Can I get an Amen?

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

 With so much surveillance going on in this country, it won’t be long before we’re able to spell the word, even if it is contrary to the old rule of “i” before “e” except after “c.”

Videos of protestors and other “assorted angsts” dominate the news these days, so one might reasonably ask if there is any good news.

Though acts of kindness don’t usually make the news cycles, a few simple recent “giveaways” at the State Capitol in Austin are evidence that at least one Texan adheres to the signage that “kindness matters.” On July 19, Johnson County’s Jim Hogan loaded several family-size watermelons into his pick-up truck. He steered toward the capital city, stopping off to see the Round Rock Express play baseball before “making nice” the next day in Austin.

Seeking a capitol grounds parking space, Hogan spotted Sid Miller, the man who defeated him a couple of years ago for State Agriculture Commissioner. “Hey, Sid,” he yelled. “Do you like watermelons?”

Miller answered in the affirmative, so Jim lugged a big red-meat up the steps to the lobby elevator for an 11-floor ride to the Ag office.

Hogan put feet to the signs claiming “kindness matters.” Where is the surveillance showing there still are some folks out there being kind to other folks out there?

As he left the capitol, a receptionist told Hogan she likes homegrown melons, too. He had one left in his truck, so she got one, too.

You may wonder who Hogan is. He’s a longtime dairy farmer who ran for State Agriculture Commissioner back in 2014, promising he would run for ONE TERM, print no promotional material, buy no ads and accept no donations.

Clearly his approach was “old school.”

Further, he planned to make good use of the Internet, email and telephone. He granted interviews in person to folks (mass media and otherwise) who’d meet him at his farm or for a burger in Cleburne. (He didn’t “go to them.”)

You may recall he got 36.8% of the popular vote in the Democratic Primary, and took out veteran candidate Kinky Friedman, 105,887 to 91,282 in the run-off.

Republicans swept the general election, but even then, Hogan got 1,697,083 votes to Miller’s 2,698,694. His showing in his one-and-only political race cost him $.0023 per vote, and most of that was the $3,750 filing fee.

He’s as transparent as a window pane, as happy in his skin as anyone I know and determined to spread good cheer wherever he goes. Most days, his destination is Cleburne, a mere 10-minutes from his farm.

Several times a month, he visits the Johnson County Library. The 66-year-old widower checks his email there every few days, reads in air-conditioned comfort and “chews the fat” with the library staff.

Yep, they’ve reaped benefits, too, salivating at the thought of watermelons and bodacious tomatoes.

He feels like he’s “on vacation,” having spent more than three decades in dairy farming. Hogan got out of the dairy business in 2006.

Just two years later, his wife began a three-year battle with cancer. He was by her side all the way; she died at age 49 in 2010. His daughters, 22 and 24, live in East Texas and California. Now, he has time to be mostly about giving away smiles daily and produce seasonally.

“I may be the only farmer around who gives away watermelons, and delivers ‘em fully guaranteed.” (Some years, he harvests as many as 600 melons; this year, the figure was nearer to 200.)

Hogan reminds me of Will Rogers, offering such gems as “just because we can doesn’t mean we ought to,” and, “I’m not sure if the Lord is mad at us, or scratching His head, wondering what He ought to do next.”

You get the picture.

He’s dead certain he won’t run again for any political office. If he did, I’d campaign for him, even without a watermelon.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: