Democrat Ready to Extend String He Began in ’48  
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frank A. Hmay, 84, of Joshua Place, Dudley, is going to vote for Barack Obama for president of the United States Tuesday.

“That’s no secret,” says Mr. Hmay, a native of Southbridge. “I voted for Harry Truman in 1948. It was my first national election, and I’ve been a registered Democrat nearly 64 years.”

He’s already cast 15 presidential ballots. “This will be my 16th,” Mr. Hmay says, naming Democratic presidents since Mr. Truman: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Another five were Republicans, but Frank just says he didn’t vote for them.

Five and five doesn’t add to 15, but Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and incumbent George W. Bush were elected twice. Democrat Bill Clinton also had a pair of election triumphs. Count 15.

“I came close to voting for President Roosevelt his last time out,” Frank says. “You had to be 21 to vote, and I just missed it. I wish I could have voted for FDR. He changed the whole world.” Still, he’s proud of his Democratic affiliation, which dates to almost Roosevelt, says Mr. Hmay.

“The guys said ‘you’re not going to vote for Eisenhower (in 1952)?’ They said, ‘Vets ought to vote for him, he’s a war hero.’ I said ‘sure, he was a general.’ I was in the war, too, I was a sailor.” Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee, ran against Eisenhower twice, and should have won, claims Mr. Hmay. “(Mr.) Stevenson was a great statesman, and I told him so in letters that I sent to him.” Mr. Stevenson had been divorced and the mores of the time worked against him, thinks Frank.

John Dziedzic of Webster, active in veterans affairs, happened along as Mr. Hmay made his Democratic pitch. Hailing Mr. Dziedzic, Frank declared, “He’s one of us.” Smiling, John agreed. “I consider myself a Democrat in the New Deal tradition,” he said, admitting that his allegiance wells from listening to Frank and reading historical reviews about Roosevelt era programs.

“See, he reads,” observed Mr. Hmay, an unabashed supporter of public libraries. “Reading everything you can, even newspapers, is knowledge.”

Friends Joseph M. Mikolajczak and Susan Shade, both of Webster, drive to Vermont from time to time, always via the Massachusetts Turnpike to Lee and northward.

They have a favorite breakfast place but decided just recently to try Joe’s Diner in Lee. Mr. Mikolajczak is a friendly type and got into a conversation with another man named Joe, whom, it turned out, used to run the diner. Mr. Mikolajczak was seated between Ms. Shade and his new friend.

The diner, actually a couple of counter stools from where the three were seated, was the setting for “The Runaway,” the Norman Rockwell painting of a state trooper and a young boy with a running-from-home pack fixed to a shoulder stick. It was one of artist Rockwell’s more famous Saturday Evening Post covers.

“You never know what you’re going to discover,” said Mr. Mikolajczak, revealing they stopped at Joe’s because there was an on-street parking space in front of the place. The name didn’t change when Joe sold the diner because the current owner is also named Joe, said Webster’s Joe.

Besides the Rockwell disclosure, new friend Joe offered the Webster pair a dining tip: A three, three, three items breakfast for $3.33.

John E. Bialy, with 25 years service as Webster town collector who now is retired in Florida, is running for president of the United States, apparently as a write-in candidate.

Actually, it’s a tongue-in-cheek thing on the computer, but the artwork seemed rather professional. Announcements and endorsements, probably by actors, had a nice cut to them, and the advertising pieces, including bus placards and campaign data seemed real.

It could have been opposition to rezoning acreage behind Lake Parkway — witness all of the “No Zoning Change; No Mall” signs about town — but a good sized crowd turned out for Webster’s Oct. 20 fall town meeting. Sponsors didn’t file the proposed zoning article.

Switched from the Town Hall auditorium to the Jacqueline Puliafico Theatre in Bartlett High School, the session went off pretty well, thinks Town Clerk Robert T. Craver, even though he wound up under a spotlight. Mr. Craver would like a light for his lectern and aisle microphones for voters at future meetings.

Webster Selectman Robert J. Miller admits that his sartorial bent was influenced a bit by the late Michael Bartlett, a 1930s opera and movie star.

Mr. Miller was just a young fellow, working for Choiniere’s Dairy of Webster, when he came to know Mr. Bartlett, then retired and living in North Oxford. He was part of a coffee klatch that gathered on Saturday mornings at a customer’s residence. Milkman Miller met the group making his route collections. He picked up on the fold to Mr. Bartlett’s suit pocket kerchief. It has become part of his style of late.

The Oxford Police Newsletter, published bimonthly, is a relatively new publication, says Irene Savageau, who brought me a recent copy because it’s distributed through Carl’s Oxford Diner and other places. Ms. Savageau works at the diner.

It’s an update on events and programs at the Oxford Police Department, administered by Chief Michael Boss. Progress on construction of the new Oxford police station is the lead to the four page fold. There’s a “Law of the Month” review, “Failing to stop for (a) school bus with flashing red lights” in the July-August edition and a list of arrests.

Officer Paul McCarthy put the newsletter together. “I thank him for his work,” Chief Boss said in his part of the newsletter.
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