Opinion Columns & Blogs

Sorting out 2016 with politics, hogs, maypops and heat


One of the things that I wrote in 2016, with some certainty, was that despite predictions that the 2016 summer would be the hottest ever, it wouldn’t. Or, as I said, “I doubted it.” Well, apparently I was wrong. The experts are saying that “2016 was the hottest year, ever” which, of course, does include the summer.

What I should have said was that the 2016 summer would not feel like the hottest summer ever. And, it didn’t! I know I’ve written before about pre-A/C summers, and specifically those in the mid-1950s. Believe me, they felt hotter than this last one, but I guess I was wrong. Apparently, in fact, I was wrong.

Well, all of this got me to thinking about some other things I wrote about last year and some things I thought about, but didn’t write about, so I decided I would just share some of my thoughts with you.

This is hard, but let me confess that I thought UGA’s 2016 football team would do better than it did. I kinda’ got lulled into thinking a good 9 and 3 or even 10 and 2 wasn’t out of the question.

First, Georgia started its season with its freshman phenom quarterback beating North Carolina. Well, actually, that wasn’t first. First was 93,000 people watching a scrimmage, called G-Day, at Sanford Stadium. That’s what really initiated my loss of some judgment. It really was a pretty rough season (think Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech), but it’s going to be better in 2017. Think maybe 10 and 2. That’s not unrealistic, is it?

Ninety-three thousand people made me think of something else that happened in 2016. That’s the number of people, 93,000, that attended the Georgia National Fair in Perry on that second Saturday of the fair in October. What was the overall attendance? It was something over 546,000. Amazing. I did lots of woofing about the fair’s potential (before the first one 27 years ago, or so), but I never imagined anything like these numbers.

Now, let me tell you something that really disappointed me last year. No maypops. At least, on our place, no maypops. Janice wanted to make some maypop stick-pigs for the grandchildren. We had the vines. We had the blooms. But, we never had the maypops. Must’ve been the hot, dry summer. It just proves you shouldn’t count your maypops before they, well, show up, come, bear, hatch, whatever they do.

Feral hogs had a banner year in 2016. I know because Janice and I saw a herd of them last Sunday after the big rains. There must have been 50 or more, eight or 10 adults and the rest pigs. They are ravaging our farm and there is no riddance solution. We need to turn about a million of them loose in Washington, D.C. and maybe serious efforts for wild hog eradication will take place.

Now, what about politics? It’s never been rougher, meaner or more disgusting, right? Wrong. It has been worse. Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Ten or 13 states, I never know which, pulled out of the union. Probabaly 1 million people lost their lives. The South is just now getting over Reconstruction. The 1960s were really rough. Lots of innocent people were killed and I could go on and on. And what about that mess with President Nixon? It has been worse. We just have short memories.

I got in the cow business in 2016. Cows were $1.51 a pound when I got in. They went down to $.99. Now, they are about $1.20. My partner told me: “I’ve done this program nine times and made money eight.” I replied, “Get in with me and you can tell folks you’ve done it 10 times and made money eight.” Am I worried? No. I don’t have to mow my pastures, the cows keep it mowed. I like the way the cows look. I like the way these cows act. They’re nice. Some of our political folks could take lessons. And, my grandchildren like the baby calves. And we might get lucky and break even.

Let’s see: politics, hogs, cows, maypops, heat, football and the fair. It sounds like Middle America to me. The football and politics is America, but the rest is middle or rural America, so that averages out and makes it Middle America. And yes, it was hot, but it’s been hot before. We’ll figure it out. We might even learn what to do with feral hogs. And, then, we can go to work on the gnats.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your nice comments and messages. I hope to be back next week.


Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.