ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Last Windrow: Thoughts on public office

I didn't think much about holding public office as I was pulling cockleburrs up by their roots in those Iowa cornfields of my youth. There wasn't a thought about taxes, budgets, zoning issues or citizen complaints as I was dispatching sunflower r...

I didn't think much about holding public office as I was pulling cockleburrs up by their roots in those Iowa cornfields of my youth.

There wasn't a thought about taxes, budgets, zoning issues or citizen complaints as I was dispatching sunflower roots from the soil. I lived a relatively carefree life in regard to politics.

Legislators all over the country are returning to their collective seats as this column is written in early January. By sometime in early May they will have made the sausage of legislation that we will all have to live with, like it or not.

Somehow as I've gotten a little more mature, I've gravitated to the discussions that go on in the hallowed halls of government. I don't know why. Perhaps I'm a little more attuned to the fact that something they do will really affect me?

I didn't think much about that as I guided that WD Allis Chalmers down the rows of new cultivated corn.

ADVERTISEMENT

The closest I ever got to politics in my youth was when I accompanied my dad to an election day polling place. It was held at a country schoolhouse a few miles from our farm. I was somewhat curious as to what his duties would be.

Would he have to give a speech? Would he have to solve some problem? No, most of what he did was take the handwritten ballots from neighbor farmers and stick them into a wooden box.

A couple of farm women brought morning lunch, noon dinner, afternoon lunch and then finally the coup de grace, the evening meal. They ate like kings!

I had an uncle who served many terms as mayor on a smalltown city council. Why he did this, I don't know. But I do know that he sold seed corn in the spring and I think he made some good contacts on the city council. He may have had ulterior motives; I don't know.

But, he did pay his penance one Thanksgiving Day. Our large family was gathered at our normal place, a church dining hall. There were all kinds and types of food prepared and the smell emanating from the kitchen was heavenly. All of those who gathered there licked their lips in anticipation of the feast, including my uncle.

He had barely time to place his fork into his first piece of turkey when the church door burst open and a good sized lady bellowed, "Is Leonard in here?"

Well, Leonard was in there with a piece of turkey now lodged in his windpipe. He coughed his way to the back door where the woman stood with a frown on her face that could melt a candle.

"You've got to do something!" she yelled. "Virgil's horse is over in my back yard again and its eating all my apples! You're the mayor, now do something!"

ADVERTISEMENT

By that time the whole family congregation was turned to see what the hubbub was about. My uncle, not saying a word, wiped the gravy from the corners of his mouth and slunk out the back door. He returned about an hour later, but not with much of an appetite. I don't know how he solved the predicament, but evidently he did.

I thought then, 'Gee, I didn't know people might get angry with you just because you've volunteered to be their mayor!' It was a lesson learned.

I've served on a village council and enough volunteer committees to fill a barn, and I know that serving the public as an official or a volunteer committee member can be a challenging occupation.

Most of those folks don't get paid much and the benefits are few and far between. But, most of them have their constituent's best interest at heart. Especially if they might be a future seed corn buyer.

We'll see what this new Legislature churns out in the next few months. Someone's horse will no doubt be eating someone else's apples when least expected. Hold onto your hats!

See you next time. Okay?

Related Topics: THE LAST WINDROW
What To Read Next
Exclusive
Local journalism is a privilege and should be promoted