A Toss of Fate: Candidates settled their deadlock by flipping coin
HOWARD COUNTY is still one of the rare places where the outcome of a political race was actually determined by the flip of a coin.
A visitor to “The Leader” last week was the multi-talented David Young who recalled his race for county judge as a 29-year-old storekeeper and logtruck driver, 40-plus years ago.
His business had recently burned and he needed something to do. So with some encouragement from friends he decided to challenge incumbent County Judge Ed Reese. A well-known citizen, Ebb Dyer, also got in the race. The three men all campaigned hard in that spring of 1972. The Democratic Party primary was tantamount to election in those days because no one would admit to being a Republican.
Judge Reese led in voting the first time around, but didn’t get a majority.
Ebb had one more vote than David for that second spot in the runoff. But David decided he would risk $50 for a recount in hopes of nudging into the runoff. The county’s Democrat Party chairman, the late Lonnie Walden, had each candidate get a representative to be present for the recount. And that recount gained one vote for David.
You’ve got to settle this tie somehow, Lonnie said, otherwise we’ll declare Judge Reese to be the winner.
Ebb and David decided to settle the issue with the toss of a coin. The winner would reimburse the loser his $500 filing fee.
The two candidates isolated themselves in a room in the courthouse. David remembers that he tossed the coin and it rolled around on the floor. Ebb picked it up to see who won.
It was David’s side of the coin which was facing up. David doesn’t remember if it was a nickel, dime, quarter or half-dollar. In the end it was a moot point because Judge Reese won the runoff two weeks later.
As I said, David is nothing if not multi-talented. Among his current interests is teaching people to play the fiddle. Its not going to make him wealthy, but teaching someone to play a musical instrument must be very satisfying.
A group ranging in age from kids to geezers meets on Tuesday nights at the Temperanceville Baptist Church out on the Center Point Highway, and David is going to let me come watch/listen some night soon, if I apologize for what you are about to read. I’m trying to imagine what a roomful of enthusiastic but amateur fiddlers sounds like, and it ain’t pretty.
David began giving fiddle lessons after I offended him by quoting a violin teacher’s answer to my question about the difference between a violin and a fiddle.
“It’s between the ears of the musician,” she answered.
David’s nose is still out of joint. But to be fair, he says, in the future he’ll toss a coin to determine whether someone is playing a fiddle or a violin.
ARKANSAS ROAD TRIP. I’m writing a separate article about my road trip last weekend to see the WWII Japanese Internment Camps at Rowher and at Jerome, waaaaaay over by the Mississippi River in eastern Arkansas.
Arkansas had two of 10 such camps scattered about the U.S. in our panic after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. A total of about 14,700 Japanese-Americans lived in the two Arkansas camps.
But first, I want to tell you about the towns of McGehee and Dermott which the Navigator and I drove through whilst on this road trip. Things are so bad in McGehee and Dermott that instead of hanging Christmas banners from downtown lightposts, they’ve hung Salvation Army flags.
I also want to say that I greatly missed in my estimate of how long it would take to get to the camps which are now merely small fenced enclosures surrounded by cotton fields. It is a looooong way across southern Arkansas. My Arkansas Road Trips have taken me to Mt. Nebo, Petit Jean, Pea Ridge Civil War National Park, civil war sites at Jenkins Ferry and Poison Springs, Arkansas Post, Pinnacle Mountain and Footsie’s at Antoine, among other incredibly interesting places.
But something about Rowher really touched my heart. Standing there in that empty cotton field I was both depressed and uplifted.
REMEMBERED. Sammie Cox was a small guy with a big heart and big ideas. He was a Dierks grad, who started out as a lineman with SWEPCO. He worked his way up the corporate ladder, and when he died last week at age 65 he was a well-known lobbyist with the electric utility. Sammie’s great service to you and me was about 20 volunteer years with what is today called the Nashville Economic Development Committee. Sammy was the longtime secretary of the group which worked to bring jobs to town and to assist existing industry.
He had moved to the Ft. Worth/Dallas area and apparently died at his home Saturday, Jan. 5. A memorial service is planned at Dierks, Saturday.
Peace to his family, and thanks to the Almighty for putting such people among us.
PUNS AND adult truths from my piano friend at Fellowship: Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?
HE SAID: “If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?” Milton Berle, commedian
SHE SAID: “Guilt is the price we pay willingly for doing what we are going to do anyway.” Isabelle Holland, writer
SWEET DREAMS, Baby