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Downhomer
Memories delight the senses

I remember the very first time I ever saw a hummingbird. I was five or maybe six years old. Some cousins and I were playing in a holler curving off from 45th Street, which is now called Blackburn Avenue, in Ashland. That holler was a cul-de-sac kind of place that ran below where our Granny Hall lived, and when it happened that we were together we cousins loved to play there. That day we had run and played and climbed trees, then had flung ourselves down on the grass to rest in the shade of a nearby bushy tree which was covered with flowers. I have no idea what it was, just that it was pretty, and it made a shade where we could rest. Lying there, looking up into that small tree, the tiniest bird I had ever seen suddenly darted by me. Itís wings whirled in perpetual motion as it flitted through the branches of that tree, only pausing to sip nectar from the throat of those flowers. That was when my life long fascination with hummingbirds began. I have never forgotten that experience, and cherish the memory of it. Consequently I fill my hummingbird feeders with sugar water and hang them early, for doing so is worth the effort several times over. In addition, anytime I see this favorite bird it always makes me remember that first one I saw all those many years ago.
Memories such as these are a delight to the senses. However, I suppose you could say there was a kind of double-sided edge to that delight. They do say those in danger of the dreaded big A always seem to remember their old memories easily but have a problem with remembering the here and now. Having seen first hand the effects of Alzheimer on the last 14 years of my motherís life, I know a lot about the devastation of this ailment.
During those years of taking care of my mother, I received several reports from UK about the genetic probabilities of this malady. So I worried, worried a lot, even though I often heard my Aunt Lydiaís voice echoing in my brain, saying: ďHoney, God doesnít want us to worry. ď
Actually, I really try not to, and sometimes I do pretty well. Then I go shopping at Wally-World where I see lots of people that I have known for years. Now if only I could just remember their names. At home when we watch a movie on TV I always prefer the ones with actors and actresses that are familiar to me. However, I donít actually see a lot of the movie because of the provoking need I have to remember their names. That wonderful old Dr. Musgrave who was Momís doctor once told me: ďEileen, you donít have this and wonít as long as you keep your mind active.Ē Now days, Dr. Kousa tells me the same thing, and I try to believe those two very fine physicians. Nevertheless, in spite of what theyíve said, and even with Aunt Lydiaís voice echoing in my head saying that I should not worry, I occasionally do. Now, of course, I also tell myself that at my age if this was destined to happen to me, it would have already begun. This might be of some consolation. Then there are those times I canít remember a name, those times I forget where I put my glasses, all those times I forget what compartment in my purse I put my money. So I still fret a little, even some times a lot. Worse than all this, when I multitask, I invariably forget one of those things I set out to do. One other thing my doctor has said to me is not to fall. As though I could help it if I did. Unfortunately, I have already learned to my regret that falls have a momentum of their own. Once started, they can rarely be stopped. None of the falls Iíve had so far have been biggies, and I pray they never will.
In the meantime, getting older doesnít always have to mean you become senile. Maybe in time this will happen. For now, regardless of what physical problems I might have, as long as my mind works Iíll be fine. So I will determine not to worry, but to live each day with joy in just the fact of being alive, and with thankfulness to God that regardless of what may come my way, I know He will always be with me. His presence will be a comfort to me, a well springing up within my soul to sustain me. So why should I worry about tomorrow, for surely sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. Thus while I am yet able to focus my whole heart and mind on the one who strengthens me, I will rejoice in the presence of my dear Savior. Abba, Father.


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

From a broken system to broken bones

Two or three times last week, I heard one of TVís so-called ďtalking headsĒ say that todayís political system was broken. Of course, he was referring to Trump and Hillary and Bernie and all the goofy shenanigans surrounding the race to sit behind the big desk in the oval office.
I thought the word broken was probably as good an adjective as any and it got me to thinking about what a nurse told me when she was taking my medical history at a recent visit to my doctorís office. She said I was lucky, and certainly among the minority, to have reached the age Iíve reached without suffering a single broken bone.
And, of course, that gives me yet another excuse to write about the ďgood old days.Ē Considering the fact that I was reared in the way I was, which as I look back was fraught with dangerous things that could possibly injure and maim a kid, I guess it is a miracle of sorts.
Like, itís a thousand wonders I didnít fall off one of those tall, dirty coal gons I climbed all over every chance I got. Or, I could have fallen through the hole in the loft of the old dairy barn that served as a hangout, and maybe even an unofficial clubhouse for the gypsy-like pre-teen bunch of outlaws who roamed the hills and back alleys of 1940s Society Row. Somehow, though, neither ever happened.
Come to think of it, I canít remember any of us getting any worse than a bump on the noggin every once in a while, or a stubbed toe when weíd accidently take off a toenail after stumbling over one of the ever-present rocks that littered the dirt road that ran through the community. But except for a little feller from Greentown who broke his arm playing tackle football, I never saw a single kid with an arm in a cast or walking on crutches.
Of course, there was the time when my little brother got run over by a horse which rounded the corner of the backyard fence, running full speed and caught him unawares. He didnít get stepped on or anything, but did get slammed pretty good into a large mud hole. Those of us who witnessed it thought for sure he was a goner, but really all he got was wet and muddy.
Another potentially dangerous situation occurred when someone in the neighborhood found the cutest little fluffy brown pup you ever saw. I think somebody said it was a collie. It was very playful for a couple of days, and then one of our parents noticed that it was ďacting funny.Ē Then it died.
Somebody put its body in a coffee sack and took it to the health department where it was determined to have had rabies. Every kid in the neighborhood who had played with it Ė which totaled about a dozen Ė had to have a series of rabies shots. Every morning for fourteen days a couple of carloads of Muddy Branch kids had to go to town and get a shot. Fortunately, I was not among them.
But probably the most dangerous thing we did was play with BB guns, and just like in the Christmas movie with Ralphie, we were warned that we were going to put an eye out. Of course, we never really shot at each other, and if we had, weíd likely have missed. However, a few of those ricochets came pretty close.
Anyway, to have survived all that normal day-to-day activity without a broken bone, maybe I was pretty lucky at that.


Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

Bathroom privileges

Although I am not as modest as some people, bathroom privileges are something I take seriously. I canít help it, but when I go to the bathroom, most of the time I donít need anyone with me.
Seventeen years ago when Ronnie and I were honeymooning in Italy, I found myself sitting in a bathroom stall next to a man. I know it was a man because he was wearing wing tips and his pants were around his ankles.
Needless to say, I was mortified. I didnít know how I was going to get out of the bathroom without meeting up with him at the sink so I ran out without washing my hands. Who knew that years later we would be dealing with this issue in America.
When I was in high school all the girls went to the bathroom together. The main difference then was we were usually in there putting on make-up, talking about boys, or smoking. Rarely did we go into the bathroom to actually use it. That took up too much time. Anyway our bladders were much larger then. Depends hadnít even been invented.
Ronnie and I donít go to the bathroom together either. In fact, if I inadvertently open the door when heís in the bathroom, he becomes incontinent. In retrospect, I donít even remember my parents going to the bathroom. My dad was never home and my mother didnít have time. If they went, they did so discreetly.
Which brings me to the matter at hand. Some things should just be done privately without discussion or fanfare.
I never understood how men could go into a public restroom and stand side-by-side at a urinal with another person. If you can, thatís your business. But I canít do my ďbusinessĒ that way. It simply makes me uncomfortable. I donít even like passing toilet paper under the stall to another woman.
Unisex bathrooms donít bother me in the least. I donít care to go where someone else has been, I just donít want to go with them at the same time. Hopefully this issue will be decided before I have to use a public restroom again. But if we do happen to run into each other while we are in one donít expect me to shake hands.
Have a great week and donít forget to Smile Awhile!


The Downhomer
Rare moments of quietness

I am blessed that to some extent, I am still able to be up and busy with the routines of my household. Admittedly, these days it takes longer to complete a chore than it did in my younger years. Regardless, in one of those rare moments of quietness when there is nothing I really have to be doing, I like to let my mind go back down the trails of time, to visit in memory the days of my childhood. There is always a bittersweet kind of sadness in this mental exercise when I think of how different the world is to what it was back then. I have to smile as I remember my mother saying the very same thing about those years when she was growing up. All of us have a tendency to look back on the days of our own individual lives as being the best of times, well before the worst of times had ever begun. I also wonder how my Mom would have reacted to computers, cell phones, Word Pads, and the constant nagging dread of this nuclear age. It makes me wish that we could go back to that simpler age. I still remember some of the ambience or lack thereof, of my motherís time. Woman had to do their laundry the hard way, with washboards in tubs of water carried from the family well, or from the creek. I remember when my grandfather first piped water from a well into their family home, it flowing from a manually operated hand pump into a wooden sink his own hands had built. They thought they were rich. So did I. Added to these riches there was those old cook stoves. I can taste in memory the deliciousness of the food that was prepared on those stoves, and I wish I had one. Now we have modern stoves to cook on, and to my notion, we have lost some thing significant in the process of that exchange, swapping coal and wood for gas and/or electric.
In time, as electricity made its emergence, electric washing machine followed shortly there after, the women of any family fortunate enough to have one counting their blessings, I can actually remember the first time an electric light came on in our house. It meant it was no longer necessary to keep the globe of those old oil lamps clean and filled, a daily job lest darkness would came and the lamp not be ready to light. It reminds me of that account in the Bible of the ten virgins, five of whom had their lights tended and ready and five that didnít. In the early hours of the night, the one they were waiting for came, and the five not having oil in their lamps could not go in to the celebration. (Read it for yourself in Matthew chap: 25; verses 1 through13 in the Bible. Anyway, as far back as I can remember my grandfather always taught us the necessity of this biblical preparation, and those old kerosene lamps we once had was always a reminder to me of that cautionary parable. As the years passed, the time came when I was old enough to be out and about. I truly loved roaming through the hills and valleys of my child hood. If I was at Boons Camp with my Branham family or in Ashland with my Hall cousins, it was all the same to me, though I have to admit I liked it best being here. In either place, my cousins and I waded the creeks and climbed the hills, staying outside only to come in briefly to eat, and then going back out again till the twilight began to fall. When we were called in to go to bed, we always knew that we were protected and safe as we slept. In fact, back then, people never had to lock the door at night, for who would bother us? Time has changed everything beyond the recognition from those wonderful days of long ago. Now youíd never leave your door unlocked, and most of us even add dead bolts to the locks we already have.
Used to be when two men made a contract with each other in an exchange of goods, a handshake was binding on them both. Not now. And if a neighbor was walking on the side of the road and you had a vehicle, perhaps one of those early Fords, you thought nothing of picking them up. Now you donít dare to pick up a hitchhiker, even when you might know them, or maybe because you do. Used to be America was the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now people have twisted the fabric of our Constitution into a convenient tool to appease and make legal their personal agendas, and very few voices tell them Nay! The whole world knows that God made man, made woman, the two to be together, one man and one woman. History has taught us what happened to those people who forgot about this God given pattern which was never meant to be two men together or two women. God knows there are plenty who in self-serving wickedness presume to pervert the gift of marriage as God gave it. Here and there a voice as one crying out in the wilderness will speak out, but the world always stifles that voice. Now here we are, no longer a pleasant land that God might smile upon, but a cesspool of corruption that sooner or later will have to pay the piper. However, there is this. God has said that if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, I will hear from heaven and will heal their land.


Education and Common Sense

Trump or Hillary?

It looks like our choice for President of the United States this November has boiled down to two candidates, each of whom requires holding oneís nose when we enter the voting booth.
It looks like the people on the Republican sideóall seventeen of the original excellent candidates-- spent a lot of energy making Donald Trump swear that he would support the partyís nominee for president, swearing fealty to the eventual nominee themselves, are backing out of that oath in droves.
Only a few of the former candidates are saying they will support Trump. I think if they expected Trump to support them if they had won the nomination, they should keep their words.
Some pundit said the public had chosen a ďRodeo ClownĒ to be the Republican nominee.
I am heartened because Dr. Ben Carson, who I believe to be a wise and godly man, is for Trump, and he may be able to have some influence with the nominee should he actually become the leader of the Free World.
I like the fact that Trump has some very impressive grown children; his ex-wives seem to be on good terms with him; and he does not smoke or drink alcohol. He might actually get serious about the national debt. I wonder if a lot of his bluster has not been done to soak up all the free publicity. His name recognition is about 100%.
Hillary and Bill have done a good job with their daughter, also. I remember when Bill was President and Chelsea was in high school, they let her come to Kentucky with a church youth group on a mission trip and nobody told who she was until after she got back. I admired them for that.
I think the votersí choice is important because the next President will choose one Supreme Court justice, and more than likely three or four. We may not know the type of person Donald Trump will nominate, but we do know that Hillary will nominate a liberal justice who will probably not be a strict constructionist when it comes to sticking closely to the United States Constitution.
It is important that we vote, because if we donít vote, we forgo our right to complain for four long tears!



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