It was a Sunday morning like every other. Nick Baffa sat at the dining room table going through some paperwork for his political advertising company. His brother Pasquale was upstairs playing the mandolin. Their mother and sister were in the kitchen, chatting away as they cooked.
Then the doorbell rang.
That was strange. Early in the Summer – with the election months away – very few people came by even during the week. The Baffas weren’t expecting any family to visit. As Nick got up and walked to the door he thought to himself that it probably was going to be somebody looking for directions.
Nick opened the door. There was Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague peering down at him.
Nick Baffa became stiff like a statue. Frank Hague just didn’t wander around town making social calls. There was a better chance of a visit from the President. Nick had no idea what Hague’s appearance might mean.
“Nick, may I step inside?”
As Mayor Hague entered the house, the music stopped. Pasquale stood in a doorway on the second floor looking down the stairs. The two women came out of the kitchen. As the only time most people ever saw Mayor Hague was at a wake, Nick’s mother began to cry and pray in Italian.
“Nick, it’s a little warm in here. Could we go out to the backyard?”
“Certainly Sir! Please follow me.”
As they went outside, Hague closed the door behind him.
“Nick, you’ve never gotten involved in Politics . . .”
“But Sir, my business is the buttons, the posters, the brochures. . . I sell to all sides! If I back anybody, I lose the trade from the rest of the guys in the race!”
“I’m just statin’ a fact. I’m not here to complain. I’m here to ask you for a favor. The State Legislature is giving me the hardest time ’cause we ain’t got no Republicans in Jersey City. See? So, I’m getting together five hunnerd people to register. Each and every election there’s gonna be five hunnerd Republican votes. That way, ain’t nobody gonna have nothin’ to say.”
“But won’t I be blackballed when the word gets around that I’m registered as a Republican?”
“NO. That’s why I came here myself to speak to you personally. I’m putting the word out an’ there ain’t gonna be nobody that’s gonna have anyting to say about it. Can I depend on you?”
“Sure. Of course. I’m happy to pitch in any way I can.”
“Good. So, first thing Monday morning, go an’ register Republican. Help me out with this and if youse ever needs somethin’, all y’ got to do is jus’ t’ come down t’ City Hall an’ ask.”
Mayor Frank Hague shook Nick’s hand.
– – –
True to his word, 9:00AM Monday morning, Nick Baffa waited to get the registration form. About one hundred people were there ahead of him. Behind him, a line of four hundred or so snaked down the steps and out to the street.