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March 2, 1978 Around Adair with Ed Waggener

The article below first appeared in the March 2, 1978 issue of the Daily Statesman. Topics included that winter's persistent snowfall, Edith Walker's warring black cats, the spring yards of Edgar Troutman and Susan Miller, Chelf reunions in Knifley, fuel adjustment surcharges, and tomatoes as answer to rising mortgage costs. --Pen

By Ed Waggener

How many snows have we had?
Charles Taylor has a question he asks me to pass on to you: How many snows has Adair County received this winter? Twenty? Thirty? Forty? Or has it been just one long intermittent snow since Thanksgiving. It seems that the snow has never really left the ground. If there is an authority on counting snows, I'd like to hear, to pass on the edification to Mr. Taylor.

A prodigal has returned
Z, the famous black cat with the forked tail, who belongs to no one, but who on occasions affiliates with the household of Edith Walker, has returned. Z has been mostly missing from the Fortune Street neighborhood for nearly a year. Tuesday night, Bobbie Reed heard a terrible catfight, after which Inky, the other Edith Walker black cat, came rushing home defeated and begging to get in the house. Mrs. Reed didn't think too much about the incident, but yesterday, it was confirmed that the mysterious combatant was the notorious Z, back for a visit. Inky is boarding at the Reeds while Mrs. Walker is in Lexington at UK working on a doctorate.

Spring can't be far off
Even though there is still snow on the ground, can't be very far off. The Reeds are getting the Dairy Queen ready for opening.

The schedule called for the ice cream store to have opened this morning (Thursday), Merle Reed said, Wednesday night, "Unless a big snow or something comes." At least the kids will quit scowling at him and kicking him in the shins because he's "the man who closed the Dairy Queen." They love him in the summer months, but it must be a terrible weight on his conscience to go through the winter with little children holding that grudge against him.

The next sign to watch for
The next sign of spring to watch for is the sight of the first crocus to bloom in Edgar Troutman's yard on Dillon Street. That heralds the fact that the seasons are in order, first. Then, when the March lilies appear at Miss Susan Miller's, it's proof positive that winter is nigh dead. I think that the March lilly season is one of the most beautiful. I sort of wish I could walk around the roadsides and mash a March lily bulb in the ground here and there and then be able to see, the next year, their random splendor. I don't guess I'll ever get around to it, but it would be nice to do that, and to think, smugly to myself, somebody, but not many people, will share my secret. They'll see these March lilies growing here beside the road and they'll know. They'll think: That Ed has been here. What a selfless man he is. Out planting March lilies, sowing where he shall not see.

I get teary eyed thinking about that, feeling sad and proud of such a noble effort. But that is the extent of it.

Up on the reservoir, March lilies mean something else. There they are gentle annual monuments to what was, what used to be. You see the grass and weeded drives, the pattern of bit maples which shaded and secured the house, the scheme of the shrubs which outlined where a home once stood, before the inundation. Before the land was artificially made a flood plain. At this time of year the March lilies come up, reminding the traveler that here there once was a laughing, loving, talking, working and worshiping family of Whites or Chelfs or Beards or Tedders or Knifleys or Joneses or Feeses or Brockmans or Corbins or some other strong River family.

It seems a bit irreverent, like stepping on a grave, to intrude on the land where the people once were. Giving it up to the reservoir must have been tough. And somehow, the March lilies, resurrected every year from the soil which is flooded part of the year, refusing to go away, symbolize the reluctant rending of land from the people.

The March lilies originally planted by those stout people, under no Federal edict to leave, still proclaim their defiance on the part of the people, who bodily left the land because they were made to do so, but who couldn't and didn't take all their feelings for the land with them, government decree or no.

A part of that seems to stay. With the March lilies.

A religious community
When I was a little boy I used to go with my parents and my family for the Chelf reunions at Aunt Hallie Knifley's. Most of the time we went after church, and I remember that I thought Knifley must be a very spiritual town. I remember that off on the creek behind the houses on the other side of the road there could be seen, almost every afternoon, a big circle of menfolk in the creekbed. It looked as though they were holding Sunday afternoon prayer meeting, and this was the reason I thought Knifley was a very religious community. A little later, I learned that the creekbed meeting was Kinfley's answer to Monte Carlo.

A way to make house payments
The tomato seminar held Monday night was encouraging. The crop can be grown by people who aren't really farmers at all. They are successfully grown by townspeople with other jobs in Monticello. Growing 500 to 1,000 plants, the extra income can go a long way toward making house payments. If the crop is good and if the home were bought long enough ago. I talked to one fellow who recently purchased a home, and he didn't think that a few tomatoes would quite make his house payments. "Mine are more like staying in the Holiday Inn every night," he said.

It would have been hard to have believed, even five years ago, that mortgage payments might reach $3-, $4-, and $500 per month. But such payments are commonplace now.

Nor would anybody ever have believed that they would be paying, blindly, a cost pass-through like the fuel adjustment which would reach as much as 65 percent of the legitimate bill. I'd like to know just how much money left the Adair County economy during this past year for the fuel adjustment charge. And I'd like to think how much better the retail businesses and the building trades would have fared if that money could have been spent for better purposes, or saved, to improve Adair County's capital outlook.

Nobody is listening
Nobody is listening, it seems, to the cries against the injustice of fuel adjustment clauses, and the mysterious forces which seem bent on pushing mortgage payments beyond the cost of luxury motel rooms.

Still, the tomato crop does seem to offer a partial answer to the shortage of money the energy and home payments are causing. Wayne Livesay said yesterday afternoon that he was a little disappointed that more full-time farmers weren't interested in the crop, but he was happy with the number of 500 and 1,000 plant contractors signing up. "It sure beats leasing tobacco for making a living," he said. The sign-up for tomatoes will continue through March 15, but the sooner you get started thinking and planning, the better chance you have for success. Wayne's number is 384-xxxx.

This story was posted on 2020-03-01 14:14:18
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