This was the year of the Kennedy-Nixon election. My stepfather was for Nixon, my mother was for Kennedy. They argued every night during dinner, beneath my bedroom, after I’d gone to bed. I sided with my mother, and Ohio being a very conservative state in those days, I got pounded at school the one day I dared to wear a Kennedy button. Twenty schoolmates surrounded me at recess, in a large circle, and when my back was turned, whoever was behind me would rush in and give me a clout from behind. My mother and stepfather agreed not to vote, to cancel each other out, but they both went out and voted anyway. The morning after election day, Mr Mikhally fumed, in his fluent but syntactically odd English, “It’s the ruination of the country!”

Kelly Nowels