By Jack Gurner
Is it just me or is politics not as much fun to watch as it once was?
When I was a kid in the 1960s, political rallies were big events. The Fourth of July rally was THE social event of the season. Folks came from all over Yalobusha county to the City Park and they stayed all day long.
Some of the big names came: Ross Barnett, Paul Johnson, Bill Waller, Charles Sullivan. I can remember watching in amazement as they pounded that homemade podium and delivered fiery speeches that foretold of the horrible consequences of allowing their opponent to slither out from under a rock and into public office.
However, my favorite candidate wasn’t one of those big state fellows. It was Clarence E. Wilbourn, better known as “Wildcat” or just “Cat” to his close friends. He was constable of Beat Three for “as long as I can remember” according to everyone I asked.
Whether he had competition or not, “Wildcat” loved to speak at the political rallies and his campaign promises are legend. One of my favorites was his vow that if re-elected he was going to run all the mosquitoes out of Beat 3.
He was ahead of his time on economic development for the county as a whole. He once promised to give everyone in Yalobusha County a job…if they wanted one…by moving the water from above Enid Dam to below it. His plan was to give out buckets and let folks dip the water out of the lake and pour it down the other side.
Looking out for the farmers was on his mind, too. Cat promised to outlaw the boll weevil in all of Yalobusha County. And, he was going to stop all those airplanes from flying over because they were scaring the cows.
Then, as now, transportation was a major concern. Since blacktopping the roads wasn’t keeping the potholes under control, “Wildcat” came up with the solution of blackbottoming the roads.
With promises like that, you can see why he stayed in office.