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A Jack Swift fan writes in about democracy and JOhnson County history

Dear Editor:
I always look forward to and enjoy Jack Swift’s “This and That” columns. I don’t believe I ever met him personally, but I feel I almost know him through his writing.
I grew up in Watauga County, N.C. near the N.C./TN. state line. In fact, our family farm’s westerly border at the top of the ridge was the state line. The folks in Trade were our neighbors, and many were relatives. My high school (Cove Creek) basketball team played The J.C. Longhorns in home-and-home games for many years. Both schools had some excellent teams.
It is especially enjoyable to read Jack’s reminisces about when beans were king. I spent many days in bean fields in Watauga and Johnson Counties in the late 1940s and 1950s. I never picked over four bushels in a day, mostly because I spent too much time talking and throwing broken beans at other pickers. My sister Faye Miller was one of the top pickers around. Many times she would pick twenty five bushels or more in a day. I would usually ride one of the bean trucks to market in Mountain City, where I spent most of my meager earnings on soda pop, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. The bean harvest was hard work but lots of fun.
Now, turning my focus to Jack’s June 19 column, “Approaching Fourth of July Prompts a Look into American Democracy,” I want to comment on the word “democracy.” Most of us were taught in the public schools that our federal government is a democracy. From what I have learned, this practice started around the time of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. It is not. Not until many years later did I become aware that our government was created as a REPUBLIC, not a democracy. I hope those who don’t realize the difference will make the effort to learn. Nowhere in our Constitution have I seen our way of government called “democracy.” However, you will see “republic” frequently. I can only speculate why so many politicians of both parties call it a democracy.
Jack’s column was interesting and informative. However, whoever used the word “democracy” in the headline was mistaken.

Keep your columns coming, Mr. Swift.

Arlton G. Cole
Lawrenceville, Georgia