solokof. No mention of Patrick DeGregorio or the rival party challenger.

His dad was downstairs watching Shark Tank reruns lecturing his mom at length about how worthless the products being presented were. Hale was ”out”—his words. Lizzy was on the phone. Palmer stretched out on his bed and tossed his phone aside.

He woke up about 5 am. Still in his shoes and clothes with his phone by his side. Idly he hit the home button and the screen flashed on, the newspaper web site still selected.”DEGREGORIO LOSES TOP HIGHWAY SPOT” was the headline. Palmer sat up straight, eyes wide. Scrolling down the page he read how voter turnout for Highway Supervisor was an all-time high. That exit polls showed uncovering department scandals at the primary last August turned voters against DeGregorio and now DeGregorio was officially out.

Palmer dropped back on the bed. Maybe it was all worth it after all. Now his dad could go back to being his dad and stop being so cranky all the time. Palmer smiled and drowsily let his phone slip from his hand.


Story by Caroline Meyers, 2019

Photo credits
Cover photo © Caroline Meyers, O-Town
Front Porch © Photo Les Palenik,