Monday, June 18, 2012

It Was 80 Years Ago Today . . .

80 years ago today, June 19, 1932, my dad, Russell Lee Davis, was born to Quincy and Esther Davis in Williamsburg, Ohio.  As I was leaving work today, I pondered what I could write about him in honor of his birthday.  One thought led to another and I decided upon his love (or hatred, I'm not sure which) of politics.

My dad was not an educated man.  He wasn't exactly a devoted student and didn't graduate from high school.  However, he read the newspaper from cover to cover, watched the evening news and news programs, and read news magazines.  He understood the news of the day and the news makers.

When describing prominent citizens in old county histories, the subject's political affiliation was typically noted.  Being fiercely pro-union, my dad would have likely identified himself as a Democrat, though he wasn't really a big fan of either party.  Sometimes he voted, sometimes he didn't, though he would never hesitate to try to influence his family members' votes.  At least once he cast a vote in a presidential election as sort of a protest against both major parties that made my mom concerned about possible FBI surveillance!

The first time I realized how interested my dad was in politics was during the Watergate hearings.  I was a child and didn't really understand what was going on, but I became familiar with Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, and Dean.  I recognized every line on good ole Sam Ervin's face.  We knew to keep our voices down while my dad was watching the hearings.  He wanted to see President Nixon taken down and never forgave President Ford for pardoning him.  Of course, the future held even more televised hearings to capture his attention, including the Iran-Contra hearing and Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing.

My dad told me that his favorite president was Harry Truman.  When I think about the number of times I heard him say that the United States should "drop an A-bomb" on some country, I fully understand why he admired President Truman.  Needless to say, my dad wasn't really concerned with political correctness.

He and I used to watch the political conventions together.  Back in the day, all three networks would have extensive coverage of both political conventions.  In later years, they limited their coverage to  an hour each night.  However, PBS still had at least three hours of coverage and my dad and I would watch it together.  It was almost like watching a baseball game with him.  We would talk about the action and players.  It was fun and I will miss our banter this summer as I watch the conventions for the third time without him.

My dad, Russell Lee Davis, and I before  our political convention viewing days


Now, a preview of what I hope is to come.  Since I attended the NGS conference, I have been full of ideas.  My primary research subject right now is my grand-uncle, Tom Dudley, though I also have a few other irons in the fire.  I have received Uncle Tom's military records and requested his death certificate.  I need to do some additional research to pull everything together and then, hopefully, I will have an interesting story to tell.