This edition of my column is dedicated to the memory of Stan Sipe whose life was lost in a fire at his home on Oct. 29. His friendship to my predecessor, Evelyn Long, permitted “Reflections” to continue as he brought and researched stories for her. While I did not get the chance to meet Stan in person, his advice he gave me over a phone call about writing this column will not be forgotten by me.
Election Day is one date annually where we, as Americans, have the right to choose and elect our local, state, and federal officials. Even with the convenience of absentee and early voting, I still enjoy heading physically to my precinct, the Cardington American Legion, on the first Tuesday of November and casting my ballot. There is something about chatting with the poll workers, who I know personally, stuffing my printed out card in the ballot box, and receiving my “I Voted” sticker as I walk out the door.
As I dove into the archives of both the Morrow County Independent and Sentinel recently at the Morrow County Historical Society, I stumbled across the summaries of local elections in 1933 and 1963. The 1963 election results were straight to the point and shorter than usual as they only included the race for then-Cardington School Board.
But, the 1933 election strikes more interest to me because of its time in history. The Great Depression was at its peak, FDR had been elected as president the year prior, Europe was divided between capitalism, communism, and fascism, and the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program established to employ unmarried, young men, was just enacted. The failure of banks had overwhelmed the nation, but Cardington, especially the school district, felt the pain at home. The headline reads “School Board Skips Payday” as the clerk, Paul D. Fleming, reported the district ran out of money due to the financial crunch of the depression as it waited on an advance from the county auditor and delayed state aid.
A horse race for mayor developed between Frank Aliga and George W. Sherman. Aliga, the incumbent, had served for three terms before being reelected for his fourth stint “by the biggest margin ever given to him.” He was voted to serve as justice of the peace for the township by edging out his opponent, Carl Fowble.
Underscoring the mayor’s race, the competitions for corporation clerk and village council featured high stakes contests with an abundance of candidates. An open seat for corporation clerk caused five citizens to throw their hats into the ring. The east precinct was practically evenly divided as only six votes separated the man in first to the one in fifth. The west made the difference as Guy Mathews took the lead (by three votes) and won over competitors A. H. Furnish, George Frew, C. S. Haycook, and Kensel S. Russell. Village Council featured 15 contestants vying for six seats to manage operations of the town. Three incumbents held on to their seats: Dr. J. C. Snyder, C. M. Burt, and V. L. Meredith. John J. Kientz and Ed Kelly would be the rookies to the office as the final member, L. S. Russell, was sworn for a nonconsecutive term as he had priorly served in the capacity of village council member.
The undercard for the local races driving turnout were votes on amendments and issues. Cardington Township voted with the highest margin in Morrow County to “stay dry” by being against the repeal of prohibition at a distance of 148 votes. Coincidentally, parts of this result were reversed in the 2022 May primary election as residents decided to make the village park wet for the now-annual Wine and Arts Festival. Other losses included an age-old pension law, the 10-mill (property tax) limitation, and county home rule, which got the most dissatisfaction from voters.
To say that American democracy is alive and well today within Cardington is an understatement compared to the activism of our ancestors in the 1930s, but the times call for the men and women who are right for the moment of leading our community through and tackling the obstacles we face now.
• 90 years ago, November 1933: 46 people attended the American Legion Auxiliary’s Halloween party where songs and readings were performed by JoAnn Curl, Mary Catherine Spreng and others. The guests visited the Curl Funeral Home decorated in Halloween garb with caskets, scary music, and spooky lights. Omar Hart moved locations for his barbershop from the Willits room on South Marion Street to the West Main Street shop where the Fowble barbershop had been. Haircuts cost 25 cents and shaves at 20 cents.
• 80 years ago, November 1943: Walter W. Vaughan sold his 105-acre farm outside of Cardington on state Route 529 to Ansel Miller. N.M. Maxwell, former Cardington butcher, was charged with selling meat above ceiling prices, failure to keep wholesale records, and failure to register as a retailer amongst other charges. Marengo Village Council bought the Ford fire truck of Cardington corporation for $250.
• 70 years ago, November 1953: Noel Underwood and Tim Hardman, alumni of Cardington-Lincoln High School, were members of the Defiance College football team each playing the position of offensive guard. The squad went on to go undefeated for the first time in program history and was the only university team in Ohio to do so that season. Cecil A. Maxwell, operator of Riverside Dairy, enrolled in a class on Market Milk Industry at the Ohio State University.
• 60 years ago, November 1963: Two of the 81 successful oil wells in Morrow County were on land in Cardington leased to businessman Don Baines: one on the Nelson Clinger Farm and the other on Oneita Miller Walker’s property. The First United Methodist Church finished its expansion with additional space for a fellowship hall, kitchen, and four classrooms. The cost of the addition was $86,000 compared to the 1954-55 project for a new sanctuary of $110,000.