Thursday, November 6, 2008

Carry Me Ohio

Sun Kil Moon--"Carry Me Ohio" (mp3)
Crosy, Stills, Nash, and Young--"Ohio(live)" (mp3)
The New Frontiers--"Look At Miss Ohio" (mp3)

Fox News called it first. Ohio for Obama. Until that moment, I don't think I really believed that it could happen. But once Ohio went for Obama, I knew.


Ohio did not really want to be part of the Union during the Civil War. Many of its citizens were in favor of slavery and it is no accident that even today Cincinnati is one of our most racially-trouble cities.


I've lived there. In Cambridge, Ohio from 1964 to 1967. Though Cambridge is a major fast food stop along I-70 today, when I lived there, there was no interstate, and a trip to Columbus to shop at the big department stores took over three hours across backroads. John Glenn was from right near Cambridge and had a parade through town after his first space flight. I also saw Aunt Jemima on tour when I lived in Ohio; she came to Cambridge to a huge pancake supper, and I was one of the lucky ones who got her autograph. Or an actress playing her. Really.


My grandfather fled an abusive stepmother and went to Akron, Ohio at age 14 to work in a tire factory there. My father's alma mater is Ohio University; my daughter currently attends Kenyon. Yesterday, she cast her first vote for president, and, lucky her, she is in that swing state, so I was able to call her and say, "Your vote made a difference!"


Growing up in Pittsburgh, just over the border, Ohio meant one thing to me during my teenage years: Kent State. The shootings on May 4, 1970 were so close that they dominated the news for a long time, and the place became a couple of photographic images in my mind that made it seem like some other country. Of course, then the Steelers entered their glory years, and their great middlelinebacker Jack Lambert graduated from Kent State, so it became a normal name again. Sort of.


Last night, we knew Obama needed Ohio, that it would mean everything to the evening if he could take that state that had been the focus of so much campaigning, so much energy, and so much energy. And so, to turn things in our favor at our Obama-watching party, our friend Jeff opened two cans of Skyline Chili that he had been saving for who knows how long (it tasted like it must have been several years), and he set out shot glasses and he filled each glass with a "shot" of Skyline Chili and together, we raised our glasses (even my vegetarian wife) and downed those lukewarm slugs of grainy meat and bland, oddly-spiced sauce to rouse cosmic support for Obama's chances in..........


Last night, Ohio got it right. I had been up there a few weeks ago, had mentioned on this blog the battle I saw going on there as its citizens tried to figure which direction their important state would go. And so now it has become a new symbol for me: when Ohio said it would happen for Obama, after 22 months of hoping, waiting, and worrying, I finally knew, once and for all, that it was true.

"Carry Me Ohio" comes off the Uncut magazine sampler, Americana 2004, my vote for cd of that year. The live version of "Ohio" is from 4-Way Street, a classic live album my brother used to lift weights to when I was thirteen. The New Frontier's cover of Gillian Welch's song is available on any number of blogs.


Anonymous said...

Think uncle bob voted for obama?

Virginia came through as well.

Bob said...

Uncle Bob voted for probably no one, but his sympathies were not directed toward the Obama camp. Virginia was huge!