Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Now I get an email that may persuade one of the three to come to a final decision. There is a group of local leaders, led by... Never mind, the leader of the group has asked that I not reveal his name, not yet.
According to this email, and a follow-up phone call, there is a planned breakfast meeting scheduled in the coming weeks. During that breakfast meeting, (which I have learned will be at Ryan's Steak House in Martinsville), one of the three candidates will be asked to campaign against Ward.
I've also called the potential candidate named in the email. His response was one of surprise. "I'm pleased that guys like [redacted] would think enough of me to want me to run, but I have no plans right now to do so," he said. "Like you Alton, I've heard the rumors too. I know my name has been mentioned at times in rumors and innuendo about this, but that's all it is right now, rumor."
When I asked him if he would consider their request, if offered, he replied, "It's too early for me to say, I haven't even been invited to the breakfast you mentioned. But if that situation arises, I'll seriously consider their request."
More to come...
A business leader in Pittsylvania County, Don was persuaded to run by Senator Robert Hurt and former Senator Charles Hawkins. With support like that what else could Don do but win? He did. In an overwhelming manner.
Don himself could hardly be described as overwhelming. A true southern gentleman and unashamed Christian, Don is one of the finest people I know.
His first year in the General Assembly however, could be described as overwhelming. During a freshman year, a year in which most new Delegates simply learn their way from the best local parking spots to the GA building and where best to find coffee, Don was a factor from the beginning. He had a phenomenal freshman year, and I expect the upcoming session will showcase Don's easy personality and honest hard work just as well as his first.
Even if the Democrats do find someone to oppose Don, he still will have my wholehearted endorsement.
House of Delegates District 14.
Instead, it reflects a general feeling that seems to be affecting way too many GOP Unit leaders in Virginia, (and perhaps nationwide).
Recently my friend Shaun Kenney laid forth an open letter to the RPV (Republican Party of Virginia), and he hit on many a problem (or potential problem). I endorse most of the thoughts he expressed in that letter. (Letter available here in PDF form alternately, it is also available here, and here as a Word document.)
In this document, Kenney suggests that change should begin at the bottom, and work up to the statewide group, RPV. I agree.
Experimentally, unit committees should consider reorganizing along the following lines and principles:What exactly is Shaun saying here? My best interpretation is given in the headline above. Too many Units are "led" by people who have held their position for way too long. Long enough that they have developed a feeling of ownership of their Unit. Held so long they just "know" that no one else could possibly be more concerned for the good of the Party than they are.
- All unit committees must radically commit themselves to new media. That means a community blog focusing on issues pertinent to the locality in which they live, open to all the members of the committee (Democrats tend to use SoapBlox as their platform of choice; Drupal, Joomla, or even WordPress is suitable).
- Chairman is elected as the lead community organizer. As a first among equals, the chairman co-ordinates as a garden-variety chairman would.
- All districts and precincts are given a chairman. These individuals form the Executive Committee of any given unit committee, and targets the specific race (supervisor, city council, school board) under their jurisdiction.
- The idea of "district and precinct chairman" should be expanded to advocacy groups as well. This means anything from minority outreach1 to youth advocacy, from Republican Womens’ units to Young Republicans, all the way down to Republican Liberty Caucus organizations or Taxpayer Alliances within a locality. Every group with a "tribe" should have a seat at the table.
- The Executive Committee subsumes the role of Finance, Communications, and all grassroots activity. No vice chairs for finance, communications, membership, or any of the nominal. The Napoleonic dictum "Every soldier carries a marshal's baton in his pack" is the rule.
- A strong focus on driving a narrative both within the online community and in the traditional media should be imperative. Perception is reality; MSM outlets are typically hesitant to challenge a strong new media culture. Moreover, strong alternative outlets for information attached to the unit committee are essential.
- Surrender the message control. This is probably the most difficult thing for unit committees to learn, but increasing participation means a decrease in message control. Jefferson’s advice still rings true. "We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it" is wonderfully appropriate advice. After all, are we the party of free minds, free markets, and a free society – or are we not? It is far better to be bold (fortuna audaces juvat?) than it is to remain safe… and losing.
What is being advocated at the local level is a bold, spirited return to the principles of direct action and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Republican Party, and a direction away from the top heavy role imposed by an outmoded system of unit organization.
Unfortunately, far too often, that leads to situations such as experienced last year by Tazewell County. And Augusta County, and Fluvanna County. And who knows how many that were never challenged or publicized.
Such tactics lead others in the community, others who could be strong workers for the GOP and conservative causes, to avoid the local Unit as though it were infected with a virus. When such attitudes begin to show, it could be said that Unit really has become infected with a virus. We are what people perceive us to be, I suppose. We need to work together, as individuals, as small groups, and as what Shaun describes as "tribes" in order to grow our Units.
Far too often the growth of the Unit is feared instead of encouraged. Too many people participating in a Mass Meeting means harder work getting re-elected Chairman, that cannot be tolerated.
Horse hockey! It must be tolerated. It must be encouraged. It must be worked for.
Thankfully, there will not be any change in the Henry County local Unit's Chairmanship during this critical election cycle. Perhaps that will allow Units such as ours to function as designed without any "looking over my shoulder" antics by our leaders.
In the meantime, I suggest Shaun's letter be required reading for all Unit Chairmen and other local leaders.
Here in Henry County we will have a full slate of statewide races this year. In the House of Delegates, districts 10, 14, and 16 are all on the line. Nearby we have House of Delegates district 9 in Franklin County. A little further away, but still close to our HOD districts, we have districts 5, 8, and 6.
Needless to say, all but the 10th HOD district incumbents have earned my endorsement. Danny Marshall and Don Merricks here in Henry County have my enthusiastic support. I also fully support our neighbors Charles Poindexter, Bill Carrico, Annie B. Crockett-Stark, and Morgan Griffith.
Ward Armstrong, in the 10th District, warrants a closer look. Ward and I went to school together, though I doubt he remembers it. He was the same spoilt brat then that he seems to be now in the HOD.
That sense of entitlement that you perceive when speaking to Ward? That feeling of superiority that you feel he harbors? They have been there for years. Sure, Ward really is an intelligent guy. He's probably more intelligent than you. You instinctively know it. He knows it. And he doesn't mind knowing that you know it. And he doesn't mind that he knows that you know it. In fact, he thrives on knowing that you know it. The only thing that could ever possibly bother him is thinking that you don't know it.
Ward openly considers himself the reincarnation of his political mentor, A.L. Philpott. Ward's greatest ambition is to be Speaker of the House. He cares little about Henry, Patrick, or Carroll County. In fact, he's been heard to openly disparage the good folks out in Carroll.
What Ward depends upon is his constituents short memory and certain habitual voters diminished mental capacity to remember that A.L. was a really conservative Democrat. I mean REALLY conservative. More conservative than the most reviled "right wing extremist" is now perceived to be. Albert L. supported the closing of entire school districts in order to maintain segregation. Albert L. supported most, if not all of the DixieCrat platform that denied the legitimacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King. Albert L. even loved himself a good cockfight, Roscoe.
Come on, Henry, Patrick, Floyd and Carroll County. This is perhaps Virginia's most conservative area. But we are not the conservatives once represented by A.L. Philpott and his ilk. Philpott did have his endearing qualities. He was important in a Virginia History kind of way. He was important for Henry County and Martinsville in many ways. He was a faithful supporter of our local industries and lifestyle. But he was no more a present day Democrat than I am. Why do we continue to vote for those that claim him as their legacy, yet are so far removed from his record and ideology? Why do we continue to vote for our homegrown pair of losers? Ward and Roscoe must go! We vote for his legacies simply because we do not know better. It's time we learned better.
Ward is dependent upon these "habitual voters". Those who go into the voting booth and see that familiar name, "Ward Armstrong", and habitually hit the lever. Or "enter" key, or whatever new technology they come up with next.
Enough for now about Ward. I'll be introducing his opponent, (there are three currently rumored to be considering), whenever one announces.
In the following days I'll be announcing my endorsements for the 2009 election cycle.
Of course I support our incumbents in the 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 14th, and 16th HOD districts.
Bill, Annie B., Morgan, Charles, Danny, and Don will represent our conservative principles with vigor in each and every legislative session.
I'll be going into more detail on each in the following days, along with individual articles on each of our statewide races.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
by O. Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."
The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."
Down rippled the brown cascade.
"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick," said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.
"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"
And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
It's really tough work sorting through the entries, deciding which goes where, which belong together, and which should be highlighted, then writing a short introduction for each link. Who does it better than Kat? No one.
Mash your mouse here to get a Christmas Eve's worth of Christmas Spirit.
Thanks Kat, for all you do.
I'm a patient guy, so when Blogrolling went belly-up a few months ago I was not too disturbed. I'm through being patient.
When I created the ODBA widget I also created one for our friends at the Jeffersoniad. I hope you guys will use and enjoy it.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Again, I present the words of Luke, as he describes the reason for our annual celebration.
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
If you answered "yes" to each of the above questions I have the offer you have been looking for.
Submit a sample of your best conservative writing to either of the email links on my right sidebar and you may become a valued contributor to this website.
Friday, December 19, 2008
This one was devious. It prevented any connection with any of my anti-virus software websites for updates, it prevented most anti-virus software from even running, it kept popping up Internet Explorer (which I never use) windows. It pretty much had me dead in the water.
I've managed to remove most of this infection manually, but vestiges of the virus remain. Anyway, I'm back online now and working more or less normally.
Ironically, it was a Facebook connection that steered me toward the RPV Network. I'm glad I followed that link down the rabbit hole. Go by the RPV Network and join up if you are a Republican and proud of it.
Then request a friend to join as well.
"Bah, humbug!" No, that's too strong
'Cause it is my favorite holiday
But all this year's been a busy blur
Don't think I have the energy
To add to my already mad rush
Just 'cause it 'tis the season.
The perfect gift for me would be
Completions and connections left from
Last year, ski shop,
Encounter, most interesting.
Had his number but never the time
Most of '81 passed along those lines.
So deck those halls, trim those trees
Raise up cups of Christmas cheer,
I just need to catch my breath,
Christmas by myself this year.
Calendar picture, frozen landscape,
Chilled this room for twenty-four days,
Evergreens, sparkling snow
Get this winter over with!
Flashback to springtime, saw him again,
Would've been good to go for lunch,
Couldn't agree when we were both free,
We tried, we said we'd keep in touch.
Didn't, of course, 'til summertime,
Out to the beach to his boat could I join him?
No, this time it was me,
Sunburn in the third degree.
Now the calendar's just one page
And, of course, I am excited
Tonight's the night, but I've set my mind
Not to do too much about it.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Hardly dashing through the snow
Cause I bundled up too tight
Last minute have-to-do's
A few cards a few calls
'Cause it's r-s-v-p
No thanks, no party lights
It's Christmas Eve, gonna relax
Turned down all of my invites.
Last fall I had a night to myself,
Same guy called, halloween party,
Waited all night for him to show,
This time his car wouldn't go,
Forget it, it's cold, it's getting late,
Trudge on home to celebrate
In a quiet way, unwind
Doing Christmas right this time.
A&P has provided me
With the world's smallest turkey
Already in the oven, nice and hot
Oh damn! Guess what I forgot?
So on with the boots, back out in the snow
To the only all-night grocery,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
In the line is that guy I've been chasing all year!
"I'm spending this one alone," he said.
"Need a break; this year's been crazy."
I said, "Me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?"
Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic's brought this tale
To a very happy ending!
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn't miss this one this year!
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn't miss this one this year!
The video I had here originally was pulled by YouTube, this one, while not quite as good, is the best I could find.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
A little housekeeping first.
I've been lax. Very lax. But only where this page is concerned. Otherwise I've been quite busy lately.
Those of you who do not speak with me often by phone do not know that I have recently begun teaching at a small private school here in Henry County. Imagine that. Me, actually teaching young heads full of mush.
In my somewhat colorful life I've thoroughly enjoyed three quite different careers. I began my working life, after the typical youthful endeavors at Dairy Queen and a couple of retail jobs, as a long-distance trucker. The open road, a Jack Kerouac type of lifestyle, and small towns and large cities all over America was a highly educational experience for me. And a devastating influence on a young marriage. I came home one weekend to discover that my sole possessions were a rocking chair and a telephone. (Centel owned the phones at that time, so I suppose all I really owned was that rocking chair.) She even took my clothes.
Soon enough I met the one who was to become my second wife, a beautiful petite lady with an incredible trained singing voice with whom I fell deeply in love. Karen was from Nelson County, Piney River to be precise, and a graduate of James Madison University where she majored in voice and was the recently divorced choral director at a local high school when she moved into the apartment across the hall from me in Collinsville. I remember thinking on that first day, while I helped some guy move her piano from a truck to her new living space, that she looked great in a pair of tight jeans. Yes, I remember them well. Some sort of short-pile velvet or velour that was in fashion in 1980, not plain old denim. And a deep purple. Not the ordinary blue. There was nothing ordinary about her.
A year or so later we were married and moved to Florida. Bradenton is, (or was then), a small town south of Tampa on the west coast of Florida, just north of Sarasota. We called it home. I soon began my second career as a pool contractor. I designed and built swimming pools for the rich, famous, and regular-old citizens of southwest Florida. (Side note: among my customers was Greg Allman, Dik Browne, John D. McDonald, and Lucille Ball. Two of those you may have to Google. If you do you might notice that I may have soaked up some influence from one or two of them during our frequent beer or whiskey-fueled pool-side chats. No, I never had a "pool-side chat" with Ms. Ball. She was famous, but not very friendly.)
It was in Florida, during the Reagan campaign, that I first became politically active. I had always been a political thinker, but there I began actually working on political campaigns and working on civic projects.
I had a very lucrative contract with the City of Bradenton to install all of their playground equipment at parks and such which gave me access to the entire City Council, the Mayor, and at times, Governor Bob Graham. Mr. Graham was one of a very short list of Democratic politicians I have truly liked and enjoyed the company of. I became active in the local Republican Party, and was even asked to run for elected office. A request I constantly declined.
I have a tendency to screw up my life when it’s going particularly well, and my time in Bradenton and my second marriage presented just such an opportunity.
A not remarkably pretty, but very sexy, customer invited me to violate my marriage vows. I accepted the invitation. Repeatedly. She loved the music of Jimmy Buffett. I loved sex. I got caught. End of marriage. I hardly ever listen to Jimmy Buffett anymore. I broke Karen’s heart. I still kick myself. I miss Karen.
Life goes on.
Things eventually began to shake out, I found myself entering my third career. I became a field engineer for a tiny little division of Eaton Corp, Eaton-Kenway. Based in Salt Lake City, Kenway was the manufacturer of industrial automated material handling systems. A fancy way of saying industrial robots. My experience designing and building my own electrical controls for my customer's highly automated custom pools was the doorway that I was able to use to gain access to this new career.
As a "field engineer" at Kenway I was one of a group of guys who took the ideas and designs of the "real engineers" in that big glass building in Salt Lake City and made them work in the real world. Electrical one day, mechanical the next, there were always bugs that had to be worked out once the ideas were actually implemented. I loved the challenge, and I was always able to eventually make the big yellow machines do whatever task they were designed to do.
I spent the next fifteen years as an itinerant bachelor engineer, specializing in electrical engineering, first at Kenway, then in the coalfields of southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern West Virginia.
In 2001 I met the third Mrs. Alton B. Foley. The former Shelia R. Tester was another recent divorcee. Do I notice a pattern here? She had recently moved back to Hurley, VA from Daytona after a rather difficult second marriage.
Shelia and I were married in early 2001, and I became an immediate father to a couple of great step-children, Dana, an 8 year old girl and Jake, a 12 year old boy. (Way back at the beginning of this story my own daughter was born, now 33 year-old Tonya.)
This was an entirely new experience for me. Never before had I showered each morning with a redhead, a brunette, and two blondes. Along with an 8 year-old step daughter come Barbies and Barbie buddies everywhere, even in the tub.
I never had a chance to screw this one up. One day in 2005, during our ritual after work coffee-cigarette-and-more-coffee on the carport, Shelia informed me that she no longer wanted to be married. At least not to me.
Life goes on.
I moved to Richlands,VA, switched over to mechanical engineering, still in the coal industry, and tried to enjoy life. I couldn’t.
Later that year I moved back to Henry County and found employment as an electrical engineer, (ahh, familiarity), and plant engineer in Stuart, VA.
That job ended about a year ago. Here in economically depressed Henry County, with my skill set and lack of an honest degree, I may as well be a deep sea diver for all the employment opportunities that are present.
I was recently asked to teach in this small private school. I fit the position and it fits me. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been, and this job is a real blast. Welcome career number four.
I am now living at the former home of Virginia's governor from 1954 to 1958, Thomas B. Stanley. Now owned by an attorney in New Jersey, I am the caretaker of the estate. I am writing this from a room on the second floor that was probably some sort of sitting room when Gov. Stanley lived here, it's now my office. Future articles here will describe the estate and provide pictures.
I’m still a bachelor, though. I do miss being married. And no, this is not a veiled plea for a wife in any manner, shape, or form. Mrs. Foley number four, if she exists, will present herself in due time.