Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Decline of the political nickname

Politics in North Carolina is a little paler and a little less interesting today with news of the death of yet another politico with a colorful nickname. T.G. “Sonny Boy” Joyner of Garysburg in Northhampton County died at age 87 after a long career as a mainstay of Democratic party polices in the state. His father had been in the state Senate and Sonny Boy was a farmer, a county commissioner, town mayor, member of the state Democratic Executive Committee and a delegate to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. He served various posts under Govs. Terry Sanford, Bob Scott and Jim Hunt. And he was a Yellow Dog Democrat – so called because he’d even vote for a Yellow Dog, the saying went, as long as the dog was a Democrat.
Joyner’s death is another reminder of the decline of the distinctive, down-home nickname in state politics. Once the ranks of politicos was well-represented with absolutely memorable monikers – U.S. Rep. Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, state Sen. J.J. “Monk” Harrington, and gubernatorial candidate Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles and Rep. Paul “Jaybird” McCrary, a former Davidson County sheriff.
One of my favorites was V.B. “Hawk” Johnson, who never ran for office but who advised a great many politicians who did during his 75 years as a World War II machine gunner, newsman, congressional aide, lobbyist and soapbox philosopher.
Whatever happened to nicknames, anyway? The used to permeate sports, too. Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice and Clarence “Big House” Gaines and Dick “Night Train” Lane surely brightened the sports pages. And don't forget Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Or "Meadowlark" Lemon.
Sign of the times, I suppose.
What would be good political nicknames for those in public life today?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Future Convict" would fit most of 'em if we're lucky.

Anonymous said...

Louisiana was always ripe for nicknames. One of my favorites from the early 90s was a longtime legislator named Raymond "LaLa" Lalonde (sp?)

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