The most remarkable thing happened Tuesday at the post office in downtown Augusta.
It was business as usual, with six people waiting in line while two clerks tried to handle the windows and five other post office employees behind the counter were doing who knows what. Keeping papers straight back there was important no doubt, but it sure was aggravating to stand there and watch.
Suddenly, just as City Ink was about to boil over, an old man in line started singing How Great Thou Art in a booming baritone. Everybody froze, looked at him and then each other. Then everybody started singing along with him. When he finished, everybody cheered and applauded. Trudy Pelham, who was buying a book of stamps, rushed over and hugged him.
"My grandfather taught me that," he said.
He said he decided to sing in the post office because it had gotten "stagnant" in there.
Thank you, Charlie Potts, for making everyone's day. How great you are.
PARTING SHOTS: With the election only two days away, City Ink thought it would be interesting to ask candidates the most important thing voters should know about their candidates before voting Tuesday. Here's what some had to say:
Twelfth Congressional District Democrat challenger John Barrow vs. incumbent Republican Max Burns:
Mr. Barrow: "What we need is somebody who will vote in the best interest of the district. And you can't expect that from someone who votes the way Tom Delay tells him to 98 percent of the time."
Mr. Burns: "Mr. Barrow has brutally accused me and misrepresented my position on virtually every issue. He's running behind his party's assault machine, and it's open season on Max Burns."
State Senate District 22 Republican Sen. Don Cheeks vs. Democrat Charles Walker:
Mr. Cheeks: "In his campaign he has really tried to separate the races. If you look at the literature he's sent to his black constituents, it's different from what he said on his billboards and what he's said to the people. He's using the race card. I'm not playing the race card."
Mr. Walker: "Cheeks accused me of voting his machine in 1983. Now I'm hoping the people of the 22nd District will elect me to vote his machine in 2005."
State Senate District 23 Republican Sen. Randy Hall vs. Democrat J.B. Powell:
Mr. Hall: "I can't understand how he can say with a straight face he will vote like a Republican in Atlanta when his campaign is paid for and controlled by liberal Atlanta Democrats."
Mr. Powell: "I think his voting record stinks."
State House District 123 Democrat Alberta Anderson vs. Republican George DeLoach:
Ms. Anderson: "He moved back to Burke County to come back and challenge me for the seat. I wouldn't have done it. It's not right."
Mr. DeLoach: "The main thing is she has broken from our traditional values by voting not to allow the same-sex marriage amendment to be on the ballot November 2nd."
FREE FISH, COLD BARBECUE AND JESSE: Mr. Cheeks had a free fish fry last week at the Julian Smith Casino, and two days later Mr. Walker had a $20-a-plate barbecue there. Mr. Cheeks had a drawing for a 27-inch flat-screen TV, and wouldn't you know it - a man who doesn't even live in Augusta won it.
The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Joseph Lowery, "the deacon of the civil rights movement," attended Mr. Walker's event, a rollicking evangelical camp meeting, civil rights and political rally all rolled into one.
There were some mighty hungry people there by the time the Rev. Jackson almost magically appeared through a side door. They had sat through almost two hours of oratory, and the organizers had begun serving the old folks when the Rev. Jackson asked them to hold off. He said he couldn't compete with the chicken.
"The chicken you will have with you always. You have me here for only a few minutes," he said.
Dave's Gone Wild: Not content to sit on his laurels with two blockbuster weeks of "Top 10 Better Things To Do With SPLOST 5 Money," Richmond County Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee has done it again. So for the last time, here's Dave:
10. Buy 9.72 million barrels of oil to bring gasoline prices down in Augusta.
9. Buy Aiken County. Those folks didn't think they could just cross the river every day after work and forget about us, did they?
8. Tear down every school in Richmond County and rebuild each. With the tax money, $8.75 million could be used for each school.
7. Buy 92 million chicken breasts from Wife Saver. Chicken's for dinner every night for 465 days.
6. Pay the health insurance premiums for 49,451 Augusta families for a year.
5. Launch a space shuttle from Daniel Field. Each shuttle flight costs about $500 million, so Augusta would have to bond $14 million, but it can be done.
4. Build an underground rail for the trains. No one will ever be stopped by a train in downtown Augusta again.
3. Who needs tort reform? Augusta could pay all of its doctors' malpractice insurance for the next 13 years.
2. Buy 285 million "Re-elect Willie Mays" signs for an unprecedented third term on the commission.
1. Burn all the money. Burn all $486 million. Augusta could burn a dollar a minute every hour of every day for the next 924 years.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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