What’s An Uber-Conservative Anyway


Over the last few weeks and with the coming of the New Year, in Tennessee, winter has been the major discussion topic around every country store, restaurant and even church meetings. Just trying to get from your car to Wednesday night prayer meetings with the recent northern breezes whistling around every corner, has given a totally new meaning to the term “putting pep in your step.” And, it hasn’t been any different out on Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm either. The other day as I pulled in the long gravel driveway of their farm, the winter wind was blowing to beat the band and the yellow glow of light coming from the windows of their white frame house was a sure welcome sight on that dark cloudy day I made my visit.

As usual, Aunt Sadie met me at the kitchen door wiping her hands on her apron and led me to the back portion of their house where the old couple spends most of their time. There, sitting at the round kitchen table, was Uncle Sid enjoying a cup of hot coffee and a few of Aunt Sadie’s teacakes. He seemed to be in some kind of trance reading the local paper when I walked in, but hearing my voice, the trance was broken and he waved me over to the table.
After exchanging pleasantries and taking my seat at the table to also share with Uncle Sid some of Aunt Sadie’s teacakes, I asked Uncle the question we all seemed to be asking right now, “When is it going to warm up?” But, the weather was not on his mind that day. It seems there was a letter to the editor in the local paper about one of my columns that had caused Uncle Sid’s reading trance when I arrived and that was the topic of discussion for today’s visit.
“What’s a uber-conservative?” Uncle Sid asked.
I knew exactly where he was coming from having seen the paper myself earlier that morning. It seems someone had determined I was an uber-conservative by a recent article I had written which I thought had nothing to do with conservatisms, but it had caught Uncle Sid’s attention.
“Oh, someone has gotten caught up in all of this conservative and non-conservative politics and they think everything relates to it,” I answered Uncle Sid. “In fact, I had to look uber-conservative up myself to find out what it means. It is someone even beyond ultra-conservative and that is no way a description of me. You know how I was raised Uncle Sid, we may have been called conservative today, but we were mainly conservatively without money.”
“I know what you mean boy,” Uncle Sid said as he folded his paper. “A lot of folks try to ‘classify’ you without really knowing you and many times that leads to the wrong determination of the facts.”
Uncle Sid had a way at putting things down where they made sense and after being labeled something that I knew was pretty far off the target for me, I appreciated his understanding. I have to say I do have conservative tendencies, but they are due to being reared by depression era parents.
“Making judgment calls without thinking reminds me of an old story about Robert and Collie who started up a feed store with only a few hundred dollars back during the 20s,” Uncle Sid said as he started one of his stories. I took another teacake myself and settled back in my cane-bottomed chair to enjoy a little history.
“The two of them built up a pretty good business with sales totaling thousands of dollars, which was outstanding in those days. They had five workers and the two of them lived high on the hog,” he said while breaking off a bite of teacake.
At this point Aunt Sadie had also joined us and was also getting engrossed in Uncle Sid’s tale of Robert and Collie. He went on, “But you know, almost overnight, things changed. The depression hit, sales went to nothing and their debts forced both of them into bankruptcy. They blamed each other for what went wrong, which really wasn’t neither ones fault, and parted ways on some very bitter terms.”
Where this was going I had no idea, but I was out of teacakes and so was Uncle Sid, so I knew the punch line was coming soon. Just as I thought, he stood up and looked at both Aunt Sadie and myself and said, “A couple years later, Robert stopped at a very old run down greasy spoon diner for lunch. While he was running a roach from the edge of the table, a waiter came up to take his order and it was Collie. Being somewhat embarrassed, he looked up at Collie and said, ‘Collie, I can’t believe you are working in a place like this.’ “
Picking up the newspaper and looking at the editorial page Uncle Sid went on to say, “Collie then told Robert, ‘Yeah, at least I don’t eat here.’  So boy, everyone needs to be real careful on how they judge folks. You never know who you might meet when you stop to eat.”
I told you he had a way with words.
Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com
Photo by Robert Alfers from  Wikipedia