Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First column for the Jackson Progress argus

Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am, as you can see, Jim Abbott. What you can’t see is, as radio man Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. Although the wonderful Stewart Voegtlin had given me mention a couple weeks back, lauding me for having the “guts” to write a left leaning column in Butts County , I think I should tell you a little bit about myself since I will be coming into your homes on a more or less weekly basis.
I am not from Georgia . I was born in a small town in the Adirondack Mountains, in extreme upstate New York, four hundred miles north of New York City (I am surprised at how many Georgians don’t realize that New York is a very large state, comparable to Georgia, and like Georgia, is mostly all rural ) and lived most of my life in a small town in the Catskill Mountains, also upstate. Through a lousy set of circumstances, I was adopted, had a decent little kid life for a few years and when I was eleven my adopted family disintegrated in divorce and acrimony. For some reason I ended up with my father, who was gone most of the time, so I was pretty badly neglected, and basically had to raise myself from the age of twelve.
I did manage to get through high school, and later four years of college. In my 49 years I have been a dishwasher, a knife factory line worker, a rat breeder (!), machinist, postal clerk, deck hand on a tourist boat on the Hudson River, a UPS auditor, dog control officer, a schoolteacher, a newspaper reporter, (before that I had a 103 mile paper route for eight years, in the Catkills, where I hit an unbelievable twenty seven deer with my various cars over that time). I have also been an independent contractor/courier, taxi driver, music buyer for a book and music store, and now am a beauty supply store owner here in Jackson . I mention all this as a pre-emptive measure, so when one of y’all disagrees with me, as I am sure you will, you can call Hello Butts County and say, “Tell Jim Abbott to go back to breedin’rats!”, for example.
I grew up, as it were, in a Republican house, and when I registered to vote I did so as a Republican, often thinking that Democrats were just a bunch of tree-hugging do-gooders who were not realistic about the state of the country or the world. But then I noticed that Republicans, including those in my town’s Republican Club, of which I was a member, were by and large rather mean-spirited. Oh, they weren’t rude in public, but rather in the informal talk that went on at various functions that I attended, including some at a fairly high level, state-wise. I also noticed that there seemed to be an attitude of “haves” versus “have nots” and I watched and listened as they would make cruel comments about less fortunate people in our small town, a town roughly the size and makeup of Jackson, and I decided I had had enough.
That was 15 years ago. I still have not actually hugged a tree, but I do appreciate that they provide life supporting oxygen, are integral in maintaining the natural balance of the atmosphere and land, and sometimes are just nice to look at. Even right wingers will have to admit that beauty isn’t always reflected in a bank account, and that it shouldn’t take guts to speak out against things that are wrong..

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