Deborah Wynn was in the waiting room at her doctor’s office the other day, passing the time with a puzzle book when another patient noticed the “Hillary 2016” button pinned to her shirt.
The other patient, a woman, didn’t care for Hillary Clinton — or the button.
“You need to take that thing off, that mess,” the woman scoffed.
Wynn, 59, who for more than three decades managed Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Macon, looked up from her puzzle. “Excuse me?”
The woman repeated herself and, of the Democratic presidential nominee, informed Wynn, “She ain’t gonna get it.”
Wynn asked the woman to leave her be. The woman kept on.
“Lady,” Wynn told her, “you’re about to really make me lose it.”
Two men in the waiting room told the other woman to give it a rest, that Wynn’s button wasn’t bothering anyone.
The tension subsided and Wynn thought, “Lady, please.”
As this contentious campaign has uncoiled, leaving the presidential playing field awash in unprecedented acrimony, many locals have long since chosen sides. Come Tuesday, they will cast their votes.
It seems an eternity since last November when Trump staged a rally at the Macon Coliseum and told a throng of 6,000 or so in attendance that “we’re going to rebuild this country” and “we can’t afford to be so nice, folks.”
To get a sense — albeit a very anecdotal and unscientific one considering Macon is a Democratic stronghold — of what people here were thinking in the days before the election, The Telegraph asked a handful of folks to share their views on the candidates and the campaign.
The newspaper sent a reporter to Donald Avenue, off Millerfield Road near Bowden Golf Course on the city’s east side, and to Hillary Place, near Log Cabin and Mercer University drives on the west side.
It perhaps comes as no surprise, but no one the reporter encountered at either place was a Trump supporter.
But remember, the last time a Republican presidential candidate won Bibb County was nearly 30 years ago, in 1988, when George H. W. Bush edged Michael Dukakis by 95 votes.
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, each of them two-term presidents, carried the county by at least 6,000 votes both times they ran. (Obama posted the widest local presidential margin of victory here in the past three decades when he topped Mitt Romney by 12,932 votes in 2012.)
George W. Bush’s races against Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry four years later were much closer. Though both were Bibb County losses for Bush, the eventual winner, the two elections were decided by a total of 2,140 votes.
This campaign, with such polarizing but not necessarily popular nominees, could produce a similarly tight result here.
Deborah Wynn, she of the ire-inspiring Hillary button, lives on Donald Avenue, which as it happens, down the well-kempt street with a pond at one end, passes a stretch of homes in New Clinton Heights. Most of the two dozen houses there are in the $30,000 range.
Wynn has a “Hillary” sign in her front lawn.
She thinks the former first lady and secretary of state is “more suited for the presidency.”
Said Wynn: “She wasn’t raised as a rich child.”
Asked about Trump, she said, “He’s a clown,” and that if Trump triumphed it would take America “way, way back.”
‘Going back to slavery’
Wynn’s neighbor, Sheila Merriweather, doesn’t think there are any Donald Trump fans on their street.
“This whole area is Hillary. … Nobody on Donald Avenue is voting for Donald Trump,” Merriweather said.
Merriweather, 59, is an Army veteran. She likes movies — romances and horror flicks. She thinks Clinton is “more honest” than Trump.
She said Trump has run a campaign of “hatred” and if he wins it would be like “going back to slavery times.”
“He’s a racist. … I just, you know, just wish it’s over with and he gets voted out,” Merriweather said.
About eight miles to the west, over on Hillary Place, not everyone has embraced Hillary Clinton.
There were a pair of “Hillary for President” signs at the corner of Hillary and Log Cabin Drive, near a trio of pharmacies — a Walgreens, a CVS and one named Your Corner Drugstore.
The average house there goes for about $70,000. One has a fake street sign over its front door, a sign replete with an Atlanta Falcons logo, which reads: “Falcons Drive.” A mailbox next door doesn’t have anyone’s name on it, but in small, golden block letters the box bears the words “Roll Tide.”
A man who lives across the street works the night shift at a glass bottle factory in Warner Robins. Carey Bridges, a father of two, had woken up about noon one day last week when a reporter walked up and asked about the presidential race.
“My personal opinion, it seems like a joke,” Bridges, 30, said. “It’s more of a joking matter than a serious issue. Just looking at the debates, you get a comedy show. … It was more about bashing each other.”
Bridges, who had on a Levi’s baseball cap, doesn’t plan to vote. He has a 7-month-old son and a 6-year-old daughter named Cadence, who told him that if she could vote it wouldn’t be for Trump.
Bridges, who attended Southwest High School, doesn’t care for the GOP nominee either. He figures Bernie Sanders would have been a better choice. Bridges, though, isn’t sold on Clinton. He isn’t sure a woman can handle the presidency.
“If you look at America as one big house, you know, the man don’t let the woman run the household. … We’re the protectors,” Bridges said. “We need protection in this country. I don’t know if Hillary is fit to … you know, she may be just as quick to press a button as Donald Trump. … It’s scary, man, when you talk about Russia and China and you talk about war with America, it’s tough.”
He thinks the system is “set up,” that the president is already picked. “We’re just waiting to see,” he said.
Asked to explain more of what he thinks of Clinton as a candidate, Bridges said, “I think Hillary Clinton is a woman and ain’t no woman gonna … run this country.”
He added, “It don’t matter who make it, it won’t make a difference. We still’ll live in the same world.”
‘Skating on thin ice’
Up the street, 23-year-old Jasmine Aaron was on her front steps. Halloween decorations were tacked by the door.
She prefers Clinton.
“She’s a woman. I’m a woman,” Aaron said. “So I’m rooting for her.”
Aaron, who has a 4-month-old daughter, said, “I think with Donald Trump she ain’t gonna have nothing to look forward to. It’s just so much of what you hear in the press about (how) he don’t like women and him kissing women. … But then they got Hillary Clinton, they got her under investigation about her emails. … Right now I don’t know who gonna win. They’re skating on thin ice.”
A few minutes later, one of Aaron’s neighbors drove up. Mary Orr, who was wearing a blue “Navy Grandma” T-shirt, had just come from the grocery store.
Orr, 69, a mother of six and a homemaker, grew up in Brunswick but moved to Macon more than 40 years ago. One of her grandsons is in the Navy, serving on the USS Ronald Reagan.
Orr voted early. For Clinton. She can’t imagine Trump leading America.
“You don’t call people names. You don’t do that,” Orr said. “You’ve got to represent the country. … I don’t care who it is. Democrat or Republican.”
Her children are all grown. They’ve already cast their ballots.
For Clinton? Trump maybe?
“Who they voted for,” she said, “I didn’t ask.”
And then, “But I hope they voted for her.”