Cockroaches and presidential election wisdom

by joparker on October 9, 2012

If you are on the fence when it comes to picking our nation’s next President, forget the debates and commercials, check out how the folks at the New Jersey Pest Management Association determine the outcome.

Every four years, the NJPMA holds a ‘presidential cockroach derby’ and this year’s winner was Romney.

On the Road Again by J.O. Parker

No kidding – a ‘Running of the Roaches.’

Leonard Douglen, executive director of the NJPMA, admitted in an on-line article that the race is a publicity stunt for his organization, but still thinks the roach race is a good indicator of who will win in November.

In fact, the NJPMA has an 84 percent track record of getting it right. Four years ago, Douglen said the Obama cockroach won.

I first heard about this at a family surprise birthday gathering in Pella Saturday evening for Debbie’s cousin, Marsha Haworth, of New Sharon.

I was visiting with Wayne Haworth, an attendee at the party who lives south of Searsboro. Wayne is Marsha’s husband, Alan’s, uncle.

Anyway, as Wayne and I visited the subject of politics was brought up, and Wayne told me about the cockroach story. It made me chuckle and curious to know more.

I always enjoy visiting with Wayne when I see him. I can remember a few years ago, Wayne telling a story about back in the day when he used to tie hay bales by hand. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a column about it.

I brought the hay bale story up Saturday and he started talking about it again. He said someday he would like to go to the Old Threshers Reunion and show them how it’s done.

“I bet there isn’t one in a 100 there who knows how it’s done,” Wayne said as he explained the method of tying hay bales by hand.

Wayne is an interesting man and seems to have lots of old-time stories like that to tell. In fact, he invited me to drop by his house some day and he would tell me a few stories.

“Are they true?” I asked.

He assured me they where.

Anyway, I come home and looked the cockroach race up on the Internet. Sure enough, it’s true!

According to the article, the NJPMA picks two Madagascar hissing cockroaches to stand in for the Republican and Democratic nominees and races them on a three-foot-long track.

“This year marked the 16th Running of the Roaches and pitted a Romney roach against a Barack Obama bug, each with a tiny caricature of the nominees taped to their backs,” noted the article.

Maybe the folks at the NJPMA are on to something. Instead of a series of debates, let’s have a series of cockroach races with the winner of the best two out of three moving into the Oval Office.

It’s would be a lot cheaper and a less controversial way of picking a President than how it’s done today.

A person can learn a lot from some-one like Wayne. He’s been around the block a time or two.

I can’t put my finger on it, but I enjoy family gatherings. Family seems to be important to Iowans. Maybe that’s why I feel right at home here.

When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma, I attended my share of family gatherings.

My dad always enjoyed visiting the folks he grew up around in the river bottoms east of Tulsa. My mom enjoyed being around her people and, in later years, attending family reunions in her native state of Missouri.

For my dad, going back to visit al-lowed him a chance to reflect on the life he had as a child and see what he had accomplished as a man and a father.

When I get a little older, I always enjoyed going with my dad to visit with some of these folks in the bottoms.

One couple that comes to mind is Sonny and Olva Smith. Dad knew them as a kid. They lived up the hill a half-mile from where he attended one-room school.

Sonny and Olva were farmers and they, like my dad, knew what it was like to do without. They toiled with their hands and hearts and partook in the fruits of their labor.

My dad loved to pay a visit to the Smiths. Olva always fixed enough food for an army. I recall many times my dad sitting at the Smith’s table and enjoying a big meal.

My dad could eat a horse and never gain a pound. He said the key was chewing up the food real good before swallowing.

He always told me I ate too fast and that I needed to slow down and enjoy my food more.

Saturday night as the gathering of 70 or so enjoyed the buffet in Pella, I was thinking about my dad and the advice he gave me through the years.

My dad would collect aluminum cans at work and at least once a year at Christmas would sell them and treat the family to meal at Fish n Fowl, a restaurant south of Tulsa near Broken Arrow, Okla.

It was a buffet-style restaurant that served all-you-can eat catfish and chicken.

Dad would always tell me to pass up the salad and bread and get to the meat.

“That stuff will fill you up,” he would say of the bread and salad.

“Get to the meat,” he would remind me.

There’s a lot of wisdom in those words. Maybe when it comes to picking a President, we need to bypass the salad and bread bar and get to the meat that will get this country moving forward.

Have a great week and always re-member that, “Good Things are Happening,” everyday and always.

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