Women Who Knew E.W. Jackson Say He Exaggerates Foster Family's Poverty; Tale Of Daring Escape From North Korea Also Dubious
Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate E.W. Jackson likes to tell audiences at his campaign events how he overcame terrible poverty and became a success, all through hard work and never needing a handout. He tells of times so tough that he had to eat mayonnaise sandwiches -- or sometimes nothing at all -- for dinner, and of growing up in a home without an indoor bathroom. As the youngest, he says, “I brought the pot down.” It's inspirational, and his campaign says the stories are 100% true, but in a Washington Post article about his campaign's missteps in the closing days of the campaign, two women who knew him as a child say he's a bit on the truth-challenged side.
“I’m like, ‘What house was he in?’ ” said Nadine Molet, the adopted daughter of foster parents Willie and Rebecca Molet.
Nadine Molet shared the same roof with Jackson and said the bathroom was on the first floor, beyond the well-stocked kitchen. “I never remember missing a meal. We always had fatback, cornbread, pancakes. We always took a lot of food to church.”
Huh! Who'd have imagined that a politician might exaggerate a little bit! But maybe she misremembers all that prosperity?
Leola Brown, who lived in the unit next door and would come over to babysit Molet and Jackson, said, “They didn’t want for anything.” She remembers the banana pudding and fruited Jell-O she’d find there, and the bathroom, just as in her unit, was past the kitchen and “off to the right.”
OK, so there's two people who remember the bathroom. Still, that doesn't mean Jackson's fibbing or anything -- maybe nobody ever pointed it out to him during his childhood, and the older kids made him use a chamber pot that he had to carry outside. You know what toughs those foster kids can be.
Nadine Molet says that she thinks of Jackson as "kind of like my brother," but insists that he has exaggerated the family's circumstances. “I don’t remember being poor.” She also recalls
gigantic Sunday dinners served under a big brass chandelier. “We had a china closet with real china in it. The white people she worked for gave it to us. That’s why I don’t know what he was talking about,” Molet said of Jackson.
The family did make mayonnaise sandwiches, but “that’s because we wanted to, not because we didn’t have meat to put in them,” she said.
A Jackson campaign spokesman, Brian Marriott, explained that Molet's memories are almost certainly different because Jackson is seven years older, and that Jackson is "just saying blanketly the economic conditions were probably a lot better after he left." Which presumably means the installation of an indoor bathroom just like the unit next door had, only after Jackson was no longer with the family. That happens all the time.
Next-door neighbor Leola Brown, however, still seems to think Jackson and Molet were doing OK:
“As we looked at it, they were the upscale family,” Brown said.
While there was an indoor bathroom, the Molets also had a portable pot, convenient for overnight needs upstairs, Brown said.
Aha! So maybe the toilet was hidden from little Ew by his crafty caretakers!
Brown also cast doubt on Jackson's story of becoming a juvenile delinquent until his father came back and gave him enough good sound beatings to straighten up and fly right, another key theme of his good old traditional thoughts on parenting.
She said Jackson was no juvenile delinquent and didn’t see him getting in any trouble, in part because [foster father] Willie Molet kept him occupied running and fishing. In fact, she wondered if the thoughtful young man might enter politics someday.
“There always was a cause with him. If he could change it, he would change it. If he could do something to help it, he would help it,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I can picture him as governor.”
Sadly, so can we.
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