Kerry Comes To Boone County

September 6, 2004 at 6:23 pm (Uncategorized)

Whew! Wow! What a day!! Nate and I took off this morning for my old stomping grounds, Boone County, to the annual Labor Day Celebration. My mom called and told me John Kerry would be there. Not sure why, but she did, and after some discussion with Nate, we decided we would go.

A couple of things almost kept me from going. One, it is just nasty ass hot out there. 85 degrees and 60% humidity and almost NO SHADE! Two, I was worried about the crowd. They had shuttles set up to bring folks from three satellite parking areas. Three, I’m broke. I finally said, forget it, we’re going. I overdrew my account, put gas in the car, bought water and Gatorade and off we went!!

Traffic was not bad and we parked at what was once my grade school and took the chartered bus to the park. Once we got there, we went through the metal detectors and were inside the grounds. We quickly found my parents, bought a few raffle tickets and walked around for a bit. The crowd started picking up so I began maneurvering for a good spot and found one right below the podium about two rows back or so. Nate was miserable, I wasn’t much better. It was just hot, hot, hot. I could feel my skin burning. We shaded ourselves with hats and Kerry placards as best we could and chugged our water and Gatorade.

Senator Kerry and Senator Rockefeller arrived by motorcade to the crowd chanting. They did the standard hand-shaking, autographing and baby kissing before taking the podium. Rich Trumka was introduced by the local union president. Rich is the AFL-CIO Secretary/Treasurer and has been a main stay of the Labor Day Celebration for many years. He introduced Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America.

Cecil is a firey orator. Trust me. Not only that, he’s funny. He’s a sixth generation coal miner and he uses the microphone like a Baptist preacher during a tent revival. He and Rich stuck to the issues. Jobs, health care, and coal. They talked about where West Virginia was going and how Kerry was going to get us there. And yes, they dissed Bush. They dissed the Republicans. Yes, they did. They talked about the millions of jobs lost due to out-sourcing and the millions of Americans without healthcare.

The funniest thing that Cecil said was that President Bush was simply misunderstood. He had promised to create jobs. We thought he meant jobs in America, Cecil said, but he really meant millions of jobs in other countries.

The most impressive speech, though, came from Senator Jay Rockefeller. After Cecil introduced him, which was definitely most enthusiastic, Rockefeller took the microphone and thanked Cecil but hoped the next time he would be more enthusiastic. Bah da boom (cymbal crash) Senator Rockefeller recognized Trumka, Roberts and the Steelworker’s president, Leo (Something). He also recognized Boone Countians Johnny Protan and the wife of a deceased miner who was standing in her husband’s place that day.

Senator Rockefeller took us back to his days as a VISTA volunteer when he lived in Boone County. He talked about the difficulties he had convincing the people of our coal mining county to actually trust a man from New York. He decided after his work in the community to move to West Virginia and ran for office. He has served West Virginia since 1966 in many capacities.

He told us about his personal relationship with John Kerry and how the two of them entered the Senate in the same year, 1985. He spoke of how Senator Kerry and he had served on three committees together, how they both voted for the Coal Act of 1992 and how that Act, meant to protect miners by making it law that coal companies must provide healthcare, is now under attack in the neighboring state of Kentucky.

He dissed Bush too on how Bush wouldn’t have any idea what the inside of a coal mine looked like because he never took the time to find out. How John Kerry had spent time in the mines and speaking with miners. He reminded the crowd that Bush was about oil and about how Kerry was for the working men and women. He touched briefly on how Kerry supported making coal a more viable resource in the future by cleaning it up to protect the environment but still protecting jobs.

I’m sorry, I didn’t take my steno pad and I never took shorthand in high school, so I’m trying to remember everything off the top of my head.

Senator Kerry, at times, looked downright uncomfortable on the stage. It appeared as though he was suffering from the same allergy the rest of us have had as he continued to cough until someone finally handed the poor guy a bottle of water. Plus, he was one of the tallest men on the stage. Senator Kerry is 6’4″, Senator Rockefeller is 6’6″ I believe. Johnny Protan is all of 5’4″ if that so everytime he would speak to Senator Kerry he would have to hunch down to listen. The rest of the men onstage probably didn’t top 5’8″ or 5’9″. Plus, of those men, a few were positively portly and John Kerry is a string bean.

After Kerry took the microphone, I took photos and listened as he thanked everyone, especially Senator Rockefeller and the UMWA workers who presented him with a brand new Remington shotgun, union made. He said it was a wonderful gun but unfortunately he would not be able to take it to the debates. So, that was a nice laugh. Nate was miserable and begging to leave the crowd so we wormed our way out and found my parents in one of the few shady spots.

My parents are staunch Republicans. My dad, at least, has the mental capabilities to see beyond the rhetoric and make an informed decision. My mother, on the other hand, is… well, does not have those same mental capabilities. As Kerry began talking about job outsourcing she began griping about how the Heinz Corporation, his wife’s corporation, outsources their jobs. I told her that perhaps instead of believing biased e-mails that she should take it one step further and log onto the Heinz Corporation website to see how many jobs they provide in the United States.

I then proceeded to try and explain the difference between outsourcing jobs as opposed to opening factories in other countries to serve those countries, not to turn the medium, whether it be ketchup or automobiles, around and sell in the United States.

Naturally, she didn’t want to hear this. So, I ended up missing most of Kerry’s speech. I heard enough to know that it kept to the same lines as Rockefellers and the others and he received a warm, warm welcome. He used “W” to indicate how America was going the Wrong Way and how they needed leadership to turn it around. He touched on the privatization of Medicare and healthcare. This is where the fact that my parents are well-to-do Republicans come into play as my father asked, “Well, who’s going to pay for this healthcare.” I guess he forgets that his daughter, that is me, has experienced an increase in my health insurance premiums while they continue to cut the benefits I receive. OY!

The best part came as we were leaving and standing in line to take the bus back to where we parked and we encountered a young man. This young man was dressed in the sloppy cords, long sleeve shirt rolled at the wrists, hat, hair in a short ponytail and Birkenstocks. We began chatting with him and I asked where he was from. He told us his family were from Morgantown and Greenbrier County, respectively, but he currently lived in Morgantown.

He stated that he did not believe that one political party had all the answers and that is why he had made the 4-5 hour trip to see Kerry’s speech. Along the line somewhere, I had informed him that we, my parents and I, were of the differing political parties. He asked where we were from and we told him that we had all grown up within 5 miles of the spot where we stood. My mom then told him that her father had driven a coal truck for a living and about how they had to wear respirators due to the coal, rock and road dust and about how my dad’s father was an underground coal miner and had black lung and how my dad has silicosis and asbestosis.

The young man listened and then asked, “Ma’am, with all due respect, why do you support candidates that put your families lives in danger by diverting funds from OSHA to support their own agenda’s instead of that of the safety and health of the American worker?”

My mom replied that it wasn’t the political parties that caused the conditions in which my grandfathers and my dad worked. He replied that OSHA was considered a “non-essential” agency and if funds are diverted for other purposes then definitely the political parties have to answer for that in that reduced funding leads to corporations not being held accountable for poor working conditions.

My mom… changed the subject without giving him an answer. She pointed the finger at Clinton for reducing the military. He responded with the explanation of the ending of the Cold War and how the first Bush Administration had been involved too but the major change took place after Clinton took office. By then, another bus had arrived and we were all diverted from the discussion.

Simply, my mom does not want to hear about the issues and especially any opinion that might not match her. She doesn’t inform herself and has no basis on which to form an argument other than… she saw it in an e-mail.

I’m not saying that I agreed with everything the young man said. I was much more amused by the fact that my mother had come up against a well informed young man with opinions of his own who’s father happens to work for… OSHA. The first question out of my mother’s mouth when I returned from the Kerry crowd was, “Well, how ugly is he in person?”

My mother believes that every Democrat is ugly and if they’re not, then their wife is. She doesn’t like Elizabeth Edwards because she had children after 40 and that’s not acceptable. She doesn’t like Teresa Heinz Kerry because she’s rich and opinionated. If you point out that Bush has made promises that he hasn’t kept, well, then every politician is crooked, just look at what so and so did and he’s a Democrat. But then that would mean… that Bush is crooked? Or? I suppose she doesn’t have the capabilities to see how flawed her argument is.

So… that’s not all of it but its all I can remember at this time. It was a good day, I just wish I had more time in the crowd to absorb Kerry’s speech.

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9 Comments

  1. evilsciencechick said,

    Hey sweetie! I drove through W.Va again. I waved! Didja see me?? 🙂

  2. Cootera said,

    Wow… wish I could have been there with you and Nate. But I think your Mom and I would probably not get along… she’d think I’m ugly.

  3. phoebe said,

    Thanks for sharing this Sister Spirit. Wish I could have been there with you.

  4. Leese said,

    I wish I could’ve been there with you!
    I want to meet your mom. I’d be the ugliest person she’d ever meet.

  5. Inanna said,

    Ladies — you do not want to meet my mother.

  6. Rita said,

    Holy crap! You are from Boone Co? Tell me ALL YOU KNOW about Jessco White.

  7. Vadergrrrl said,

    Great post. I wish I could have been there too. Im not sure about meeting your mom, might remind me too much of myself.

    Luv ya sistah!
    xxooooo

  8. Inanna said,

    Holy Crap Rita!!! That’s sooo funny!! No one else has put two and two together. Jessco lived less than 1/2 a mile from me at one point and I would see him walking down the road or tap dancing across the swinging bridge. He was a quiet figure there. Now HIS SISTER, Mamie, OMGAWD!! That is no doubt the MEANEST woman I have ever been in the presence of. And she was nasty, just nasty, foul mouthed trash of the Nth degree. Then Jessco moved down the road about 10 miles and I didn’t see him much. That’s all!!

    Vader — You and my mom? Alike in anyway? I doubt it.

  9. Rita said,

    This post has been removed by the author.

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