County Lines by Bob
I was recently asked why I don't write about issues instead of
telling stories in North County Lines. Okay, I'll try. But to keep
from being controversial, I'll stick to topics like religion and
While thumbing through a big city newspaper, I saw a letter to
the editor from a Jewish teenager. Following a lead sentence about
his Bar Mitzvah and a trip to Israel with his parents, the 13-year-old
wrote, "I disagree with those who call Israel the Promised
Land. I was born and raised in the United States of America. This
is the Promised Land."
A picnic to honor baseball great Jackie Robinson brought outcries
of racism from students at the University of New York. The students
claimed picnic originally referred to lynchings of blacks. Not true.
Picnic is a 17th-century French word that describes a gathering
in which each person brings a different food.
Jackie Robinson wouldn't have objected to the word picnic. He endured
the boos and the threats, the thrown bottles and the hate mail.
Jackie Robinson fought too many real battles to waste time protesting
Many who call themselves Christians say they want public prayer
even though Jesus instructed his followers not to participate in
public displays of religion.
Many who say they're in favor of public prayer don't know what
they want. The answers to the following questions will illustrate
what I mean.
Would you want to participate in a Christian prayer at a public
function? Would you want to participate in a Hindu prayer at a public
function? Would you want to participate in a Moslem prayer at a
public function? Would you want to participate in a Buddhist prayer
at a public function?
If you answered yes to all four questions, you're in favor of public
prayer. If you answered yes to only one, your bias is intact.
Ho. Hum. Bush or Gore for president. How boring. Does it really
matter if Tweedledee or Tweddledumber is elected?
Both are cut from the same fabric. Neither knows what working for
a living is like. Neither understands what hard times are.
Both are spoiled children of rich parents. Both are boys, middle-aged,
but boys nevertheless. "Mommy, Daddy, help me. I can't win
without you.Ó "Daddy, Mommy, make him stop slinging mud at
We don't need boys running this country. We need capable leaders,
molded in the likeness of Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.
Good ol' Rough and Ready. Didn't back down from anything. Spoke
his mind. Didn't straddle the fence for votes from each side. Cared
about working Americans, about veterans. Broke the backs of big
businesses that had grown rich through the labors of women and children
who worked in hell holes 16 hours a day, every day.
Good ol' Ike. Led the allied forces to victory on the European
front. Stopped the Korean War. Spoke out against the C.I.A. Called
his Vice President a liar and a crook when Nixon got caught taking
bribes and denied it on TV.
Many people think Johnson or Kennedy was the first president to
send troops into a state to stop racist acts. Many people are wrong.
In 1958, a governor ordered the National Guard in his state to
prevent blacks from registering to vote instead of providing protection
for the blacks as Eisenhower had ordered.
Ike didn't hesitate. He sent in paratroopers. Not being stupid
enough to face soldiers who knew how to fight, the weekend warriors
hightailed it to safety. The paratroopers restored order and carried
out Ike's command.
Paratroopers are tough. While drinking in a stripper bar in North
Carolina, I watched four of them go up against a dozen or more members
of a motorcycle gang.
When the brawl was over, the paratroopers were standing. The motorcycle
thugs who weren't unconscious had beat it out the door.
A year earlier, in 1969, I buzzed my hair off, when long hair became
fashionable instead of a sign of contempt for the actions of a corrupt
When lawyers and insurance salesmen began wearing their hair long,
I knew my shoulder-length growth had to go.
Thinking I was one of their kind or similar because of my buzz
cut, the paratroopers headed in my direction.
"Whatcha drinking?" one of them asked.
"Double shot of tequila," I replied.
"Chasing it with anything?Ó another one asked.
"Yeah," I said, "a double shot of tequila."
"Set him up, barkeep," another one said, "and keep
I'm not bragging. But my capacity for alcohol was almost limitless
during my younger days.
Three hours later, the paratroopers were too drunk to move and
I was just getting wound up when the first stripper of the night
jiggled onto the stage.
Billed as Wanda the Amazing Snake Woman, she danced with a boa
constrictor that hissed and slithered every time she wiggled her
. . . Oops, I almost forgot. I'm not supposed to be telling a story.
I'm supposed to be writing about issues. Which is so important,
I might do the same next week or next year or the year after. But
don't count on it.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570