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Mike’s Musings
Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
Inside the
By Steve Flowers
Steve Flowers is
Alabama’s leading political
His weekly
column appears in over 60
Alabama newspapers.
served 16 years in the state
Steve may be
reached at www.steveflowers.us
One Senator That Gets It
Happy Birthday To Me
June 6, 2018
A Thank-You Note To Remember
By R
oger Campbell Ministries
Roger Campbell was an
author, a broadcaster and
columnist who was a pastor
for 22 years. A new book
containing over one hundred
of his best columns, “Ev-
erywhere You Go There’s a
Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” is
now available at your local or
online bookseller. Contact us
My Garden Of Life
By Jody Fuller
Jody Fuller is from Opelika,
Ala. He is a comic, speaker,
writer and soldier with three
tours of duty in Iraq. He is
also a lifetime stutterer. He
can be reached at jody@
jodyfuller.com. For more
information, please visit www.
Taped to the door of
our refrigerator, surround-
ed by pictures of great-
grandchildren, a brief
quote of business coach,
Wanda Loscot, gives this
good advice to all who
pass by: “It takes about
three minutes to write a
thank-you note, fold it,
stick it in an envelope and
mail it, but the power of
it is awesome.” Fred Suf-
field agrees.
Fred had been sound
asleep when he suddenly
awoke to the sound of
someone pounding on his
door. Moments later he
stood face to face with
a half-frozen man who
frantically told him that a
train had become stalled
in a snow storm and that
the passengers were in
danger of freezing to
Lighting a lantern, Fred
followed the messenger to
the site of the stalled train
and led the travelers to his
house where they waited
You voted Tuesday on
a crowded ballot.
Historically, in Ala-
bama we have voted more
heavily in our Gover-
nor’s race year than in a
presidential year. That is
probably because we were
more interested in the
local sheriff and probate
judge’s races, which run
in a gubernatorial year,
than who is president.
The old adage, “all poli-
tics is local,” definitely
applies here in Alabama.
We not only have a
governor’s race this year,
we have all secondary
statewide offices with a
good many of them open
including Lt. Governor,
Attorney General, State
Treasurer, Auditor, and
two seats on the Public
Service Commission. We
have five seats on the
State Supreme Court, one
being Chief Justice. All
140 seats in the Legisla-
ture are up for a four-year
term. These 35 state Sen-
ate seats and 105 House
contests are where most
of the special interest PAC
money will go. And, yes,
we have 67 sheriffs and
68 probate judges as well
as a lot of circuit judge-
ships on the ballot.
You may think the
campaigning is over.
However, some of the
above races have resulted
in a runoff which will be
held on July 17. So get
ready, we have six more
weeks of campaigning
before all the horses are
settled on for the sprint in
We have a lot of folks
headed to Buck’s Pocket.
Last year after the open
Senate seat contest, a
young TV reporter for
one of the stations I do
commentary for asked
me about Roy Moore and
his loss. I told her ole
Moore had gotten on his
horse, Sassy, and rid-
den off into the sunset to
Buck’s Pocket, which by
the way wasn’t a long ride
from his home in Gal-
lant in Etowah County.
She looked at me with
a puzzled look. Prob-
ably a lot of you are also
Last week, I had a
birthday. Emily thought
I was 47. I thought I was
46. I think I thought I was
46. I had to do the math. I
was born in 1972, so I was
indeed 46. When I was
younger, I’d hear people
doing the math to confirm
their age. I always thought
they were just joking
around. They were not.
Math confirms one’s age.
Here’s a big shout out to
all the math teachers out
there, particularly those I
had in school, which was
over 28 years ago. That
means my teachers are
now how old? That’s fuzzy
math and undefined.
My birthday was May
28. I guess it still is. The
legendary Chicago Bear
and Pro Football Hall of
Fame running back Gale
Sayers also celebrated his
birthday last week. Be-
sides the close proximity
of our birthdays, we have
something else in com-
mon. That commonality
is our abbreviated football
playing days. While Mr.
Sayers Hall of Fame career
was cut short due to inju-
ries, mine was cut short
due to a reality check.
One day during
practice, I was beaten
in wind sprints by a guy
nicknamed Beefy. While I
really did get sick early on
and missed several days
of practice, the writing
was on the wall. I was
not going to be a football
star. My career lasted all
of eight days. When you
know, you know. For what
it’s worth, I just saw Beefy
last month, and he can
probably still outrun me,
and I’m pretty sure the
75-year-old Hall of Famer
can, too.
Maybe the weirdest
thing about turning 46 is
I’ve done my share of
ripping on U.S. senators
and congressmen. For the
most part I think they are
all talk, and no action.
However I do believe
in giving kudos where
kudos are deserved, and
Alabama’s new U.S. Sena-
tor, Doug Jones deserves
a great deal of praise for
reaching out to powerless
citizens like you and I.
I’m powerless because
I own small weekly news-
papers that are dependent
on regional companies to
print our product. Those
companies are experienc-
ing 30 to 40% increases
on paper, thanks to an
obscure Washington state
paper company that has
convinced the Trump
administration to impose
tariffs on Canadian paper
That would be all well
and good if U.S. paper
companies were able to
produce enough newsprint
to supply the U.S. market.
All of us that purchase
newsprint directly or indi-
rectly would prefer buying
from U.S. mills. But
unfortunately there are
only a handful of domestic
newsprint mills and they
only supply a small frac-
tion of the U.S. market.
Thus, most of us pur-
chase our newsprint from
Canadian mills, and have
for many many decades.
And now with the recently
imposed tariffs, I and oth-
ers in the already strug-
gling business to print
news, are in a Catch 22
and really have no choice
but to absorb the tariffs.
Unfortunately for
small newspaper owners
like myself, a 30 to 40%
increase on newsprint
means close to a 15% in-
crease in operating costs,
which means we must
slash payroll, or reduce
circulation, or in some
cases go out of business.
Let’s face it. We aren’t the
New York Times or Wash-
ington Post who bring in
hundreds of millions a
year. Even those guy are
crying, even though they
have no clue what their
smaller counterparts are
dealing with.
Enter Doug Jones,
newly elected Alabama
senator. Jones, who nar-
rowly beat embattled Roy
Moore, to become the
first Alabama Democratic
Senator in two decades,
and took the seat of
Trump’s Attorney General
Jeff Sessions, took up the
rallying cry of newspaper
owners across the country.
Out of the blue I re-
ceived a call from Jones,
asking how the new tariff
was hurting my news-
papers. He said he was
gathering information
to conduct hearings in
Washington D.C. on the
subject. I gladly told him
of our struggles dealing
with the new increase
from our suppliers.
In all my years as a
publisher, I have never
received a phone call from
a U.S. senator or staffer
about any issue. Heck,
Clare, where one of my
weekly newspapers exists,
is home to U.S. Senator
Debbie Stabenow, and de-
spite that connection, have
never heard from her.
Jones vows to keep
in touch. He feels what I
and others have to say is
important. He feels that
reaching out to individuals
in his district is one of his
most important func-
tions as a U.S. Senator. I
couldn’t agree more, and
I wish his peers thought
Unfortunately I don’t
believe that to be the case.
Most U.S. Senators, in my
opinion, believe they are
too important to deal with
you and I. Once elected
they rarely are defeated.
They don’t need our
vote, like members of the
House of Representatives
do. That’s what makes
Jones so unique.
that I’m now officially
closer to the half-century
mark than I am 40. Age is
just a number. I get that,
but still, I’m no spring
chicken. I am, however,
very blessed to be here.
Many of my friends, class-
mates, and fellow soldiers
are sadly no longer with
Forty-four and 45 were
special, and no I’m not
talking about the presi-
dents. I found out I was
going to be a father and
44, and Lucy had the baby
at 45. She wasn’t 45; I
was. She was only thirty-
Being a dad to a baby
for the first time has been
life-changing and has
given me a new lease on
life. It was pretty awesome
spending the day with my
girls. Unfortunately, my
mama couldn’t be there.
She had some important
duties to tend to at home.
They say laughter is the
best gift. While Abigail
may have something to
scream about that, it was a
great gift this birthday, as
we laughed and laughed
and laughed. We really
need our own reality show.
Y’all really have no idea
how funny things can get
around here.
Lucy was perplexed
when I described her tan as
looking like the Peruvian
flag. When I told her it was
the flag of the country of
Peru, her perplexity grew.
She was bewildered when
I informed her that Peru
was in South America and
not a part of Spain. The ic-
ing on the cake was when
she asked, “Then where is
Speaking of cake,
Mama Lucy made a
delicious homemade red
velvet cake. The recipe
called for a cream cheese
icing, but after reading the
ingredients, she decided
to make her own. She felt
it just wasn’t good for us.
It also called for Red Dye
40, so she went and got
two bottles from the Dol-
lar General. Either way, it
was really good.
Lucy picked a few
flowers to sprinkle on the
cake for decoration. They
were really pretty, but after
a couple of bites, Mama
Lucy asked an important
question. “Did you pick
them from the top of the
Why is that an impor-
tant question, you might
Well, because she
has a couple of little male
dogs. I’m not sure we ever
got an answer.
Preceding the cake
was a perfect meal: ham,
black-eyed peas, fried
potatoes and cornbread.
That’s about as good as it
gets. It was a great birth-
day in countless ways. I
know that 46 is going to
be a good year.
By the way, Beefy has
“BEEFY” on his license
plate, and my jersey num-
ber was nonother than 46.
I wonder if they retired it.
until the storm subsided
and help came. Later, one
of the passengers, named
Kittie, sent a thank-you
note to Fred. Surprised
and pleased, Fred an-
swered the note from
Kittie and then, over time,
something noteworthy
happened: Fred and Kit-
tie fell in love and were
After their marriage,
Fred and Kittie started
attending a church in
Ottawa, Canada, pastored
by Rev. A.J. Shea. There
they found faith, became
more and more active in
the church and finally
embarked on a ministry of
their own. One summer,
while conducting services
at a church in Westport,
Ontario, they invited the
teenage son of pastor and
Mrs. Shea (named George
Beverly) to spend a month
with them and one night
they asked him to sing in
one of the meetings.
Accompanied by Kit-
tie at the piano, young
George Beverly Shea at-
tempted to sing but when
his voice cracked on one
of the high notes he sat
down, embarrassed, and
vowed he would never
sing again but Kittie had
a better idea: she sug-
gested he simply sing in
a lower key. He did and
Kitties’ coaching worked.
George Beverly Shea later
became Billy Graham’s
soloist and one of the
favorite gospel singers of
all time.
During their years
together, Fred and Kittie
wrote a song titled, “Little
Is Much When God Is in
It,” a tune that was des-
tined to be widely known.
Why did they choose
this title?
Perhaps they had been
thinking about a Canadian
blizzard that stopped a
train and brought Kittie to
Fred’s little house. May-
be it was the memory of a
little thank-you note that
started communication
between them, leading to
love and marriage.
Possibly it reminded
them of a nervous teen
who overcame embarrass-
ment and surrendered his
talent to God, enabling
him to reach millions with
his message.
Whatever the reason
for the title Fred and Kit-
tie chose for their com-
mon sense musical cre-
ation, it states a principle
that will always be true:
gifts, talents or time given
to the Lord bring greater
blessings than the giver
could have imagined.
You may think your
talents are small, or that
you have none at all.
Give what you have
to God and discover the
song Fred and Kittie
wrote is true.
And note this: The
brief thank-you note Kit-
tie wrote to Fred revealed
she had a thankful heart
and this discovery cap-
tured his. Then together
they learned an important
lesson: God often gives
songs in the night, after
the storms are through
(Job 35:10).
wondering what I’m talk-
ing about when I refer to
Buck’s Pocket.
For decades, losing
political candidates in
Alabama have been exiled
to Buck’s Pocket. It is
uncertain when or how
the colloquialism began,
but political insiders
have used this terminol-
ogy for at least 60 years.
Alabama author, Winston
Groom, wrote a colorful
allegorical novel about
Alabama politics and he
referred to a defeated
gubernatorial candidate
having to go to Buck’s
Pocket. Most observers
credit Big Jim Folsom
with creating the term.
He would refer to the
pilgrimage and ultimate
arrival of his opponents
to the political purgatory
reserved for losing guber-
natorial candidates.
This brings me to
another contention sur-
rounding Buck’s Pocket.
Many argue that Buck’s
Pocket is reserved for
losing candidates in the
governor’s race. Others
say Buck’s Pocket is the
proverbial graveyard for
all losing candidates in
One thing that all insid-
ers agree on is that once
you are sent to Buck’s
pocket you eat poke salad
for every meal. Groom
also suggested that you
were relegated to this
mythical rural resting
place forever. However,
history has proven that
a good many defeated
Alabama politicians have
risen from the grave and
left Buck’s Pocket to live
another day. Roy Moore
may be a good example.
He has risen from the
grave before. He is only
70 and he may grow wea-
ry of eating poke salad.
Most folks don’t
know that there really
is a Buck’s Pocket. Big
Jim would campaign
extensively in rural North
Alabama often one on
one on county roads. One
day while stumping in the
remote Sand Mountain
area of DeKalb County
he wound up in an area
referred to as Buck’s
Pocket. It was a beauti-
ful and pristine area, but
it was sure enough back
in the woods. Big Jim
who loved the country
and loved country folks
was said to say that, “I
love the country but I sure
wouldn’t want to be sent
to Buck’s Pocket to live.”
Buck’s pocket is now
not a mythical place. If
you are traveling up the
interstate past Gadsden,
on the way to Chattanoo-
ga, you will see it. There
is a Buck’s Pocket State
Park in DeKalb County,
thanks to Big Jim.
So the next time you
hear an old timer refer to
a defeated candidate as
going to Buck’s Pocket,
you will know what they
are talking about.
See you next week.
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