10 Country: On the campaign trail - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: On the campaign trail

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August 27, 2002

Many people have removed political signs, and thrown away cards from candidates asking for our votes. But one Tift County man resisted the urge to toss them out.

You wouldn't think of a hot, humid, noisy sheet metal shop as a museum. And you may not think of Rod Smith as a museum curator, but he is. He oversees a permanent display of political history, in the form of campaign cards, always in his view as he cuts and shapes the metal for his customers.

"There's not much I can tell you, honestly. They have just always been here."

He didn't know any of the politicians who dropped by asking for his late grandfather's vote, because Rod wasn't born yet. Some of the cards go back 50 years. His late grandfather made six display rails just for the cards, which carry immortal pleas for support.

Some cards outlived the candidates. You can see that politicians borrowed words from one another. W. Cecil Evans' card said, "There is no substitution for experience."

Leroy Rogers campaigned for the same city commission seat several years later. His card had those same words, proving imitation is the sincerest form of flattery even in politics. Rod's grandfather displayed 483 cards in his shop, only one in color, and only a few had pictures on them.

Only one card in the collection included a female running for public office, prompting the question: Did she win?

"Oh, my goodness. Many years ago," said Former Politician Sylvia McMillian. About 15 years ago, she gave politics a try. "It was very interesting, very challenging, and I enjoyed it very much."

She didn't enjoy the outcome, placing third in a field of five candidates. The brittle old card goes back to the collection it has called home for about the last 15 years. In a sheet metal shop, where political cards continue to ask for support, long after the votes were counted and the officials served their terms.

Mr. Smith, who collected the cards, could never vote for the Tift County people who asked him, because at the time, he lived in neighboring Berrien County.