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Big meals in small towns for hungry N.H. election workers 

  • Leah Willingham photos / Monitor staff

  • Rhoda Hardy and Joyce Knowlton prepare ribs and upside-down pineapple cake for people working elections in Boscawen on Tuesday. Leah Willingham—

  • Republican state representative candidate Robert Forsythe (left) talks with David Croft and Carol Butcher while holding a sign outside Boscawen's town hall on Tuesday. Leah Willingham—

  • Loudon Town Clerk Wendy Young stands next to the ballot box where her two beanie red and white striped babies sit every year.  LEAH WILLINGHAM/ Monitor staff

  • Loudon Town Clerk Wendy Young’s plush toys, named “Lefty” and “Righty” by the Beanie Babies company, sit on the ballot box on Tuesday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM/ Monitor staff

  • Canterbury Supervisor of the Checklist Brenda Murray scoops a cup of her famous popcorn during election day on Tuesday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM/ Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Charlie Jaworski intended to stop by Boscawen’s town hall just to vote on Tuesday morning, but he ended up sitting in the parking lot for an hour peeling the husks off 36 ears of corn.

“Somebody’s gotta husk the corn,” he said, dropping a clean yellow ear into a tin pan at his feet and reaching for another one. “This is the best corn in the whole state of New Hampshire.”

Jaworski was lending a hand to the Boscawen Ladies Aid Society, which cooks lunch and dinner for every moderator, police officer, town clerk and supervisor of the checklist who spend the day at town hall overseeing voting.

The Ladies Aid Society cooks for each election and town meeting, and has done so since the 1800s, organizer Rhoda Hardy said. The town allocates $9 per meal per person in its annual budget just for that purpose.

“Some towns just brown bag it, but Boscawen has done this for years,” Hardy said, placing a pan of ribs in the town hall’s kitchen oven. The Ladies Aid Society typically feeds 25 to 40 people on voting day, Hardy said.

The society typically asks for suggestions from election workers, and then they build their meals.

For the state primary Tuesday, dishes were ribs and pineapple upside-down cake for lunch; and tacos, chicken sandwiches and chicken casserole for dinner. Highway View Farm in Boscawen donated two large bags with about 70 ears of corn, Hardy said.

“It’s a real benefit to living in a small, close community,” said Jaworski, who has lived in Boscawen for 35 years.

Society member Beverly Lacoy said she makes pies for the elections every cycle. This year, it was peach pie. She said it’s a nice tradition that she’s grown to look forward to.

“You get to see a lot of people that you don’t ordinarily see, greet your old friends and neighbors. Kind of like a funeral – or a birthday party,” she said, laughing. “You never know who’s going to show up.”

Hardy, 85, has led the organization for 22 years, since the passing of her predecessor, Helen Houston, who worked on and off on voting day for the society until she died at 99½. Hardy said she usually arrives before 7 in the morning to set up coffee and muffins, and stays past 7 at night to finish cleaning up dinner.

Other small towns around Boscawen all shared food-related voting day traditions.

In Canterbury, supervisor of the checklist Brenda Murray said she has brought in white, organic popcorn that she makes in her theater popcorn popper for 36 years.

“It’s really the best popcorn you’ve ever had,” said fellow supervisor of the checklist Mary Ann Winograd.

In Loudon, volunteer Stephanie Smith also said they brought in food to share during the day, usually in the form of breakfast sandwiches, lasagna and soup.

“We try to feed the troops, keep them happy,” said Smith.

But Town Clerk Wendy Young said the real stars of voting day in Loudon are the two red, white and blue striped beanie babies, “Lefty” and “Righty,” she’s brought from home to sit on the ballot box for 18 years.

“Everyone looks forward to seeing them every year,” Young said. “I’ve even had people try to take them from me.”