By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
Thousands turned out to vote in the presidential primary at Gardendale’s Civic Center on Tuesday.
One of those voters was 88-year-old Jim Kendrick, a World War II veteran and an ACIPCO retiree.
Kendrick, proudly wearing his “I Voted” sticker in his Vulcan Drive residence, spoke of his support for GOP candidate Mike Huckabee. “He don’t pull no punches,” he said.
Kendrick had the chance to hear Huckabee speak last week at a rally at the Open Door Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. He also had the chance to meet the candidate and one of Huckabee’s strongest supporters, actor Chuck Norris.
“I was very impressed with him [Norris],” Kendrick said. “He certainly didn’t mind coming out there for Huckabee.”
Kendrick, a member of Gardendale First Baptist Church, said he was impressed with Huckabee’s faith, including his stance on pro life issues. He said he was also impressed with his record as governor of Arkansas.
Kendrick was leaning more toward McCain until he heard Huckabee speak, but said he would support McCain if Huckabee dropped out of the race.
Kendrick can remember every president dating back to Herbert Hoover. He grew up in southern Illinois during the Great Depression and said Franklin Roosevelt was likely the first president he voted for.
He regards Harry Truman to be one of the nation’s best presidents. “He was just a common man,” Kendrick said.
After serving in the South Pacific during the war, he and his wife Louise settled in Gardendale. Kendrick still lives in the house he and his wife built together in 1951. He paid $620 for the lot his brick home sits on.
Kendrick has also been active in his community. He’s the only living charter member of Gardendale’s first fire department. “We started out with little more than a pickup truck and a garden hose,” he said with a laugh.
Hiis wife Louise was also an active member of the community. She died nine years ago from pancreatic cancer. The couple had no children.
He said a lot of things have changed over the years in terms of politics, but he never thought he would see the day when a woman or a black man would run for president.
“I’m not necessarily against that,” he said of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama’s candidacy. “I’m not a prejudiced man. ... I have just as big a problem with a white man acting like a fool than a black man or a woman.”
Kendrick said he’s also not a straight-ticket voter. He supported Bill Clinton during his first bid for the White House, but lost faith in him after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “I’m not going to vote Democrat this time,” he added.
He believes the nation’s current president may come to be more highly regarded than he his now. However, he said Bush should have been stronger on immigration policies and the war in Iraq.
“The news media has been very hard on Bush,” he said. “I hate for our young people to stay in Iraq, but we have to be very careful leaving there. I think that Bush will overcome a lot of this in history.”
Kendrick also offered some words of advice for the next president: “We have to do something about Social Security, or the young folks aren’t going to get anything,” he said. “We also need to keep a strong military.”
By Adam Smith