Makes me want to holler

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The older I get, the more like my Granddaddy Strickland I become.

Granddaddy lived in Cotton, Ga., and was married to Big Mama. We all went to the same church and, after church, even though Big Mama would say, “I don’t have much, but ya’ll come on and eat with us,” we’d go to their house and have a great Sunday lunch. I wonder what it would have been like if she had had a lot!

Granddaddy, who died much too early to suit me, liked to read The Atlanta Constitution, then rant and rave about the latest, liberal column written by their famous editor and publisher, Ralph McGill. McGill won a Pulitzer Prize in 1959 and was known for his anti-segregationist views, which were not too popular in southwest Georgia and especially not too popular with Granddaddy Strickland.

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He’d sit on the front porch swing or in his favorite chair and, while rolling a Prince Albert cigarette, he’d hold court on the latest pontification by McGill. To say that Granddaddy Strickland had an opinion and did not hesitate to voice it would be an understatement. But I loved him and loved seeing his passion for a way of life that was pretty, doggone good.

Today, he’d be an avid watcher of Fox News and a supporter of the Tea Party movement. It’s a different world now, but the passion of a patriot, like Granddaddy Strickland, is stoked by the feeling that our country is headed in the wrong direction.

When I say that I get more like him everyday, I am talking about how articles, columns and interviews on television send me off in crazy directions like Ralph McGill’s opinions used to make Granddaddy get red in the face and talk to himself.

Big Mama had to intervene.

“Carl,” she would say, “you’re just going to have to stop reading that Atlanta newspaper. It’s too bad for your blood pressure.”

I guess I’m going to have to stop reading The Washington Post.

This morning, as I was drinking my coffee, as I do every morning, I was checking out the front page of that liberal newspaper. An article caught my attention and I read it. I almost went crazy and started talking to myself.

The article was about the Washington, D.C., public schools and how a decision had been made to begin serving supper to 10,000 of their students. They already serve them free or reduced-priced breakfast and lunch. Now, they figured that they needed to keep them from going home hungry, so at the cost of $5.7 million, they would furnish them with their third meal of the day.

“What!!!!!” I screamed at the computer screen.

I’m glad my Granddaddy Strickland, who was a “yellow dog” Democrat, won’t have to read this article. By the way, a “yellow dog” Democrat was, generally speaking, a southerner who, because of Abraham Lincoln, said “I’d vote for a yellow dog before I would vote for a Republican.”

That whirring sound you would hear if you walked past my Granddaddy’s grave is the sound made by someone spinning and turning over and over, very quickly, in his grave. That’s the result of today’s changes.

Now, let me get this straight. Over one-fourth of the D.C.-grade school children will be taught, not math or reading or history and science, but that the school system (say government) will be responsible for their breakfast, lunch and dinner. That makes me want to holler.

I’m not against the care of children and youth. This country, with all of its wealth and blessings, ought to be able to feed its people, especially children who have not reached an age of accountability, but something ain’t right when public schools are laden with the responsibility of doing it. Very simply, that’s not the purpose of public schools.

And here is the irony. These children who are being fed come from an area of DC that has a 43 percent negative factor regarding obesity. On one hand, these children are judged “in need” of nutritional help, yet on the other hand, they are overweight and obese. I’m starting to talk to myself again.

Another question is what about the food stamps that are given to these families?

Speaking plainly, these are the families, not just in D.C., but all around the country that are receiving help from a governmental program that costs almost $75 billion. One would think that if the schools are going to be responsible for serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, that total can be reduced significantly. Think it will be?

Politicians and pundits are trying to figure out the American populace. Why has a huge segment become so angry and frustrated?

People who have never carried signs of protest are gathering in groups all over the country. Ordinary folks who have worked hard all their lives and been a part of what used to be known as the American dream are mad.

Why are they mad?

Why are they, figuratively, hanging out the windows and yelling, “We’re mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore.” (a quote from the movie Network).

It’s not because of the reasons some want to say. It’s not racism. It’s not selfishness. It’s not an uncaring attitude. It’s not Democrat or Republican. It’s about the time-honored traditions and principles that made this country great.

They are not seeing them put into action by the people they have voted into offices to protect those traditions and principles.

The president is right about one thing. The car that is called America is certainly in the ditch. He uses that analogy, along with his silly “D” or “R” reference as to who gets the keys to try and drive the car out. These people who are mad don’t care if there is a “D” or an “R” behind the name.

What they want is someone with a lick of sense and the courage to use it!