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Remembrances of inaugurations past

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Capitol Scene
You might think that after attending or covering every gubernatorial inauguration in Alabama since 1950 that on the eve of yet another one I would be full of stories to tell of those past events.
A few highlights stick out, of course, but very few. I am sure we have to have inaugurations to get the governor and other officials sworn into office, but mostly they are just day-long parties.
Would you believe the most memorable one was Jan. 20, 1959? It was the inauguration of John M. Patterson. (A sidebar to that — Patterson is the oldest surviving Alabama governor.)
The Patterson inauguration is not remembered for anything he said in his speech…it is remembered for the weather. It was one of the coldest days in Montgomery history and more than a few scantily clad band majorettes had to be treated by doctors for frost bite. I am not kidding. It was a serious situation.
Certainly anyone who was there in January, 1963 will never forget Gov. George Wallace's defiant inaugural speech in which he promised “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
And because I like a good line, I remember Big Jim Folsom's opening remarks at his inauguration in January, 1955. The weather forecasters had predicted torrential rain on inauguration day but miraculously there was not a drop.
After taking his oath Big Jim turned to the mike and said: “It clouded up but it didn't rain on Big Jim's parade.”
My all-time favorite inauguration goes back long before my time; I learned about it from the history books.
In 1894 Reuben F. Kolb — who had lost two previous races for governor under highly suspect circumstances — lost yet another one to William C. Oates. There was not much doubt that Kolb had been cheated out of the election but there was no law allowing a contest.
On the day Oates was inaugurated, Kolb had his own “inauguration” on Bainbridge Street.
He delivered his speech from the back of a wagon.
In those days indoor plumbing had not been invented, and the wagon where he stood was only a few feet from a row of about 20 outhouses. To this day it is known as the “Outhouse Inauguration.”
And if some of you are tempted to say that would have been an appropriate place for some recent governors to be inaugurated, you can say it. I won't.
Taxes earmarked for the Special Education Trust Fund (SETF) produced 10.4 percent more during the first quarter than in the same period a year ago.
Dr. Paul Hubbert, head of the AEA, was equally pleased with the soaring collections earmarked for schools but he added a word of caution. He said historically that taxes for the SETF have had good years followed by bad years—“feast or famine”, he called it.
There was a healthy but much less substantial growth in General Fund taxes in the first quarter.
Fowler, a native of Shelby County, had an incredible combat record as a Marine Corps officer in World War II: he was awarded the Silver Star in the battle for Guam then returned to combat on Iwo Jima where he was awarded a second Silver Star. He also was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds received in those battles.
For 22 years Fowler served as judge of probate and county commission chairman in Shelby County.
He was also president of both the state probate judge and county commission associations, and president of the National Association of Counties.
Fowler was a pioneer in the effort to get a new state Constitution and chaired the Alabama Constitution Commission for a number of years.

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