Charles Woodrow Wilkerson was born on July 3, 1916, the youngest of five children born to Oliver Cicero and Lula Catherine Wilkerson.
He was my Daddy.
Oliver Cicero (my grandpa) decided to name the baby Charles Woodrow in “honor” of the two presidential candidates, Charles Evans Hughes and Woodrow Wilson. There was just one problem. Grandpa wanted him to be known by the winner’s name and the election was obviously not until November.
So baby Charles Woodrow was lovingly called Buster and by the time the November election rolled around it was too late, Buster it was. Then, and until the day he died.
In my favorite picture of baby Buster he’s a toddler, standing on a literal tree stump. My Aunt Lucille said he was either preaching or giving a political speech. Could have been both.
Hopefully this helps you better understand the Wilkerson political fervor in 1916 and what remains of that fervor today.
I wanted to write my little blog for the election, but truth be told I chickened out. Political posts and rhetoric became so ugly and hurtful that I thought I’d just save my thoughts until the election was over and all had settled down.
It’s no secret that I’m a Democrat. Some you will probably stop reading at this juncture and that’s ok. Go forth and be happy. But for those so inclined, let me (as Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy) ‘splain.
My parents raised me to be aware of current events, support my community and be proud of my opinions. In our house two newspapers (the Springfield Daily News and the West Plains Daily Quill) arrived daily, in addition to the weekly Thayer News and the South-Missourian Democrat (the latter loving called the SMD). I had a boyfriend who sang (we keep gettin richer but we can’t get our picture on the cover of the SMD)… but that’s a story for another day, ha. Buster and Irene also subscribed to Time and Newsweek and Life magazines.
Yes…aware. We were aware.
I shut my eyes and see my mother at the kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the Quill every day after school. Oh for one more day…
My political interest piqued when Daddy ran for office (and lost). I was acutely aware of the cost of the campaign to our family and my 4th grade ears and eyes didn’t miss a word. Daddy eventually ended up with a great insurance job and things were ok…. but this was my political beginning.
My parents supported Kennedy, Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Becky came home from college supporting Eugene McCarthy in 1968 but that was short lived, ha. I clearly remember the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and the church service my mother planned for the community. I remember the devastation of losing Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the longing I felt for a leader who would guide us out of the muck.
I distinctly remember watching the 1972 Democratic convention upstairs in my bedroom on my black and white tv. The George McGovern nomination didn’t come until the early morning hours, but I was hanging on every word. I hated the war, I was a young teenager who wore a POW bracelet and had nightmares of Vietnamese attacking our house. I wanted so badly to believe in someone.
Nixon won and I didn’t believe. At all.
I turned 18 in October of 1976 and proudly voted the first time for Jimmy Carter in November. I’ll always be proud of that vote. What a good man. He still is.
In college from 1977-1981 It was made very clear to me that I had exited the Democratic bubble in which I had been raised. My first college boyfriend, a Delta Tau Delta from St. Louis whose name I have forgotten, sent me my first dozen red roses. All was fine and dandy until he commented, and I quote, “I’ve never met a white democrat before”…..haha… let’s just say that was the end of that.
There were approximately 10 students in the young democrats at William Woods and that included the governor’s daughter. I swear that it felt as if the rest of the student body was in the young republicans. Reagan was easy to love but I was steadfast in my democratic persuasion.
My friend and sorority sister Kenda supported Joe Holt when he ran for governor and getting to fly on the campaign plane to West Plains for a rally was probably the proudest Buster had ever been of his little democrat. Maybe it made up for all the boring piano recitals he had to sit though, ha. I remember inviting the Lieutenant Governor, Roger Wilson, to speak at our student educators banquet and basking in the Missouri political sunlight… It was fun to be so close to Jefferson City and state government.
Jack and I married in 1983. Kenda warned me that Jack was a republican and I assured her he wasn’t registered. (truth) We loved our local State Senator Mike Lybyer and our State Representatives Travis Morrison and Gene Oakley and they all attended our wedding. Daddy was chair of the county democrats and he loved every minute.
We were still in living in Missouri when the Democratic Caucus occured in 1983. Missouri wasn’t a primary state back then. We caucused in the Thayer gym. Anyway, I clearly remember caucusing for John Kerry and my parents caucusing for Walter Mondale. (not my best choice…Monkey Business anyone?…ok, look it up.
Time passed and Bill Clinton won our hearts and our votes. Thank to my BIL being the mayor, Bill spent time in Mammoth Spring and even had lunch at JoKay’s. Hillary was delightful and we talked about education in Arkansas and what could be done to improve the education of our state students. Bill loved my piano playing (Hail to the Chief) and loved Jack’s tie. We were sold.
I was teaching in Arkansas when I was berated by a colleague over my support of the Clinton and the ridiculous teacher test everyone was so angry about. I remember standing up and declaring that it was a free country and I could vote however I wanted. To his credit the colleague later came to my room and apologized.
And yes it’s true, Bill let us down with his personal failing. I was disappointed and angry with him. I never made excuses for his behavior. I still don’t.
I never understood the hatred so many folks had and still have for Hillary. Her intelligence always impressed me, but others still hate her with a passion that should be reserved for serial killers. Last night there were protesters at her house yelling “lock her up”…. in 2020 so there’s that.
Which leads me to the end of the Suzanne democrat saga.
I love Barack Obama. There, I said it. He’s smart, he’s classy, he was always presidential. He was always measured in his demeanor. I miss him.
I like Joe Biden. He’s the xanax for our anxiety attack. He won’t embarrass me. He’ll appoint intelligent, qualified people to positions. Yes, he’s old. I’ll bet he wishes he were 10 or 15 years younger too, but he’s not.
But here’s the deal. I LOVE MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS AND THEY LOVE ME. We know where we stand and we don’t yell at each other. We are sensitive to each other’s opinions and we know when we can or can’t discuss politics. Our country was BUILT on the two party system and I pray we can keep it this way. We need strong leaders on both sides of the aisle. We need differences of opinion from our leaders. We need compromise. We need to not be so closed minded that we can never CHANGE our thoughts on a subject by intelligent discourse. Intelligent discourse. Remember that? We need to quit calling people names and hurling insults. Violence is simply unacceptable. That’s not who we are as Americans.
I’m going to stay a democrat (thanks Buster) and many of you will always be republican and that’s ok. Don’t shoot me. Don’t tell me I’m going to hell.
My hope is that we stay engaged and knowledgeable.
That we read more, watch less.
That we listen to each other.
That we continue to love each other.
And if you don’t like my words, or disagree, or think I’m an idiot,
Blame it on Buster.