During a City Council candidate forum last week, a member of the audience gave the moderator an open-ended challenge for each candidate to complete the sentence; “If you really knew me, you’d know…”
Being “politically proper” I suggested they read my campaign pamphlet which introduces me as a person of integrity, experience and vision. Thinking back, the questioner probably wanted to hear more insightful and personal things about each of us. Since we are rapidly approaching the day when some citizens will cast early ballots, maybe I should share a few things you’d know…“If you really knew David N. Smith.”
I could begin by admitting some of the things dearest to me (besides family!) are homemade ice cream, chili, hamburgers and mac ‘n cheese. Maybe I should share how I grew up on a farm outside a small town in southwest Missouri (pop. 500, counting all the suburbs.) Home was a log cabin (seriously!) Dad put stucco on the outside and added a few rooms, as well as indoor plumbing, to make it more up-scale. One room with a sloped tin roof was a bedroom for my older brother and me until we went to college.
I bought my first car when I was 15, using money I made growing tomatoes. It was a 1931 Model A Ford (I did not buy it new!) Knowing appearances are everything, I reupholstered the inside in red and white, had it painted turquoise (the official color of the ill-fated Edsel that year) and added white side-wall tires. It was the only car I ever worked on; nowadays, I dare not lift a hood!
I’ve also had a love affair with the 1957 T-Bird for most of my life. I bought one when I went through my mid-life crisis, then sold it once the crisis passed. Now, I just kick tires at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction.
I went to Northwestern University on a debate scholarship. After a year, though, I became alarmed at the thought of trying to make a living giving speeches for the rest of my life and switched from the school of speech to business. I used to earn spending money in college selling grilled cheese sandwiches to fraternity brothers on Sundays when there was no scheduled meal service.
A few people might be impressed to learn I’m a Kentucky Colonel. You don’t have to do much to earn membership in this philanthropic organization…mostly just get nominated, then appointed by the sitting Kentucky Governor. The best (and rarest) appointments are from Governors who did not subsequently go to jail. My appointing Governor was Julian M. Carroll who was under a cloud of investigation for an alleged insurance kickback scheme, but, fortunately, wasn’t convicted of any wrongdoing.
Some people know my wife and I are amateur genealogists. I have a database of 13,800 relatives, including 675 grandparents. Some were distinguished; most were ordinary folks. One notable was a 4th great-grandfather, who collaborated with John Adams in 1779 to draft “separation of church and state” language that eventually made it into our U S Constitution. A 9th great-grandfather was the second President of Harvard from 1654 to 1672. At least a dozen great-grandfathers fought in the Revolution, qualifying my membership in the Sons of the American Revolution many times over. All of this probably accounts for my passion to preserve our history.
Many of you will receive an early ballot in a few days and you’ll suddenly realize how little you know about the candidates running for office. I hope when you come to my name, you’ll feel you know me a little better. I ask for your support in the upcoming Council election.