Election Day Is Nov. 3, 2020


Are you registered to vote? If you are not, Oct. 9 is the registration cutoff for the Nov. 3 election. You can find more info at the county Board of Elections website,

I’ll tell you this: By God, if it’s the last thing I do, I’ll be standing in line to vote on Nov. 3. Vote! See that your family members vote. Offer rides to the polls to older neighbors. Of all the elections in my lifetime, few have been more consequential, more important, than this one.

I remember as a child going with my parents to vote. At least for the first few years, this was at the Sweet Township building, a former schoolhouse, which was part of our section (a square mile, in the Midwest; our farm was on the other half of the section). My parents would go in together. A few moments later, my mother would come out. She didn’t deliberate over every single contest, and surely voted a straight ticket. Then, we waited.

My father deliberated. He deliberated more. Most of the time, I bet he voted a straight ticket, too; it just took longer. Then, afterward, he chatted with the poll workers or other voters, about the price of corn, I expect, which back then was under $2 a bushel. The lack of rain, if it was a spring or summer vote; the chance of a late fall without snow, if we were in November (no one wanted to be stuck with a snowstorm and grain left in the fields). Finally, he’d trek back out and we’d head home.


A story: I noticed fairly early in my career that being a reporter, a journalist, carried a particular occupational burden: All kinds of folks felt completely comfortable telling me how it ought to be done, what a “real” journalist would do, and why I was not doing “it” right. Which has always been striking to me, since leaving the University of Kansas with my journalism degree (bachelor of science) in 1985. Over the years, it bothered me less, this constant hectoring (not even really advice, more of an insistent directive). You see, most of the time it came from people who had not been to journalism school, did not have a degree in any related field, and understood little about publishing. And certainly didn’t have any money at risk, as we do, because we are one of those small businesses making a go of it in Putnam.


One time, we’d written a story about some neighborhood community association dispute, and quoted several residents. We included how long they’d lived there, how old they were, how they came to be at paradise valley. I was a front-line editor at the time. A day or two later, a rather angry woman called me, said we had overstated her age by 7 years, and she wanted a correction. I thought, that’s an odd mistake for this reporter to make. Hmm. I had my reporter go to the voter registration records, and we checked her age. Wait for it …. we had actually understated it by 10 years. Golly.

An alert reader wrote in on Saturday, very discontented with my columns that touched on the Portland situation. “Law and order” seems to be the theme of the several critics who dispatched missives as to my many failings. I see something else in the federal action in Portland: Violations of constitutionally protected civil liberties and a grave overreach into state and local authority where there is no demonstrated need and no legal authority.


In any case, I should have noted that not all of those scooped up by these federal officers were released without charge; a number were indeed arrested and charged with various crimes, some of them serious crimes. It is possible, I should also note, to be against looting, fires and violence, and still think the federal presence has made things worse, not better in Portland.

There is one other thing I want to cover: This column is my opinion. It’s not supposed to be objective. I don’t pretend it’s objective. I want it to be fair, certainly, and accurate. But here, it’s my view. Come on, admit it: You’re never bored. Get angry with me if you want. Just keep reading.

Another point: The press deadline waits for no one, certainly not a small outfit like ours. About 5 or 10 seconds after I approve the final page of the Courier each Monday, whatever page we still had outstanding, an email pops in: Our printing schedule has been accepted. Twenty to 30 minutes after that, the printing plates (four of them for every two-page spread, one for each color) have been made and are being attached to the press rollers. Moments later, a shrill, continuous bell rings, signaling the press is starting to roll. Stand clear. That bell you hear in the pressroom in movies like The Post? That’s the bell.

I tell you this to stress that what you’re reading is as much of the truth as we know right now. Next week, we’ll know more, and we’ll put that in.

In the small world category: Boy Scouting is a fraternity whose bonds travel relatively easily across other differences, be they class, economics or locale. On Friday, I was at the San Damiano Farm Market at Graymoor, just off Route 9 in Garrison. The market is run by men in St. Christopher’s addiction rehab program. Men in recovery. The outside farm work is particularly good; as I know from my youth, it brings a sense of accomplishment and tires one out. The work is hard, if sometimes rote.

I know it’s a haul from Carmel or Mahopac, but the market is really outstanding, and a good cause. It’s open Fridays from 10 am to 2 pm. And, if they don’t have a particular item picked or harvested, they’ll go dig it up. I needed beets. I happened to be wearing a cap with the initials, TMR. One of the men behind the counter of vegetables queried, “Ten Mile River?” Yep, Ten Mile River. It’s the complex of Boy Scout camps used by the New York City scout council. Then Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt helped quietly assemble the land, which stretched for 10 miles along the Delaware River between New York and Pennsylvania. The gentleman with the outstanding lettuce and I exchanged words on which camp of the TMR complex we had attended, and when. It was clear he had fond memories.

And, as I was leaving, who do I see but Stephen Hutcheson, the furniture and interior design expert. He’s a client of ours. Lives right across from our office. But it was in Garrison our paths crossed. I don’t know whether he went to Scout camp or not.

Until next week.

Below, some shots from the San Damiano Market: Sunflowers about to burst, sunflowers farther along, and some very tender beans.

Douglas Cunningham is the editor of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring. Reach him at 845.265.2468, or by email at If you’re really upset and want to tell him how he ought to be doing things, send a letter to the same address.

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