Reunion will draw candidates
Published 1:55 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009
With Labor Day approaching it signifies that the long hot summer will soon be coming to an end. This Monday is Labor Day. It usually does not cool off much, but we Alabamians seem to think that Labor Day marks the end of summer. For those of us who are political junkies Labor Day also marks the beginning of the political season.
In political years most campaigns for the November general election kick off on Labor Day. This year, being an odd numbered year, is not an election year but next year is a biggie because 2010 is the year of the governor’s race. This big year in Alabama politics happens every four years. Beginning in two weeks I will start a fifteen week series on the history of Alabama governor’s races beginning with 1958 and covering the 50-year history of gubernatorial contests. I hope that you will enjoy the series.
The serious early bird candidates for governor in 2010 will begin their campaigns this Monday. Where will they start? There is an event held in the northwest corner of Alabama known as the Terry Family Reunion. It is the largest family reunion in Alabama. Politicians know about this yearly event that has been going on for many years. Not everyone who attends this family reunion has Terry family roots but a good many do. It has become a must do event for aspiring statewide and definitely local candidates. Every candidate for sheriff or the Legislature will be at the Terry Reunion, which is held in the corner of Lawrence County. It is an event for all politicians running for governor and statewide office and for politicians from the counties of Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, Lawrence and Morgan.
There will be political speeches and lots of one-on-one campaigning. This year will be a practice year and only the early bird candidates will show, but 2010 will be a must show event. Although there will be Labor Day barbeques from one end of the state to the other, none will be as political as the Terry Family Reunion just south of Tuscumbia and just north of Moulton and Russellville.
The actual location of the reunion is in the Loosier Community of Lawrence County. That is where the large Terry family originated. Actually, a good many of the folks who attend have kinship or ties to the Terry family. It is officially called the Terry Club Family Reunion. It has a carnival atmosphere. There is every kind of food, especially good barbeque. They cook the chicken and camp stew all night the night before. They have lots of camp stew, barbequed pork and chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, catfish and fried pies. You name it. A regular at the Terry Club Family Reunion was Howell Heflin, who of course hailed from nearby Tuscumbia. No politician ever loved barbeque or food for that matter more than the judge.
Every candidate for any office is allowed to speak, but of course, deference is given to the gubernatorial candidates. Jody Letson, the current State Representative from Lawrence County, made his first political speech at the Terry Family Reunion. Incidentally, he married into the Terry family.
I remember attending the event in 1978. Jere Beasley’s caravan was arriving just as Bill Baxley’s was leaving. Albert Brewer and Sid McDonald arrived later and old Judge Heflin meandered around most of the day eating most of the time.
Besides everybody being kin to each other up in this corner of the state, a well-known fact politically was that at one time it was almost a requirement to be a member of the Church of Christ denomination. They were almost clannish and very loyal and devoted to voting for someone from their church. Also, at one time, the Terry’s claimed that one way or the other by marriage or blood, they were about half the population of Lawrence County. Whether that is accurate or not, the Terry Family Reunion was and still is a must event for an aspiring politician.
Labor Day is also a day to salute the American worker. We salute and honor our working men and women and as we salute and honor our Alabama workers it should be noted that Alabama has historically been one of the most unionized states in the South.
Happy Labor Day!
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 60 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.