Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Eccentric Characters

I guess everyone's home town has its characters, but they tend to stand out more in a small town. And in the South, we even tend to celebrate our eccentric people. Someone once said that in the south we never hide our crazy old aunts in the attic. We trot them out proudly and sit them down in the parlor when company comes. (I believe it may have been Julia Sugarbaker, in "Designing Women".)

Consequently, we also tend to vote them into office on the local and state level, and then when they say something outrageous or do something crazy, we just roll our eyes and chuckle and, sometimes, we even let them talk on the radio.

This is how we managed to elect a state legislator who attained the status of the state's least effective lawmaker, according to our state newspaper. All he did was write and present a veggie-protection bill that got a lot of laughs, but went down in flames. In his defense, I must say that he got the idea from the State of Texas when their lege actually passed such a bill protecting beef. The trouble was, nobody in Arkansas was trying to insult vegetables or ban them or anything else. He was term-limited, thank goodness, and when he came home and tried to run for the state senate, he lost. We may be overly tolerant, but we're not crazy.

A few years before that, another of our citizens won a seat in the lege, and he went down there with an agenda. He was determined to ram a bill through making the fiddle the state musical instrument, and when he finally succeeded, he came on home and didn't run again.

We used to have a home-owned department store that boasted a shoe department, who's manager was an amiable fellow who always tried to fit children with shoes that were 1/2 to 1 size larger than they needed. It took some negotiating to talk him down to a size they wouldn't walk out of. After many years, it became apparent that he was not too tightly wrapped, and the store retired him. This didn't stop the company I worked for from hiring him as a security guard (unarmed, of course). One day, he noticed the sole of his shoe was coming apart, so he got the hot glue gun and fixed it. He stood there talking to some of the employees and when he tried to walk away, he discovered he had glued his foot to the floor.

Then, there was our United States Congressman, now retired, who has the distinction of serving 13 terms (26 years) without authoring a single piece of legislation. He may have put his name on a few bills, but he never offered one of his own. Must have lacked that vision thing.

He was so popular, even so, that we have named a building at our local community college after him, and had a sculpture placed outside the college in his honor. It may just be an example of our community's sense of humor, but most folks agree that it resembles nothing so much as a great big old phallus. (Only, we use a different word.)


dot said...


Annie said...

Oh I wish you'd said the names of these folks so I could read more about them and their legacies (on the net, of course).

None of them sound like they did any terrible things . . . mostly they did nothing at all.

I'm thinking that the British enjoy eccentric characters. And so many in the Arkansas hills have British roots. Perhaps this is just their heritage shining through. You think?

Chancy said...

My state of Georgia has had some eccentric politicians also. Lester Maddox comes immediately to mind. He was Governor of Georgia and he delighted in riding his bicycle BACKWARDS up and down the drive at the governor's mansion

Betty said...

Annie, I'd rather not get sued, even though truth is an absolute defense against libel.

Dot: Glad I could make you smile.

Chancy: I never knew that about Lester Maddox. How funny!

Dogwalkmusings said...

I always know where to go when I need a good laugh!

By the way the landmark building in Rochester, NY is one of "those" too!

Kell said...

That was hilarious. Glued his shoe to the floor. LMAO

patsy said...

better be careful Betty when talking about state ledge passed members. Ted Coxsey was our cousin and you know some people think you are related to us !

Annie said...

Patsy's not worried about getting sued, at least not by family!

QofD said...

This is your best post ever. I loved the bit about letting them talk on the radio and the guy who glued his shoe to the floor. Awesome!

Sister--Three said...

Betty, my father (long dead) literally detested this man. He could have been called John Paul

Maya's Granny said...

If only more politicians were set on such benign agendas as vegie bills and the State musical instrument! Keeps them busy, doesn't do any harm to us.