Mood: not sure
Topic: "Fords and Dads" (2)
Frodo's father and Gerald Ford were a great deal alike. Their shared sense of personal integrity and their individual notions of hard work as the avenue to success is more evident to Frodo now, than at any other time. The levels of "separation" between these two men, who never met, is the theme of what follows. Frodo can attest, personally, to all that is stated here, as he was there, and observed exactly what was said.
Frodo's father served his country during World War II as a "Tech Sergeant" in the 55th Engineers, 10th Armored Division, in George Patton's Third Army. Not unlike most of his era, Frodo's father never spoke of his experiences, and what little Frodo learned, he heard from the conversations between his father and his fellow soldiers. These conversations took place at a reunion of the 10th Armored Division veterans which Frodo attended with his father. It was announced the final night of that reunion that the next reunion would be held in the Shire. Frodo's father, contrary to his military training, volunteered to help in any way possible.
The next reunion came and went, and it was hugely successful. Frodo, being a little older, and somewhat wiser, was able to glean even more information about what had happened during those dark days in Europe, and heard many references to and about his father. Frodo's father said nothing when Frodo asked him about some of the things he had heard. One of the things that Frodo did learn that one of the officers in his father's outfit had become an increasingly visible figure in the political world, although, at the time, Frodo had never heard of the guy.
Spiro Ted Agnew had been a Major in the 10th Armored Division, and in the time-frame of these reunions he had become a candidate for the position of Governor, in the State of Maryland. He, also, was active in any gathering of prospective voters, which certainly included veterans who were likely to vote in upcoming elections. Frodo's father began to receive correspondence from "Ted," generally thanking him for his good work in behalf of their "fellow" veterans. Frodo's father said nothing. Frodo's father worked on a shift that required his presence from 4:00 PM to Midnight. Frodo, of course, was in school, so his path with his father crossed only on weekends. Even then, Frodo was often up and long gone on Saturdays when his father finally awoke to face the tasks of husband and father away from "the plant."
One Saturday however, there were massive changes in everyone's schedule because of what had arrived in the mail the day before. A formal invitation to the Inaugural Ball of the newly-elected Governor of the State of Maryland arrived addressed to Frodo's father. Bilbo was as excited as Frodo has ever seen her, and she had passed information about the invitation to everyone whom she knew. That Friday night was a sociological study in "the temptations of Eve," for every lady in the Shire came by to see the, as yet, unopened invitation. When Frodo retreated for the evening he noted that Bilbo placed the invitation, along with all the rest of the mail, as usual, atop the refrigerator in the kitchen. It was Frodo's father's habit to glance through it the next morning, when he awoke. Frodo adjusted all of his Saturday plans to ensure that he would be there, with Bilbo, when his father opened the invitation.
That morning, the Hobbits waited expectantly around the kitchen table for Frodo's father to awake. He was, at first, shocked to see Frodo sitting still, much less to be inside on a Saturday. Bilbo was almost apoplectic. Finally, he began to thumb through the mail, piece by agonizing piece. He carefully studied each piece, and Bilbo was beginning to lose patience as most of his attention went to the envelope from the local bank, filled with canceled checks. In desperation, she pulled the invitation from the pile and thrust it into the hands of Frodo's father. He studied the outside of the envelope and silently observed the engravings thereon. Without a word, he dropped the entire unopened letter into the wastebasket. After Bilbo shrieked and almost threw herself headlong into the wastebasket, Frodo's father simply said, "He was a crook then, and he is a crook now!" From that moment on, for the rest of his life, he never mentioned the man's name again, nor did he ever comment on any of the events that followed.
Spiro Ted Agnew was observed by Agents of the FBI accepting bribes in the Office of the Vice-President of the United States, in the Old Executive Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next door to the White House. When he pleaded "nolo contendere" to avoid certain criminal prosecution, he was replaced by the appointment of Gerald Ford to the position of Vice President. Today, both Gerald Ford and Frodo's father are in Heaven somewhere, comparing notes about Spiro Ted Agnew. Agnew is burning in Hell, exactly where he belongs. Frodo, well Frodo is left to contemplate what men of high integrity do when confronted by evil. They deal with it, and they don't dwell on it.
Frodo wonders if out there, somewhere, somebody got an embossed invitation to the Inaugural Ball of the erstwhile Governor of Texas that they never opened?
Happy New Year Dear Reader!