Friday, October 3, 2014

Two Dollars And A Swaller

I guess politics is in my blood.

As a Pastor, I have been convicted about bringing politics into the pulpit.
Not moral issues.
Not biblical issues.
But partisan politics.
You know what I'm talking about. "God is on our side!" "No! He's on our side!"

I have often said "Almighty God does not ride on the back of Elephants or Donkeys, but the last time I said that, Deacon Jim Lackey said "Well, He did one time."  OK. Point made.

Giving props to Palm Sunday, I still stand by my commitment to keep partisan bickering out of the pulpit.
That is hard for me, because my flesh loves it so.  As I said it seems that it is in my blood,

Both of my grandfathers were "New Deal" Democrats.

One ran for, and won public office. He served two terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing Logan Co. In later years he was a lobbyist for the United Mine Workers of America, where he courted all of the Democrat movers and shakers in the Mountain State.

The other was also active in Democrat politics, but in a very different way.  He never ran for office in his native Lincoln County, WV, but he was deeply involved in electing those from his party who did,

Papaw Adkins (Caudle Adkins, Sr.) was a faithful foot soldier for his party in Lincoln Co.  So deep were his Democratic ties, that he even had a German Shepherd named Rex, whom he had taught to sit silently when asked if he were a Republican and to bark loudly when asked "Rex, are you a Democrat?"

This drove his GOP mother in law, from neighboring Wayne Co, crazy.

Testifying to his devotion to the party, during the Great Depression, he was rewarded with a supervisory position on the Works Projects Administration (WPA).

Lincoln County was, and sadly still is, a hotbed of political shenanigans.  As recently as a few years ago, several county officials not only were removed from office for voting irregularities, but also went to prison.

Dad told me once about a time when he was a young boy living in the county seat.  On the night before local elections, he went with Papaw on a "get out the vote project" of sorts.  Dad remembered his father having several crates of small liquor bottles in the trunk of his Ford, and a huge roll of Two Dollar bills in his pocket. They traveled up one hollow after another, stopping from house to house, leaving a bottle and a $2.00 bill for any registered voter who promised to cast his vote for the slate of candidates backed by the county party machine.

Word is that the next day, there was a party official at each precinct who checked each ballot cast by the recipients of the Two Dollars and a Swaller before they went into the ballot box.  If the voter had upheld his end of the transaction, the poll worker would signal a thumbs up to a guy who was lurking around the polling place.  That thumbs up went a long way toward getting gravel on your road when needed before winter.

Dad often told of driving up one creek or another and seeing new gravel along a stretch of road in front of some houses, and just rutted, muddy, ungraveled roadway in front of the homes of those who would have had the nerve to go against the slate.

Apparently there were even dead people who often cast ballots in the Lincoln Co elections back in the day.

It occurs to me that politics hasn't really changed much here in the mountains of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky since the 30's..  Technology has advanced, but money still plays a big role in politics.  If you don't believe that, then you haven't had a television on for a while.

Money still speaks volumes in elections.  I don't know what the cost of a vote would be today, but it appears to be much higher now that "Two Dollars and a Swaller" of my Dad's day.

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