More Jackson County Opinions...

JANAURY 14, 2004


By:Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
January 14, 2004

Fearless Kyaker, Weak Stomach
My friend Mike is an all around good guy, smart, tall, funny, and he looks a little like Adam Sandler. He’s also a nut.
He works for Dagger, which is a canoe and kayak manufacturing company, so he spends a considerable amount of his time in boats. In these boats, he paddles dangerous whitewater fearlessly, dropping casually off of waterfalls into pools below, surfing standing waves, and intentionally hanging around in hydraulic “holes” so he can do some tricks. I’ve done some whitewater paddling myself, and I’m a little out of practice, but even in my heyday, I have to admit he could easily go where I wouldn’t dare.
Here’s the interesting part: kayaking aside, Mike has probably the weakest stomach of anyone I’ve ever known. The first time I noticed, a group of us had gone to a county fair in a relatively remote part of East Tennessee, where the carnies are carnier and the rides that much scarier as a result. We bought handfuls of tickets, and somehow I talked Mike into riding with me on a contraption called the “Zipper.”
I love roller coasters and most rides that flip your insides around, and the Zipper fit that particular bill. Riders were trapped in mounted cages could swing forward or backward 360 degrees and then some. In addition, these cages moved at a pretty good clip along a track in a basically flat elliptically shaped course, sort of like a step moves on an escalator. The kicker was that the escalator track itself spun on an axis, unleashing all sorts of unpredictable chaos on whoever was dumb enough to blow four tickets on this ride.
I loved it, but it became apparent early in our brief stint on the Zipper that Mike was not handling his predicament well. He was calling for the operator to stop the ride while I was doing my best to get more three-sixties. That particular run narrowly escaped disaster, and for the rest of the night, Mike was not in any condition to enjoy the balance of fun he’d paid for in advance.
On another occasion, another friend’s birthday, a group of us converged at a well-reputed sushi restaurant. Mike was a real sport, and figured since he’d been talked into ordering sushi, he might as well go with something he knew at least a little bit about, which was shrimp. Of course, he’d never eaten raw shrimp, which looks like cooked shrimp, but it’s not.
The best part, literally, was the top half of the crustacean, which came lightly fried in a tempura batter and placed artfully in a small wooden basket, antennae fanned skyward at a 45-degree angle.
Mike relented after suffering intense and prolonged peer pressure. He picked up the shrimp head with his chopsticks, shut his eyes tightly, craned his neck and stretched his lips out to face his foe with as much dignity as he could muster. Starting at the back and planning to take the whole thing in one bite the same way a person rips off a band aid, he hesitated, reconsidered, and chomped down half heartedly right about in the middle of the terrifying object, which caused the antennae to go quickly from 45 degrees to 90, tickling his nose with one end, his chin with the other, and utterly demolishing any remaining will he had to finish his epicurean adventure. While Mike’s cheeks ballooned, we cried we laughed so hard.
I’ve promised myself that whenever I get a chance to go paddling with Mike again, if he takes me down a friendly river, I won’t take him to the county fair after a plateful of sushi. If, however, I float a river with Mike and I spend more time swimming than paddling, all bets are off.

Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Jana Mitcham
The Jackson Herald
January 14, 2004

Functional art, family history
When we cleaned out my grandfather’s house a few years ago, we discovered a treasure trove of quilts stacked away in the top of a closet. We pulled one out, then another, then another, until finally there was a pile of about 60 quilts.
My father, who grew up in the house where my husband and I now live — as did his father and his uncles — remembers his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother quilting at home, as well as with other ladies in the community.
Some of the ones we found are dark and faded with age and use, but others have kept their vibrant colors, and the patterns and materials the quilters chose are clearly visible. I wonder who made them and what they talked about as they made them.
Some of the Adams and Smith family quilts are on display in the “Nimble Fingers” quilt exhibit now open at the Crawford W. Long Museum in Jefferson. My neighbor and relative, Mary Adams, sent some sepia toned photos from the 1940s of herself and of Frances “Aunt Fank” Smith (my great-great-grandmother) and Pearl Smith, all of whom are interwoven into the branches of the Adams family tree; these ladies were part of that quilting circle and their work and photos and stories are among those on display at the musem.
The exhibit will continue into February and would be worth a visit if you remember the days of quilting and quilters, or just want to see some fine crafts(woman)-ship. Contact the museum at 367-5307 for more information.
Not only functional — the weight of several quilts can keep you quite warm on a cold night — the quilts are beautiful as well. “Textile arts” they are sometimes called now. I was pleased to pick one, vivid with deep reds and blues and browns and whites, spun together in a sort of altered pinwheel pattern, to display on a quilt rack in our home.
I have found, too, that old dishes which were obviously funcational for many years, also serve as art. When we cleaned out Papa and Uncle William’s house, we also found old dishes, packed away in various shelves. There were dishes that I had never seen, my grandmother’s dishes, and then there were the blue and white dishes that I remember well from my many meals at Papa and Uncle William’s table.
These dishes now fully line a shelf along the ceiling in our kitchen, adding color and interest to the room, as well as evoking memories here and there.
And the way I look at it, these dishes and quilts and other items we’ve kept and use belong to the house and to the people of the house. Now that we are living there, I’m glad to have some family history on display.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald.
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