Tammy Green was kicking herself. She'd forgotten to bring pictures of her year-old grandson. "Sa-re-tta," she called across the lunchroom of the Bannockburn Elementary School, "do you have pictures?"
Tammy Green is a Democratic ballot box judge.
Her grandson's other grandmother is Saretta Zitver, another Democratic election judge.
It's no big deal that Saretta Zitver's daughter Annette married Tammy Green's son David. Bannockburn is like that.
And it was no big deal that yesterday was election day, because election day in Bannockburn is part of the neighborhood ritual -- like, well, the annual spring show, or the newcomers' party or the Halloween party or opening day at the swimming pool. A community event first and the excuse for the community event second. Bannockburn is like that.
Of course Montgomery Precinct 7-22 is a little bigger than the community of Bannockburn. That, most officials figure, is what accounts for the 20 or so percent Republican registration. But for all intents and purposes, Bannockburn is 7-22. A west Bethesda upper-middle-class outpost of Norman Thomas socialism and New Deal democracy and its children. And now, even its children's children.
Houses in Bannockburn are known by the names of the first people who lived in them, which gets confusing because so many people move from one house in Bannockburn to another. Twenty years later, when one is asked where one lives, one says something like, "Oh, we bought the Galblum house."
Memories are long, too, and the shadow of the Great Merrimack Swimming Pool Fight of nearly two decades ago still occasionally looms, as in this overheard snippet: "Who was that?" "Oh, you remember, they were on the other side of the swimming pool . . ."
Winesburg, Ohio? Peyton Place?Well, Our Town, anyway.
As elections go, yesterday's was seen as something of a bore. The incumbent congressman, Democratic Mike Barnes, wasn't even on the ballot because nobody ran against him. Nobody much cared who was running in the Senate primary because sophisticated Bannockburners expected to vote for incumbent Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (Republican, but liberal) in November no matter which Democrat won yesterday.
The Carter-Mondale people sent a young woman who said she was from the White House staff to stand outside with campaign literature.
A 23-year-old ex-Bannockburner, Lewis Cooper, who wants to be a Kennedy delegate, gave up his stewardship of the Kennedy table at about noon to Charlotte Chase, a Bannockburner.
The Republican precinct chairman Nancy Long, chatted amiably with the Democratic precinct vice chairman Carolyn Long. No relation.
"But we're very cooperative," said Nacy Long. "We share things like coffee, hammers, Scotch tape . . ."
The sixth grade of the Bannockburn Elementary School always has a bake sale on election day for one sixth grade project or another. They were sold out before 11 a.m. even though "it was the lightest day I can remember," according to veteran election judge Helen Levine.
"Now that tells you something about Bannockburns," chimed in another judge. "On the same block there's Helen Levine, Helen Levin and Leona Levine and nobody even has to ask which one when You're finding the card. You look and you know."
Controversy, such as it was, centered yesterday on the school board election, and even that seemed to be a matter of distinguishing between "the good slate and the other slate," or even "our slate and the other slate."
And excitement, such as it was, certainly centered on the new voting system.
Machines are out. Computer cards are in. That also means ballot boxes are in. Pasteboard ones with slits in the top and signs on them that say "Ballot Box."
"My," sniffed a disdainful voter as she slipped her ballot into the box."What will they think up next?"
Yetta Weisz got a big greeting when she walked into the lunchroom-turned-polling-place. The Weiszes, among the founders of Bannockburn, had been away -- overseas much of the time, and then in Wisconsin, where they were registered to vote. Yetta came to schmooze, not to vote. "Oh, you voted in Wisconsin?" someone asked. "No," she said. "We were in Fiji." Never mind, the Wiszes' son stayed in Bannockburn, and he voted.
Ruth Darmstadter is the chief Democratic election judge (for which she gets $65). She is a little wistful about the loss of the machines. "You lose the excitement of opening the machines and reading the votes off the back," she said.
"One precinct chairman used to say that if his candidate didn't win 3-to-1 in Bannockburn, he'd lose the county, and he was usually right. Now we won't be able to do that." That's because the ballots are carted off in armed school buses to the mother computer in Rockville. "No romance," sighed another judge.
Eddie Alberstadt, 28, went to Bannockburn Elementary. He looked around the lunchroom as he voted and sighed. "It used to look a lot bigger."