My Uncle Snook Thomson used to have a store in Walnut Grove. I loved to go and visit because he had a rack of penny candy and always let me fill up a little paper bag with Mary Janes and jawbreakers and the like.
I also liked it because there were always a group of old men gathered around the stove in the corner, and I have always been a sucker for old men. Of course, looking back, these "old men" were probably in their 40s.
Uncle Snook used to say that the fellows who gathered around the stove in the corner of his store were "solving the problems of the world." They could have fooled me. At the time, it just seemed to me that they were cussing and spitting and looking for an excuse not to go home.
I'm older and wiser now and realize that having a little time to sit around a stove and cuss and spit with your friends might not solve the problems of the world but will certainly make them a bit more palatable.
For the past few months we have had a lot of old men, as well as a couple of young ones - and one woman of indeterminate age - traipsing around the country, promising to solve the problems of the world, or at least the ones that pertain to this country. They have made speeches and aired commercials and debated one another.
Some have stood steadfast on the issues and others have demonstrated amazing flexibility - showing their willingness to swing and sway with the winds of popular opinion. These candidates apparently have the ability to be all things to all people.
Reminds me of that old Arpege commercial. (That's what used to be called a perfume, for you youngsters out there. I think today it would be called a fragrance.) You might remember the slogan. "Promise her anything, but give her Arpege."
I think the point was that the giver of the gift knew more about what the woman wanted than the woman herself, which, come to think of it, makes the Arpege commercial even more applicable to today's political climate than I first realized.
Obviously, the folks running for president know more about what Americans want and need than the voters, and no matter what they promise, they will probably give us what they want us to have.
But that's neither here nor there, because today is Super Tuesday and voters in 24 states will stand up and indicate their preference for the presidential candidate for their respective parties.
Iowa has had their say, and so have New Hampshire and Michigan and South Carolina and Florida and several other states. So far, we haven't determined who the candidates will be, but we have decided who they won't be.
Presidential hopefuls have been dropping like flies since the first week of January.
Bill Richards. Gone. Fred Thompson. Gone. Rudy Guiliani. Gone. John Edwards. Gone. Ron Paul? Still here, but nobody's sure why. Mike Huckabee? Holding on by the skin of one tooth.
Which brings us to today.
When the smoke has cleared after today's voting, which will take place as far north as Barrow, Alaska, and as far south as Fargo, Ga., we should have a really good feel for the paths the two parties will travel toward the November general election.
Will John McCain ride the Republican elephant off into the sunset or right down Pennsylvania Avenue? Or will Mitt Romney's deep pockets and savvy style allow him to wrest the nomination from the 71-year-old senator's seemingly tight grasp?
On the Democratic side, will it be the fresh-faced vessel of change, Barack Obama, or the oft-maligned but magnificently effective Clinton machine?
If Hillary wins, will she choose Obama as her running mate in an effort to create an unbeatable "Dream Ticket?"
If Obama wins, would Hillary ever consider playing second fiddle, even to a political virtuoso? Or has John Edwards already cut a deal?
And how about on the Republican side? Can Huckabee's conservatism balance the ticket for McCain, who has come under fire from the party's right wing?
Questions, questions, questions. When will we have answers?
It could be as early as tomorrow or things could drag on for a few more weeks.
Whoever the parties pick for their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, I think they should forgo the usual series of speeches and ads and debates and just sit down around a hot stove in the corner of an old country store somewhere. They could spit and cuss and solve the problems of the world while the nation's voters watch.
I'll provide the penny candy.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.