How important are the lady customers of town & Country Co-op? Important enough for a delicious catered luncheon at Shisler Center in Wooster. Important enough that the president of the board of directors welcomed them and thanked them for keeping the farm family glued together. Important enough that a former supreme court Justice Evelyn Stratton delivered the motivational message. And, yes, important enough that Al Holdren, CEO of the Ashland based company, recited no fewer than three childhood poems for the group and presented each of the 150 attendees with her own copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s a Child’s Garden of Verses.
“Well, we know that they sign the monthly check in some farm families,” says Holdren, who wore a pink-vested tux to the luncheon. “And we know they are a key part of the farm’s decision process. But mostly we just want to thank them for their business.”
It’s the fourth year for the event which also includes ladies from the Town & Country staff. Speakers in the past have included Shirley Brooks Jones and Pat Leimbach. Stratton was also a good choice. Having grown up to missionary parents in Thailand and South Vietnam, she brings a different perspective. She has trail blazed her path from Asian village to U.S. college to Ohio law school to practice and to the bench takes lots of turns. A trial lawyer, she told of the advantages of going to court pregnant. She relayed the trials of balancing testimony with taking care of a child who was just discovered to have head lice. She told of 5-foot tall stacks of briefs to read for each court hearing. She told how the smallest act might be what sends someone off on a new direction. And urged the audience to step up and make a difference for someone else.
At the table I had a chance to ask the Justice what kind of repercussions there would be for the Congressional delaying of accepting the appointed judges. Don’t know if you have noticed that seems to be a recent spat with lawmakers pointing fingers. She noted that it also happens frequently in Ohio politics. She blamed both parties for using it when needed. And she said, we would be better off if we elected all of our judges and did not appoint them. She was particularly alarmed that the resumes and references of many appointed judges are not made public so the individuals can be scrutinized.
She says she had to stand for re-election many times before becoming a Justice. Campaigning was part of the deal. Having a platform of mental health and veterans affairs gave her a topic to talk about with local voters, she says. It gave her a connection and even a network with locally interested parties.
When I told her I have trouble voting when there are so many names on the ballot I’m not familiar with. She said it is the candidate and party’s duty to make that information available. And the state should help. The real price of not having the appointed judges approved is a backlog of cases in the courts. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” Stratton says.
OK I say vote for them too.
As for her speech, the story had a really great surprise ending. You can read it for yourself in her mother’s book, “Please Leave Your Shoes at the Door.” You can get it by going to www.ecsahlberg.com