Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Vassallo: And the Greatest American in Your Lifetime Is?

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I posed this question to a group of 11 Saturday night following dinner at one of Oxford’s more popular dining establishments. The responses were interesting to say the least.

Before I list their answers, I’ll keep the names of the voters confidential in order to protect the innocent. In any event it stimulated a great deal of discussion which was my intended purpose. Here goes.

The first respondee named Ronald Reagan which was seconded down the line. The former president was the only individual receiving two votes, first from a lady followed by a gentleman. The next person stated that Billy Graham was number one on her list. Graham has always been someone that I have admired tremendously so it was hard to fault her answer. The next person responding was also a lady who voted for Jimmy Stewart. I thought he was a great actor, but would have never have considered him in this evaluation.

John Wayne, Frank Diggs Collection
John Wayne, Frank Diggs Collection

The response that followed was by far the most interesting. The lady replied Secretariat who was undoubtedly the greatest race horse in our lifetime. Since I didn’t qualify the question
limiting it to humans, I could not debate her answer. However, if we had not restricted the considerations to our time on earth, I would have argued for Seabiscuit.

Another lady then followed and named Jacqueline Kennedy, a First Lady who rewrote the history books for style and class. Following these selections came Harry Truman, Omar Bradley and John McCain. One person at our table elected not to participate for whatever reason. Then came my turn.

I told the group that I was torn between two individuals so I would let them make my decision for me. I was on the fence between John Wayne and Barry Goldwater, two great Americans that I hold in the highest regard possible. I could make a case for either, but I’ll save that discussion for another day.

Barry Goldwater, photo by Marion S. Trikoso
Barry Goldwater, photo by Marion S. Trikoso

Keeping in mind that this conversation was conducted in Oxford made it even more interesting. Had the group been from Chicago, New York or Los Angeles, the answers could have been much different. And age played a significant factor as well as our average age of the participants had to be in the sixties (I never ask a lady her age.) The next time your discussion group is searching for a new topic, keep this thought in mind. It may tell you a great deal about a person’s character based on their answer.

As for me: “in your heart, you know I’m right.”


Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.