NORTH ADAMS — Politics is one of the most fascinating of human games, and one whose interest is enduring. People who are genuinely and deeply interested in the game advance in years, but by the very nature of the thing they remain in touch with their times. An interest in politics can be an excellent means of staying young in spirit.

The case of Fred C. White, "Mr. Democrat" of Monterey, was noted a few weeks back when county Democrats honored him at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. Mr. White, a ripe 86, has been in the thick of the political wars since the days of Grover Cleveland.

At the other end of the county the Democrats can boast another octogenarian just as lively, one who got into the game a little late because the male politicians failed to realize what a valuable ally they were losing through the opposition to woman suffrage. She is Mrs. Bridget L. Shea, member of the North Adams City Democratic Committee and delegate to the state convention in Boston today. At the age of 85, Mrs. Shea is certainly the oldest woman delegate to the convention, and probably is junior only to Mr. White among the entire membership.

Although this is only her third appearance as an official delegate to the party's biennial parley, Mrs. Shea has been attending Democratic pow-wows since women got the vote in 1920. For years she was a checker at the Ward 5 polls, until she moved to a smaller apartment in Ward 8 following the death of her husband in 1951. She says she has voted in every election — municipal, primary, state and presidential — since the 19th amendment was adopted in 1920.

As befits a lively native of Limerick, Ireland, Mrs. Shea leans strongly toward the Irish candidates. In this convention's most notable contest, for example, she favors Edward W. McCormack for attorney general. Her reason is far more frank and honest than most reasons given for a vote. "They're all perfect strangers to me, but I'm leaning toward McCormack," she said this week, a distant trace of a brogue rolling her r's. "I like the name."

Being Irish, and therefore being a person who appreciates political oratory, Mrs. Shea has only one choice for her all-time favorite politician. He is, of course, James Michael Curley, last of the silver-tongued spellbinders. Her reason? "Because I like him."

Fond as she is of her fellow Hibernians, Mrs. Shea is no narrow partisan of candidates tracing their lineage back to the Emerald Isle. Another current favorite with her is Gov. Foster Furcolo. "I think he's got a hard man to run against — a great vote-getter — in Fingold," she says, "but I'm for him."

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.