Texan Gale McCray
PHOTO BY MICKY PETERSEN

Back in Oklahoma where I spent a couple of my military years, the locals had a unique way of referring to problem kids: "That boy don't act right."

So it is that a 74-year-old convivial Texan who grew up in Oklahoma is traveling the country these days with a big sign that reads: "Trump: That boy don't act right."

That self-proclaimed "old man with a sign" was in Madison this week. Gale McCray spent Tuesday afternoon walking State Street and around the Capitol Square spreading his message in a city where probably 90 percent of the folks agree with him.

That he's from the notorious red state of Texas (he lives in Fort Worth) has made him a social media curiosity, drawing comments on Facebook and Twitter. He says he's long been a political progressive, but except for voting he hasn't been very active -- until now.

"When Trump was elected and started acting the way he does, I figured I'd better not just sit here, but do something," he told me, adding that he's retired and can do anything he wants.

Indeed, he was greeted with a lot of thumbs up in the capital city, but it wasn't all that pleasant earlier in the day when he decided he ought to parade his sign in House Speaker Paul Ryan's hometown of Janesville.

"We weren't there 10 seconds when someone drove by and screamed obscenities at us and suggested we 'stinking liberals' get a job," said Micky Petersen of rural Albany, who served as McCray's escort during his Tuesday appearances.

Petersen and his mother Kay are two of about 30 people around the country who have come in contact with McCray via social media and offered to put him up in their homes if he came their way.

"I don't know any of these people and they don't know me," McCray said. "It's remarkable how kind they've all been."

He began showing his Trump message in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, where he was encouraged to take his sign across the country. He's been to about a dozen states now and his reception is quite mixed.

He just holds the sign for passers-by to see and doesn't speak so as not to start an argument. He says he typically gets thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the people who pass him on the street. But he does keeps track of the middle fingers that he gets, which is typically at least one everywhere he goes.

He told the Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal when he was there, for instance, that the record number of middle fingers was nine in Nashville.

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When I asked him if that was still the record, he replied, "Oh, that record was obliterated in Bismarck. There are a lot of Trump folks in North Dakota."

He was planning to visit central Illinois after the Madison foray, he said, where another admirer will serve as a host.

"I just want to help get the message out," he added, "because you know, this boy really don't act right."

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel

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Dave is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.