June 25, 2003

Lester Maddox: Pick-handle politician

Today marks the passing of a southern historical landmark of sorts... former governor Lester Maddox of Georgia.

I remembered, hearing this man's name for the first time in decades, carrying a sawed-off pick handle in the back floorboard of my red VW in high school... woodburned with the name and logo of Maddox's Pickrick Restaurant. The pick was a double-entrendre during those racially tense times... a violent icon and momento... and I have no idea how I came upon it or why it stayed in my car for so long, as I drove around racially volatile Birmingham in the 60's.

Maddox was a contemporary of Alabama Governor, George Wallace, who was more outspoken a segretationist and less of a showman than Maddox. I remember getting out of school early to go downtown and here Wallace rant on the courthouse steps. As young teenagers, we knew it was an important time in the state's history, but not why, or what he stood for, really. We stood at the back of the noisy crowd of Wallace supporters and only barely understood how black and white his world view was.

A few years later, I was the loudmouth of the group (Auburn Chapter of the Nature Conservancy) and so was nominated as spokesman to present our proclamation. Somewhere, there is an 8 x 10 glossy of me with my mouth open, shaking hands, lecturing Governor Wallace in his office in the State Capitol about how he needed to resist the temptation to sell the state's natural resources whole-cloth to the big paper companies for clear-cutting.

Posted by fred1st at June 25, 2003 11:24 AM | TrackBack

I met George when I was in the 6th grade. Our class went on a field trip to Montgomery and I got to sit in his chair and govern the state for 5 minutes. I thought much more of him then, too bad he let us all down.

Posted by: Liska at June 25, 2003 03:11 PM

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