More Jackson County Opinions...

May 2, 2001


Column
By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 2, 2001

Meet Frank Gilbert, trash doctor
Trash means different things to different people. To some it is treasure. To others it is. . . well, trash.
To Frank Gilbert, it is a science lab.
Frank has been engaged in serious trash research since 1986. His laboratory is the quarter-mile stretch of Elder Drive that extends from U.S. Highway 129 to the Hickory Hollow subdivision where the renowned scientist lives.
The good doctor studies this microcosm and tabulates the changing moral, cultural, social and economic characteristics of the larger Jefferson community.
Over the last 15 years, he has learned everything you've ever wanted to know about the mores, habits, manners, behavior, lifestyles and peculiarities of your neighbors. . . and a lot of stuff you don't want to know.
But neither you nor your neighbors need worry. Dr. Frank's most sensitive discoveries are classified. Not even this investigative reporter could dig it out of him.
Downplaying the importance of his work, he chooses not to call it scientific research, opting instead for "my spring cleaning of the roadside."
"I always do it in early April before the city begins cutting grass. I want to get the bottles up so the mowers won't leave broken glass all over the place."
This altruistic attitude shows that Frank is not your typical mad scientist, but a compassionate one who has the best interests of the walkers, the deer, the rats and the snakes at heart.
While there have been many changes in the tastes and cultural preferences of Elder Drive travelers over time, some things remain the same.
Take their drinking habits. Budweiser was the No. 1 beer 15 years ago and it continues to be No. 1 today.
There was, however, one change in the booze column, and the trash doctor believes it indicates a rising income level with an accompanying upscale trend toward luxury. Miller beer always came in second, but this year the more expensive Michelob surpassed it by a large margin.
One unopened bottle of Michelob and three full bottles of Bud were discovered in the tall grass, and Dr. Frank is working on a theory as to why these unused items were discarded.
He believes two unopened packs of Marlboro cigarettes and two new cigarette lighters may belong in the same mysterious category.
The fact that these items were tossed by the side of the road leads the scientist to speculate that someone was trying to get rid of them before he or she reached their final destination - probably the house where daddy and mama live.
An abandoned pair of fancy blue panties, size 7, may or may not have some connection to the above-mentioned items. Dr. Franks says further study is needed.
Food (what's left of it) continues to be a big throwaway item. McDonald's is leading the trash parade. Burger King and Subway gained increased recognition this year, and Kentucky Fried Chicken got honorable mention.
Frank finds it interesting that there is now a Checkers fan who regularly travels Elder Drive. He says this person obviously is a very slow eater because, as far as he knows, the nearest Checkers restaurant is in Athens.
Mountain Dew is a five-to-one choice when it comes to soft drinks, indicating that a lot of Elder Drive regulars need a regular caffeine fix.
Sprite and Pepsi tied for second. Coke, Dr. Pepper and an assortment of fruit juices were also popular.
There is at least one newcomer to the neighborhood, obviously someone on a diet or health kick. An empty Slim Fast container showed up this year for the first time.
Dr. Frank cannot understand why there was a Smucker's peach preserves jar nearby, unless the Slim Fast guy or gal had a sweet tooth partner riding shotgun.
He picked up a Virginia Slims cigarette package, and his unscientific imagination kicked in.
"I pictured a long, slim-legged blonde driving a sports car," he confessed. "It's funny how your imagination runs wild when you are picking up trash. The influence of advertising, I guess."
His dreaming quickly changed to visions of pick-up trucks and rednecks as he began counting empty Skoal cans. If Elder Drive trash is any indication, there has been a three-fold increase in the use of smokeless tobacco since last year. The concerned doctor hopes this does not portend a corresponding increase in cancers of the mouth.
On the plus side, there seems to be a decline in pornography.
"I haven't found a Playboy or Hustler Magazine in two or three years," the researcher stated.
Also encouraging is the fact that he did not have to remove or pick up the first political sign, prompting him to ask: "Who says our politicians are not doing a better job?"
One of the most surprising finds was a part from his daughter's automobile which had been put on - rather loosely, it seems - by a mechanic across town.
"There are always miscellaneous items of trash that are educational, interesting and often rewarding," according to Dr. Frank.
He hopes his "spring cleaning of the roadside" leads to better understanding and appreciation of our neighbors, and to the realization that we are all creatures of habit - even when it comes to trash.
He believes progress will inevitably change this short, scenic stretch of Elder Drive. But based on 15 years of research results, he is confident that "our trashy tradition will live on."
Roadside Cleaning 2001 set records in both diversity and quantity. The good doctor would love to report an improvement in quality, but it did not happen.
In three huge 39-gallon bags of trash he found only one rewarding item: his daughter's car part.
All the other stuff almost made him sick.
The thing he liked the least?
Dirty diapers.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Letter to the Editor

The Jackson Herald
May 2, 2001


Troubled by column about church
Although we usually enjoy your (Adam Fouche's) articles, the one in last week's issue was particularly troubling. We realize that you weren't making a blanket accusation of all churches (just "many" of them), but unfortunately, some people, particularly those who are looking for another excuse not to attend church anyway, could possibly use your article as ammunition.
Like most churches, we try to make our church environment as receptive and as friendly as possible. We like for the adults, youth, and children of our church to feel free to invite their unchurched friends, and we like for all first-time visitors to feel welcome. Brockton Road Baptist Church, like many other churches in our county, even has the privilege of providing van transportation on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights to children and teens of various races, nationalities and income levels. We definitely do not require new clothes or a hair check for our attendees, and we try to be as understanding as possible with those who might be attending church for the first time.
At the same time, we have the responsibility of making certain rules concerning dress to ensure the modesty and safety of all who attend our church. In this sense, we are no different from schools, athletic teams, and employers who establish a dress code. Like these organizations, we realize that immodest dress is a distraction that hinders teaching and performance. By the way, if someone does happen to come to church wearing something that is inappropriate, we don't coldly tell them they "can turn around and go home". We have even worked to help provide clothing to those who might be wearing the only thing they have to wear.
Safety is also a major concern in this day and time. Suppose someone that we have never met before shows up wearing a Columbine-style trench coat. How would you handle the situation, Adam? Would you avoid taking any precautions for fear of offending your visitor? After all, the chances are overwhelming that this visitor isn't dangerous. On the other hand, if you're wrong...
Finally, we do take our responsibility of teaching God's word seriously. The Bible gives very clear directives concerning modesty in our appearance. This includes apparel that is outlandish or that brings too much attention to the individual. We would be remiss if we failed to include these precepts from God's word in our teaching. Our current society unfortunately places too much emphasis on the idea of tolerance. Each individual, according to some, should be free to live and act however they wish without consequence. This is unrealistic and just plain wrong. Don't believe me? Before you attend your next athletic event, dye your hair purple, pierce various body parts and wear all black, and then see how well your post-game interview with the coach goes. (For that matter, see how long the Buffingtons allow you to continue writing columns for their paper.) Our goals for our church youth include teaching them spiritual principles that will allow them to be successful in all areas of their life. These principles include how to dress properly.
In conclusion, most of the churches in our county are earnestly trying to fulfill the mission God has called us to. Even well-meaning people make mistakes, and we don't claim perfection, but we are trying to help people live the best life possible while preparing for the life to come. Criticism from people such as yourself, though not directed at any church in particular, makes an already difficult task harder for all churches. In addition, we also found it ironic that while you criticize churches for judging individuals, you felt justified in passing judgment upon individual churches (which are, by the way, made up of individuals), presumably upon hearsay evidence.
Sincerely,
Jesse Mealor, Pastor,
Brockton Road Baptist Church
Karl Mealor, Youth Director
P.S. If you aren't currently an active member of a church, we would like to extend a special invitation to be our guest at any of our upcoming services. You are welcome at any time.

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