Katherine Sprows of Arnold awoke yesterday morning and heard the call of civic duty. She dressed up as a bumblebee and headed for Annapolis.
Sprows stood on the Eastport side of the Eastport Bridge at 8 a.m. with nine other women in homemade bumblebee suits. They hoisted campaign signs for State's Attorney Frank L. Weathersbee, who was challenged by Republican Timothy D. Murnane. They waved at passing cars. When car horns honked the bees went, "Wooooooo-ooooooh."
Sprows said they'd been at this since last Saturday, staking out the county's big intersections, upholding the good American political tradition of silly headgear. In this case, a pair of gold antennae to complement the black-and-gold horizontal stripes on the chest, the gold-tipped wings in back and the black tights.
On Election Day, people do these things.
It's enough to make Georgia Doherty of Owensville shake her head and wonder.
"Every year I say I won't do this, then I'm out here like an old fool," said Doherty, standing outside the polling place at Southern Senior High School in Harwood in a hooded black topcoat and black beret. She was not dressed as a bumblebee, just trying to keep warm against a snappy wind.
Doherty's been at this since the mid-1970s, when she first became a fan of District 7 Democratic County Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett. She's also worked for former Governor Harry Hughes. She just can't resist a fight.
"I guess a lot of people would say I'm crazy, but elections fascinate me."
She'd been out there since 6:30 a.m. and planned to remain until polls closed at 8 p.m.
"She's tougher than me," said an off-duty county police officer, who stood next to her in a gold "Police for Sophocleus" T-shirt over a hooded sweat shirt. This was his first foray into politics, propelled by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70 support for Democrat Theodore J.
Sophocleus' county executive campaign. He declined to give his name, but offered a criticism of Sophocleus' opponent, Republican Robert R. Neall.
"I didn't care for what Neall plans for the police department," he said, mentioning Neall's opposition to police retirement after 20 years of service.
The officer said that before this year he "never got the feel that people really get into an election. Like this lady here." He referred to die-hard Doherty. He should have seen the women in the bumblebee suits.
Stuart Weinstein did, and was impressed.
"Yeah, that's great, hey," said Weinstein, ordering a bagel and coffee at the counter of Chick & Ruth's Delly in Annapolis. Yes, the bees were fine, he said, but unfortunately personal matters lately have consumed his attention. The election, said the Annapolis man, was the furthest thing from his mind.
Joe Serio of Crownsville finished his bagel at the counter and contemplated a question about the election.
"I'm sort of confused," he said. "I'm still not sure who I want to vote for," said Serio, a Pitney Bowes service representative. "I'm still a little leery about the tax cap thing. I can go either way on it. Am I going to cut my own throat by putting on a tax cap, or don't vote for it and see what happens?"
Mary Bronson, who works for the City of Annapolis Transportation Department, said she was having some trouble on the tax cap, too, but was leaning against it.
"I think it's nose to nose," she said. "When you read it, it seems like such a great idea. But when you talk to people who know finance you realize it's not so great."
Bronson was in her element in Chick & Ruth's, where politics literally is on the menu every day with sandwiches named after local and state officials. She hasn't missed voting since she was 21, and proudly reports that her three children are just as vigilant. That includes her 27-year-old son George Claxton, who serves in the Navy submarine service.
He filed an absentee ballot before he submerged. Yesterday he was somewhere beneath the ocean, not to surface again for several months.
The things people do on Election Day.
Charles Greif, for example, often finds himself stooped over a large pot of bean soup. Because on Election Day there are hungry Democrats to feed.
Greif is the new president of the Lake Shore Democratic Club in Pasadena, but that doesn't exempt him from his usual kitchen duty. Like the Stoney Creek in Old Orchard Beach and the Roland Terrace club in Brooklyn Park, Lake Shore is an open house on Election Day. The beer and the bean soup flows and you never know who'll show up.
Well, you can pretty much count on state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno of Brooklyn Park.
Jimeno would just as soon turn down a campaign contribution as pass on Lake Shore's Election Day bean soup. This year he's been locked in a battle for his job with dogged campaigner John Leopold, the Republican House delegate from Pasadena. When he strolled into the club at 1 p.m., Jimeno seemed in need of moral and physical fortification.
He had been working the polls that day after weeks of 18-hour days. The campaign was abed. He assured himself he had done all he could.
Shortly after 2 p.m., Gov. William Donald Schaefer walked in for a 10-minute visit. He'd been making the rounds in Howard, Harford, Baltimore and Carroll counties. He sat down with Jimeno to his right and Delegate W.
Ray Huff of Pasadena to his left. He sipped coffee and offered some advice.
"One thing you can't do is look backwards," said Schaefer. "You go crazy."
"At this point I'm just glad it's coming to an end," said Jimeno.
"Nothing we can do now to change the outcome."