James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 48

Barbeque, B.B.Q., Bar BQ, etc., is the meal of choice
of politicians in Georgia, closely followed by fried catfish.
But that’s not all that your elected officials eat, and have
to eat. I know, I’ve been there.
When you’re in politics, you get lots of “free food and
drinks” offered to you. But none of it is free. It comes with
a price. And, if you’re not really careful, you gain lots of
weight and become indebted to the providers of the “free
drinks and meals.”
And the things you eat. I’ve eaten antelope, rattlesnake, wild hog (and every other part of the hog except
the squeal), a ton of baked chicken, fried chicken, two
tons of grits and just about anything and everything a
man can eat and should not eat.
One thing we were served tons of were English peas.
The Environmental Protection Division should check on
this. There’s more canned English peas going into our
landfills than other things. I think the English pea lobby is
one of the strongest in Atlanta, just behind the banks and
Georgia Power.
Now, to something more exotic. Jesse Derrick, a veterinarian from Macon County, used to have a mountain
oyster supper there every year. If you don’t know what
mountain oysters are, ask an older, retired politician. Dr.
Derrick would serve mountain oysters and chitlins. I represented Macon County, was expected to go, did, and
was expected to partake of the mountain oysters and the
chitlins. So I did. As the crowd watched to see what I
would do, I’d take one bite of the oysters and one bite of
the chitlins. The least amount of the vote I ever got in
Macon County was about 75 percent.
Lastly, let me tell you about one of the highest honors
I ever received when hosted by our present House
Speaker David Ralston’s father, David Walton Ralston, the
longtime Gilmer County clerk of the court. I was the
guest of honor at a fish fry he hosted on the banks of a
mountain creek up there. Mr. Ralston told David, and
David told me later, that his father said, “Larry was the
only Democrat I ever had a fish fry for!” Back then I was a
Democratic member of the Georgia House.
So, the bond between food and politics is an ancient
one, and how you handle it can determine how well you
do and how long you last. Eat what your host puts forth—
at least one bite. And, when you are feeding the potential
supporters, be careful lest they eat your barbeque and
don’t vote for you.
Oh, I was about to forget. I ate lots of crow during my
political career. It was not good, and was hard to swallow.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry, a former state legislator and
a one-time member of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8


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