Kesley Colbert
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Between a political rock and a hard place

I have told you I am getting out of this writing business, and I mean it. But a beautiful young girl in the Omnibus Class at Faith Christian School asked if I was a Democrat or a Republican. Good golly, I’ve had that very story in mind for the last 10 years… I just didn’t know how to start it.

And this may be the most confusing tale of my entire life.

I grew up in West Tennessee in the 1950s. Everybody there was a Democrat. We ran through fields of clover, explored the big ditch down behind George Sexton’s house, drank lemonade on the porch, chased butterflies and Brenda Ellis up Stonewall Street. We never one time discussed the etymology of political parties.

It just never came up as how most all of the South got to be Democrats. Good sense would tell you there was some kind of history there. But George, Brenda, and the butterflies didn’t seem to care. If it was good enough for our grandparents, parents, in-laws, the county judge….

We didn’t know, of course, if we were blessed, or cursed!

You had to figure there was some difference between the parties. But it was a might tougher than you’d think to sort that out as a teenager in an antebellum state in the days of Elvis and hula hoops; we didn’t know what a Republican looked like!

Somebody said the farm parts salesman from Paducah was a Republican. Well, you can bet your bottom dollar we all gathered up in front of McCadams Tractor and Implement Company the next time he came to town.

He was a big fellow with a tie and a crew cut. He reminded me a lot of Janice Ridley’s father. He looked as ordinary as spinach and rainwater. He didn’t have any horns if that is what you are thinking. He was carrying a briefcase and he waved to us when he got back in his Buick.

If he was, in fact, a Republican, it was a pretty disappointing sight to everyone in the crowd. He looked as plain and normal as the rest of us. Plus, he wasn’t from Illinois, that’s where Mr. Bailey Moore Wrinkle told us boys all Republicans came from. 

When I got old enough to vote, I didn’t have to sign up as a Democrat, it was done by osmosis back then… in our neck of the South.

It was pretty much the same when I arrived in Port St. Joe, Florida, in 1969. But, as you full well know, the times they were a’changing! I woke up a few years ago to find more Republicans around me than I ever thought possible.

Here’s the interesting part, they had some good ideas. It kinda went against my upbringing, but I got to noticing they were just as regular as that tall tractor salesman from Paducah. And they were springing up like flies at a late July taffy pull.

That’s when I checked with the boys back home. They told me you couldn’t find a Democrat in Tennessee nowadays. I don’t have no idea when, where, or how so many of them left the South. And I am just as lost as to when, where, and how all these Republicans began saying “y’all” and asking for “grits and sweet tea.”

I saw that movie, “Trading Places,” but it wasn’t anything like this! To say the least, the whole political party “State of the Union” thing has gotten a little out of hand.

And it can get “dog house” personal. I had a good friend at church who was going to be affected by a Republican primary vote, I temporarily switched parties to support him. I did apologize to my long-departed grandfather and the memory of Bailey Moore Wrinkle before I made the change.

I was headed down to the Supervisor of Elections to switch back when I got to thinking, “Not one Democratic friend has told me they missed me,” I didn’t get a letter from the state association as to any regret on their part that I had left. The President’s office didn’t call. Apparently, I’m not a “necessary cog” in that party.

On the other hand, not one Republican has thanked me for my service. I got no letter from the land of Lincoln welcoming me with open arms. I haven’t heard a word from them on the national or state level. The NRA hasn’t even contacted me!

You’d think my vote is not important to either group. But that might not be the case. I do keep getting daily heartfelt invitations from both to send money to “help keep the other party” out of office. It seems they don’t want to be “in” as much as they don’t want the other guy hogging all of the spotlight.

Life was much simpler chasing Brenda Ellis up Stonewall Street….



Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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