"CAN YOU GO up to the firehouse and hand out leaflets?"
"Well, actually, you see, I'm with a newspaper and I should probably..."
"Yes or no?"
"Take a sandwich so you don't starve to death. You'll be there till the polls close."
So I walked up four blocks from the "Thrrriftee" Cleaners McGovern Headquarters to the firehouse that was the official polling place for Ward 10. Politics is a bad marriage; it treats those already won over like fools, and those to be won over like queens for a day. When they thought I was a voter. I was inundated with "Endicott Peabody for Vice Pres... Vance Hartke, champion of social sec...George make American happen ag...Trust Muskie...pencil to write in Mills...right this way...Sam's the Man...re-elect."
"I'm not a voter."
"You with McGovern? Hold this sign and hand out these."
"No. I'm not. I'm with the press. I'm a photographer."
I went inside to see the polls, the place from which the New Hampshire voter shocks the nation every four years. Booths in lines of eight, no machines, with a fire engine and a real brass pole going up through a hole in the roof. Around three o'clock they had a fire somewhere and the electoral process was momentarily suspended in favor of bells and high rubber boots. The poll watchers mostly watched each other, and the people in charge knew every voter's name before he had said it.
"Endicott Peabody, running for Vice President."
"Are you the same Peabody who was Harvard's last All-American and who used to be governor of Massachusetts?"
"Yes," and he turned to say the same thing to an old man who didn't understand. There is a sadness about a man who has lost and doesn't give up; he brings out the same emotion as Ben Hogan skying to an 80 in the last round after shooting a third round 66 in the Masters a few years ago. Only Peabody didn't have the grace of a faded star. His over madeup wife in a shiny silver coat handed out sheets and said. "My husband's running for Vice President." Meanwhile her husband was saying to the green-eyed McGovern girl that he'd be glad to "chase your skirt anytime, honey."
The green-eyed girl was from Worcester, a freshman at Clark, who lived at home and liked a silent German movie whose title she couldn't recall. I took her picture, and she took mine, and we waited for candidates and movie stars to show up. The Yorty lady gave me a button and promised that Sam would be here before the polls closed. Sam never made it, although his red, white, and blue traveling trailer did. As the Yorty lady stepped up into the van she shook my hand, looked at me and said, "I'll never forget you son. And don't lose those gloves; you don't find those in garbage cans, you know."