The Lighter Side

The life of a public official has its ups and downs.  Power.  Recognition.  Lack of personal time.  Conflict.  Stress.  Our lives have some of these same ups and downs, and in most ways, public officials are a lot like us.  They are nice.  They smile.  They have fun.  They try new things.  They look a little silly sometimes.  Right now in our gallery, we show you some of these moments in All in a Day’s Work: The Lighter Side of Representative Democracy.  The exhibit looks at some of the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of elected officials, including the delicate dance of pleasing constituents, the donning of many hats, and meeting with some real characters.

Inglis disco poster and shoesTo retain their elective offices, it is important for representatives to keep in step with their constituents. Among the dancing officials is Congressman Bob Inglis.  In 2008, Inglis held a campaign event on a college campus, stepping into disco shoes and a powder blue suit to promote the occasion with a poster and in a highly entertaining video, “Get Down with Bob.”

Congressman Butler Derrick, is shown doing a jig to live banjo music with a constituent in rural South Carolina.  The Derrick photo is a delight; it shows him in an absolutely candid moment, dancing his heart out, a hat perched precariously on his head.  Until an archivist here happened upon it in the Derrick Papers, quite unexpectedly, we’d forgotten it existed.  Such is the life of an archivist!  There are surprises waiting for us in every collection.

Senator Graham and Cocky with a donkey and elephantThe complex nature of a representative’s
work requires balancing a variety of roles
and responsibilities.  One is required to
wear many hats.  Among the hats on display are a fire hat presented to Senator Hollings, a Mark Sanford hard hat, and more.  Look closely at the photographs and you’ll see officials strapping on hats and instantly transforming into chefs, race car drivers, fighter pilots, cowboys, and more.

Meetings with constituents and industry representatives are an important part of a public official’s job.  Sometimes these constituents and industry reps happen to come in the form of big furry creatures.  In our exhibit you’ll find Congressman John Spratt with the Clemson Tiger, Senator Lindsey Graham with Cocky (don’t worry-Cocky and the Tiger are in separate pictures), Governor Dick Riley with several superheroes, Senator Fritz Hollings with Big Bird on Capitol Hill (Big Bird dressed up for the occasion–he’s wearing a giant tie), and the list goes on.

Governor McNair with kidsOne case of photos shows officials in lighthearted moments with their constituents.  In one photo, Governor Robert McNair meets with some very important constituents in his office — five young kids, all dressed up, sitting on the Governor’s couch, and paying attention as best they can.

Stop by the SCPC Gallery in the Hollings Library from 8:30-5pm, M-F, to see All in a Day’s Work, which runs through April 27.  Or, visit during our Saturday gallery hours, 10am-2pm, March 23 (this Saturday!) and April 27.

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