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Education and Common Sense
What a world we live in!

One day in the late nineteen-forties I was sitting with several others in an English class at Western Kentucky State Teachers College waiting for the teacher to arrive. The teacher, Mrs. Moore, arrived, the epitome of dignity, grace, and old-fashioned lady-like-ness. She dumped an armful of books on her desk and announced: “My! My! My! What a world we live in! Who would have ever thought that the St. Louis Browns would have beat the Boston Red Sox? “(I may have gotten the names of the ball team wrong after 70 years, but we were all shocked that she paid any attention to any subject as crass as baseball.)
This morning I am echoing my teacher’s exclamation. What a world we live in!
I remember when a king of England had to abdicate the throne when that country was the most powerful on earth because he was in love with a woman who had been divorced. I don’t believe they ever socialized with the Royal Family, and they lived in other parts of the world.
Well, Prince Harry, the younger brother of Prince William, the red-haired son of Princess Diana, who made quite a bit of news herself before her tragic death, has announced his engagement. He is marrying a beautiful American actress, who is bi-racial, been divorced, reared Catholic, and is three years older than he is!  At least, she is female, which seems to be the only thing socially acceptable about the union.
They seem to be very much in love, and I hope Queen Elizabeth, who has striven for the last seventy years to conform to all the traditions that the Royal Family has been expected to uphold, can find it in her heart to welcome this new addition to her family.
At age 92, I find that there are other truths that I once knew as undeniable fact that are now in question. We used to know, when a baby first came out of the birth canal, whether it was a boy or a girl. We had no trouble assigning a pronoun “he” or “she” to the new baby. Now, with the transgender movement in full swing, we are supposed to use the inaccurate  plural pronouns “they’ or “them.”
It is crazy. I hope Harry and his lovely bride will be happy and not run into too much difficulty. I am still confused every day as a new “standard” or “truth “ appears to confound what I once knew.
What a world we live in!


Downhomer
Thanksgiving leftovers and afterglow

Thanksgiving is a week long affair at my house. Even before that, I began to anticipate, had already bought a turkey. On the Monday before the big day I planned what I would cook and Deb what she would cook. So on Tuesday we went shopping; to buy the things we hadn’t already bought; correlating our lists, sharing and checking off as we went. Since I had already bought a turkey, Deb bought a ham. I got sweet potatoes, she the turnips we both love. I bought cranberries, she the fruit for her Waldorf salad. I made sure I had plenty of potatoes on hand; plus enough eggs, cornmeal and buttermilk for the cornbread that would be the backbone of our dressing. In addition, there must also be enough of these ingredients for an extra pan of cornbread for the table.
Sometime at least once that week, Deb asked; “Do you have plenty of sage?” I tell her “I have some, but not enough; need more. Make sure to get the rubbed sage, and not that ground up variety which isn’t nearly as strong or as flavorsome.”
In a footnote: during our count down days if one of my kids told me to be sure to put plenty of sage in the turkey dressing, all of them said it.
On Wednesday I begin to clear the decks for action. I set out a bowl of candy, the traditional hard Christmas type that is a part of the holiday season. I check and put some candles on the dining room table, find and set out a couple of big serving platters, gather up my glass pie pans for the pies yet to be made that day. Then by the time Wednesday finished up, Deb and I, in our two separate houses, had done as much prep work as we could.
On Thursday morning I was up early enough that I had the turkey in the oven by 7 a.m. I also opened four quarts of green beans and put them on, started the potatoes for mashed potatoes, and did the sweet potatoes. I started the turnips Deb had bought. I cooked them peeled and sliced and simmered gently in a scant amount of water, seasoned with at least a tablespoon of bacon drippings, and just the right balance of salt and pepper, and a pinch of the hot pepper flakes that are a staple in my cupboard.
Daughter Grace provided the dinner rolls for our family dinner, and I that second pan of corn bread; the first one as I say was used in the stuffing that was made first thing that morning, using a whole pan of crumbled up corn bread hot from the oven, plus two bags each of the Pepperidge Farms herb stuffing mix; all stirred into a copious amount of chicken broth. Added into this are chopped up celery and onions, plus that all important sage. I put some of this stuffing in the turkey cavity; some in a casserole pan to bake at the same time as the bird. As it is, the aroma from a blending of all these things as they cook is scrumptiously enticing!
At Deb’s house she baked the ham, and while it was baking she made a corn casserole, did the fruit salad and that wonderful cranberry stuff.
By 1 p.m. then, everything at my house was ready, and soon after that Deb came with what she had made. Almost simultaneously then, one batch of my family began to arrive. I say one set came on Thursday; another on Friday, in what was a repeat of our dinner. We have the same menu, some of it made fresh, some leftovers from the day before, we having this rerun because of the separate batches of family that arrives on two separate days.
It is not that the house isn’t big enough to hold them all at once, or because we might run out of food; but is in fact because that when your children grow up and marry, the acquire another set of family members, their own and their in-laws. To be fair, they go one day to one set of family, the next day to the other one.
The same is also true for grandchildren. They also play this musical chair family togetherness. Yet in spite of the fallout of this peculiar set of circumstances; and if it is Thursday or Friday that we celebrate, it matters little. Whichever day it is, the house is full of the good smells coming from the kitchen, and the rooms of my old house rings with the sound of beloved voices calling out to each other. The food which we have we made for our family is as it were, the frosting on a cake of happiness that in the end dwindles down to a few leftovers in the fridge and the new set of memories we have made. We all do know that traditional and lavish as our food might be, as such it is really not necessary to the enjoyment of our day. Bottom line is that the ones we share our meal with, a life with, a love with, is what makes any day special.
For the umpteenth time I think to myself that we would be just as happy with plain ol’ bologna sandwiches, chip and dip.
This is because the togetherness of our families is what truly nourishes us; it being food for the soul that fills us to overflowing with thankfulness for the family, for the world and for our place in it.
We thank you Lord Jesus, for this blessing!


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

Does anybody know who’s in charge?

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, my father worked in the coal mines. He’d come home dog tired with his face so black you could see nothing but the whites of his eyes and a little pink around his mouth.
While Mom fixed his bath water, he’d sit on the back porch steps, take off his muddy steel-toed work boots, and roll himself a Bugler. Even as he sat there, though, as dirty and tired and bruised as he was, there was never a doubt in my mind that he was the man in charge.
To those who ran the mines, he was just another employee. But at home, he was the boss. He was, as they say, the head honcho. That was simply fact. I didn’t question it. As far as I knew at the time, neither did anyone else.
Perhaps that’s why I’m somewhat amused every time I pick up the paper and read where come college professor with a list of degrees as long as your leg has published the results of another expensive study about the deterioration of the American family. These so-called experts, with all their Ph.D.s hanging out like a fat man’s shirt tail, are constantly blaming the fall and decline of family life on everything from violence on TV to access to the internet to working mothers. While these intellectuals are exchanging theories -- some of which I’ll admit to having at least a degree of validity -- it doesn’t take someone too awfully bright to spot at least one major flaw in their reasoning. I mean, anyone with two eyes, two ears and a vague memory of how it used to be, knows that one of the major problems in family life today is that nobody knows who’s in charge.
I suppose, in a way, I have an advantage over a lot of adults. Not that I think I’m smarter than anybody else, or anything, it’s just that having been a high school teacher for more than thirty years, I lived among teenagers for six hours a day. As a result, I became very enlightened as I overheard conversations from time to time that were simply very educational in a lot of ways.
Teens talk freely among themselves, especially when it comes to about things they’ve done, places they’ve been and people with whom they’ve associated. Perhaps it’s their way of boasting, maybe a degree of one-upmanship over their peers, when they openly discuss their not getting home until three in the morning on a school night, sleeping until three in the afternoon, and their parents writing excuses for their absence from school, with the explanation that they were “too sick” to attend classes.
I’m for progressive change as much as the next man, but I think adults should act like adults. I’m afraid that if there’s not a reversal in the pecking order pretty soon, by the time today’s teens become parents, they’ll have to ask their children’s permission to use the family car. I’m old-fashion I know, but I think that is just plain sad.


Smile Awhile
Bean, bean, who’s got the bean?

A few weeks ago this column discussed the Toy Hall of Fame and this year’s inductees, the most prominent of which was the classic board game “Clue.”  Also mentioned were past inductees Barbie, Silly Putty, Slinky, and the king of the board games Monopoly.
What prompts me to bring this subject up again is a new board game where you have to perform a certain task in order to advance and win.  But I’ll just warn you now —- don’t ever play a game where a spit cup is part of the board’s equipment.
The name of the game is “Beanboozle”, so called because eating jellybeans is an integral part of the play.  Now, what can be wrong with that, you ask?  HA!  Famous last words if I’ve ever heard them.
The action of the game happens as each player spins the spinner, which lands on a particular color of jellybean.  For instance, Ronnie said the first spin he witnessed saw the arrow come to rest on a lime jellybean.  (By the way, dozens of packets of jellybeans come with the game, and there are two jellybeans of the same color from which to choose for each spin).  However, one of them tastes like lime and the other like grass clippings.  And you have to chew up and swallow the jellybean you pick or you lose points.
The taste of grass clippings may sound bad enough, but get a load of some of the other flavors:  licorice or skunk spray; green apple or nose booger; chocolate fudge or dog poop; and the one nobody seems to be able to get past, peach or vomit.
The youngest boy (age 9) in the group refused to play, which is a good thing because his parents would not have let him anyway.  It seems that the last time they played this game he threw up during his turn.
One young woman playing that night, who shall go unnamed as she is a school teacher and should know better, was the unluckiest player involved because whereas other people would occasionally catch a break and select a good jelly bean, she got the “dud” every time.
When she chewed the “skunk spray” bean she made a face Lon Chaney would have been proud of.  When her husband asked how bad it was, she huffed a big HA right in his face.  His reaction told me her breath was now grounds for divorce.
But it was the “vomit” jellybean that lost her the game.  She chomped down just once and the jellybean came out of her mouth at such a velocity that had it been lead it would have killed one of the other players.
As Ronnie pointed out, who creates and mixes these flavors at the factory where this game is produced?  With everybody so consumed with what we eat these days, like preservatives and sugar, what chemicals could possibly be mixed together to ensure that the jellybean does indeed taste like a “booger” or “puke”.  Is there a quality control person on the assembly line performing taste tests like they have in a winery or distillery?  That’s got to be the worst job in the world; I’ll bet his wife doesn’t kiss him when he comes home from work.  I can just hear him on the job saying, “I’m sorry, this dog poop jelly bean tastes like cow poop; this whole batch will have to be thrown out!”
It’s scary to think how someone could be an expert in that field, but consider this: there are 12 repulsive jellybean flavors in the game and they have to be right on in order for it to work and produce all of the uproarious laughs to go with it.  (Ha, Ha, Ha!).
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!


Education and Common Sense
A true fairy tale

Once upon a time in Eastern Kentucky there lived a family that spent most of their free time in some kind of church work at two different churches, they attended a small country church on Sunday mornings and the bigger church in the county seat town where they lived. The parents had two little girls and ten years later, a little boy.
Our heroine is the younger girl. She was a beautiful child who, at two years old, learned all the little songs her mother was teaching her older sister, and could carry a tune equally as well as her sister. She was full of questions, mostly about God. “Who is God’s daddy?” was one that stymied her mother.
She gave her life to Jesus when she was not quite six years old, and was baptized in Jenny’s Creek, a stream that flowed past the country church the family attended in the mornings. When she was in high school she sometimes was allowed to teach Vacation Bible School. She was a youth leader in the town church group. She was hired by Enterprise Association to go to small churches and find teachers and do V.B.S. for churches that weren’t going to have V.B.S. during the summer. She did that two years.
When she went to college at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, She joined Hillvue Heights Baptist Church, the church that her older sister had already joined three years before. Our heroine loved the church.  It was very student-friendly. She was a Vacation Bible School Director there, and worked with a the Youth Pastor, another Western student, who was married, and had two babies born while he and his wife lived in Bowling Green. All this happened over forty years ago.
After college, the young preacher went to seminary, earned his doctorate, and reared the two sons, one is now an engineer in a hospital whose job is to see that all the machines are running properly, and the other is an International Southern Baptist Missionary in Southeast Asia. Their father became a successful pastor in Louisiana, his home state, and became Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Convention, retiring from that position after 17 years. He cared for his wife at home in her losing battle with cancer. He is now an Interim pastor of a church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Our heroine graduated college, majoring in Art Education.  While teaching in Russellville for 10 years, she also worked for and received her M.A. Degree in that subject.  She moved to Seattle Washington and taught art in three different schools.  She came back to Kentucky to teach five more years so she would be eligible to retire in Kentucky as well as Seattle. So she retired from the Kentucky school system last school year.
In various years, there had been men who were interested in her and interesting, but she was very picky, and always found something wrong with the relationship.
Last spring, our hero, Emil, the lonely widower, decided to come to west Kentucky for the fly-fishing. Patti had bought a house on Barren River Lake with her mentor, who was her favorite college professor’s widow. Emil called his college friend to see if she would like to go out to dinner with him. Of course, she would!
They found out that meal that they laughed at the same jokes, liked the same foods, and it was almost uncanny that they used the same brands of toothpaste and soap! Furthermore, their favorite apple is the Honey Crisp!  They had a long supper that night; they walked miles together in Mammoth Cave the next day, and the road between Scottsville and Little Rock, Arkansas, has been traveled extensively this summer and fall. I believe the telephone has also seen heavy service.
Last Friday at 11:00 a.m. they got married in the chapel at Hillvue Heights Church in Bowling Green, with their college pastor, Gary Watkins, who has remained in touch with Emil through the years, officiating.
Patti wore a simple white lace knee-length dress. Her one attendant, her friend and mentor was Brenda Lane, who wore a navy blue dress. The men, Emil and his two sons, all wore navy blue suits. Two professional videographers made a video of the ceremony so the couple’s friends in Seattle, Washington, Houston, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Indianapolis, and east and west Kentucky can all watch it in their pajamas! Cathy and I came back to Louisville after a luncheon for the bridal party and had no chores to do afterward.
The couple are on their honeymoon in North Carolina as I write this, but they plan to be at home in Little Rock, Arkansas, by this Sunday.
As mother of the bride, and long –time reader of fairy tales, I know a Beautiful Princess and a Handsome Prince  when I see one, and I am convinced that they will live happily ever after. They will be a good team with many years left to serve their Lord.



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