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February 2, 1978 Around Adair with Ed Waggener
The article below first appeared in the February 2, 1978 issue of the Daily Statesman. Topics included a(nother) rumored return of the Columbian Theater, Pete Walker's love of farm equipment, grocery shortages in Indiana, a Cumberland County memory from Sue Rowe, some cold weather hyperbole from Grover Gilpin, and some Cards of Thanks (which still run free on Columbia Magazine classifieds if you're moved to send one in). --Pen
By Ed Waggener
The last true Methodist preacher
Whatever happened to the sidewalk preachers who used to line up on Saturdays on the courthouse lawn to take a turn at preaching?
I haven't seen one in Columbia for years. Maybe we've gotten more righteous. Or maybe we've gotten so bad that they've given up.
They were an interesting lot. I remember one who was here one Saturday in the Olden Days of the Fifties. He was preaching pretty much to a listless audience, and the few who were listening to him would frequently jeer or laugh at him.
"Yeah, go ahead and laugh," he rebuked them, "and see what happens to you! Just because I don't hold with churches and church membership don't mean I ain't got something to say!"
But the laughter didn't stop. "It ain't the first time that I, the last true Methodist preacher, God sent to save your collective souls from eternal damnation, was ever laughed at!"
"They laughed at me down at a little town in Tennessee when I was preaching to them. And I left that God-forsaken community.
"And you know what happened to them? It was three weeks later and I was back in Glasgow, Kentucky, and the Lord sent a tornado to that Tennessee town and knocked the Methodist Church there off its foundations! That showed them!
"Then," the last true Methodist preacher said, "they got real humble and called me long-distance on the telephone to beg me to pray for them!"
After he let his now-quiet detractors ponder that a moment, he asked, "Do you think I did?" and he answered himself, "Hell, no!" and left.
Is culture coming back to Columbia?
There are good, strong, believable rumors that the old opera house will be reopened. According to reports, owner Charles Marshall of the Columbian Theater is negotiating for a sale or lease to local operators who would re-open the theater with a highly promoted package of movies and occasional live performance. I believe the operators could find a good response from the public. The closest indoor theater is in Campbellsville. The Cozy over there seems to continue to rock along, while indoor theaters in Burkesville, Russell Springs, and Jamestown, Liberty, Greensburg, Edmonton, and Columbia have all closed over the years.
Many people have requested that the theater be re-opened. One minister recently told me that he thought it would be a good idea to get the Columbian reopened. Now, the power of free enterprise may be at work to do just that.
New cinemas built in Monticello and Danville, Kentucky and Livingston, Tennessee, are all doing quite well. These are built either in a shopping center or on the edge of town with plenty of parking available. But the Columbian has that, with 300 parking spaces available within walking distance of the theater.
Some of us would just like to see the flashing lights of the Columbian turned on again. We're hungry for action on the Square at night, with a good schedule of Walt Disney, Thunder Road, Your Cheatin' Heart, the Ten Commandments, and some of the current crop of films. Let's just hope that it comes true.
Cards of Thanks
I want to thank the honorable Don Yates for hooking a chain behind his gray pickup and pulling my VW out of the snow in front of Lakeway Motel. --Ed Waggener
I want to thank Colonel Robert Jessie Loy for using his four-wheeler to push our car up the hill in front of Sapp's Service Station after Linda's snow driving got us stuck on the hill. --Ed Waggener
I want to thank Momma, Mrs. E.P. Waggener for sending a bowl of the greatest vegetable soup and beef stock made anywhere to me last Wednesday night, when the weather was threatening to do so bad. --Ed WaggenerThe thanks are free
There are a lot more people I'd like to thank for acts of kindness over the past two weeks, and I'm taking advantage of the Daily Statesman's offer of free Cards of Thanks to anyone wishing to thank another person for a good turn during the recent snows. Yesterday Sylvia Wilson wrote a card of thanks to Johnny Parson and the Adair County Rescue Squad for, in her words, "saving us from freezing to death." The electricity which provides heat for her home went out and all she had was her phone and a candle. She called her daughter in Columbia who phoned the rescue squad, and Johnny Parson came to get Mrs. Wilson and her two granddaughters and take them to town, where they stayed at Mrs. Wilson's sister-in-law's, Charlotte Holman's motel. If you have someone you'd particularly like to thank and you want the entire county to know about it, we're opening the columns to free Cards of Thanks for that purpose. Call them in or write to us. We'll publish them free.
A piece of history
I've learned that the house my wife Linda and Charles Taylor are building will have a significant piece of historical material in its construction. Taylor's nephew, Wendell, has been installing a metal stairway. When he added the landing, he made it from pieces of an old hay baler - a hay baler which had once been owned by Pete Walker. I remember how well Pete loved farm machinery. He used to tell Russell Holmes, when Holmes was in the farm equipment business, "Russell, if you'll just give every farmer in Adair County a corn picker and a chainsaw, and make him agree to use it and keep it running, and buy the parts and repairs from you, why, you'll be the wealthiest man in Adair County!" I would rather have had the landing made of Pete's old cornpicker, but second best, I guess, is the hay baler.
School is back in session
My sister Wilma Jean Cravens called from Franklin, Indiana, Tuesday, to report that traffic in Indianapolis is moving a bit, again. My niece, Beth Ann, was back in private school in Indianapolis on Monday, although Indianapolis schools were still shut. Public schools were also in session in Greenwood, Edinburg, and Franklin. The Hoosier state is getting back to normal, she said, even though food stocks in some of the groceries have gotten quite low, and there were some fistfights over the last bread and milk in some locations. "But don't worry about us," she said, "we're doing all right."
Payday is over
Sue Rowe says that when she was a little girl her father in Cumberland County told her about a gentleman in the neighborhood who purchased a pair of shoes at the country store. When it came time to settle for the shoes, the purchaser said, "I'll pay you in passing." The merchant agreed. Days went by and the man with the new shoes went by the store without stopping. Finally, the store owner stopped him. "Hey," he said, "when are you going to pay for those shoes?" The man replied, "I told you I would pay in passing. Don't you think I've passed enough already?"
It was so cold that...
We could start another contest at the Daily Statesman. For people to tell how cold it was in Adair County last week. So far, the winner is Grover Gilpin, who says that it was so cold at his dairy farm on Butler Branch that flowing water piled up and froze. And he says that it is no Paul Bunyan exaggeration. He had the water pile to prove it.
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Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by Linda Waggener and Pen Waggener, PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.