With a standing room only crowd filling every chair at the Oakhurst Community Center and lining the back of the room, David Linn delivered on his passionate promise to present reasons for running against incumbent District Attorney Michael Keitz. Keitz, who was similarly energized in thoughtful responses to accusations leveled by Linn and Madera County Deputy Counselor Miranda Neal, who made an impressive debut in her admittedly novice effort at winning a major elective office.
But the real winners were those hardy souls who braved whipping winds and a torrential downpour to attend this first significant political event in Election Year 2014.
My last column challenged area residents to come together at this Oakhurst Democratic Club sponsored debate, regardless of party affiliation or philosophy, and become "participatory in political activities of all valid persuasions, consistently considering the opinion of others with any honestly open mind." The title of the column was "Get in the Game." Many enthusiastically did.
One could literally hear a pin drop from 7 p.m. until our conclusion at 8:35 with the large audience maintaining respectful, thoughtful, reflective silence throughout the entire exercise.
Various spectrums of thought and candidate preference were in evidence as response to a request for written submission of questions was beyond our most optimistic expectations. This provided the Democratic Club's Executive Committee with an opportunity to insure that the mix of questions included all publicly expressed areas of focus in the DA race, ranging from "softballs" to "sliding curves right over the plate."
None of the candidates heard any of the questions until they were announced and I believe everything important was covered and then some.
Prior to last Friday night, the most attentive audience I had ever encountered was years ago when Eileen and I were in Dublin, Ireland, attending a sold-out performance at the Abbey Theater of Eugene O'Neill's classic "The Iceman Cometh," starring Irish-American Brian Dennehy as "Hickey." The play was performed as originally written without edit and ran more than four hours. From opening curtain to closing lines, the theater was surrealistically, stunningly, contemplatively quiet like church. This was our community center Friday night. Ask anyone.
Since this is my last column before St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to smoothly segue from those Irish references above to my favorite St. Patrick's Day story of all surely as true as all other tales connected with this heroic Celtic figure.
Although the legend of St. Patrick, as with many fables of the past, is filled with varying contradictions in a wild assortment of stories half-myth and half-true (Ireland, for example, never had any snakes to start with) one incident reported by several prominent Irish historians of the time dealt with a mass conversion held for Eastern Irish tribes on the sacred Druidic Hill of Tara.
During fairly prolonged ceremonies conducted by Patrick, himself, the High King, seeking to find more comfort for the duration, removed his iron sword from its scabbard and sought to drive it into the ground there to rest without support.
Alas, his aim was a bit off and he inadvertently drove the sword through his right foot, pinning himself to the ground. Filled with, some would say, the instinctive grace of his heritage and being unwilling to interrupt the service over such a potentially damaging public embarrassment, the King merely ignored the mishap, registering not the slightest degree of discomfort.
The rest of the King's immediate warrior entourage, assuming that the act was an official part of the strange liturgical observances they had been ordered to embrace, promptly drew their swords and plunged them into their own right feet without hesitation or questioning comment.
As has been often said, surely our good Lord only invented whiskey to keep the Irish from taking over the world.
So Happy Saint Patrick's Month and keep your feet clear.