I guess Im the only one of us who remains unaffiliated!
- Ulysses Everett McGill, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The lanky man walked past in an aisle of the grocery story, a puzzling message on his T-shirt: Dont Mess With Texas.
I really have to resist the urge to stop him, I said to my wife, and ask, "Just exactly what would constitute "messing with Texas?
Silently tolerant of my tomfoolery, she rolled her eyes and we rolled our buggy on to the produce section.
The nagging query came to mind a couple of days later. Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price spoke to members of the Columbia County Democrat-ic Party, explaining to them the purpose of the task force studying the concept of an at-large elected chairman for the Columbia County Board of Education.
The session was sparsely attended. OK, Im being generous; 13 people showed up, and three of them were from the media - thats almost the same ratio as protesters to Martha Burk sympathizers. But it was a cozy venue for discussion.
Afterward, one of the countys long-time Democrats chided me because, along with the vast majority of Columbia County residents, I often agree with Republicans. Youve forgotten where you came from, she jabbed.
Dont mess with Texas. Youve forgotten where you came from. Ive seen bumper stickers with more wisdom.
But it raises a ponderable point. Where was it I had come from, in her mind, and how had I forgotten?
Her reference point for where I came from is probably my grandfather, the late Lloyd Paschal, an old-school country Democrat. Mr. Lloyd died three years ago at age 97, after decades of dishing out political wisdom.
When I was born at the Thomson Hospital and brought to the Winfield home that was barefoot walking distance from Granddaddys house, Columbia County had fewer than 10,000 residents. Many of them, like Mr. Lloyd, were farmers. Most roads were dirt. And barely a dozen people called themselves Republicans; the bare bones of a party structure didnt even exist here until the late 60s.
Things have certainly changed. Few people now live off the land. The county is aggressively paving the few remaining rural dirt roads. And every elected official who declares a party affiliation is a Republican; only a few dozen people still call themselves Democrats.
The Columbia County that I came from is proud of its rural past, just as I am honored to be Mr. Lloyds grandson. Unlike my Democratic friend, most of us have embraced the changes that come with political and economic maturity. We can celebrate not just our past, but how far weve come since then.
Maybe I should get my own bumper sticker: Dont mess with me; I know where I came from.
New book coming
Until 1997, I worked as an editorial writer at The Augusta Chronicle.
My boss there was Phil Kent, who is now president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Hes written a book that will be released next month: The Dark Side of Liberalism: Unchaining the Truth is being published by Harbor House.
Maybe well talk him into a local signing. Or, if the Democrats are invited, a book-burning.
In my column April 16, I listed an incorrect hospital for Mohammed Ali Behzadians treatment following the February 28 accident that claimed the life of Brandon Layton. Behzadian was treated at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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