A few days ago, I wrote about the courthouse in my old hometown and mentioned playing on the lawn the night of the election returns. I didn’t know much about politics at the time but it was exciting stuff for my family. It was big entertainment to go down to the courthouse on election night and watch the returns posted on a big board on main street across from the courthouse. The only thing as exciting in those days was to hear about a rape trial or to listen to a Joe Louis fight on the radio. I didn’t even know what rape was at the time, so that never attracted my attention.
I had no idea about the political offices except for Sheriff. I knew FDR was President but that was too remote for me to pay any attention. I heard about our representatives to Congress but they were totally unimportant as far as I was concerned. As it turns out, my views as a child regarding Congress have not changed that much with my advanced age. When I was a kid, the Sheriff was the kingpin. I had been influenced by all the cowboy movies I saw. As far as I was concerned, the Sheriff ran the town. He also carried a gun and wore a badge, which identified him as the headman.
Before the election, we would also gather on the courthouse square to hear all the political speeches. We would hear from all the candidates including the County Treasurer, Judge, Commissioners, etc. The main speeches, for me, were the ones by the candidates for sheriff. They would mumble a few words and we would giggle but, as far as I was concerned, they were still like hearing an Inaugural Address or a State of the Union speech. Even when Lyndon Johnson came, in his helicopter, campaigning for the Senate in 1948 his speech was not as important as the sheriff. A senator wasn’t important to me. He didn’t even carry a gun.
The world has changed a lot since I was a kid. The Sheriff is not very important anymore. We have the FBI, CIA, ATF and huge police forces with swat teams and the like. I don’t know what the sheriff does anymore. The polls close at 7:00 PM and the TV has a projected winner at 7:01 with 1% of the votes reported. All the pundits are blabbering and I just get disgusted hearing about it. Many other things have changed since those election days in my hometown. I never heard of a Republican, especially since I grew up in a house with yellow-dog Democrats. Republicans were considered in the category of Yankees and Catholics.
Anyway, it’s nice to just sit on the porch and think about those times. It would have been fun to have been Sheriff, wear a big hat, a starched white shirt, have a big belt buckle, and a nice pair of boots. Most of all it would have been great to have a gun in a hand-tooled leather holster on my hip and a shiny badge on that white shirt.