The morning following "The Great Valley Runoff" was perhaps the oddest moment of my growing-up years. It was as if we were surrounded by fog as we began that late August Friday.
The Hoffbrau was filled to capacity, with folks lined up waiting to snag one of the coveted tables. The smell of bacon, eggs and coffee filled the air as voices reached almost deafening proportions.
You could tell who was seated at each table by the conversation. Cooper supporters seemed stunned. Many wondered if the previous evening had been a bad dream.
Bland supporters were boisterous and acting as if their mayor had the election "in the bag" all along. At 7:34 a.m., "Silver Tongue" Dick Bland entered the ‘Brau, shaking hands with well-wishers and beaming from ear to ear.
It was obvious many, myself included, felt relief the election was behind us. Even though I wasn’t old enough to vote, I had been pulled into the drama just like everyone else. It was as if a heavy weight had been lifted and our town could return to normal.
As the morning passed, the conversation shifted from the election results. Word was beginning to spread that Vera Pinrod’s quick exit from the ballot count was a result of pneumonia. There had been concern when Mrs. Pinrod left her left her election coordinator’s post in an ambulance. The good folks of the Valley were thankful she hadn’t suffered a heart attack or stroke, but knew pneumonia is dangerous, especially for someone up in years.
Farmers were taking a rare morning off to enjoy breakfast and a break from the election stress. A few had attended wrestling matches at the fair on Thursday. I overheard Boyd Sanders telling his companions he was certain he had heard a snap as Dory Funk Jr. tightened his "spinning toe hold" on the Sheik.
I took a breath and thought about Mary Ann. She was so happy when she won the blue ribbon just two days earlier at the Spring County Fair FFA competition. She and I had exercised our sheep together for months as we prepared for the annual event.
My entry, Archibald, didn’t place, but it was OK. My reward was seeing Mary Ann elated as she hugged Snowflake, then rushed to hug me.
By lunch, the town was buzzing about other matters. Undoubtedly, the most important was an appearance by Tangi Blevins & the Heavenly Hosts later that evening at the fair. Throughout the day, cassette and CD players were humming the tune:
Turn Your Radio On
And listen to the music in the air.
Turn Your Radio On, heaven’s glory share.
At the radio station, things weren’t quite as lively. Raymond had canceled his show on Friday, instead airing a syndicated network program.
Elbert Lee Jones, Marvin Walsh, Earl Goodman and Raymond sat around the station conference table in stunned silence for hours, interrupted now and then by an outburst by Marvin or Earl.
"I just don’t believe it," Marvin lamented.
Earl chimed in, "It can’t be real. It all started when Vera left and that newspaper woman was put in charge."
"You have to demand a recount!" Walsh shouted toward Raymond.
Cooper didn’t respond. At 4:30, he left. His followers sat in silence for a few minutes.
At the Hoffbrau, Iris Long sat with Juliet Stoughton.
"What’s next for you?" Iris asked.
"You know," Juliet responded, "I think I’ll go to the fair. I hear there’s a popular singer there tonight."