The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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November 1, 2012

Ex-party leader sharing his political collection

MERCER COUNTY — Someday, Robert F. Lark says he’s going to organize and catalog the political paraphernalia he’s accumulated over the last half-century.

For now, the former longtime Democratic party chairman and retired civics teacher is happy to share some of the treasure trove with folks at the Mercer County Historical Society.

The front showcase in the society’s home is now devoted to a display of The Herald’s coverage of West Middlesex native Alf Landon’s 1936 run for president against Franklin Roosevelt. Another display case is filled with some of Lark’s store of buttons from the last century of local and national politics.

Lark set up the display this week and it will be up throughout November at the society’s home on Pitt Street across the street from the courthouse.

The oldest artifact is a ribbon touting the 1900 run of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt and there’s a bipartisan mix of memorabilia from the decades since, which Lark’s collected since 1952 – the first election Lark said he followed.

Lark said he collects buttons of all political stripes and there’re slogans from the past that are long-forgotten.

“Remember October 9” one button from the 1972 McGovern campaign against President Nixon touts.

The date rings hollow to today’s ears, but Oct. 9 was the date in 1968 that Nixon had promised his secret plan to end the Vietnam War, which was still raging in 1972 during his run for a second term.

“I’ll hug your (elephant) if you’ll kiss my (donkey),” is the pithy phrase on another button.

There’s also buttons and bumper stickers from the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush eras and others from local officeholders like retired District Attorney James P. Epstein, former Sharon Mayor Bob Price, retired Prothonotary Liz Fair and former Commissioner Olivia Lazor.

“Some winter my goal is to sit down and catalog all of these,” Lark said.

The historical society is happy to share them with people, executive director William Philson said.

“I’m please to have it,” Philson said. “It’s a fitting time of year. There’s a lot of very interesting artifacts that Bob has.”

The Historical Society  is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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