James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 47



SOME THINGS just seem to naturally go together:
Southerners and pickup trucks; Mickey and Minnie
Mouse; hotdogs and French fries; fall and football; George
and Barbara Bush, etc. You get the picture, and you could
add to this short list making it much longer. I’ll add one
more: politics and food. I know. I’ve been there. Indeed,
food and politics!
But before I elaborate on how politics and food
intertwine, let me back up just a little and start with
just the politics.
Former Gov. Marvin Griffin:
Not enough votes came from his barbecue attendees.
It is 1954, a Sunday afternoon. I’m 12-years-old, and
at my Walker grandparents’ house in deep rural
Washington County on their hot (with just a little breeze
through the pecan trees) and dusty (it’s at the confluence
of Sparta-Davisboro and Centralia Rachels dirt roads)
front porch listening to the adults talk. I like to do this –
listen to their talk.
It started with the usual: Pinehill Methodist Church
and what a good job the preacher had done earlier in
the day; the crops and the prospects for rain; how the
relatives were faring (with specific names and
instances); and the big snake Papa had killed last week.
And then it happened, and my ears really perked up:
Politics! And I was hooked!
Grandma: “As you know, my brother, Carlie May,
works at Hand Trading Company in Pelham, and Mr. Fred
Hand, the Speaker of the Georgia House, is running for
governor. I’m going to be for him although they say
Marvin Griffin, Georgia’s lieutenant governor from
Bainbridge, is gonna be hard to beat.” And so it goes ‘til
all the adults agreed that they were for Mr. Hand, too.
And, so was I— and followed the race to its disappointing
conclusion with Fred Hand continuing to run his big store
in Pelham and with Governor Griffin running Georgia.
Fast forward. It’s 1962, the summer, it’s hot, and ol’
Marvin is running again, kicking off his second campaign for governor at the baseball field in Americus. I
decide to go. I wanted to see the show, and what a
show it was! Fact is, I’ve never seen anything like it,
politics wise— neither before nor since. George
Wallace— the feisty, shrewd, fiery governor of
Alabama— introduced Griffin and he made the most of
his opportunity with his electrifying, unforgettable,
racist speech. I could see then how Hitler, Mussolini and
Churchill could stir a crowd with their voices. That’s
what Wallace did. He stirred ‘em to a fever pitch.
Longtime state Senator George Hooks was also at the
kickoff and he told me about it years later. He helped
serve the food and said to me, “we served over 7,000
plates of barbeque” prompting Griffin to later quip, when
he was defeated by Carl Sanders, “they ate my barbeque
and didn’t vote for me!” continued on page 48
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8
47

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