We will see flags at half staff for the next month in honor of former president Gerald Ford who died at the age of 93. Every president gets this honor even an accidental one like Gerald Ford. He of course is best known for pardoning Richard Nixon and for being president without one person in America exercising their right to vote him there. I remember when Nixon resigned in 1974. Of course I didn't understand why at the time. He lived to be the oldest president to ever live, taking that crown away from Ronald Reagan. He seemed like a decent guy, but in 1976, when I was 9, I did not vote for him.
Wait! 9? You can't vote at 9!
Well, back when I was in 4th grade the 1976 election was in full swing. So, our class decide to have a mock secret election on the presidential race between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. I had no grasp on politics at the time, I just wanted to vote who I thought was nicer and more charismatic and believe it or not, that man was Jimmy Carter.
I was a bit odd, and I did not want to be at the time. I wanted to conform but I thought I did not have to change much to do so. So, I thought when I dropped my paper ballot in the box I would have been in the majority voting for Jimmy Carter. Well the count came in and in a classroom of 24, Jimmy Carter got two votes.
Two Votes! I was devastated! This was like voting against Castro in Cuba. Only two people in the classroom felt the way I did? Who else was that weird? Well, it turned out no one. Class clown Gary thought it was a hoot to waste his vote on Jimmy Carter.
He got laughs from every one in the classroom for it. If anyone had noticed me in the back, they would see that I was not laughing. I really thought Jimmy Carter was the better man. Thank god for closed ballots!
A few weeks later Jimmy Carter won for real and I wish I can tell you I felt vindicated, but alas, I felt peer pressured into keeping it to myself.
I felt a similar loneliness in the coming years when as a Mets fan I had to endure taunts by my classmates when the Yankees were winning World Series in the late 70's. By the time the Mets won in 1986, I was in college and had to defend myself to charges I was a fly by night Mets fans to new friends, a few who actually thought Jimmy Carter was an all right guy.
So was Gerald Ford, certainly better than what we have now in the White House.