Re Barry Paschals recent columns mentioning former Georgia Gov. Eugene Tal-madge and his son, Sen. Herman Talmadge:
I suppose that the reason I recall the Talmadges so well is that when Gene died in November 1946, my dad, who thought Gene could walk on water, had me stand with him in the cold, drizzling rain for about an hour and a half to see the body. It lay in state in the capitol rotunda in Atlanta.
My dad had been a Heard County sharecropper when Gene came to Franklin, Ga., the county seat, back in the "30s. He was running for some political office - revenue commissioner, I think. After hearing Gene make a political speech from the back of a flatbed truck, my dad introduced himself to the candidate.
Two years later, Gene was back in Franklin running for governor. When he saw my dad, Gene stuck out his hand and said, Good to see you, Mr. Rogers. This made a lasting impression on the dirt farmer.
I have pondered this many times over the years, and wondered if Talmadges legendary memory was really that good. I have just about come to the conclusion that, just maybe, Gene knew if you lived in Heard County, were short and had a long nose, there was a better than average chance you were a Rogers.
Anyway, this made a lasting impression on my dad. Me, too, I suppose: I am still talking about it after more than 50 years.
The fact that Herman was governor in the mid-50s stands out in my mind is because he came to Coweta County, I think in 1953 or '54, to dedicate Plant Yates, a Georgia Power Co. hydroelectric plant on the Chattachooee River, between Newnan and Whitesburg. I was in the Newnan High School band at the time, and we provided music for the occasion. (Jonh Philip Sousa stuff, I think)
I very well recall the impression Gov.Talmadge made on me. He probably spoke about 30 minutes. He was a very interesting speaker. He used no notes, and the only prop he used was a cigar. I dont think it was lit, but he held it in his hand throughout the entire speech, gesturing with it from time to time. I do not recall the gist of the speech, but I do recall that he used sovereign when referring to the state of Georgia, and auspicious when referring to the occasion many times. I think these were the things to do and say at the time.
I guess this shows how times have changed. The cigar would be a no-no today, but at the time it was the cool thing to do!
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