People were moving about on Saturday, which proved to be a fair approximation of a warm spring day, and at the very least the weather foreshadowed the season of renewal to come. One day later, on Sunday, the dogwoods had begun to bloom.
Two events of Saturday provided a sort of counterpoint — and a reminder of the cycle of life. In the morning Shelby County’s Democrats caucused at Airways Middle School, with two young men — Bryan Carson and Terry Spicer, who are vying to become local party chairman — doing their best to get cadres loyal to themselves named as delegates to the forthcoming April 6th party convention.
A third candidate, Jennings Bernard, was less active. Indeed, by Sunday morning, Spicer would announce that Bernard had withdrawn in his favor. UPDATE: Spicer would indeed "announce" such a withdrawal/endorsement in a Sunday morning phone call in which he communicated the alleged "good news." Unfortunately, Bernard not only denies withdrawing in Spicer's favor, he insists he's in the race to stay and never had any conversation with Spicer about dropping out in his or anybody else's favor.
All things considered, Saturday’s Democratic conclave was less contentious than is often the case with such changing-of-the-guard events. Indeed, as the following video indicates, one of the contenders, Spicer, made a point of praising his adversary, Carson, to Carson’s mother, Gale Jones Carson, when he and the senior Carson, both working the floor, came upon each other Saturday.
(Cynics may be pardoned for lifting an eyebrow; not all of the testimony coming from the camps of the two contenders about their opponents was so companionable.)
Outgoing Democratic Party chairman Van Turner and party vice chair David Cambron made a point of cutting short the morning’s events. Normally a party caucus event includes speechmaking by various party luminaries and stretches into the afternoon. Party officers, though, were conscious of the fact that the funeral of a beloved local political figure, Minerva Johnican, would be occurring at noon, and that attendees of the caucuses would want to be present.
Johnican’s funeral, at Parkway Gardens Presbyterian Church on Shelby Drive, was indeed well attended, with a variety of officials, past and present, from various branches of government on hand, as well as civic personalities and friends of every sort.
Below are some of those who both attended and commented on the life and times of Johnican, who held various offices herself — county commissioner, city council member, and Criminal Court clerk, among them — and took part in campaigns for other offices, both as candidate and as helper.
Indeed, the church pastor, Brian Henderson would be moved to observe in his eulogy that if every person affected by Johnican’s example had attended the service, the church could not have held them.
Also on Saturday, Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, along with son Quinn and "little brother" Brandon Rodgers, took a walking tour of South Memphis, acquainting themselves with the warp and woof of local history by visiting such scenes as the legendary Four-Way Grill and the site of a Willie Mitchell recording studio.
Another site of both historical and political significance was visited — that of N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home. Aside from its cultural importance to the culture of South Memphis, N.J. Ford and Sons was also the incubator of one of the city's most enduring political dynasties.
The "Sons" in the name of the enterprise include numerous political office-holders of consequence — including a congressman, an interim county mayor, and members of the City Council and County Commission.