Jim Galloway has an article about a museum at the University of West Georgia that recreates the late Speaker Tom Murphy’s office in the state capitol. Here are a few of the items that will be of note:
– The eight-track tapes of Hank Williams, who perhaps inspired Murphy’s perpetual Stetson hat. (Mourners sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart” at Murphy’s funeral .)
– The electric shoe-shine bush that lawmakers used while waiting to squeeze an opinion out of a man who was famous for saying as little as possible.
– The four over-sized gavels – the symbol of a speaker’s power over his chamber.
– The ever-present Irish flag, and another with the words “Erin go Bragh.”
– “My favorite piece is that picture of [the late] George Busbee with his feet up on Murphy’s desk,” said Catherine Hendricks, in charge of the library’s exhibits. The black-and-white photo is a candid moment in which a Georgia governor admits it might have been more fun to have been Tom Murphy.
– And a collection of canes, with one stray buggy whip, that will remind discerning eyes that the state Capitol was once – and in many ways, remains — a repository of male sweat and rude humor. Many of the cane heads are fine wood carvings. One is made from a bull’s nether regions.
A great deal of shellac was required.
Speaker Murphy must have been an interesting character. The man held the speaker’s gavel in Georgia for 28 years which makes him the longest serving Speaker of the House in a state legislature in the United States. Despite the former Speaker being a Democrat, I am intrigued by him and the power he held over Georgia during his tenure as speaker. I may have to pay a visit to the museum at UWG on the way down to Columbus for the Georgia Republican Party state convention.