Fifty years ago tomorrow a county wide election was held. May 4th was a hot and humid Saturday. It was an important day to my family as my dad was up for re election for Hardin county tax assessor. It was a position dad had held with pride and distinction for 10 years.
He wanted one more four year term, then retire. I would be out of school and he could garden. The dye had been cast as far as he was concerned. He worked hard, was fair and treated everyone equally. Dad expected the same from the citizens of Hardin county.
It is often a mistake to assume life is fair. Dad should have known better but the simple farm boy never seemed to grasp some fundamentals in life. His opponent was a so called friend. Dad considered this action a betrayal.
This person whose name not worth mentioning had worked for my dad. Dad hired him when no one else would. It was a brutal turn of events and all the more shocking when dad lost the election. The voters had gone to the polls and supported shame.
In retrospect the election was sealed a year before. Dad was scheduled to testify in court regarding land value. A federal judge visited our home with an offer of a bribe of $10,000. Dad refused and the judge’s chilling words “You’ll regret it. You’ll lose the election. We’ll see to that.” They did, with the skill of a hired assassin. They had the money and the know how.
Dad was too trusting for his own good. He learned voters can be fickle and loyalty fleeting. The sage old saying expecting the world to be fair to you because you are a nice person is like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.
The year 1968 was terrible in many ways. Dad’s loss just one of its sordid legacy.
The years moved on. Eight years later the tide had turned. The office of tax collector became available when cancer claimed the life of my dad’s former friend and employee.
The county judge and commissioner’s court offered Dad his old job back. He thanked them but refused. He had gotten use to a stress free life.
His garden was far more interesting than the tawdry world of Hardin county politics.
My mom use to say Dad would go to all his enemies funerals. He did outlive many of his foes who sought to destroy him and his family
Dad died January 1, 2002. He rests next to Mama at Hooks cemetery. His tombstone says it well, Public Servant.