Smithfield, Ohio: My hometown. My Mom’s hometown. Her father’s hometown. It had hopes for an Obama administration in 2008. Now it’s an example of Trump populism.
The photo with the Business Insider article, “A small town in Ohio holds clues to Trump victory,” shows the North and Main street sign. I had a wonderful childhood on North Street where Mom and Dad built a home more than 60 years ago.
The small town’s history has interesting twists and turns. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Quakers had a lot to do with that.
In Mom’s youth, there was a movie theater. It was segregated. Blacks had to sit in the balcony. Decades later her brother would become mayor.
Mom tells of the time some of her kin and their friends crashed a Klan rally. Whatever happened that night made it so my generation didn’t have to deal with that, at least not until I was in high school and some out-of-towner grand wizard threatened to hold a rally. My friends, mostly white, told me not to worry about it. The rally never happened.
There were several churches back in the day when the town was booming at about 1,000 people. Dad championed ecumenical services. Pastors delivered sermons at our church. Dad took the pulpit in theirs.
The town is surrounded by beautiful farmland. Fathers’ hard work in steel mills and coal mines put a lot of kids through college.
It’s a different place today. It has taken a turn for the worse. I’m so sorry about that.
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I like to think the late Monsignor Ed Ryle would have been an intellectual voice of reason, compassion and greater good in this awful excuse for a presidential campaign. I would have loved to have heard his take on the minimum wage proposition on the Arizona ballot and the campaign for Maricopa County sheriff.
I flatter myself by thinking he would have invited me to lunch (or to “break bread,” as someone reminded me he was fond of saying) to share thoughts about politics and policy. On election night, he might have been spotted sipping a glass of wine with other political junkies.
He is so missed.
A few of his friends and those who have had long respected Monsignor Ryle’s work for social justice in Arizona have been trying to keep his memory alive. The Monsignor Edward J. Ryle Fund was established to promote intelligent discourse in the public square. We think he’d be proud of the work done in his name.
I like to think he’d get a kick out of the way we help pay for annual programs. We sell a lovely Sonoma County pinot noir labeled in his honor, called The Monsignor.
We’re taking orders for full and half cases now. It will be available for pickup on Dec. 6. Contact me for details.