Cardboard reminders of season are everywhere

Posted 10/23/20

The leaves are turning colors and falling from the trees. There’s a nip in the air. The days are getting shorter.

It must be fall; those are all signs of the seasons.

It’s also election …

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Cardboard reminders of season are everywhere

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The leaves are turning colors and falling from the trees. There’s a nip in the air. The days are getting shorter.

It must be fall; those are all signs of the seasons.

It’s also election season. Just drive around and notice how many telephone poles have sprouted posters. Look at how many roadsides and front yards and intersections groan under the weight of “Vote For ...”

There ought to be a law.

Against visual pollution.

Folks in high places who deal with our highways and byways would raise the roof if you put out a sign for some kind of business or to advertise the location of your school or to promote your church, civic club or other worthy activity — if we could have such activities these days of pandemic.

But placards praising politicos?

That’s a different story.


I’ve noticed one thing about the current and even most recent crops of candidates, incumbents and would-be office holders.

Many of them have not, despite what they might say to the contrary, learned the Golden Rule or one of my mama’s better rules, namely “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, just don’t say anything at all.”

My mama could teach this current group of candidates a thing or two.

Maybe I’m missing the mark or something but when someone asks for a vote, I’d like to hear him/her say what they would do in a given situation, not just fire away at the opponent.

Seems to me that doing nothing but attacking what someone else did is like criticizing Gen. Custer for being in the Army in the first place.

Being a life-long son of the South, I have had the chance to observe at close range some political candidates and goings-on from time to time, sometimes at too close of a range.

Once when I was a lad, my good friend Bobby Joe High’s second cousin Benjamin (Ben) Dover offered himself for the high post of county clerk in another state. Early in the fall and, thus, in the campaign as well, Bobby Joe went off with his family to visit their out-of-sate kin. When he got home, he told me of some of what he had seen and heard on the campaign trail.

He said things seemed to have gotten off to a good start for Cousin Ben until one night when he and his wife Eileen fell into a heated discussion. Seems Ben and Eileen had been out for a long day of pressing the flesh and meeting and greeting folks.

As they arrived home, Eileen flopped down not so lightly into the living room easy chair, kicked off her shoes and exclaimed with a loud sigh, “Boy, what a day. I’ve never been so tired in all my life.” “You?” Ben snarled. “Why should you be tired? How ‘bout me? I made nine speeches to the voters today. You didn’t have to do that.”

“That’s true,” Eileen agreed. “But remember I had to listen to every one of them.”

Later, Ben got into a fight with his opponent.

Not the vocal kind.

More the fisticuff kind.

Seems the two were pioneers of sorts in the art of face to face debate, although to call what they did a debate may be stretching it a bit.

Anyway, seems that Cousin Ben’s opponent and he were being rather civil to one another until Mr. Opponent up and screamed at Ben, “What about the powerful interest that controls you?” At that point, Ben jumped up, shouted, “You leave my wife out of this” and made for the other guy’s throat.

As it turned out, Ben won by a rather sizable margin, although some folks who didn’t care for him raised some questions about some folks going to the polls more than once and about some people who had been dead for a while coming back to vote.

But Ben never paid any attention to that. He lived by the creed that an honest politician was one that stayed bought after he was bought.

He was also fond of telling the story about the lion that once ate a bull. After doing away with the bull, the lion felt so good that he roared and roared. A hunter heard the noise and killed the lion with one shot.

The moral, Ben said, is “When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.” Most of the time he did that and had a long career as a local politician.

Years later, though, Bobby Joe learned a final interesting tidbit about his cousin. When it came Ben’s time to leave this world, he was so proud of his service that he asked the local funeral home for a special inscription on his tombstone. It read “Here Lies a Politician and an Honest Man.”

Sometime after the stone was installed, Bobby Joe heard that a husband and wife were strolling through the cemetery and passed by Ben’s final resting place.

“Look here,” the wife said to her husband.

“What?” he asked, walking back to where she stood admiring the stone.

“I’ve never seen this. They’ve put two people in one grave.”

To all the candidates and campaigners, when this is over, pick up your signs.


Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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