When I was in grammar school, the Mountain Hill School PTA held a Labor Day Bar-be-cue every year in the pine thicket across the road from the school.
Politicians frequently visited during election years, and in 1962, Marvin Griffin was invited.
Griffin was a veteran Georgia politician, having served as Governor from 1955 to 1959. He left office under a cloud of corruption but was trying to make a comeback in the bid for his old job.He was known as an arch-segregationist and promised to close the state’s public school system if federal authorities tried to enforce desegregation.
His opponent, the younger Carl Sanders, hailed from Augusta and entered Georgia politics in 1954 at the age of 29.Sanders ran on a progressive campaign platform, vowing to take Georgia into a new era of reformed government.
My parents were supporters of Carl Sanders and were probably in the minority among Harris County voters.
At the 1962 Labor Day Bar-Be-Cue, I watched my mother take her place in the serving line, proudly sporting a Carl Sanders for Governor campaign button. When Griffin was standing directly across from her, his eyes focused on the badge.
“Carl Sanders for Governor,” he said, with a sneer in his voice.
“Yes sir,” said my mother, flashing her signature smile. “Hope you enjoy your meal,” as she plopped that spoonful of stew on his plate with such force that he almost dropped his plate.
My dad, who is 93 years young, says that during the Depression, Union Baptist Church at Jones Crossroads, Ga. sponsored a big barbecue every year on July 4 to raise money. John Tigue, who lived on Shake Rag Road, did the cooking.
He was known as the best pig roaster in these parts.
“A plate consisted of meat, stew, sweet pickles, and a couple slices of white bread…all for 50 cents. And you talk about good…folks came from everywhere, including judges and politicians from Harris and Troup Counties.
“About 11 o’clock in the morning before the crowd got there, John would slip off down into the woods and come back dressed in all-white clothes – with a suspicious smell on his breath and smiling mighty big.
“I loved those barbecues. I was just a little boy, and I always wondered why only the judges and politicians got sick when we all ate the same food.
“When I got a little older, I realized we might have all eaten the same thing, but we didn’t all drink the same thing.”
I bet things would heat up in Iowa this Labor Day if John Tigue were around. Just imagine Donald Trump with a belly full of bar-be-que and moonshine.
Think that video would trend?