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A Decent Guy and A Good Sport, Too

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One for the record books, columnist Kris Meltzer is the only person known to have intercepted a Sagamore of the Wabash during the presentation from the Governor.
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Dear Readers,

A special thanks to the Shelbyville Golden Bears boys’ varsity basketball team for knocking the Columbus North Bulldogs out of the sectional this year.

Immediately after the win, I hunted out my LP of the 1968 Shelbyville Glee Club, cranked up the stereo to 11 (yes I have the Spinal Tap version with the volume knob that goes to 11) and played the Shelbyville fight song for my wife. I then called all of the other Columbus alumni that I know and played it for them over the phone. Neither Vice President Mike Pence nor his brother, Congressman Greg Pence, answered. They both must have caller I.D.

Last week former Vice President Joe Biden mentioned that Mike Pence is a “decent guy.” Of course, since they are not members of the same political party, Joe was immediately threatened by some of the extreme members of his party to take it back. I have never met Joe Biden but from what I have read, I believe him to be a decent guy himself. Unfortunately, some people in politics behave similar to the overzealous sports fan who believes starting a fistfight in the parking lot after the game shows true loyalty to a team. Biden allowed himself to be bullied into apologizing for complimenting Pence.

We may be running low on decent guys in Washington D.C. John McCain was one of the best. I remember in 2008 when he was running for president against Barack Obama, a woman in the audience at a rally made some very disparaging remarks about Obama. Instead of letting her statement go unchallenged, McCain said, “No ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

Several years ago, soon after Mike Pence was elected Governor of the State of Indiana, he wanted to surprise Jeff Linder with a Sagamore of the Wabash award.

I’m sure most of you know Jeff. He is a former Shelby County Prosecutor, City Attorney, and State Representative. Jeff spent his boyhood in Flat Rock, barefoot, straw hat, rolling a wheel down a dirt street for entertainment. In his youth, he looked like he just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. Jeff’s wife, Pam, was a teacher for many years at Waldron.

Members of Jeff’s family and several of his friends, including myself, waited in the Governor’s office to surprise Jeff. While waiting, Pence was a good host and we all engaged in the usual small talk. I can personally say that Joe Biden’s initial statement was accurate. Mike Pence is a decent guy. I can add that he is also a good sport.

I thought that if one surprise for Jeff was a good idea, then two surprises would be even better. I cooked up the idea to jump out and intercept Jeff’s award as the Governor was handing it to him. All agreed that Jeff would think it was funny, so we did it. My interception went off perfectly. I, of course, then lateraled the award to Jeff.

On a sad note, James “Poochie” Macklin died. I knew him since childhood and he was well liked in the community, a decent guy and a good sport. He at one time owned a popular local restaurant and bar named, of course, Poochies. I mention this because Poochie was involved in one of my favorite Jeff Linder stories. I suppose the story would be classified as an accidental prank.

One year, when Jeff was practicing law in Shelbyville, the members of the legal community decided to have a birthday party for him at Poochies. The party was well attended and a good time was had by all.

In those days I usually stopped by Jeff’s office every morning for the free coffee. The morning after his birthday party we were both having our morning coffee when Jeff received a phone call from Poochie. Poochie was wondering who was going to pay the considerable bar tab from Jeff’s birthday party. At first Jeff thought his friends were just playing a joke on him and Poochie was in on it. However, it was no joke. Jeff ended up paying for his own birthday party that year, proving that Jeff is also a decent guy and a good sport.