It was easy to decide what to write about this week. With the timeliness of publishing on Election Day, there were two related themes running through my head: I wanted to hammer home the importance of voting and also share some recollections of another California primary 44 years ago.
For a week I've been forming sentences in my head about how I had learned from my father, a naturalized citizen, how sacred the privilege of voting is. It is, he told me, the most basic tenet of our democracy. He said going to the polls (and I still do go rather than vote by mail) is an event to look forward to and I do get excited each Election Day.
And I get sad.
Sad and discouraged because as an idealistic barely-turned-18 year
old, I, along with three classmates, walked precincts, made phone calls,
stuffed envelopes and worked long hours to help Robert F. Kennedy win
the California primary in 1968. As a reward for our efforts we were
invited to be among special guests at the Ambassador Hotel to await,
with the Kennedy entourage, the election results that fateful night.
As I contemplated today's election and writing this column, I sifted
through the emotions and the images that make up my memory of that very
personal moment in history in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968. I
braced myself to recount the details again.
Continuing our commitment, my girlfriends and I spent our last summer
in Los Angeles before going off to college in crowded malls and parking
lots soliciting signatures in favor of gun control.
I wanted to remind you in this column that even though I couldn't
vote (you had to be 21 in 1968), I still believed with all my heart that
one person's voice, one person's action could make a difference.
But then a few days ago tragedy struck again, and now I have a
different story to share, a story about another single person who made a
In the early hours of Friday morning, I received a call from our
press manager, Randy Davis. His is often a thankless job, as he oversees
our Smith River printing plant with a crew of about a dozen people at
night when most of us are asleep. He has to maintain the property, the
equipment, schedule and train staff, and bears the brunt of my scrutiny
if papers are late or don't come off the press "perfect."
Like most of us in this business, our hours are determined by the
work. It's rarely a Monday through Friday, 8-5 routine. In Randy's case,
it's common for him to go to the plant in the early afternoon and not
leave until 3 in the morning.
Randy's wife Cathy understood her husband's unusual schedule and took
up the role of surrogate mother to the crew at the printing plant. She
made meat loaf and then would have Randy take leftovers to the plant.
Ironically she didn't like meat loaf, but she knew "the kids" did. And
then there were the crock pots of spaghetti and platters of cookies.
When Randy called me around 1:45 a.m. Friday, he said Cathy had
experienced pain in her left arm and jaw and he'd rushed her to the
hospital. While there her heart stopped and she was being flown to
Medford. About four hours later he called back to say, "we lost her."
Cathy Davis turned 57 on May 1. She had a physical a month ago and
was in "excellent health." What caused the blockage in a main artery to
her heart? What made it so bad that medical intervention couldn't change
Our Triplicate family is in shock. There's a hole in our hearts. We
want to embrace Randy, his son, daughter, Cathy's parents and the rest
of their family and friends and tell them how very sorry we are and how
much Cathy will be missed.
Friday night at the plant "the kids" stood tall, telling me they
would do whatever they had to do, stay as late as they needed to stay,
to get the job done. They made me very proud. Everyone in our company
has made similar gestures.
Vote today. Then turn to your spouse, your partner, your child, your
sibling, your friend, your co-worker and tell them how much you
"Life is short, there is no time to leave important words unsaid." (Paul Coelho)
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, at
mtandshy;hoandshy;masandshy;@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.