The results of the voting often send blood pressures skyrocketing, particularly for those whose candidates come out on the losing side.

The results of the voting often send blood pressures skyrocketing, particularly for those whose candidates come out on the losing side.

A woman who knew a thing or two about taking pulses and checking blood pressure readings launched an Election Day tradition in Grove City back in the early 1950s. It is carried on to this day.

Harriet Rumfield, a Red Cross nurse and wife of longtime local fire chief Olen Rumfield, began serving bean soup and cornbread to voters in her Park Street home in about 1953, according to Sharon Downs of the Grove City Community Club. At first the nurse, who cut a memorable figure in her starched white uniform, served the comfort food in the kitchen of her house just east of Broadway.

That might seem a curious thing to do now, when restaurants and fast food places of all kinds proliferate within walking distance of most polling stations, but the bean soup offerings probably served a very real purpose back then, Downs indicated.

Farmers taking a break from a busy time in the fields in order to exercise the franchise would have found a bowl of soup and a bit of cornbread just the thing to send them back to the wearying work of harvesting crops.

"That's a pretty good guess," Downs commented.

Harriet Rumfield must have made a mean bean soup because word soon spread, and in subsequent years the Election Day customers forced her to set up card tables in the dining room and then the living room of the modest house, torn down in March 2007, that sat across the street from the former Huntington Bank building.

By the late 1950s, the Election Day luncheon had simply outgrown the Rumfield home, Downs said, and the ladies of the Community Club on nearby Civic Place took over the operation, with bean soup and cornbread still topping the menu.

"We have continued since then," Downs said.

Downs, who did some research among some of the club's older members and who has a vivid girlhood recollection of Harriet Rumfield in her nurse's uniform, said the tradition has been carried on by club volunteers every Election Day since about 1958, and Tuesday, Nov. 4, will be no exception.

In addition to, naturally, bean soup, the menu being served at 3397 Civic Place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will include chicken noodle and vegetable soups, sloppy Joes, desserts and beverage.

Carryout will be available by calling the club at 875-6074.

The feature entre of bean soup and cornbread will cost $4. Just a bowl of soup will sell for $3. Prices for sandwiches range from $1 to $3 and homemade desserts will cost $2.

Pulling off the annual tradition requires between 15 and 20 of the ladies in the club, and some of their husbands, putting in a pretty full day of preparation on Monday and then serving and cleaning up the following day, Downs indicated.

Proceeds help the club provide scholarships to South-Western City Schools students, support the Young Life program at Grove City High School and offer funding to the Food Pantry.

Speaking of tradition, Downs said that the women involved in the Election Day luncheon are, like Harriet Rumfield before them, quite excellent preparers of soup.

"This is just the generation that loves to cook," Downs said. "They've been taught by their mothers."