BOOK TALK: Steve Flowers holds book signing at Johnson Center
Published 4:00 am Friday, September 11, 2015
Steve Flowers is as colorful as the governors he talks about.
That was Dr. David Dye’s response to Flowers ArtTalk at the Johnson Center for the Arts Thursday night.
And that’s saying a lot when one is talking about former Alabama governors “Big Jim” Folsom and George C. Wallace.
The Johnson Center for the Arts on Thursday hosted a reception and book signing for Flowers and his book on Alabama politics titled “Of Goats and Governors.” A large crowd came to hear about the goats and governors from the horse’s mouth. And, they were not disappointed.
“Steve is wonderful storyteller,” said Marsha Gaylard. “I could have listened to him all night. The stories were fascinating and Steve was fascinating. I can’t wait to read the book.”
Flowers brought Alabama politics and Alabama politicians to life with stories from his own memory and from stories told to him.
Flowers said he was born to be a politician and learned the “art” from his mentors, Ben Reeves and Gardner Bassett, who were giants in the Pike County political area.
Flowers was a page for State Rep. Gardner Bassett, who would introduce him around the state capitol as “little Steve Flowers who’s going to follow me in my House seat.”
“He introduced me to Gov. Wallace that way,” Flowers said. “And in 1982, which was Gov. Wallace’s last term as governor, I was elected to my first term as state representative in Gardner’s seat.”
Flowers focused much of his ArtTalk on Governors Wallace and Folsom and his stories kept the audience highly entertained.
“You can’t make up stories like that,” he said. “‘Big Jim’ stayed drunk almost his entire second term. After he was shot, Gov. Wallace was incoherent on pain pills and didn’t know one thing from the other. You can’t make up the things they did and said.”
Flowers said “Big Jim” was speaking before the American Textile Association and he was reading the speech that had been writing for him. He read how many jobs the textile industry provided in Alabama and how the industry pumped $16 million into the economy.
“When he read that, ‘Big Jim’ stopped and said, ‘Damn, I didn’t know that.’”
Flowers laughingly told how Folsom called Wallace a “sawed off cuckoo bird” and how he was drunk on television and forgot the name of one of his children.”
But, when it was all said and done, Thursday night, Flowers said that Wallace was the most influential governor the state has had.
“When you serve five terms, you have the opportunity to do a lot of good things and Wallace did a lot of good things,” he said.
Flowers said the political climate has changed. No longer does a candidate have to get out and wash his feet in a bucket or kiss babies to get votes. Candidates just raise money and get on television.
Gone are the stumpin’ days and the colorful candidates of yesteryear but those stories have been preserved in a book titled “Of Goats and Governors” by Pike County’s own colorful political figure, Steve Flowers.