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JIM: 100 years ago, April 17, 1912 with Spicy Bits

Prefatory Statement by the Author: This column reminds me of what an old fellow over near Sycamore Flats in Russell County said about his barn: Well, hit coulda been bettered a right smart, but by the time hit was done, I was finished.' -JIM
Prefatory statement from CM: Folks, don't let this aw shucks modesty fool you, it's the same faux modesty Mayor Harris uses when he says he's no speaker and then delivers a Gettysburg Address - with banjo music and and a dozen quotable one-liners. We're on to both of them. This is, in fact, one of JIM's best colyums - one of the best pieces he's ever written for this paper. Has everything, even another Mary Ritchey (Other'n the real one: Mary Ritchey Lowe Bennett). -EW


The April 17, 1912 News carried an odd assortment of articles, obituaries, and "spicy bits," to borrow a phrase of the day.

Of the several deaths mentioned in this edition, the saddest by far was that of Miss Allen Alexander, a 29-year-old belle of Burkesville who had drowned the previous week. Miss Alexander, a close cousin of Mrs. John Lee Walker (nee Mary Ritchey) of Columbia, along with a male companion and another young lady, had gone upstream about two miles from Burkesville on the rain-swollen waters of the Cumberland River. As the trio attempted to maneuver their skiff closer to midstream to drift back to town, the swift current caught and upset the craft and Miss Alexander was swept away. Not until five days later were her remains recovered at Herriford Island, three miles downstream from the point where she was lost.

Another passing that drew considerably less ink was that of Adair County's own Mr. Washington Holt who crossed the great divide at the tender age of 104 years. (The Craycraft newsletter two weeks later also briefly noted Mr. Holt's death.)

Over at Ono in Russell County, the correspondent reported that

"The recent rains swelled the creeks very much, Wolf Creek being higher than it has been since the Civil War." Near Font Hill, still in the realm of Russell, a combination golden wedding anniversary celebration, birthday party, two-preacher mini-revival, and dinner on the ground drew well over 100 people to the home of John W. and Ann Mariah Rexroat. (More on this multifaceted day in a later column.)

Meanwhile, back in Adair County, the Nell correspondent had a burr in his (or her) breeches, somewhat testily informing the world at large that

The street corners is the best place in the world for teaching vice, profligacy, and crime. Nearly all bad language and idle, vicious habits of boys are taught on the streets at late hours of the night.(One can only wonder how many boys of Nell, upon reading this, fervently prayed for more dark nights, streets, and corners thereof.)

Another entry on the same page (but not in a newsletter) rather smugly stated that

No one wants an impertinent, swaggering, cigarette smoking boy about an office, or as a clerk, bookkeeper, or stenographer. Girls do not acquire the detestable habits and, are therefore, getting the places.

In a front page ditty, Dr. J.T. Jones of Montpelier expressed a somewhat lesser opinion of the fairer gender, or at least one cadre thereof. The closing stanza of "The Suffragette," apparently written with tongue firmly clinched in teeth, will quite suffice:
Some to adorn their lofty station,
Will jump the stump like Carrie Nation,
For some females would happy be
Were they females minus the fe.
Business news was skase, mighty skase. Mr. J.D. Dudgeon, having heard the siren call of sweet retirement, had for sale his "store-house, stock of goods and dwelling" in Coburg and assured that "the live, hustling merchant will be well rewarded for his energies..." J.W. Sears of Pulaski County wanted to buy goldenseal (yellowroot) and invited those who had it for sale to address him at his Somerset post office box. In Columbia, Mr. L.E. Young had moved his jewelry store to the corner room of the Columbia Hotel. Reed Hardware offered the Durham-Duplex Demonstrator straight razor for the amazingly low price of 35 cents, and at the W.L. Walker store on the Square, ladies could purchase the latest models of the American Ladies line of corsets.

On the local political front, the News, ever a boisterous voice for the party of the crowing rooster, reported (perhaps with a slight tinge of glee), "many Republicans are having very hard things to say of the men who led in the recent county convention." Continued the article, "It is a fight among themselves and so far as we are concerned it can continue, as we are not expecting any bloodshed. Just a war of words."

And in closing, this front page entry of what may qualify as the worst ever interpretation of a law. The veracity of the tale is directly proportional to the gullibility of the reader.

A story is going the rounds that a sheriff, in a certain Tennessee county, was noticed with a posse of hands moving a church building. Members of the denomination that worshiped in it noticed his action and asked what right he had to remove the building. "I am the sheriff in these diggings," said the man, "and the law requires a church to be four miles from a saloon, and I am going to move it."

If you aren't plumb dazzled by the information in the a foregoing artickle, and simply amazed that you never knew that Dr. Jones poetry was better than Ogden Nash's rhymes with Burma Shave signs thrown in to boot, you just can't call yourself real literate -EW

This story was posted on 2012-04-15 08:40:54
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