That was a good experience too, the Army. Eighteen months. I was in the signal corps. Vietnam was getting ready to come to a halt, and the president gave all of us who went in the time that I went in an early out. So I spent nine months in school and nine months overseas. That was in Germany. ... Had a band over there. I used to sing. Rock and roll. Yeah. That's one of the posters. Tommie Reavis and the Muffins. Yup. That says Jungentanz. That means "young people's dance."
Then I had a death in the family here, and for some reason, I decided to move back. Stupid. But, you know, here again you go back to your foundation, you try to make the best you can out of a situation. I've always been kind of an independent thinker. Richmond's trying to get over its humps. Business as usual, you know, has handicapped this city. The only people who don't like what Wilder is doing is the people who have benefited from the mismanagement. That's why the vote is so important, you know. You have an opportunity to get rid of them. As [Councilman] Chris [Hilbert] and I were talking one day, and I was saying how people are so lazy. He said, "Yeah, you're right. People are politically lazy." No one reads. I asked a customer the other day, I said, "What do you think about what William Bennett said the other day?" Never mind he didn't know what was said, he didn't know who William Bennett is. Don't read. Grown man. Family. Home. You know, people that we see at the bank, shopping, don't even know what's going on in the world. They don't read, they don't vote.
I recruited quite a few people in here who never voted. Grown-ups. And they felt so proud. I wish you could have seen their faces. One went to [Virginia] Union [University], and they had a mix-up up there, so they had to come back. Something about the ballots, or the machines wasn't working up at Union. And then they went back and they voted, and they came in and looked at me and said, "Man, I voted." As told to Melissa Scott Sinclair; photographed by Scott Elmquist