Once upon a time, voters turned out for elections

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The people who cast the ballots don't decide the election; the people who count the votes do.

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-- Joseph Stalin

There is a runoff election in Georgia today, and some of you will head to the polls.

They're not expecting a big turnout -- they rarely get them in summer voting, which is a far cry from a July election in 1933.

Someone recently dropped off some old, yellowed copies of the Augusta Herald from 75 years ago, and the paper was full of news about the upcoming mayoral contest between Thomas Barrett Jr. and Ferdinand Phinizy.

The Herald thought the turnout was so important it ran the name of every registered voter in the city -- ward by ward, along with his or her address. That meant page after newspaper page of lists of names -- about 12,000.

Well, there was a lot of interest. Checking our microfilm I found that Mr. Barrett won the contest 5,608 to 3,989 -- a total of 9,597 votes.

Not a bad turnout considering about 12,000 were eligible.

BYE, SKIP: Like many baseball fans, I was stunned by Sunday's unexpected death of Braves' announcer Skip Caray.

Over the past 33 years I have listened to his voice thousands of nights, enjoying his humor and admiring his honesty.

He was an approachable guy, too.

I met him in the early 1980s in an Atlanta ballroom bar where we both were trying to get away from a TV awards program that had gone on and on and on.

As the long-winded and self-important acceptance speeches grew worse, I left my date at her table under the pretense of finding a $5 Coca-Cola somewhere.

In the bar I found Skip, seeking a stronger libation and also attempting to escape the performances of Atlanta TV journalists.

"I don't think I can take much more of this," Skip said after I introduced myself.

"I know," I said. "I'm thinking about leaving."

"Lucky you," he said. "I still have to get my award."

And later, when he did, he accepted it with gracious (but brief) good humor.

He set the Braves broadcast standard. How many times have we all turned down the sound on our TVs so we could listen to Skip do his exemplary job of calling the same game on radio?

Listening to the Braves will never be the same.

TODAY'S JOKE: A public civil servant was sitting in his office one August morning when out of boredom he decides to see what's in his old filing cabinet. He pokes through the contents and comes across an old brass lamp.

"This will look nice on my mantelpiece," he decides and takes it home with him. While polishing the lamp, a genie appears and grants him three wishes.

"I wish for a beautiful castle right now!"

Shazaaam! He has a beautiful castle.

Now that he can think more clearly, he states his second wish. "I wish to be on an island with beautiful women."

Shazaam! He is on an island surrounded by gorgeous women.

He tells the genie his third and last wish: "I wish I'd never have to work ever again."

Shazaam! He's back in his government office.


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