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It is billed as an election night supper, but there is not much talk about politics.
Conversations are sprinkled with comments about new tractors, crops, Hawkeyes football and grandkids … just not a lot of talk about politics.
“And that’s a good thing,” Karen Hobbs said as she sliced pies for the dessert table.
Hobbs sported a T-shirt that read: “A Little More Kindness, Please.”
She said it was not a political statement “although it would sure help our politics with a little more kindness.”
Hobbs was one of dozens of people helping at the West Chester United Methodist Church where the Election Night Supper has been held since Nov. 8, 1904, when Teddy Roosevelt was elected president.
The supper is held after every election. Usually the presidential elections draw the biggest crowds, but this year rivaled a presidential year, according to Nancy Schmidt who has been helping with the dinners since 1984.
“We used to think that the presidential year elections are when we expect more people,” she said. “Tonight we had a really good turnout, too.”
Out at the ticket desk, Doris and Keith Fisher were collecting money.
Doris has an important job in addition to selling tickets. She cooks the noodles – homemade from scratch – something she has been doing since she started coming to the dinners in 1966.
The noodles are part of the tradition, along with the chicken pie, ham and green beans. Another table is covered with homemade desserts.
“We have the same meal,” Fisher said, although she noted that when she first started coming women “dressed, cooked and served the chickens the same day.”
“Ladies don’t do that anymore,” she added.
Fisher said that many of the people who have been running the supper for decades are “slowing up” and a new generation of residents is taking over.
One of those who has been coming for decades is Jim Cuddeback who farms just south of West Chester.
He doesn’t remember his first Election Night Supper, but it was when he was a boy.
“I grew up in this church, and I am 71, so you can do the math,” he said. The math indicates he started attending in the early 1950s when Truman and Eisenhower were presidents.
This year Cuddeback brought relatives who were visiting from Texas and California.
“This is just such good food that you got to keep on coming back,” he said. “For me, it’s fun to come back and see a lot of people that I don’t get to see all of the time.”