Identifying with McMath, Osborne
Ernie Dumas' story about Sid McMath ("Sid McMath: An Arkansan for All Seasons," special supplement, June 13) was most fascinating and informative. I read the article to the last word. Ernie is a consummate writer, and I always enjoy his tomes.
Although I am a history buff and political aficionado, I learned a lot about Sid McMath and Arkansas history and politics from this article. My next project is to read Sid McMath's memoir, "Promises Kept."
The section about the McMath firm's successful pioneering cases on behalf of the "little people," folks whom I also represented during my entire 40 years in practice, demonstrates that trial attorneys can be systemic change agents. Like Sid McMath, my passion for the underdog arose from an impoverished Arkansas childhood (in Antioch, Hot Spring County).
Although I was not born in a dogtrot house as was Sid McMath, like him I was born in a country shack by midwife (with the country doctor coming only in time to cut off a bump on my head, a trauma that may explain my "craziness" to this day). I studied the first three years in school by a coal oil lamp, and I still recall when electricity first came to the Antioch community, compliments of AP&L, whom I understand from the article were goaded into extending electricity to some rural areas in reaction to McMath's electric cooperatives legislation. Also, I still own my grandfather's log dogtrot house, which was built around 1880, and, yes, it has an electric line to it, courtesy of Governor McMath.
The first election I remember was in 1952 as I listened on our battery radio (no electricity yet) to the McMath-Cherry returns. At the time I was for Cherry (I was 6 at the time and liked red). For the same color reason, I recall standing in my backdoor as a news report about the "Reds" and something called the "38th Parallel" in some faraway land called Korea came on the air. Guess whom I rooted for until set straight?
Along with numerous other rural kids, I benefited as well from McMath's education/school consolidation initiative with Antioch electing to join the Malvern School District rather than rural Bismarck or Ouachita, both of which were geographically closer. The education I received at Malvern propelled my career and expanded my mind.
Also, I read with relish David Koon's Jennings Osborne article ("The eye of the needle," June 13). Great writing and a good human-interest story! I liked the "Rosebud" angle and "Citizen Kane" movie quote, and I detected shades of William Faulkner throughout.
Indeed, David's approach was almost Biblical in tone, echoing Mark 8:36, a scripture crocheted in red on white cloth in the Sunday School room of my childhood church: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
When I depart this mortal coil, all that matters is what I have given of myself and worldly possessions to others more needy than I. After all, "things" do not bring happiness, and I have no doubt that Jennings Osborne understood this and never lost his "soul."
McMath piece well done
The Sid McMath article that was texted by Ernest Dumas was great. Not only did it document the greatness of this man, the article provided information as to why Arkansas has been and still is behind most of the other states. In spite of the fact that Arkansas has produced more than its share of intelligent and progressive leaders, there remains strong forces that holds us back. It is too bad that corporations seem to have so much influence on our government.
I was repulsed by the media's voyeuristic coverage of the liquidation of the Osborne property and was disappointed to see that the Arkansas Times joined that party — with a nine-page cover story, no less. I don't know the Osbornes at all, but I do know that any family's financial collapse is a very painful, very personal experience — whether blue collar or high dollar. You showed the same lack of sensitivity and respect that all of your competitors did. You now live in a glass house and can no longer throw stones at the Demo-Zette, et al. whenever those media outlets publish something that offends your sensibilities. Shame on you.
Charles L. Schlumberger
From the web:
What a beautifully written article. I wasn't much of an Osborne fan while he was alive. Clearly there are two sides to every story, and I appreciate you showing me the other side of this man (and his family).
From the web in response to a post on an Ozark Tea Party Board member telling a racist joke at a rally in Mountain Home:
This is just more proof that the reason a lot of conservatives oppose any sort of safety net is because the more melanin-endowed might get some of it. In spite of the fact that the vast majority of people in poverty and in need of a helping hand are white. FDR found this out when he had to exclude farmers and farm workers from the original Social Security in order to get Southern senators on board with it.
They haven't the imagination to think they might ever need it. Jennings Osborne's story on these pages should give them pause. They may not always be in high cotton.
These racists are all around us and there's not much we can do but give them hell when they dare to show their racism.
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