The Gravy Dam

Private or Public Potatoes?

By Max Jenkins

Photos Courtesy of Max Jenkins

On a Saturday morning early in 1950, as I dusted the new cars in the Jordan Motors showroom, a big black vehicle pulled up and parked across the street. Four guys in dark suits got out of the car and walked across the street toward me. Four guys in dark suits on Main Street in Grangeville was unusual—very unusual in the 1950s. People on the street stopped and stared. Everyone had the same questions: “Who are these guys in the suits? What do they want?”

At dinnertime, Dad walked into the house and solved the mystery. He announced that the four guys, who I presume had visited Len Jordan in his office, had asked him to run for governor.

My dad, Wes Jenkins, was a business partner of Len. While writing my memoirs recently, I wondered how Len had been chosen as the gubernatorial candidate, as at that point he had served only a two-year legislative term before losing a reelection bid. But I knew he was an excellent speaker and had an impressive personality. Long ago, I also had wondered why he chose my dad for his partner in the business—and I got the opportunity to ask him when he invited me to join him on a car trip to Enterprise, Oregon.  His answer has remained in my memory for years: “Your dad was very likeable. And as county agent, he knew more people in Idaho County than any other person.”

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