Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poll Tax

When we moved to Virginia in 1952 I had the option, as a serviceman, of becoming a Virginia citizen. I contemplated doing so even though the only party that had a chance at the polls was the Democrat party. I believed that I was a Republican and hesitated about declaring as a Republican since it would be all so futile. Later on I was advised to register and vote because, as a first time voter, I would not be required to pay the Poll Tax. It was explained to me that if I did not vote in the coming election I would be required to pay the Poll Tax in the next election. It was not much but the longer voting was put off all the taxes were cumulative. For many Virginians paying their Poll Tax was out of the question, it was so high. The Poll Tax had been instituted shortly after the Civil War to keep blacks from voting. In those days, very few blacks were able to come up with the money, effectively barring them from voting. Coming from Detroit, I was amazed at this custom so different than Michigan. In order to become a voter, I was informed, it would be necessary to pass an administered eligibility test. Further, I was informed I would be able to pass the test easily, while very few blacks ever passed. Since I would be getting out of the Navy in a year and a half I gave no further thought to becoming a Virginia voter. The law became obsolete during the Johnson administration with Voting Rights Act of 1965. One other strange law in Virginia was that no black could ride in the front seat of a car when it had a white driver. Pat and I had run afoul of this law when we offered to give a black man a ride in our car. We motioned for him to get in beside Pat in the front seat, but he would not do it. He made an effort to get in the back but that required Pat to get out of the car and move the seat forward. We both insisted he get in the front seat. Eventually he did get in but he was obviously very nervous about it. Later, in talking to friends, I was told about this law and our inadvertent violation.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuscon Memorial

Did you see this? It was astounding how it started, an Indian diatribe by someone nobody knew. He was forced to give his life history, forgetting that the service was not about him. As he continued on I was so offended that I wanted to walk out of the room. The atmosphere in that auditorium was like a basketball game, not a memorial service. Those in the front rows had mournful expressions and appeared surprised when cheering broke out. Even Barack and Michelle seemed embarrassed by it all. The scripture readings, to me, appeared to be forced and slightly askew. The parts chosen did not conform to the murder of six people. The president of the University took time to push his school and their accomplishments. Why? Interrupting the President, as if he were giving a State-Of-The-Union address, giving him standing ovations, clapping, cheering and yelling out, was beyond any memorial service I had ever seen. I am familiar with how the Wellstone Memorial Service went down, how it turned into a campaign rally. This had some of the same overtones. It was obvious that the students in attendance were partisan. Did they never go to a funeral service before? Will they act that way when their loved ones pass away? All in all, quite disturbing.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Left Lane

On the Interstates, to move as speedily as possible, I drive in the left lane. It is my habit to drive slightly over the speed limit. If the limit is 70 I will do 76 in the left lane, if the limit is 75 I will do 81 in the left lane. It pleases me very much to have a car come up swiftly with the intention of letting me know to move over, and I gladly comply. Nothing better than to have a leader car with a speed of 90 sweeping the police off the road with their speed. On I10 the maximum speed in 70 because it is a two lane road. On I75 the maximum speed is 75 because it is three lanes both directions, sometimes four lanes. These are the roads I use for driving between Atlanta and Jacksonville. The trip usually takes 5.5 hours. I did receive a ticket once when I failed to notice repair cones. Fortunately, I was not going excessively fast at that time, but, it did result in my need to take an Internet driving test. John surprised me with the statement that he did not know me to drive in the left lane. Off the Interstates, I am content in driving in the right lane except when there are cars continually turning right. Then, I want to be in the left lane. In the local roads and neighborhoods I am content with driving slowly. It frustrates Pat when she is with me, often saying: "Why are you driving so slow?"

Friday, January 07, 2011

Defensive Driving

While waiting at a traffic light the other day, I glanced into my rear-view mirror and saw the driver of the truck behind me looking down and to the side. It seemed strange and I continued to watch. When the light changed I pulled away and noticed he was looking straight ahead. When a steady rate of speed was achieved I looked back and he was again looking down and to the right. Hmmn, is he texting or reading something? He was right on my back and I became concerned - if I have to stop fast will he be able to stop? I moved slowly into the right lane, slowed my speed and allowed him to pass. I put a few cars between his and my vehicle. Gradually, I lost sight of him and continued to drive smoothly and listen to my soothing music.