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Time for a Shovel

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Many years ago my daddy taught me an important lesson about politicians.

Living out in the country as we did, owning a pick-up truck and having a back yard vegetable garden that we planted every spring was something that was a common sight. It seemed everybody owned a pick-up truck and planted rows of sweet corn and tomatoes, as well as a variety of other garden vegetables on their property. There was always a good-natured competition between neighbors over who could grow the best garden, and everyone would brag about the size of their cantaloupes and stalks of broccoli.


Back then my dad was actually ahead of his time, practicing “organic gardening,” which has nowadays become “en vogue” among the Millennial class. It seems that more and more of the health-conscious people want naturally grown and cultivated produce and other farm products, instead of the ‘chemically enhanced’ goods dominating the shelves of the local supermarkets.

I recall, not too fondly, as a young teenaged boy during the spring, heading out with my dad in the family pick-up truck to a neighboring farm where my dad had worked out a deal with the farm owner. The deal was for us to clean out the manure in the stalls of the neighbor’s stables and barn in order to haul it back to our house to use as a natural fertilizer for my dad’s backyard garden.

And the job of shoveling the manure out of the stalls and loading it into the back of my dad’s pick-up truck fell onto my shoulders, as did the follow-up job of unloading the manure into a large pile in the backyard at my house - a safe distance and downwind from the always open kitchen window. My dad would then spread the manure around as a natural fertilizer for his garden.

The end result was that by the end of the summer we were dining on the largest, reddest, and sweetest tomatoes, best-tasting squash, and green beans that were a foot long - the best vegetables I ever ate, far better than those purchased from the shelves of any grocery store in the area. I guess the countless truck-loads of horse crap I loaded and unloaded over my teenage years were well worth it after all. But back at the neighbor’s barn, while I was standing knee deep in manure, I didn’t appreciate what the end result was going to be.


Looking back, I remember with each shovelful my dad shared with me his wisdom. Believe it or not, it was a great father-son bonding time that I recall with fondness. As I would scoop the poop, my dad, who was standing nearby watching, would casually chat with me and share his philosophy about life in general, and oftentimes he would share with me his perspective on politics.

I recall him telling me on a number of occasions that “Politicians and manure are quite similar. Just like a horse and a cow need to regularly expel the manure to keep themselves healthy, the voters need to expel politicians regularly to keep America healthy.”

At the time the comparison didn’t really sink in with me. I just didn’t get the connection since I was a teenager who was more concerned with getting my driver’s license so I could get out and chase fast cars and fast women. Politics simply wasn’t the foremost thing on my mind.

Of course, the reality was that since I grew up in a working class family who often had to scrimp and scrape to pay the bills, that once I got that coveted driver’s license the only ‘car’ I was going to be driving around in was the old pick-up truck of my dad’s. The same one that was regularly loaded with horse manure.


And needless to say the aroma that the hot summer sun seemed to have baked into the bed of the pick-up truck wasn’t always conducive to attracting the ‘fast women’ I was interested in chasing. No matter how many times I washed it out with the garden hose, I never seemed to be able to completely rid the truck of that special smell. Back then I blamed my lack of success with women to my dad’s pick-up truck, though likely the real reason was found somewhere else.

As a child of the Great Depression my dad had to drop out of school at the age of nine to help support his family. He had little formal education; merely surviving was more important at the time than learning the Three R’s. As I’ve gotten older and become more aware of what’s going on politically in our country I have often remembered my dad’s words from my youth. His wisdom of so many years ago has become apparent today, and it is just as valid as it was when it was first told to me by my father way back then.

In order for America to become healthy again, in order for America to become great again, we’re going to have to ‘use a shovel’ in order to expel some of the manure that currently fills the halls of Congress and government.

But, then again, a mere shovel might not be enough. It might just take a bulldozer and a firehose to succeed in cleansing ourselves of the manure and stench currently coming out of Washington, D.C.


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