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November 1977 Around Adair with Ed Waggener

This article first appeared in a November issue of the Daily Statesman, probably in 1977. Topics included check cashing, customer service, and some Thanksgiving bulldozing. --Pen

By Ed Waggener

Some make you want to come back
Some businesses have a way of wanting you to come back and spend your money with them. Others seem to be exceptionally endowed with the ability to sour all their customers.

Donald Pedigo of Edmonton is a student of such practices. As an advertising counselor, he runs into all types. He tells me about a fellow going into the service station business in Central Kentucky. "The first time I stopped by it was all cleanedup. I thought, 'This guy is going to do some good.' I traded with him, and I stopped the next time. But this time the manager had a sign up, 'No Damned Loafing!' Pedigo says that he had no intentions of ever lingering, as he usually has appointments to keep. "But I pulled off the ramp without filling up," he said, "the sign offended me. I don't like to do business with that sort of person.

Some put up signs like that on checks
I remember as a child going into a garage which said, "Yes we give credit. IF applicant is 80 years old and accompanied by both parents."

A greasy spoon might have a sign which read, "We have an agreement with the bank. We don't cash checks and they don't fry hamburgers." At best it was a lie, but more than that, it told the prospective customer that the manager didn't quite have it together, and was probably on Maalox himself - so the food couldn't be good.

Negative people.

One sign is ready
Pedigo told me about a sign at an establishment in Metcalfe run by the legendary Buck Williams, who has fried more fish for Republican rallies than anyone in Southern Kentucky. His sign followed the old Metcalfe County method of stating an absolute, unbendable rule.

And then modifying it.
Like the Metcalfe Countian, who made it an absolute rule not to lie. But if you had to lie, lie hard.

Buck Williams' restaurant had a big sign up for all to see. "WE DO NOT TAKE CHECKS!" it said in great big letters, Pedigo said. And that seemed final enough. Except that right under the big letters, in much finer type, there was a qualification. "But if we do..." After that came the rules for Buck Williams' check cashing.

Remember Cal Crimm at Kroger?
I used to wonder about the signs which read, "This store protected by the Cal Crimm Detective Agency," in the old Columbia Kroger store. I never liked that place; it gave me the jeebies, wondering what old Cal Crimm was up to.

Michael Morris, late of Okolona but then of Absher, told me that when he was a little fellow, he'd go there with his mother and he'd hide behind her skirts and examine the men in the store. "I wondered which one of those fellows was Cal Crimm," Morris said.

This town isn't like that
There are cold towns. My wife still won't visit one little Kentucky community because of the rudeness of a clerk when she stopped there as a little girl one Christmas.

But Columbia isn't like that. And I'm happy. I remember one Christmas one of our sales people saw a co-operative advertising page in another newspaper warning shoppers that the county's merchants would prosecute if they caught anyone shoplifting. This salesperson wanted to sell a similar page in Columbia. But the person came back in about an hour and reported that nobody in Columbia liked the idea. "They say they don't want to offend their good customers." I was never prouder to have been born in Columbia and I guess it is the only time I was ever happy that an advertising idea didn't work.

Of course it's wrong
I wouldn't write this in defense of cold-check writers or of shop-lifters. Both practices are wrong and punishable by law. But only a very small fraction of the public is involved. I just hate to see a "Big Brother" type surveillance on everyone to catch the few. And I hate to see the suspiciousness which accompanies it. I think everyone ought to be presumed honest.

Linda borrowed a bulldozer
I run heavy equipment up to electric can-openers, electric typewriters, and I push lawn mowers. Up to now, I could count on the boys being awed by my skill. "Daddy, can I help you mow the yard?" the oldest would ask. And the youngest would trail along behind pushing his little plastic lawn mower, emulating his father.

It's a great feeling, having anybody look up to you, especially those two boys.

But Thanksgiving Day, Linda rented a tractor with a bulldozer blade on it from Charles Giles at G & G Motors. When the oldest saw her on the tractor, he wouldn't go back to leaf-mulching with me. That wasn't impossible to take. But when the little one and I came to get them to go to lunch, I couldn't get him to leave. "I wanta ride bulldozer with Mommy!" he cried. And I'd lost for a time my easiest audience to play to.

Something traditional
I've never hunted on Thanksgiving, as it is traditional to do. But I finally went traditional this time by cutting firewood. Got a chance to be chief assistant off- bearer for Joe Lynn Barbee on his hilltop spread above the Sweetgum Bottoms and Russell Creek off the Old Greensburg Road. Barbee traded for a virtually isolated farm and has turned it into a prime piece of real estate by building a coal- mine type road into the place.

Billy Ray Page cleared the brush and second growth scrub off the hilltop and the Barbees have a perfect open-ridge pasture. Or, if Columbia continues growing like it has been, the City will be out there and someone will be wanting building lots there soon. It's less than three miles from town. No man-made sound intrudes on the land, except for an occasional fly-over by aircraft or a chain saw on a neighboring farm.

Still, its closeness to town is evident, because when the wind is blowing from the south, one can sometimes catch the sound of the courthouse clock in Columbia.

I had tried to put Linda back into the traditional dutiful wife role by making her fix my Thanksgiving dinner at the Circle R. And on this she minded me.

And at Joe Lynn's farm, we made the women-folk, Linda and Ramona Barbee, tend the children and take care of the refreshments. "Daddy, can I help you cut wood?" the kids asked.

And I knew then that all I have to do to up-stage a smartaleck mother on a bulldozing tractor is to buy a chain saw and get me a pickup truck.

This story was posted on 2019-11-24 11:17:35
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