by Pettus Read
'I owe all of my success to a white, enamel drinking dipper with a red ring around the edge.' - Pettus L. Read, December 8,1997
Yes, I said those words several years ago and still hold to their importance that a enamel water dipper helped to make me what I am today. Some people would disagree that the suggestion of a water dipper could make anyone a better person, and I understand everyone has their own opinion, but I strongly believe without that dipper in our household I would have ended up less knowledgeable about what real life is all about.
In 1997, when I wrote the beginning statement of this column, we were engaged in a presidential election that had gotten completely out of hand in campaign mud slinging. In 2004, I repeated that same column, because once again, another group of campaign efforts went off the deep end and totally got to the point of embarrassment.
As November 7, 2006 approaches, once again campaign challenges are becoming a source of total irritation to the digestive system. In fact, it has caused me to early vote just to get my part of the process over with.
In 1997 and 2004 I did a column on my political philosophy if I was running for office. At those times, I thought the general public could use a dose of "Read Political Philosophy" better known as RPP.
In 1997, I gave out the first installment of RPP to my readers. The results were several offers for me to run for state office and even more offers suggesting that I should run for the state line. I repeated it again in 2004 and got suggestions for me to seek high offices in the areas of dog catcher and justice of the peace, but do so in another country.
The nine year old statement at the beginning of this article and the rest of the RPP in this column is just what I would say to a crowd of voters if I was going to run for public office. This is a repeat of those earlier columns, but I think it needs to be said again due to current campaign efforts of seeing who can make the other candidate look the most foolish rather than sticking to the issues of the state.
First of all, I was born in a log house on a frosty October morning. It wasn't a cabin, but it was a log structure and that seems to have worked for the man in the stove-pipe hat back in 1861. I never split rails, but I have picked cotton, cut tobacco, always got selected to pick the down-rows of corn, and built fences out of locust poles. All of these events built character and patience, which I believe a good candidate should have.Second, I grew up without running water. That topic could be debated, because it all depended on how fast you carried the bucket from the well. Most of the time I had "walking water" because you didn't want to spill any after going that far to get it.
By not having running water you soon learned the lesson of conservation. I learned how to take a bath with just a tea kettle of hot water and to save enough for the next member of the family who needed a bath. A president who doesn't know how to take a "washpan" bath with Ivory soap, should not be elected. Many of our candidates today call themselves conservative. I question that of many of them. A conservative is one who can make a entire bucket of water last in a family of five, from sundown to sunup with enough in the morning left to make coffee.
Third, I grew up knowing what a cold dipper of water from a good well tasted like. There is nothing any better on a hot summer day than a fresh bucket of water and a white, enamel dipper with a red ring as your drinking utensil. I have tried aluminum ones, stainless steel and wooden, but nothing beats an enamel dipper. They stay cold and lay in the bucket just right. Having to drink out of a dipper in a family of five soon teaches you to share, and to be thankful for the small things in life. You also learn that the last little bit of water left in the bucket at the end of the day is not that great. This teaches you that if you want to make it better, it is up to you. Either go get another bucket of water or do without. A good candidate should be able to make things better and try to keep the bucket at least half full.
Fourth, by not having indoor plumbing you soon learn to make decisions. Weather has a lot to do with your decision making at that time of your life, as well as teaching you a lot of self-control. I think most of you understand what I am talking about. But, a good candidate must be a good decision maker.
Fifth, I had a loving family. There were five of us who lived in one small house, and we children never knew what our financial standing was. It didn't matter. We had a mother and father who loved us and provided everything we needed. Not what we wanted, but what we needed.
We were taught right from wrong, how to work, taken to church, and learned very early that the family was number one. We were taught from the very beginning to help your community, church, and others.
I am quoting myself from years ago, but I still believe in what I said back then. In fact, even more so. Not too long ago, a gentleman told me he voted for people he would like to have as his next door neighbor. That really puts the qualifications up there pretty high. So, who do you want as your neighbor?