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A Treasure Trove Of Election Americana at Cheshire Academy

From a parasol for "Ike" to a top hat for Harrison, a collection of memorabilia for the ages.

If, as the saying goes, history repeats itself, then perhaps the most instructive lesson in politics is the study of past campaigns.

For students at Cheshire Academy, political history is easily accessible this election season through a colorful, bigger-than-life display of campaign memorabilia. On view are rosters, banners and tschotskes; including a parasol remarking "I like Ike." 

"We have an election coming up. This heightens awareness. It's neat to see the cross-section of candidates," said history teacher Matt Kallas.

Kallas heard about the collection this fall during a school picnic with new students and their parents. The collector, Dennis Coyle of Plantsville, has been gathering memorabilia for about 35 years, his son Jack, a student at the school, said. 

One of many unusual pieces in the show, Kallas said, is a Reagan campaign poster which contains a message written in Chinese. Cheshire Academy senior Phoenix Zhan, who reads the language, said the poster advertised a rally in New York City's Chinatown. It focused on the American-Chinese population in the region, she said. "It says 'support Reagan for his election,'" Zhan added.

School archivest Ann Moriarty was busy last week mounting additional historical items for the show; ballots used by Electoral College delegates. She had a number of ballots for Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and other early presiential campaigns.

"This is truly a collector's item," Moriarty said pointing to an FDR banner. "He was in office longer than anyone else." The American display will be on view through election day on Nov. 6, she said.

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