The Jackson Herald - September 22, 1999
The power of pop culture is amazing. Those
with young children really understand that every time they pass
a McDonald's restaurant or turn on the Disney Channel. Our children
may not perform very well in school, but they darn well remember
every character of every Disney movie and can tell you the latest
toys being offered under the golden arches.
I was reminded of this pervasive cultural influence last week
following the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. One of the early morning
talk shows did an interview with Andre Agassi and showed film
of him playing tennis as a young boy. Since our six-year-old
attempts to play a little tennis, we quickly pointed out to him
that if he worked hard at the game, he could someday "be
like the boy on television and grow up to be a tennis champion."
A few days later, I saw my first born walking around the yard
with something hanging off his head. The closer I got, the odder
he looked. With a piece of tape, he had attached some kind of
string to his earlobe.
"What the heck have you got on your ear?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing," he said innocently.
"Is that an earring?" I demanded.
"Uh huh," he answered.
I tried to ask the next question as calmly as my blood pressure
"Why in the world do you have a pretend earring on your
"It's what the tennis champion wears," he answered
The light bulb went on - Andre Agassi - television - tennis champion
Oh, be still my heart.
How or why a six year old would notice Agassi's earring and not
his tennis ability is beyond me. At most, the television interview
was 60 seconds, not long enough for anyone to absorb much of
an impression, or so I thought.
But there, in all his innocent glory, stood my child, a future
carrier of the family name, with tape on his ear in a make-believe
Now, before any of you earring-wearing males begin writing me
about being bias, let me say this: I am bias - men don't wear
It isn't hip.
It isn't hot.
It isn't cute.
It's just silly.
I say that as a child of the 1960s when gender-bending excess
was all the rage. My hair was a little long, but no one confused
me with a member of the opposite sex (that was before females
began wearing their hair shorter than males). I wore bell-bottoms
and some tie-dye. In the 1970s, I even had a couple leisure suits
with matching polyester shirts.
In short, I, too, have made a fool of myself with fashion.
But there is one thing I never did - wear an earring. Or lipstick.
Or color my hair. Or, for that matter, pay attention to jewelry.
For the most part, I consider fashion-conscious to be the domain
of females. It's what they learn as young girls playing with
Barbie dolls. Young girls are taught, from a very tender age,
to be aware of how they look, dress and act. Getting an earring
is a rite of passage for many young girls.
Young boys, on the other hand, wear cowboy boots and pretend
to round up the bad guys. They don't care how their hair looks.
They don't care what clothes they wear. Young boys are not supposed
to be aware of looks and fashion.
Can you imagine Roy Rogers with an earring? Or John Wayne with
So there's a new rule at the Buffington household - no earrings,
except for mom.
That ought to keep my blood pressure down for a while, at least
until they come home one day in the future wanting a tattoo to
be like macho Harley riders.
How will I explain away that request?
Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
September 22, 1999
class- 'life is what you make of it'
I am writing in response to Mrs. Wood's letter last week concerning
the transfer of her child, a Jefferson Elementary School kindergarten
student, to a new classroom and teacher. My child is also one
of the eighteen students in this new classroom. I am very impressed
with J.E.S. and how the emergence of this class was handled.
The students were lottery picked. I don't see any other way this
could have been handled.
Mrs. Wood mentioned she was not happy with the lack of parental
imput in this procedure. I do not think it is realistic to think
you would find eighteen sets of parents volunteering their child
I learned from the J.E.S. principal that the reason for the delay
of this class was in finding a teacher acceptable to her standards
and I thank her for this. My daughter's new teacher, Mrs. Conner,
seems to be a very patient, loving woman
Mrs. Woods ended her article wondering what other parents would
do when faced with their child's hurt and tearful face that wants
mom "to make it all better." This question can relate
to many situations in a childs life.
Every parent has their own views on how to handle situations
that arise. I don't see my job as a parent as to always try to
change the outside factors that are upsetting my child. My job
is to teach my child that life is not always fair. My job is
to teach my child how to best handle and view their upsetting
moments. Life is what you make of it.
The Jackson Herald
September 22, 1999
Lottery a local
Of all the Jackson County statistics presented to chamber of
commerce members last week by Dr. Doug Bachtel, the one that
perhaps shocked the most was the amount of money being spent
each year on the Georgia lottery - $7.1 million in 1997.
To put that in perspective, that's more than was spent that year
in all of Jackson County's drug stores; it's more than all the
income earned off local cattle operations in 1997; and it's almost
as much as was spent in the county on home furnishings and appliances
As Dr. Bachtel pointed out, that $7.1 million works out to $304
for everyone between the ages of 18-65. Knowing that a lot of
people don't play the lottery, or play it only occasionally,
the numbers suggest that some people are shelling out a lot of
money on the chance of hitting it big. And all too often, it
is those who can least afford to throw their money away who play
the lottery the most. We've all seen people in local stores spending
money on lottery tickets while letting their children get by
on junk food.
If the state were to say that it planned to levy a tax on all
poor people to pay for middle class programs, there'd be a riot.
But that's exactly what's happening - the poor and undereducated,
those who statistically play the lottery the most, are paying
to send middle class boys and girls to college and to fund other
education programs. Even then, of that $7.1 million only $1.9
million went back to help local schools or to send local children
In many ways, the lottery is a tax on those who pay very little
other taxes because of their low income levels. That those people
are contributing back to society via the lottery is perhaps somewhat
But in the long run, the lottery is simply a drain on Jackson
County, pulling money out of hands that should be spending those
dollars for more productive items, or investing them for the
The middle class likes having its children educated for free,
but we fear that somewhere down the road, there will be a high
price to pay for that.