That’s the Way I Saw It -II by Bob Ingram
B and E Press Copyright 1987 125 pages
Rating – 7/10
Summary – Bob Ingram was a great curmudgeon who covered Alabama politics for decades. That’s the Way I Saw It – II is a good book that collects some of his best “war stories.”
Review – When I was a kid in Auburn, Alabama, WSFA (TV-12 from Montgomery, Alabama) dominated local TV news. Everyone watched WSFA because the other stations were in Columbus, Georgia, and carried a lot of Georgia news that didn’t interest Alabamians.
This was back in the 1970s and 1980s when TV news still included commentary. Bob Ingram was WSFA’s commentator and he always had something interesting to say. He delivered each commentary in a deadpan tone, but he let you know where he stood. He’d always conclude with “… and that’s the way we see it tonight.” When I saw That’s the Way I Saw It and That’s the Way I Saw It – II, I knew that I had to read them.
The books don’t disappoint. It’s been several years since I read the first one, but it was enjoyable. Over the Thanksgiving break, I read the second book and found that it is also a page turner. The book is composed of vignettes, which makes it easy to read when time permits.
Among the vignettes, a few stand out:
– The story of George Wallace’s appearance at Harvard University in the 1960s, when Ingram found himself drafted to sing “We Shall Overcome” by a burly, anti-Wallace protestor.
– Ingram recounts Alabama 1906 primary to elect two U.S. Senators. The strange thing was that the state already had two senators; the election was for replacements who would be seated when the two current, elderly senators died. Humorists dubbed it “The pallbearer’s primary.”
– He mentions the story of George L. Brown – who was Lieutenant Governor of Colorado during the 1970s. Brown told of being assaulted by racist rednecks when he was a Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. The problem was that the story was a lie; after the lie was revealed, Brown’s political career started to disintegrate.
– The book closes with Ingram’s account of how his wife and he met John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. Suffice to say, JFK made a strong impression on Mrs. Ingram.
There were a few surprises. Ingram served as state Finance Director under Governor Albert Brewer – one of George Wallace’s rivals. Therefore, I was quite surprised that Ingram was not harder on Wallace. Ingram sticks to telling what Wallace was like as a person; this is a wise choice as That’s the Way I Saw It – II is at its best when Ingram provides personal glimpses of the many Alabama politicians he met over the years. On the other hand, some of the history that he recounts is about well-known events – such as the attempted assassination of George Wallace – and Ingram’s accounts don’t add much. Another gripe is that this self-published book is full of typos.
I miss Bob Ingram – who died in 2007 – and I miss commentary on the news. Those with an interest in the personal side of Alabama politics will enjoy That’s the Way I Saw It – II.