One of my not especially memorable
schoolmates in the two years in high school I spent in Lexington, Virginia,
was Pat Robertson; Yes, I’m telling you, it was the very same Pat Robertson!
It was the understanding, of the students in LHS that Pat had been kicked
out of some rather prestigious prep school “up north”, and for some unknown
reason. We were soon made to know that he would not be our schoolmate long,
only until the end of that current semester.
Pat’s father was, of course, A. Willis Robertson; the junior United Stated
Senator from the State of Virginia. The colleague of the long-time, senior
Senator Virginia, the well-known Harry Byrd, (no relation to West Virginia’s
renowned fiddle-player Robert Byrd).
“Daddy” Robertson resembled the son, or perhaps the son resembles the father
would be more accurate; the florid complexion, the white hair, the pompous
attitude, and above all the ability to speak about: as someone once said of
Hubert Humphrey, “any subject, for any amount of time, whether or not he
knew anything about it!” He, in the several times I was at their home for
some reason; certainly not as a social equal, had the ability to ask me
about “his good friends, my Father and my pretty Mama”, and indeed of little
old me, as though he were an intimate friend of long years to my family.
Only after thinking over what he had said would I realize he had never once
uttered our names. It was for a good reason, he didn’t know it! But some day
I would be of voting age and thus I was to be cultivated for later use!.
Pat was not a friend, I don’t recall him having any friends, he had spent
little of his life in Lexington, and I’m sure he just did not know many kids
in Lexington High. A pudgy big kid, he hung around, as I recall, with the
daughter of one of the local physicians. He did not engage in any sports and
when I go back to the high school year books of those days he is not
pictured or named in any class or in any activity! Looking back on those
days, even though he was there, he was absent!
At the end of that year he left and in the fall enrolled in, I think, The
McCallie School, in Tennessee, a fine school with a reputation for a good
religious education. I next heard of Pat when he was in Washington and Lee
University in Lexington, where he made a real contribution to the term,
“fraternity boy”! Again, as far as I can recall hearing, he didn’t make many
waves, he was the fraternity brother of my friend Johnny McDowell’s brother,
Charlie, who later went on to become a member of “Meet the Press” and a
columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Charlie several times in later
years, wrote of Pat’s fraternity life!
I recall hearing that Pat had gone into the evangelistic ministry, and
thinking, “that’s a good job for Old Pat’! The rest is history.
In the 1980 or 90’s, when Pat made his first attempt to be the Republican
nominee for President, I was invited to attend what was being called, “The
First Post War Reunion of the Classes of 1945-1949”, of Lexington High
School.. My wife and I went, but having attended the great Alderson High
School Reunions during the 4th of July, we were spoiled! While it was good
to see some of the kids I hadn’t seen for many years and note the ones with
less hair and larger waistlines than my own, it was not the same. It soon
became obvious that what we were attending was a somewhat cleverly
constructed device to get former Lexington folks reacquainted with Pat,
hopefully they would return from whence they had came, there to form some
sort of “a grass roots movement” that would enhance his presidential hopes.
It was from the beginning a “religious right” evening. My wife and I left
with the resentful feeling that we had been taken advantage of more than a
I next saw Pat when he again was seeking the nomination for President; now
just what in Pat’s background would have prepared him for the Presidency is
totally beyond me, but there he was, on the campaign trail. He was to speak
at a breakfast in Lewisburg, our Alderson bank had been seduced into buying
a block of twelve tickets and were having a heck of a time finding twelve
Republicans in Alderson! Once you get by Bill Simmons and me, you are just
about out of Republicans in this town! Finally, they managed to fill their
table by threatening to foreclose or something like that, and off we went,
trying to be so dressed and well mannered as not to embarrass the ten cent
millionaires of our County Seat. Cautioning one another. to “mind our P’s
Pat was working the room, I’ll have to admit he is a smooth talker, he came
to me and introduced himself, I said. “Yes, Pat, I know you, we went to
Lexington High at the same time”. I then made the mistake of telling him my
name, when he got up to speak, he was so lavish with “his happiness and joy”
about again being in my company, I wanted to slide under the table, and then
he started on my football career at Lexington High, which believe me, was
not all that great! He told of my “racing down the gridiron for Coach Pete
Brewbaker’s Scarlet Hurricanes”. Now that’s when the real friends I had
surrounding me, began to look at me with very quizzical expressions. I
maintained a very low profile in Alderson for a few weeks afterwards, I
especially did not go into the bank, I did my business at the drive-in
window. Even today, a few of my smart-alecky friends will ask, “Heard from
your buddy Pat lately?” I lie to them and tell them he called a week ago!
Pat was, as I had remember him, just a smoother article, much like his
father but without the actual political acumen of A. Willis Robertson:
Junior Senator of the United States from The Great Commonwealth of Virginia.
I enjoy seeing him occasionally on television, “cause he sure can spread it
on,“ however I classify him with the Jimmy Swaggarts, Jim Bakkers and Oral
Roberts of the genre, he sure is not one who I would care to have as my
President! Nor for my Preacher as far as that goes!