Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Pocatello Politics Part I

The first thing to know about politics in Pocatello is that there were only Democrats. Of course, there were a few exceptions and they will be dealt with below, but for the most part, certainly to 99.99% there were only Democrats in town. In fact, in Pocatello, the Primary Election was The Election.

Of course, life is defined by its exceptions, so I will deal with them right off. When I was very young, America was involved in the Korean War and just like the Pocatello draft board snagged me for the war in Vietnam, several young men in Pocatello were in like manner snagged for the war in Korea. I was not wounded and certainly not awarded an award for being brave, but at least one person was in Korea who was from Pocatello. And when he came home, the city--or more exactly, the county felt they owed him something, so they elected him County Something--Clerk or Secretary or Treasurer or something like that--as I said, I was very young and did not note all the details. At any rate, the Koreans were notorious for being very sneaky and underhanded and all that sort of thing and they were always using various tricks and tortures to do what we call "brainwashing". At any rate, our young hero must have been tortured--or at least, brainwashed--in this way, because when he came back from being a hero, he said he was a Republican, and the people of Pocatello, who felt that they owed him a great deal, elected him anyway. Of course, after two years, the people pretty well felt that their obligation to him, to patriotism, or whatever it was that caused them to do it in the first place, was running mighty thin, so they voted him out of office. Anyway, he was the only Republican to be elected to anything in Pocatello so long as I lived there, which was mighty long. As I mentioned, I was very young at the time, so I'll bet you will bet that I can't remember this person's name. And you would lose your bet. His name was Deloy Giles. And the reason I remember it has nothing to do with me being so young and all, it has to do with the fact that my grandfather, who was the County Assessor (have you ever wondered what the County Assessor does? I have too, and, in fact, I am sure my grandfather would have been happy to explain it all to you, especially just before election time, but unfortunately, I was never interested in the question until after my grandfather was through being the County Assessor. I can tell you this, that it is a very difficult job. I know this because my grandfather explained, even to me, young as I was, that the men who were running against him--who all seemed like very nice looking chaps to me--could not possibly do it.) and who was, naturally, a Democrat, would complain for years what a mess Deloy Giles had made of our whole county. When he would complain in this manner, my dad would just laugh and say, "Dad, (my grandfather was my father's father, so he called him "Dad") that was years ago, and after all, he was a war hero, and probably a very fine fellow in his own way." Grandfather would sputter and turn red and obviously be on the verge of saying "darn" or something worse, and then, no doubt, remembering the lesson of the cows that he was so fond of telling us all, he would laugh and say, "Oh maybe you're right", then pause, laugh again and say, "but I don't think so". Now in all fairness to both my dad and my granddad, I should point out that they always said that they voted for the man and not the party, but it was pretty clear to me that the men they did vote for were always Democrats. Of course, in Pocatello, you didn't have much choice.

I am afraid that you are maybe getting the wrong idea and thinking that the powers that be would only allow Democrats on the ballot. That simply was not true. If, for example, there was a Republican running for president or for govenor--and there almost always was, they would put his name on the ballot, even in Pocatello. And, in point of fact, occasionally someone would run for an local office as a Republican and they would even put their name on the ballot. The only example I can remember of this was one of my dad's partners in his law office, Howard Armstrong. Actually Dad asked him to run for County Attorney because he said that Hugh Macquire, who was the County Attorney, and had been forever, was a terrible County Attorney, but I think Dad assumed that he would do like everyone else who really wanted to get into office, and run as a Democrat in the primary. But I think that Howard realized that he didn't have a chance against Hugh Macquire because he had been in office so long and besides that he had a daughter who was absolutely the cutest girl in town--well actually, I'm not really sure that Linda was the absolutely cutest. George and Hazel Cox had two daughters--Elaine and Amy that were both terrible, terrible cute and may, in fact, have been the cutest (and then there is my future boss, Ed Bullock's, daughter, Karla, but she was more beautiful than cute, in fact, she was far and away--and everyone agreed--that she was the most beautiful girl in town, and, of course, that is why Ed was elected to be on the school board), but George and Hazel never ran for anything, so having such cute daughters never really did them any good. But anyway, Howard knew that he didn't have a chance, what with Hugh having such a cute daughter and all, so he decided to run as a Republican. Why he did this is anyone's guess, but my guess is that because he lived on a farm about 10 or 15 miles out of town, he assumed, if he wore dark glasses into work, he would be safe, and that it would look good on his resume to state that he was The Republican Candidate for County Attorney in case he decided to move to Utah or Arizona. At any rate, I think that he was hoping that Dad and the other partner, George Hargraves, and their wives would vote him, being as how they worked together and all, but, of course, after the final votes were tallied he realized that that hope was vain.

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