Madison County Opinion...

OCTOBER 9, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 9, 2002

Frankly Speaking
For once, I agree with the McKinneys
We Southern ladies and gentlemen are required to look for areas of agreement with those whom we disagree. That is one of the meanings of “love your enemies.” Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I announce that I agree with Rep. McKinney’s latest statements.
The McKinneys, father and daughter, have soundly criticized Georgia’s political system that allowed Republicans to vote in the Democratic Primary. It was this crossover voting that helped remove them from office.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled that they have been eliminated from the state and national legislatures. The McKinneys have been a source of embarrassment for Georgia for many years, and we are much better off without them. But when they are right, we need to acknowledge their correctness.
Any political party is a private organization. Each party has its own bylaws that determines who is eligible for membership. They exist for the purpose of influencing political opinion and electing people who reflect their opinions.
As a private organization, each party should have the right to determine eligibility for membership. It should have the right to choose those candidates it wishes to support. This process should be free of outside interference.
But in Georgia, the two major parties have been rolled into the state’s election and governing process. In other words, the Democrats and Republicans are no longer private, independent political bodies. They are now part of the state government. State law requires that taxpayers support the party primaries. State rules determine who can vote in those primaries, and who is eligible to run for office. That is wrong for two reasons.
First, the two major parties are no longer private organizations. They have lost their independence. They can’t even determine their own membership.
Second, the system shuts out any other political organization from any chance of electing their candidates. It is virtually impossible for anyone who is not a member of one of the two major parties to be elected. In most cases, minor party and independent candidates cannot even get on the ballot!
This year, the two best organized minor parties, the Libertarians and the Greens, attempted to place numerous candidates on the ballot. A tiny percentage of them were successful. Most were shut out by Georgia’s ballot restrictions. In many cases, we go into the November elections with only one candidate on the ballot. In many cases, Libertarian or Green candidates tried to gain ballot access and were denied. In these cases “We the people” are left with no choice.
Billie McKinney is right. The Republicans should not have been allowed to vote against him or his daughter in the Democratic primary. Nor should Democrats have been allowed to vote against Bob Barr in the Republican primary.
I now have found a point of agreement with the McKinneys. I feel better about that. Now, I can start looking for some way to agree with Barbara Streisand. Boy, that will be hard to do!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
October 9, 2002

A Moment With Margie
A treasure trove of memories
When I was a kid, my mother constantly chided me about being a pack rat. I saved everything: school papers, ticket stubs, cards, notes, old toys, etc.
But when she died I found out a secret about her. She was a pack rat too.
In the top drawer of the antique chest of drawers we now use, she had saved every card, some school papers, Bible verses, some of my dad’s clothing (he had passed away years before), old news clippings, etc.
I was amazed, but also grateful, for in going through those things I found a treasure trove of insight into who my mother really was and the things that were important to her.
Since then, I have kept a great deal of my own treasures in the same chest-of-drawers, using the bottom drawer instead of the top one.
This past weekend, at the urging of my husband Charles, I decided to clean out my drawer and relocate its contents to a large (and I mean LARGE) plastic container. You see, my dear husband needs an additional sock drawer, for he is the proud owner of the largest sock collection in the world. He will deny this if asked, but it is true. Our kids will vouch for it too.
But back to my story. I have eyed the drawer for the past few weeks with trepidation, because I knew I couldn’t just “clean it out.” I knew I would have to look at everything and that it would take hours.
I was right, it did take hours and I am mentally and emotionally exhausted, but also strangely refreshed. I have taken a journey backwards into my own life, a trip down memory lane, if you will.
I have laughed and cried. I have been amazed at what I have kept — and totally forgotten — and I have been uplifted by those who have touched my life in so many ways.
The following are just a few odds and ends from my collection.
From my childhood there’s an old yellow stuffed toy poodle, named Frenchie, that my dad gave me for my tenth birthday, which was just before he died. Frenchie cost $1.99 (I kept the tag too). He was my prized possession for years and I slept with him well into my teens. Mama even made little collars and “outfits” for him. His fur is almost gone now, his stitches are stretched and he’s very floppy. But unlike the Velveteen Rabbit, he’s precious to me and I’ll never throw him away. There’s my once shiny black patton leather shoes that I loved so much and other things, including, for some reason, a plastic lizard (?).
There are my daddy’s hats, his summer hat and his winter hat. There’s my mother’s wallet with her final pay stub. I have her last grocery list, the pictures of my brother’s kids she kept in her wallet, now adults with children of their own, here they are frozen forever at the ages she knew them. There’s her valedictorian speech from Flint River School, her driver’s license and also my dad’s last license, courtesy of her own “pack rating” habits.
A large section of the drawer was made up of stacks of letters, notes and cards from Charles and the kids. Some were so sweet they made me cry. My husband is one of those rare men who writes very sweet letters, still does (I’m sure I’m embarrassing him) and rereading them helped me remember our almost quarter of a century of life together. The kids letters were sweet and amusing, their declarations of love so honest and uncomplicated.
There were also many hilarious items.
Among those, I found a little “ditty” Charles wrote, apparently not to me but about me and the kids after (or during) a particularly unpleasant shopping trip when the kids were small. It was scrawled on the back of an envelope and Charles says he has no recollection of writing it (he probably blanked it out).
It goes: “We went to town, stayed in town, my children cried, I felt like I had died. My wife has spent and as my money went, Miranda was good (‘bout like a gangster hood), Zachary was himself, ripping everything off the shelf. The day was long and the whole thing was wrong.”
I laughed until tears streamed down my face over that find.
Another jewel, found taped to the door of my daughter’s room at about age 5 was also amusing. It read: “I ran away so stay out of my room. P.S. your unfaithful dotter.” (Later she was discovered hiding in her closet.)
And not to leave my son Zack out, here’s one from him as well at about the same age: “From Zack To Momo and Daddy. Momo, I hope you feel better soon. Daddy, I hope your foot feels better. I hope both of you feel better soon...Besides, what did you get me for Xmas?”
There are also numerous things from others, like a letter from a friend after my mother died that did much to encourage me then - and now.
Then there’s a shoe box full of letters from my best friend Phyllis during the years she lived in upstate New York - reading through those made me remember just some of the reasons why I love her so dearly, and to appreciate once again that she’s back home in Georgia.
And then I found, treasure of forgotten treasures, a collection of my friend Carlene’s poems and childhood remembrances. Carlene, former Journal editor, died in 1997. She was a dear friend for many years and like a second mother to me. Reading her words brought her back to me again. She was an artist and also a great writer, although she never thought so, and wrote wonderful poems. One, called “Autumn in Georgia,” called up this time of year she loved so much.
Another, titled “By God’s Design” sums up the Carlene I knew so well and the way she lived her life.
Part of it goes: “I don’t want to live my life on the outside looking in. I don’t want to fill this space where someone should have been.
I just want to care enough to make some sort of change. A loving heart - an open mind. The things God can arrange.”
As I’ve been doing this, going through my treasures (for that is what they are, much more than money, or any other material possession), I’ve tried to label some things so that one day when I’m gone those whose task it is to go through them will also learn a little more about the “who” and the “why” of me.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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