Thoughts And Memories Of Elections In Easton Past

Ross Muscato focuses on that "Recall" Election from the late 1970s.


Okay, so after this column, I will leave the politics alone for a while. But still today there is all too much emotion percolating within me.

It was a tough election for me. Romney lost. Brown lost. Bielat lost. Murphy lost. 

Ah, this happens. Let me say this, though – with all the recrimination and regrets among Republicans today – what we need to remember is that party and political requiems have been prematurely delivered over and over again. Think 1964 and the death knell of conservatism in America. Was there not a man name Ronald Reagan waiting in the wings? 

I am happy though that Easton voted the way I wanted it to vote on Romney and Brown. In fact, wow, Easton gave Scott Brown the edge over Elizabeth Warren by almost 3000 votes – 7164 to 4189.

As well, know this, you have not heard nearly the last of Scott Brown or Sean Bielat or Dan Murphy in electoral politics. All have a bright future.

I think, however, that Mitt Romney may have run his final political campaign.

It seems that after a brief period in which Easton mirrored the broad sentiments of the Massachusetts electorate, it is returning to it favoring the GOP. Easton and the Republican party have long been tight compadres. 

Oliver Ames, the man for whom Oliver Ames High School is named, was an Easton guy and a Republican governor of Massachusetts. His father, Oakes Ames, also a native son of Easton, was a Republican U.S. representative. 

John Ames III and Leon Lombardi were both Republicans from Easton elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

Remember, this is a community in which in the 1940 presidential election, Republican candidate for president, Wendell L. Wilkie, trounced Democrat incumbent Franklin Delano Roosevelt – and also this is the town that in the 1960 presidential election, Vice President Richard M. Nixon beat Massachusetts native son and U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy almost 3 to 1. 

I was born in 1963, and one of my earliest memories of a news event, was sitting in our home on Andrews Street in North Easton and watching the presidential inauguration of Richard Nixon in 1969.

The first campaign in which I went door to door was in the early spring of 1978 handing out fliers promoting a slate of Easton school committee candidates to replace the then sitting school committee in a special election. 

There was a lot of bad blood around this “recall” election.

I'll provide some background. 

In the previous summer, public interviews were held as part of the process of hiring a new principal for Oliver Ames H.S. These interviews of candidates, conducted by the Easton school committee and held in the auditorium of Oliver Ames High School, were well attended. 

When Duncan Oliver, a candidate for the job and a favorite of many in Easton for the position, was not selected to be the OA principal, there was a big outcry of opposition and discord – which included expression at more packed meetings at the OA auditorium. 

Boston media covered the meetings in Easton. It was all high drama and high theater. 

But, ultimately, the candidate the school committee picked, Bernie Fallon, was hired and he took over as principal for the 1977-78 school year. 

Yet the situation quickly became unworkable for Fallon. There was very little support for him in the community, from students, and from faculty. Students even had a walk out one day. That's right – kids just walked out of Oliver Ames High School in protest. 

So it got to the point that Bernie Fallon resigned, and an interim principal was installed. A formal recall of the entire Easton school committee commenced – and we had ourselves a recall campaign and election in the Shovel Town. 

My father, the OA athletic director and a teacher at the school, was a backer of Duncan Oliver. As well, Leo McEvoy, a civic fixture in town and former member of the Easton school committee, and father of my good friend, John McEvoy, was one of the candidates put up to replace the sitting school committee. 

So with my dad backing Oliver, and John's father a candidate, John and I were enlisted to campaign for the effort. It was fun, passing out sheets of paper explaining our cause – the cause of “Concerned Citizens” – yes, that was our official name. 

Actually, as I recall, the fliers we distributed had a tagline that read: “Like Diogenes, We Are Concerned Citizens.” Diogenes was the ancient Greek philosopher who believed that virtue should be exercised and not just explained.

Anyway, after every vote had been counted in the recall, all five members of the school committee had been voted out, and five new members were voted in. 

The new committee hired Duncan Oliver as principal of OA. Duncan Oliver did a superb job as principal.

Yet no doubt, the entire episode was nasty, and unpleasant, and it left emotional scars and unhappiness in this place for many years. 

Indeed, one of the school committee members recalled – whom, technically, I opposed – became a good friend and mentor to me, and is now an energetic and youthful man in his early 80s who continues to help and guide me. 

Many years ago now, that recall election. I think we have just about got it behind us … finally … sort of.


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