Memories. Blessings. Joy and Pain. A Part of the Inevitable Swiftness of Time.
Well, since Friday last, we have had one humdinger of a week.
On the political front, it has been business as usual, all the latest crop of wanna-be’s jockeying for position and not a one of them worth voting for, especially not those they say are “the front runners.” Runners for what? Dog Catchers? I wouldn’t want to inflict some poor animal with any of these so-called front-runners. You’d think those candidates would figure it out that voting these days is merely making a choice between the lesser of two evils. When we vote, it is not always for a favorite choice, but is instead a vote against the other one. It doesn’t matter what charisma, what qualifications someone has. Most of us vote by gut instinct. And if we don’t like some politician, don’t trust them, we won’t vote for them, no matter how much they try to woo us with all those negative advertisements.
In the meantime, in different parts of the world, refugees are still flooding into any place where they can find sanctuary. Actually this seems to be slowing down somewhat, but the saddest part of it has been that, so far, none of the places those hordes of displaced people flee to, wants them. What about the poem that Emma Lazarus wrote. Most of us know it by heart, and we should, since it is engraved on the base our statue of Liberty sits on; “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shores. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp by the golden door!” It is too bad all countries of the world don’t have a corresponding type of National Monument that would also have those same words engraved on them. However, just as we do, they’d probably conveniently forget it, so it wouldn’t actually ever change a thing. Would that remembrance of those words made nations, my own included, not think first about what it would cost them to have such a sudden influx of new citizens.
Just as important to us, here at home, Clerk Kim Davis is still fighting the battle to be allowed to stand up for her Christian beliefs. Only God knows how this will turn out, but I say my hat is off to you Mrs. Davis, and I am praying for you. Not any larger on the scale of importance, the Pope came to visit. I am not a Catholic, but I have to say I admired this man for his apparent piety, his gentle humbleness as he asked some of the people he met to “Please: Pray for me.” I found that very moving. After all, most of us will often feel a need for prayer. So why shouldn’t this man, with his, all his many responsibilities, want others to pray for him. Now, he has gone back to his usual pulpit, but not before praying “God Bless America!”
During this special period of time, the much-anticipated blood moon has come and gone. I very much wanted to see this, had made my plans that before moonrise on Sunday evening, I would go up and position myself on a nearby hilltop where I could get a good view. And if by chance the Lord should choose to come at that time, I would be front and center to sing my own Hosanna! Hosanna to the coming King!
Unfortunately, that Sunday was so rainy, so overcast and dreary that I personally wasn’t able to experience that event. In other places, people were more fortunate, and they say that in some parts of the world, it was still to be seen on the evening of the 28th. Since I couldn’t rocket off to Israel or India where it would be visible at that time, I just had to miss it. To compensate I have looked at all the photos which now floods the media. I have also discovered how many misconceptions we all have had about this phenomenon.
Now. I will speak of a Johnson County special event; this annually occurring Apple Day Festival. We look forward to it each fall, and though I will probably keep my 85 almost 86-year-old aches and pains at home, I still take a vicarious pleasure remembering those years when I wouldn’t have missed attending Apple Day for any thing. I have to say I liked it best back when the local hospital was still located on Euclid Avenue. Then it was that the much anticipated, quiet wonderful parade marched along the street in front of the hospital. All the ambulatory patients, and not a few nurses and doctors watched from that vantage point. Back then, son Bob played football for Johnson Central, so he marched with his team in the parade, as did daughter Grace who played trumpet in the JC marching band. The nicest part of this was that the Johnson Central team marched side by side, in harmony with the Paintsville City team. Good years and good memories. I would have them back…
Education and Common Sense
A tale for my family’s archives
A couple of weeks ago the subject of tuberculosis came up in the conversation at the lunch table where I was eating. I shared that my mother had once been diagnosed with that ailment and was a poor Kentucky farmer’s wife and wasn’t able to go take the “rest cure” that was the only treatment for T.B. in 1918.
The country doctor she consulted gave her a prescription for chloroform, and told her to put cotton in a lamp chimney, drop three drops of the anesthetic on the cotton, and carry it around with her a certain number of hours in the day and breathe the fumes, being careful not to breathe enough of the fumes to render her unconscious.
I don’t know how long she did that, but I was born in 1925, eleven years after my next older sibling was born. When I take the T.B. skin test, it never shows that I have had any contact with anybody who has the ailment. That tells me she either did not have T.B., or she was cured before I was born.
Once, after I was married, Mother had a sick spell, and we took her to a doctor in Bowling Green. The doctor asked her about her medical history.
“Well,” she said,” Once a doctor told me I had T.B., but I haven’t had any symptoms of it for over thirty years.”
The doctor had her lungs x-rayed.
He reported: “Mrs. Baxter, the x-ray shows that you did have T.B. at one time, and the upper lobe of one of your lungs has been sealed off.”
One of my lunch buddies was horrified at the story I told.
“That’s never been any remedy for T.B.!” she exclaimed. “There has never been any studies published about that treatment.”
I replied, “Well, I can’t prove it, but that’s the story my mother told, and I was there when the doctor told her that she had been afflicted with that ailment. I am sure the country doctor just tried something to see if it would do any good. He knew she couldn’t afford to go to a sanatorium for the cure.”
I told my daughter Patti about my friend’s not believing my story.
Patti said,”Mother, you’ve got to write that down. I never heard that story in my life! You know Don will be fascinated with that story!” (Don is my brother Neil’s son, who is an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Texas.)
As my purpose in writing “Education and Common Sense” is to write down the family history that nobody knows except me, I have done what she asked.
I doubt seriously if the chloroform treatment will supersede the antibiotics that have conquered the scourge of tuberculosis that once threatened a nation, but it might be an interesting post script chronicling one country doctor’s attempt to help one of his ailing patients.
I wonder if my nephew Don has ever heard of the “Chloroform Cure”?
Hospitals aren’t for sissies
Whoever said that life begins at 50 must have led a sheltered life or was in a coma for the first 49 years because that statement simply is not true, at least not for me. When I turned 50 everything went South (and I don’t mean South of the border). I also started having ailments they didn’t even have names for medically speaking.
But to be fair, by the time I was 2, I had been in and out of children’s hospitals in Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Nashville. They were getting ready to take me to the Mayo Clinic when my condition miraculously improved. And from that time forward I did pretty well until I turned 50.
Needless to say, for me, going to the hospital isn’t the worse thing in the world. I have learned (like many other people) that hospitals can be your friend. For the most part, I have had wonderful doctors and medical staffs that have been kind, compassionate, and helpful; so most of my experiences in medical facilities have been satisfactory. But at this stage of my life, hospitals have also been a way for me to meet people and shop.
That’s right folks, I can honestly say that while going to my doctors appointments, I now can also shop there. If you spend much of your time going to the doctor (or going to doctors’ appointments with others), you might find the gift shop at Central Baptist hospital in Lexington jumping onto your top 10 shopping places in the city, as it certainly has mine.
It is the most eclectic boutique I have ever seen. They have beautiful and exotic jewelry, shoes, clothes, little gadgets and what-nots, books, UK paraphernalia and much, much more. I find myself staying in there for hours until Ronnie has to drag me out so I won’t miss my appointment.
I actually told my sister-in-law, Bonnie Spencer, that “you know you’re getting old when you do your Christmas shopping in hospital gift shops.”
The way I see it, if you have to go to the doctor to be poked, prodded, and pestered, you might as well get some enjoyment from it.
At my last appointment for my yearly cat scan, I walked into the doctor’s office with a pair of shoes. The girls at the front desk were all excited and wanted to see what I had bought. As I was showing them around, the doctor walked in and said, “Those are really cute, Sara. What else did you buy?” So it can be a great little ice-breaker, too.
After I left the office, I made one more trip to the gift shop where I purchased some mouth-watering, home-made caramels that I ate on way home to celebrate my “positive results.”
As my Dad used to say, “Life is hard, so you have to take the little times and make them into big times.” And he was right!
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!
Sometimes you just have to wonder about people
It’s been twenty-one years since I retired from teaching; nearly six since I worked at this newspaper. But after thirty-three years at one and sixteen the other, I probably have as many stories as anybody about what life is like in this small town.
Actually, I found that teaching school and working at this newspaper are very much alike in many ways. One of the most obvious, I suppose, is that in both cases, I worked very closely with people. During my teaching career, I had students from ages six to 18 or 19. As a journalist, the ages went up all the way to 100, and in a couple of instances, well beyond that. But regardless of whether I was dealing with a first grader or an octogenarian, I found that people are people, and one has to be prepared for the unexpected.
One of my favorite examples of that occurred about fifteen years ago when I was working at the paper. We had published a front-page story about a young man in his late 20s who had been arrested and charged with a plethora of crimes, including rape and child molestation. Either crime could have sent him to the pokey for many years … and eventually did, as I recall.
In the process of reporting the news, the paper had run the man’s photo — in living color, no less – on the front page. It wasn’t an hour after the paper had hit the street that Wednesday morning, until the phone rang and the female voice on the other end, speaking much too loudly, demanded to speak to the person who had written about, and posted the picture of, her son and his being arrested
Since I was a feature writer, mostly writing stuff like this column, and seldom writing what we termed “hard news,” fortunately, it wasn’t me with whom she wanted to speak
But as I sat next to the young lady who had written the story, I could hear the mother of the accused yelling and ranting into the phone. Although I couldn’t make out what she was saying, it was obvious to all in the room that the party on the other end of the line was not a happy camper.
When the tirade finally ended, the reporter who had mostly just listened, looked over at me and said, “You wouldn’t believe what that was all about.”
I told her I could probably guess that it had something to do with the fact that we had exposed to the world the fact that her son was some sort of scumbag. And of course, her saying that he was innocent and was such a fine boy.
“Wrong,” the reporter said, “She was upset, out of her mind, really, because we had run the mug shot of her son that the detention center had provided and they hadn’t let him comb his hair before they booked him.”
True story. People are people are people.
A Brand New Page
Monday, Sept. 21, 6 a.m.
This morning, while I sip my first and second cup of coffee, I sit blank faced and blank minded as I stare at a just as equally blank page on my computer’s works processor. What letters can I begin to type that might possibly evolve into a credible, maybe even readable Downhomer.
Sometimes it seems that after all these years I am writing the same things over and over, life as it’s lived down home; small habits and practices of living that might be of interest to myself and in a lesser degree, to my neighbors. Very little of it will hardly be new and exciting, and probably in the long run, of no importance. I know very well how presumptuous it is for me to take up space in this newspaper for the trivial, down home things, which is all I know about. Yet no matter, I do; and that because I love doing it.
In the wise old days of Solomon, that preacher once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” I agree with this. So try as I will to find something new and fresh to write about, whatever it turns out to be it will likely be something I have said before, have written before. Yet, there is always this.
Each new day is always a mystery. None of us can know what it will bring, be it well or ill, for we know that this is the way of life.
Thus and maybe even in spite of how it might turn out, this morning I will write some of those same old oft repeated topics I have written about so many times before.
Mundane things. Unexciting things, inglorious things that somehow in some inexplicable way might reach out and tweak the mind. I can only hope that some particular thing, I write, because of a familiarity with the subject matter, will strike a chord in the arpeggio of my “been there done that” memory bank.
This morning as the day begins, I watch with pleasure that is mixed with a certain blending of dread the dancing of the leaves as they tumble earthward. There is recently new crispness in the autumn air, and I shiver in spite of myself.
Last night I was awakened and that more than once, to the sound a barrage of nuts make, as one by one they fall onto the metal roof of our house. They come from that wonderful old butternut tree that grows on our creek bank, and it is always amazing to me (and startling) the amount of sound those nuts make as they hit our roof.
I can even hear the tumbling sounds they make as they roll down to the ground below. Then when we are up and about, we see them lying all about the yard.
I myself never mind the squirrels that scurry about to gather them up, for they do us a service.
Like the squirrels we all know the days of our summer frolic is nearly over.
In addition, in case you don’t already know it, I can tell you that the sourwood trees up on the hills have donned their autumn color. How I love the sight of them, can spot their distinctive looking clusters of color anywhere. I love the honey the bees make from the blossoms of those trees.
Also, in a response to the advancing of the year, the persimmons are ripe, have been well mellowed by that first flicker of frost, and are ready for the eating. In competition with human consumption, raccoons love persimmons and so do I.
In like manner, I appreciate the papaws which my husband brings me. He picks them up from beneath the tree I long ago planted in our yard. I thank him, although truthfully I never want more than just a bite or two of these exotic fruits, and that for remembrance. However, I do harvest the seeds from the ones Walter brings in. I dry them out and in spring, plant them, in hopes that some will grow to help replenish this dwindling goodie.
Now. Before I leave you for another week, in proof that I do sometimes write topics other than the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, I remind you to watch for the Blood Moon due to appear on the 28th day of September.
I do not have the space nor the knowledge to tell you the whys and wherefores of this event. I can only say that it has happened before, and that I saw the one that occurred last year.
I remember saying to Walter at the time that it was the reddest moon I had ever seen. I know the predictions do say that the “Beginning of Sorrows” will start after the fourth appearance of these so-called blood moons.
I am so very thankful that while I watched the one that came last year, I was not at all frightened. Therefore, I will be waiting and watching for the one that is due on the 28th.
However, I do know in my heart of hearts that God’s plan for the world will be done, no matter what way and by whatever means He chooses to do it.
And I say Praise ye the Lord, all ye people.....