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The Idle American
"Down with Yard Signs..."
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 • Posted May 30, 2012

The political endorsements sprouting up in front yards like Johnsongrass are a bother to Uncle Mort, my 99-year-old kin down in the thicket. “They’ve ‘pert near ruint Saturday mornings for me,” he fumed, claiming “they’re making it mighty hard to spot the yard sale signs.”

From the candidates’ point of view, surely they grow weary of hammering down stakes, handing out literature and shaking hands all the livelong day. There are invitations to debates, town hall meetings, and assorted “outings” that often have “fest” in their names.

On a recent Saturday, I watched such a “fest” spring to life. Dozens of tents sprang up, bands played and children rode ponies and miniature trains—after they got their faces painted. Various foods, crafts and assorted merchandise were displayed. The weather cooperated, and picturesque Shady Lakes Ranch, 20 minutes south of Fort Worth, was lush and inviting….

*****

Early on, I spotted Roger Williams, congressional candidate for Texas’ district 25. He offered handshakes and literature in a tent aside one that displayed hundreds of reptiles—turtles, lizards, snakes and such.

At first, I winced for the politico, wondering how many folks would choose to hurry on by to avoid the reptiles.

Then I realized that Williams, a member of the TCU Board of Trustees and a star baseball player there four decades ago, may have paid extra for the “creative placement” of a Horned Frog next to the reptile exhibit….

*****

One event at the fest fizzled. Trophies and judges were lined up for a “chili cook-off.” Alas, only one contestant showed up.

What to do? He cooked up a batch of “red,” and was awarded all four trophies.

He’ll likely display the championship trophy, box up the ones marked “first and second runner-up” and toss the booby prize inscribed “unfit to feed the hogs.”…

*****

The ranch was awash in “way back when” election memories. “When I was coming along, only the serious candidates had printed materials, nearly always on small cards ‘seeking my vote and confidence’,” an old-timer said.

Still another said caller I.D. shields him from candidates’ recorded messages. “If I don’t recognize the name of the caller, I jest don’t answer.” Several others nodded.

One person described a sheriff candidate who she believes was the most optimistic person ever….

*****

“He had a Big Chief tablet, and was knocking on every door in the county, seeking voter support,” she said. “After each visit, he’d write down voters’ names and check the ‘for’ or ‘against’ columns.”

One woman answered his door knock, but didn’t unlatch the screen door. “You are nothing but a varmint,” she blustered before the man could begin his spiel. “You won’t work, you don’t support your wife and kids, you don’t go to church, you have a foul mouth and body odor that wilts the leaves on cotton stalks. I wouldn’t vote for you if you were the last human being on earth, and if you don’t get off my property in 30 seconds, I’m gonna set the dogs on you.”

Stunned, the candidate tipped his hat and returned to his car. He turned to the vocal woman’s page in the Big Chief tablet and added a third column: “doubtful.”…

*****There were murmurings about the stock market. I told one group about my “sweet chariot stocks.” When I buy them, they “swing low.” A few bought the hype about the initial public offering of Facebook stock. “About the only thing that’s grown since the IPO of Facebook is its nose,” someone joked.As we prepared to leave, I looked back at the lake, admiring its dozen acres of glistening beauty and thankful for the underground spring that keeps it full. Evening breezes cooled, gently rippling through the leaves of giant oaks. Though just five miles from Interstate 35, the ranch retains the serenity and beauty of bygone centuries.

Within five minutes, roadside political signs reappeared, a train whistle pierced the air and we were on the Interstate again, back in the race. I happened to think of a wall sign spotted earlier: “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”…

*****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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