More Jackson County Opinions...

DECEMBER 8, 2004


By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
December 8, 2004

About biscuits and commandments
Shirley and I were at Pigeon Forge to catch the fabulous Christmas show at the Governor’s Palace Theater and enjoy the lights up and down the strip.
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and stopped by the Cracker Barrel for an early morning feast. I had ordered — and enjoyed — a good ol’ fashion breakfast: country ham, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, sawmill gravy and hot biscuits.
I was down to my last biscuit, and I didn’t know what to do with it.
Over server, Sue Latham, obviously did not have the Christmas Spirit yet. She looked like Grinch had been stalking her for days. I wondered if there was anything I could do to help her lighten up a bit.
When she came by to fill our coffee cups, I told her I needed to see the manager. Now she was really down in the dumps. She probably thought we were going to complain about her attitude and service.
When the manager arrived, Sue arrived with him. I told the manager I had a grave decision to make. “This is my last biscuit. Do I eat it with more sawmill gravy, or do I eat it with jelly?”
The manager laughed. Sue breathed a sigh of relief and laughed with him. When I told the manager what great service and help she had given us, she smiled from ear to ear and insisted we have another cup of coffee.
We wished Sue a Merry Christmas and left a big tip. ‘Tis the season to give . . . and receive . . . and be at peace.
* * *
Now, about the commandments.
One of my best critics is my best friend and fishing buddy, Richard Patrick (Rick) McQuiston. One of my proposed Constitutional amendments last week got his attention.
Here is what I said: “The Constitution shall be amended so that any person spending time and money to keep the Ten Commandments stuck in any yard or posted on any wall, anywhere, shall, by law, be required to spend an equal amount of time feeding the hungry, satisfying thirsty peoples’ thirst, taking in strangers, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, calling on the sick, loving everybody, and not judging anybody.”
Rick not only fishes hard; he thinks hard. And what he said in response to my rather ridiculous amendment made me think. I believe it will make you think, too. Here it is:
“Uncle Press, William Presley McQuiston, paid Mike and me a dime apiece for each Commandment we could memorize and recite. He spent time and money trying to stuff a little virtue into us. No harm done there.
“And, if the Ten Commandments were hung on every wall on every structure around, there’s be no harm done there — even if you were an Allah-fearing Muslim. In fact, I wouldn’t particularly mind seeing a constitutional mandate requiring everyone to memorize and recite each of the Ten Commandments. At a dime apiece, it would be a good investment of our tax money. Far better than needles for addicts.
“If necessary, rewrite ‘em so no one knows they came from the Bible and make people recite ‘em before they exercise the privilege of voting.
“Our founding fathers were pretty smart, if not pretty religious.
“One of them, not known for attending early communion every Sunday, said: ‘Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.’ — Benjamin Franklin.
“Big Brother can’t eliminate corruption and viciousness. Somehow thought, it would be nice if Big Brother would at least encourage people to want to be good.
“With malignancy running rampant just about everywhere you look, displaying the Ten Commandments is the last thing I’d find to whine about.”
My friend and fishing buddy signed off this way: “Rick McQuiston, For William Presley McQuiston.”
Then he added, “PS to Editorial Writer — I like the part where you say: If you threaten to leave, you’re outta here.”
But Rick still wasn’t through. Not yet. As sort of an afterthought, he wrote:
“Here’s another one: The Constitution shall be amended so that any person spending time and money to keep the Ten Commandments stuck in any yard or posted on any wall, anywhere, shall, by law, be hungry, satisfying thirsty folks’ thirst, taking in strangers, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, calling on the sick, loving everybody, and not judging anybody.”
I had to read that a second time. Did you notice that he didn’t say anything about feeding the hungry? He said, ‘be hungry.” I wonder if he meant while doing all those other things. Is Rick asking me to give up, sacrifice, my last biscuit? Is he telling me to forget about the gravy?
I don’t think so. Rick is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Both are too liberal for him. I believe he leans toward Libertarian.
Is my old fishing buddy telling us that these people are hungry and naked and on welfare and in jail because of the “generosity” of do-gooders, and if we keep on handing them handouts, we all are going to wind up hungry? Is he telling us that, if we had taught them good work ethics, along with the Ten Commandments, they — and us — wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place?
I never know for sure what McQuiston’s thinking. I know he’s a pretty independent guy, and I don’t presume to speak for him. If he comments further (and I hope he will) I’ll let you know.
You make us think, Rick. Thanks.
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
December 8, 2004

A Ghost Of Seasons Past
One day, many years ago, my boss – the head of the company I worked for – motioned me into his office. “Please go tell them to hold my calls,” he said, “and then come back in here and close the door.”
He had my full attention right away. For one thing, he knew the name of our receptionist, so why say “them”? And why not just pick up his phone and ask her to hold his calls? As for “close the door” – that was unheard-of in our company, even if you were being fired. You got taken out to lunch and fired.
Never mind. This was a man I had enormous respect for. I did as he asked without a word.
“Thank you,” he said when I came back from the receptionist’s desk. He was very formal, very polite. I closed the door and turned around, and he looked at me with his eyes so wide open that there was white all the way around the irises. “I’m hoping you can help me,” he said. “I’ve lost my memory.”
I sat down in the chair next to his desk, dumbfounded.
“Tell me,” he said, “do we know each other well? Do you know a lot about me?”
Yes, I said, we had worked together for years.
“Good,” he said. “I know my name because it’s on my driver’s license and my business cards, but I can’t remember anything about my life – who I am, what I’m doing here, how I got here ... Did I drive to work? Do I have a family?”
We spent several hours in his office that afternoon, talking, and gradually he emerged from amnesia to the point where he felt okay about going home. “Let’s just say I won’t be starting my memoirs tonight,” he laughed, but it was a shaky laugh. Only later did I learn that he had had a terrible shock that day.
I got a shock myself, years later, when I went to see the new home he and his wife had built. As they were showing me the solarium, he asked me if I remembered the day he’d lost his memory, and I looked at him blankly. I had no recollection of the event whatsoever. He had to walk me back through it, just as I had once walked him back through his life. He said I might have repressed the memory because I had felt I couldn’t tell anyone about it. As for the shock he’d had that long-ago day? He’d been taken to lunch by the head of our parent company. And, yes, fired.
By the following Christmas, though, he had started his own business. A colleague and I had done likewise. Our company sometimes did work for his company, and all of us were doing fine; we just weren’t where we had thought we’d be. As Claudia Shear points out, our lives can turn “on a dime. You can stop for a doughnut and end up living in another country.” Ah, but then, that’s what Christmas is all about, really, isn’t it?

Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.
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