"Gordon, no matter how long you live here, you will always be known as that Yankee from Boston" ~ Local good ol' boy
Good ol' boy is an American slang term that can have both positive and negative meanings, depending on context and usage.
The term can be used for well socialized men who live in rural and generally Southern areas. If a man is humble and well thought of, he can be referred to as a "good old boy," regardless of his age. It is commonly applied to men with a family or generational wealth or prestige.
It can be used as a pejorative term, referring someone who engages in cronyism among men who have known each other for a long period of time. Collectively these people are referred to using the slang term, Good ol' boy network.
- In the movie My Cousin Vinny, Vinny states, "Hey Stan, you're in Ala-Fuckin-Bama. You come from New York. You killed a good old boy. There is no way this is not going to trial."
Now, when I first came to Wakulla county, I heard many stories of the good ol' boys and the good ol' boy network and immediately had visions of men hanging around the local gas station chewing tobacco and talking about the old days, telling hunting stories or just plain politicking. So I went on a quest to find them. Where do I look for these good ol' boys? Well duh, lets try the local gas stations…..
I was disappointed to learn that today’s mega gas stations are really not the gathering ground for anyone these days, let alone the elusive good ol' boys. Well, heck what about the old gas stations??
Needless to say my first impression of good ol' boy hangouts were all wrong. Where are they? I have heard about them in this county from many, many folks.
Okay, so lets get serious about my search! GOOGLE must have the answer. So I Google "Wakulla County Good ol' boys"…….and I get this photo……….
I have zero clue who the gentleman above is. But I can relate to you that the very first item on the search list was entitled “ Wakulla County Solid Waste Ordinance: PROPOSED”
Holy Crap! (pun intended). Was this a sign from above?
Well I guess the good ol' boys are not Internet savvy, they are not on Facebook, although Facebook has a good old boys account here I don’t think that is them.
Not on twitter either: But I must say, that if i did get a tweet from a good ol' boy account, I think it would be a must follow.
A local once told me that “there ain't such a thing as good ol' boys round here” and I was beginning to believe him. I could not find any.
Until one day………………..
It hit me like a ton of bricks!
Recently, I was talking to a well known political figure in the county, he has held office for over thirty years, I was mentioning to him that one day, I may run for local office. He looked really perplexed at that statement and said to me immediately “Now, why would you want to do a thing like that? You won’t get elected, you didn’t grow up with anybody "round" here”
There it was, as plain as day. I think I got the “you ain't from round here” sentiment as well as the feeling that there was a network of people who will vote for someone just because they grew up "round" here. Good ole boys? Could be. Makes sense that in this day and age they are not like the old good old boys (See what I did there?)
Nowadays good ol' boys are pretty much behind the scenes:
They are there, they have gatherings (I am just not invited)
They discuss things, like the future of the county or who they should vote for in the coming elections. Or small trivial things like what candidate can they run to take away votes from the guy they don’t want to win in a three way race, oh and pass me the fried gator.
Yankee goes deep inside the dark side If the good ole boy network is strong enough, they are like there own political party.Any candidate, Republican or Democrat MUST get the blessing and kiss the ring of the boss hogg and in this case, locally that was the sheriff. In a recent election here in the county. A conservative Republican was running for County Commissioner. He invited me to a "Unique" fund raising event at his home. He told me that it wasn't your "normal" republican fundraiser. I was............
I went, the house was jammed full of people that I did not know and have not seen before. Who are these people? Come to find out, they are all mostly local Democrats. How odd for a conservative Republican to be holding a fund raiser filled with all Democrats. Another odd thing is that I have heard most of their names before. Streets named after some of their family names, buildings with their names on them......ETC..
Then the light does dawn on my marble head. I was right in the middle of the Good ol' boys, (and good ol' girls) network - the old county families. In order for this candidate to get elected, he thought he needed to "kiss the ring" and he did, of the entire network. Although boss hogg did not show up, the legions of good ol' boys were enough. Republican or Democratic issues does not matter once you have the power of the good ol' boy campaign apparatus, money, connections, local media etc.....
It’s like the old county families are akin to mafia families...........
..... they once controlled everything. But time and people expansion in the county has withered away most of their power. It is most interesting to watch as this county is populated more and more by "outsiders: the old families struggle to remain relevant in all things and politics is there main concern and last gasp.. Makes sense, get your man elected and you can control his votes. Or how about good ol' boy Bubba wants his house appraised..do him right, if you know what we mean. What is most interesting here is that as time passes, each election gets closer and closer to a victory by the non good ol' boy network candidate. And when this finally happens, it will be a domino effect, more people will run for local office and not be afraid. True representation will rule the day.
I really think the good ol' boys are closely related to the group up north we call the Mayors machine.....
But with a huge difference, Just like mostly everything down South, good ol' boys are not loud or abrasive. They can tell you off without even realizing it, until a few days later. There is a more relaxed approach to even the age old sport of politics. Just don't go looking for them, you won't find them out and about. They are behind the scenes or on special occasions will show themselves en mas when their power is threatened. Just ask some of our local elected officials.