Madison County Opinion...

OCTOBER 15, 2003

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 15, 2003

Frankly Speaking

Them fools ‘uglified’ our money
Let me say this in a way that reflects the full extent of my opinion: “Them fools done uglified our money!”
By now, most of you will have seen the newest design for the twenty dollar bill. According to one government official, they spent three years and several million dollars to come up with the design. I am no artist, but I could have devised something that ugly in two weeks or less, free of charge.
The new bill looks like it was left in the pocket of a new pair of jeans and washed in hot water. That faded blue color on either side of the bill is a most unattractive color. The even more faded yellow center is worse. The tiny yellow 20s all over the back look like splattered mustard. It is simply an ugly bill.
Unfortunately, the bill will have a greater negative effect on the rest of the world than anything we have done so far. The United States’ currency has become the world currency. Billions of dollars circulate around the world on a daily basis, mostly in the form of twenties. The greenback is the most recognizable symbol of our nation in the world. It is even more familiar to earth’s population than is our flag.
We are already known around the world as “The Ugly Americans.” Now, we will be known as creators of the world’s ugliest money.
Government officials say the changes were made to combat counterfeiters.
Eventually, it might help there. But I remind you that the old bills are still legal tender. For the immediate future, counterfeiters will not try to duplicate the new bill; they will just keep printing the old ones.
The counterfeiting of paper money is losing its importance. The real criminals today simply steal someone’s identity, obtain false credit cards and rip off millions. Clearly, our government would have created a greater benefit if they had spent the millions used to redesign our paper money to develop defenses against identity theft.
I am probably typical in the way I handle money. Most of my income is deposited directly in my checking account by electronic transfer. Most of my bills are paid the same way. When I need to make a cash purchase, I usually whip out my bank card. I seldom carry more than pocket change in currency.
This is the way of the future. Currency will become less and less important as our economy becomes more and more digital. For the government to spend that kind of money to redesign our paper currency is another waste of taxpayer money. But then, wasting taxpayer money is the best thing government does.
If they had to waste our money to design new paper currency, at least they should have made sure the final product was attractive and created a good image for us in the rest of the world.
They didn’t have to make it that ugly!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

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By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
October 15, 2003

A Moment With Margie

Reunion a fun and ‘enlightening’ experience
Sitting in as a guest at the reunion of the first four classes to graduate from Madison County High School last Sunday afternoon was quite an experience.
A few months ago I wrote a feature story about Dan Bramlett, Madison County High School’s first principal and his experiences in starting the school. Sunday afternoon I got to observe some of the “fruits of his labor” as many of his former faculty and students paid homage to the principal and to their alma mater.
Looking around the cafeteria of today’s Madison County High School, I was struck by the fact that I was in the presence of the first student body of the high school — in reality the students, who along with their principal and faculty — created the school. It was these folks who decided the mascot would be the Red Raider and that the school colors would be the red and the gray.
They developed the first yearbook, still called the Hilltopper and held the first graduation ceremonies.
They, in effect, helped shape everything that came after them.
That’s quite a distinction.
I listened to the stories of how Mr. Bramlett enforced discipline — tempered with a little humor — to his students, and how he was never too good to practice what he preached to his faculty and to his students. He cleaned, he planted grass, and he even hauled chicken manure to make that grass grow.
I also learned a few new terms, such as “de-britching” — I won’t go there — and some of the unusual, yet apparently effective, punishments for misdeeds.
One student even blamed his hair loss on Mr. Bramlett.
I heard the pride in the voice of coach Jay Thornton as he described how the girls’ basketball team winning the state tournament during the school’s second year cemented the community’s pride in their new county high school.
They came from everywhere to this first reunion of all four classes, some from as far away as California and Washington.
As Class of 1958 member Ramona Booth said “Madison County has just spread out all over the place” over the years.
It was gratifying to hear how so many seemed to feel that this little corner of the world gave them a good start in life, and how they look back fondly on the memories they made and the friendships they formed during those days.
It is from this student body that Frank Gillispie, The Journal’s founder, came. And I know from conversations with him that he was inspired by some of those who taught him during those days, including the late Dewey “Doc” Power.
English teacher Margaret Burroughs, who also taught me, was a treasure to these students long before she was a treasure to me and my classmates in the Class of 1977. She is truly ageless.
It was clear from her comments that her first years at MCHS set the tone for the remainder of her fine career there.
And it was obvious that Dan Bramlett had the respect, as well as the love, of most of his students during the shaping of the high school.
It’s also obvious that today at age 89, he still has both.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.
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