More Jackson County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 15, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
September 15, 2004

On the road, looking for stuff
Morton Road intersects with Morton Farm Lane about a mile from where Shirley and I live and an equal distance from Bob and Nancy Hart’s home.
Most days I walk the two streets for about 3.5 miles. It takes me in the neighborhood of one hour.
Nancy walks the same two roads, but it takes her a little longer. The reason is, she spends a lot of time on the shoulders and in the ditches. And she carries a plastic bag.
When she comes out of her driveway, the bag is empty. When I meet her on the return trip, the bag is full or partially filled with trash – mostly beer and soft drink cans and fast food wrappers.
The other morning I thanked her and told her I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed because she picked up stuff in my front yard.
Nancy’s response: “Just making my little contribution to the neighborhood where I live.”
Little Contribution? What if all of us were as concerned about a clean environment? You are motivating me to do better, Nancy. It’s no fun, being embarrassed.
The only persons who should be more embarrassed than I am are the litterbugs who threw the trash out in the first place.
And for what it’s worth, people who leave their shopping carts scattered about the parking lot are in the same messy boat.
***
I recently told you that when you travel out of state, you don’t need a welcome center to tell you that you are back in Georgia. On a recent trip to Washington, we discovered there’s a little more visual pollution here than in South Carolina, and a lot more than in North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
And when we visited Colorado and Denver last month, we found a state and a city virtually free of litter.
The reason may be these posted signs: “$1,000 fine for littering. Strictly enforced.”
A Denver policeman told us that anyone who drops so much as a cigarette butt on the sidewalk is fair game.
I came to the conclusion that a clean state starts at the top: in the state capitol, in the legislature, in courthouses, in mayors’ offices, and in law enforcement headquarters.
If we had the guts to pass tough anti-litter laws and enforce them, Nancy could leave her plastic bag at home, and our prisoners could do something more creative than picking up roadside trash. Like I said, it starts at the top.
How about it governor, congressmen, commissioners, mayors and cops?
***
Speaking of signs, I have a shoebox full. Not signs themselves, but what the signs say. On our trip to Colorado, I copied these:
“See live rattlesnakes and pet baby pigs.” (We didn’t stop.)
In Loveland, I walked around an upscale development of shops, motels and restaurants. The broad and beautifully landscaped sidewalk ended abruptly in a grassy field, where I encountered this huge sign: “Sidewalk Ends.” (Sure did. Right there. Never would have known it without the sign.)
Several people told us there’s nothing to see in Kansas. Don’t you believe it! Vast fields of corn and soybeans stretched as far as the eye could see. To this old farmer, it was a beautiful sign. Every 10 or 15 miles, at the end of rows closest to the Interstate, were these signs: “One Kansas farmer feeds 128 people – plus you.” (Fifty years ago, when I worked for the University of Georgia College of Agriculture, I believe I used to write that one farmer fed around 50 people. Farming has come a long way since then, and the figures explain why there aren’t many forty acres-and-a-mule farms left anymore.)
“Watch for deer, next 5 miles.” (What are we supposed to do then? Stop watching?)
You don’t see many “Waffle House” and “Cracker Barrel” signs out west, but there’s a “Dairy Queen” on just about every corner. (I guess that explains why there are fat folks out there as well as down here.)
Church signs have always fascinated me. I have a shoebox full. I saw a lot of them in Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. I had to think about this one: “Disciple, Call Home.”
But the most interesting church sign I’ve ever seen is right here in Georgia, on the left side of Highway 53 north, just this side of Tate. “Four Mile Baptist Church, Two Miles.”
***
The political conventions are history. I remember very little of what went on. My mind is blank when it comes to the Democrats. Let me tell you about the defining moment (for me, anyway) when the Republicans got together.
Near the end of his acceptance speech, President Bush mentioned several frivolous complaints people have against him. He admitted that he needs help with some words (who doesn’t?), and then said this: “Some say there’s a swagger about me. In Texas, they call it walking.”
Am I the only one who was thrilled by that? It probably doesn’t have a thing to do with who will be elected in November, but I like it.
***
And then there is Zell. I don’t remember who said it, but I remember it: “Zell’s yell trumps Dean’s scream.” (You remember Dean, Howard Dean, the front runner who faded.)
Zell said he wasn’t mad when he made the keynote address. (Address?) Never in my life have I ever seen anyone look that mad who ain’t mad. Somebody said he looked like Kerry just shot his dog.
Virgil Adams is the former owner of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
September 15, 2004

Peeves & I Had A Little Talk
If you’ve read your “Harry Potter,” you’re familiar with Peeves, the wonderfully miserable poltergeist at Hogwarts, where Harry goes to boarding school. If you’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books, you’re at a disadvantage; Peeves was left out of the films. I guess he was considered too negative.
It’s true, Peeves is down. He looks down his nose at things, he’s down in the mouth, and he’s downright peevish. It’s part of his charm. He reminds me of my friend Deanna’s great-aunt, who was always said to be “enjoying poor health.” I’m told that I had a great-great-aunt like that. According to family legend, she had just ended her ritual lament one summer afternoon with the statement that she would gladly go home to her maker, when a bolt of lightning struck the water tower across the street. “Heavenly days!” she cried, jumping up out of her rocking chair on the porch and sprinting indoors. “Why, I could’ve been killed!”
Since we’re all still chuckling over great-great-aunt What’s-her-name, I think the truth is that a little negativity now and then is one of life’s spices. It prevents the fatigue that can be brought on by unremitting cheerfulness (Pollyanna Syndrome). On that theory, and to balance out my occasional lists of favorite things, here’s my list of “pet peeves.” See how it compares with yours.
First and scariest: tailgaters – drivers who follow so closely behind my car that I can look in my rear-view mirror and count their eyelashes. I have a healthy fear of whiplash and a dread of being rear-ended, so if I ever find one of those bumper stickers that say, “If you can read this, you’re too close,” I’ll buy it and apply it.
Second, but maybe even scarier: the Louisiana Pacific plant up the road pumping 33 percent more formaldehyde into our air that it was before, with the blessing of the Environmental Pollution, er, Protection Agency.
Third, and just really annoying: being carded at Applebee’s if I order a glass of wine with dinner. I’m not going back anytime soon; I figure if they can’t see that I’m four decades past 21, they have problems that might affect other aspects of their operation. Maybe they can’t see the food all that well, either, and they’ll end up putting whipped cream on the mashed potatoes or something. Why take a chance?
Fourth and finally: the people standing by and even in the main street downtown each Saturday, shouting at motorists and shaking bibles at them. Several people have told me that they don’t go downtown any more Saturdays because of this – which is a pity, after Commerce has worked so hard to keep its downtown viable. Peeves and I agree: if we want a good fire-and-brimstone harangue, we can always find one on a Sunday. Of course, Peeves is Church of England . . . .
So there’s my list. Otherwise, everything is, as the British (except for Peeves) would say, tickety-poo. And may it be the same for you.
Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.


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