I grew up in a very small town in a remote corner of Virginia. Big Stone Gap.
How we got there from an Italian-American enclave in northeast Pennsylvania is a long story. When we got there, Virginia was dragging itself kicking and screaming into an age of enlightenment. What I like to think of as an entire society understanding that being reasonable is a continuous learning process.
One of the lights of the age, and there were many, was a native of Big Stone Gap who became the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. As this article tells us, he now has an autobiography.
Its timing is excellent, as the brief interview in the article demonstrates. For example. Governor Holton’s son-in-law, Tim Kaine, is Virginia’s current governor. And he’s a Democrat. Both former and current governor have come out for Barack Obama.
Linwood Holton flies out of the pigeonholes that our society so often wants to use for labeling and digestion purposes. He did it in 1970, and he’s doing it now. His story reminds us that the most important things are ideas and actions, and in American politics, that the focus should be keeping our nation’s founding principles not just alive but relevant to our daily lives. Whatever your political philosophy.
In this article, the writer recounts the story of how Governor and Mrs Holton made the decision to send their children to Richmond’s public schools during the big integration ruckus in the state at that time.
Those who knew the Holtons understood this to be neither a political olive branch nor a grandstand. Like many Virginians, some of whom had to learn it the hard way, the Holtons understood that fairness is the hallmark of a healthy society.
And something else you should know: in this famous photograph, Tayloe Holton is wearing a dress made by the people of Miss Virginia, Inc, a garment manufacturer in Big Stone Gap. Where I worked a couple of summers in the finishing department. A business my dad started and lost, but one that still managed to produce some winning moments.
Including having the governor of Virginia remember the folks back home as he made a point to a larger world.