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His plans were bigger than we could see

POSTED: July 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.

My earliest business venture was operating a shoe-shine box in Johnny O'Kelly's barber shop in Social Circle. It was two-chair shop with Johnny and Mr. Aub McClain.

Mr. Aub had been cutting hair in Social Circle for as long as anyone could remember. He also taught me a thing or two about popping a shine rag.

Barber shops are the place where men share the news. Next door at Lena's Beauty Parlor the same topics would be considered gossip.

One day the topic rolled around to Jimmy Carter, who was governor at the time.

"I hear Carter is talking about running for president," said one fellow.

"President of what?" asked another.

This was about the time the rest of the country was asking, "Jimmy who?"

I think the whole state of Georgia was taken aback that this peanut farmer with the toothy grin started getting traction in his run for the White House.

Mary Kate Tribble of Social Circle and her niece, Janet, got involved in the Carter campaign and were involved in the "Peanut Brigade" of Georgians who went to places like Iowa and New Hampshire to campaign for Jimmy. Janet ended up with a job at the White House and stayed on after Carter left office.

Every town in Georgia staked out its claim to Carter or his staff.

Jody Powell, Carter's press secretary, was married to Nan Jared, who hailed from Gainesville. There were also Carter friends in Gainesville, like Bill Gunter and Don Carter, who was not related to the president.

For the last two years of the Carter presidency I was living in Albany. There were all kinds of connections to Carter in that region, just a short drive from Plains.

However, none was more prominent than Hamilton Jordan of Albany.

Jordan was the architect of Carter's rise from an obscure Southern governor to president of the United States. He was not without controversy. Allegations of misbehaving at a state function and at a New York night club, Studio 54, had tarnished his distinction as the youngest White House chief of staff.

I first saw Jordan in person on the morning of election day in 1980. Jimmy Carter came home to Plains to vote. My highlight of that trip is that Sam Donaldson of ABC News hitched a ride with us from the school to the train depot.

But I can remember how dejected Jordan and Carter looked. They had been told that the election results were not going to be good. The information was correct.

I met Jordan the next year when a dinner was held in Atlanta to honor all the Georgians who served in the Carter White House. I saw him a few years later when he was running for the U.S. Senate.

He was a very intense man who looked you straight in the eye when he spoke with you.

By the time he made that Senate run, he had already experienced his first bout with cancer. For 22 years, he fought multiple battles with the disease. He never gave up.

Hamilton Jordan died last week. He was 63.

Bert Lance, another Carter confidante, told me this week that he believes history will be kind to Jordan and will put aside the alleged youthful indiscretions.

"He's the man who put it all in place for Carter," Lance said.

They may have laughed then, but no one is laughing now.

My earliest business venture was operating a shoe-shine box in Johnny O'Kelly's barber shop in Social Circle. It was two-chair shop with Johnny and Mr. Aub McClain.

Mr. Aub had been cutting hair in Social Circle for as long as anyone could remember. He also taught me a thing or two about popping a shine rag.

Barber shops are the place where men share the news. Next door at Lena's Beauty Parlor the same topics would be considered gossip.

One day the topic rolled around to Jimmy Carter, who was governor at the time.

"I hear Carter is talking about running for president," said one fellow.

"President of what?" asked another.

This was about the time the rest of the country was asking, "Jimmy who?"

I think the whole state of Georgia was taken aback that this peanut farmer with the toothy grin started getting traction in his run for the White House.

Mary Kate Tribble of Social Circle and her niece, Janet, got involved in the Carter campaign and were involved in the "Peanut Brigade" of Georgians who went to places like Iowa and New Hampshire to campaign for Jimmy. Janet ended up with a job at the White House and stayed on after Carter left office.

Every town in Georgia staked out its claim to Carter or his staff.

Jody Powell, Carter's press secretary, was married to Nan Jared, who hailed from Gainesville. There were also Carter friends in Gainesville, like Bill Gunter and Don Carter, who was not related to the president.

For the last two years of the Carter presidency I was living in Albany. There were all kinds of connections to Carter in that region, just a short drive from Plains.

However, none was more prominent than Hamilton Jordan of Albany.

Jordan was the architect of Carter's rise from an obscure Southern governor to president of the United States. He was not without controversy. Allegations of misbehaving at a state function and at a New York night club, Studio 54, had tarnished his distinction as the youngest White House chief of staff.

I first saw Jordan in person on the morning of election day in 1980. Jimmy Carter came home to Plains to vote. My highlight of that trip is that Sam Donaldson of ABC News hitched a ride with us from the school to the train depot.

But I can remember how dejected Jordan and Carter looked. They had been told that the election results were not going to be good. The information was correct.

I met Jordan the next year when a dinner was held in Atlanta to honor all the Georgians who served in the Carter White House. I saw him a few years later when he was running for the U.S. Senate.

He was a very intense man who looked you straight in the eye when he spoke with you.

By the time he made that Senate run, he had already experienced his first bout with cancer. For 22 years, he fought multiple battles with the disease. He never gave up.

Hamilton Jordan died last week. He was 63.

Bert Lance, another Carter confidante, told me this week that he believes history will be kind to Jordan and will put aside the alleged youthful indiscretions.

"He's the man who put it all in place for Carter," Lance said.

They may have laughed then, but no one is laughing now.


Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.

My earliest business venture was operating a shoe-shine box in Johnny O'Kelly's barber shop in Social Circle. It was two-chair shop with Johnny and Mr. Aub McClain.

Mr. Aub had been cutting hair in Social Circle for as long as anyone could remember. He also taught me a thing or two about popping a shine rag.

Barber shops are the place where men share the news. Next door at Lena's Beauty Parlor the same topics would be considered gossip.

One day the topic rolled around to Jimmy Carter, who was governor at the time.

"I hear Carter is talking about running for president," said one fellow.

"President of what?" asked another.

This was about the time the rest of the country was asking, "Jimmy who?"

I think the whole state of Georgia was taken aback that this peanut farmer with the toothy grin started getting traction in his run for the White House.

Mary Kate Tribble of Social Circle and her niece, Janet, got involved in the Carter campaign and were involved in the "Peanut Brigade" of Georgians who went to places like Iowa and New Hampshire to campaign for Jimmy. Janet ended up with a job at the White House and stayed on after Carter left office.

Every town in Georgia staked out its claim to Carter or his staff.

Jody Powell, Carter's press secretary, was married to Nan Jared, who hailed from Gainesville. There were also Carter friends in Gainesville, like Bill Gunter and Don Carter, who was not related to the president.

For the last two years of the Carter presidency I was living in Albany. There were all kinds of connections to Carter in that region, just a short drive from Plains.

However, none was more prominent than Hamilton Jordan of Albany.

Jordan was the architect of Carter's rise from an obscure Southern governor to president of the United States. He was not without controversy. Allegations of misbehaving at a state function and at a New York night club, Studio 54, had tarnished his distinction as the youngest White House chief of staff.

I first saw Jordan in person on the morning of election day in 1980. Jimmy Carter came home to Plains to vote. My highlight of that trip is that Sam Donaldson of ABC News hitched a ride with us from the school to the train depot.

But I can remember how dejected Jordan and Carter looked. They had been told that the election results were not going to be good. The information was correct.

I met Jordan the next year when a dinner was held in Atlanta to honor all the Georgians who served in the Carter White House. I saw him a few years later when he was running for the U.S. Senate.

He was a very intense man who looked you straight in the eye when he spoke with you.

By the time he made that Senate run, he had already experienced his first bout with cancer. For 22 years, he fought multiple battles with the disease. He never gave up.

Hamilton Jordan died last week. He was 63.

Bert Lance, another Carter confidante, told me this week that he believes history will be kind to Jordan and will put aside the alleged youthful indiscretions

"He's the man who put it all in place for Carter," Lance said.

They may have laughed then, but no one is laughing now.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays in the print edition only and Sundays.



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