Archive for January, 2008

Getting Elected; Building a Platform

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I must have been dreaming the other day. I decided I would run for President.
Now I know that sounds a little ambitious for a country boy, but I will have plenty of company. One of the most important first steps in running for an office is to build a solid platform to stand on to make speeches. Naturally I went to Cashway Lumber to get the needed planks to build the platform.

Smitty, who has worked for Cashway for years, came out to see what I wanted. I guess he knows where each stick of lumber is stacked in that yard better than anyone.
Smitty said, “Can I help you?” I explained I was going to build a Political Platform and needed his help. He said their Political Lumber was right over there.
“What boards do you want?” he asked. I looked over the pile of Political Lumber and I must say I was under whelmed. Many were crooked, full of knotholes and looked rotten. “Is this the best you have?” I asked. “Yep” he replied. “You should have seen the ones we sent back to the mill”. “Give me your list and we will pick out the best ones we have”, he stated.

I gave him my list. Four, ‘Balance the Budget’, one ‘Cut Taxes’ and half dozen ‘Reduce Government’. Give me 10 ‘Increase Welfare’, 2 ‘Peace in our Time’, and two ‘Build more Schools’. Now I will need enough planks for my Political Platform to include, ‘Heal the Environment’, ‘Become Fuel Independent’, ‘Get Tough on Crime’, and ‘Disband the Lobbyist System’.

“Wow!” exclaimed Smitty. “You sure are building a big platform”.
“Well, I need to get elected; I have a lot of bills to pay and I haven’t had a vacation in years”. “And, oh yes I want the best ‘A Chicken in every Pot, and a Pick Up in every Garage’ boards you can find” I insisted.

Smitty suggested I might need a keg of nails to put that platform together. “Nope”, I explained, “I want a box of screws. I may have to remove some of the planks if the going gets a little rough. Unscrewing is easer than pulling nails.”

We loaded the Political Platform Lumber on my old pick-up and I headed home. That is when I got into trouble. The police said I was overloaded, sticking out back, and driving to slow for traffic.

When the right rear tire blew out I awoke in a cold sweat and shaking all over. I wasn’t dreaming…I had just had a nightmare.

A lot of that is going around these days.

Eighth of January

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

These days it seems I look at the calendar more often than any other time of the year. Well of course there is Thanksgiving, Christmas and in a few days it is New Year’s Day. I guess it becomes a short-lived habit. That may be a good kind of habit to have. Most of my habits seem to hang around a long time. No, I am not going to enumerate them here. To long of a list. I took one last look at the calendar this week and something jumped out at me. Eighth of January. I wondered why.

I decider to take a poll. “Hey, guys, you know what the 8th of January is?” One fellow, Mr. Johnson said, “Sure, it is my great grand child’s birthday.” And I bet he was right. But that was not what I had in mind. Troy Joseph said, “That is the name of an old fiddle tune.” He was correct. I remember as a little kid hanging around the dances held in the country homes. The folks would move all the furniture from the living room into a back room; throw corn meal on the board floor and dance till the wee hours. As the night wore on, sooner or later someone would holler out, “Play ‘Eighth of January.’” That tune was what they called a breakdown. And it sure livened up the dance. Even the wallflowers joined in the “Eighth” dance.

I got to thinking about that lately. Why would anyone name a fiddle tune with a date? How about naming the piece “Cold January, or Swamp Song, or something that made a little sense. So I enticed one of the grandkids to help me Google for the answer of the burning question. Wow! Did we get the answer? The same fiddle tune is also known as “The Battle of New Orleans”. In 1959 Johnny Horton made the tune famous by recording and singing “The Battle of New Orleans.” You remember how it went…..

Well, in eighteen and fourteen we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans…..
There was to much information for me to assimilate in one sitting. I noticed Horton and Colonel Jackson went to New Orleans in December of 1814. They fought back and forth until the eighth of January, 1815. That was the day they fired their cannons till the barrels melted down, so they powdered an alligator and he lost his mind. Most importantly, however, the British retreated and hoisted the white flag. That day became a great day in the nations young history, and was celebrated for years.

Well, we don’t pay much attention to that date anymore. Too bad. Even the dances in country homes are gone. But the fiddle tune is still around, and we can remember and enjoy that.

We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Music and lyrics by: Jimmy Driftwood