Tarheeltalker

Dope Wagons and Bottles of Milk

One of the best perks of growing a bit older is reminiscing about days gone by and of course, emphasizing how much better it was then. This thought struck me today in a brief  conversation I had with an older customer on my mail route. And since last weekend when we traveled to my hometown and talked a  bit about days gone by, the past has been very present with me.

Let me hasten to add that there are no illegal substances referred to in the title of this post. Just wanted to clarify that.

Both of my parents were long time  employees of what was then Fieldcrest Mills, Inc, an Eden,Nc based textile manufacturer. Both were production employes in  what was  known simply as the Blanket Mill. She was  a spooler hand and he was a warper tender. Their careers began around  the 1930’s or 40’s and in those days there were no canteens  or break rooms as we know today to take a few moments for  a soft drink or cup of coffee. If my memory is at least partly accurate, the snacks/drinks etc were delivered by a pushcart that made its rounds through the  plant. Again, this next is my recollection of what I was told. The carts were known as dope wagons since they also distributed a variety of headache remedies, a virtual necessity.  Or they might have been called by that name since  a Coke was  at one time known as  a “dope.”Cant prove but I  bet that Goodys, a Richard Petty favorite,  was a popular choice. I actually  have a  hazy memory of touring the plant as a child and being overwhelmed by the pungent aromas coming from the bleachery department.

Part deux of the title  is from a delightful memory I have of home delivery of our  milk by the Pet Milk  man. The empty glass bottles were placed on the porch the night  before I think with  a note “ordering” the milk /juice to be delivered that morning. For many years I thought that Pet was the only milk available . To this day however, I believe that  milk  should  be available only in glass bottles simply because it is  a”proven” fact that it tastes better.

February 28, 2011 Posted by | Culture, History | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Insight on Inciting

Before  a couple  of days ago, I had never heard  of Rep Michael Capuano(D, MA). But he has made some comments that I find quite interesting and  frankly, somewhat disturbing. First, a bit of background about Rep Capuano. He is in his 7th term as the representative of the  eighth congressional district, succeeding one Joseph Kennedy III. Prior to his service in Congress  he served as mayor  of  Somerville, ma from 1990-1998.

So, what did Rep Capuano say?  At  a Tuesday rally of Boston union members, he made this comment, which by the way, was greeted with rousing applause by his audience . ” Every once  in a while you need  to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.” He was  attempting to fire up his union audience  urging  them to get down in the trenches to fend off challenges to workers rights.

After being challenged on the inflammatory nature of these words he has backtracked a bit. He issued an apology for his choice of words  stating that his passion for defending workers rights  caused him to get carried away.

Now, I am certainly glad he apologized  for what he said, but am still disturbed by its tenor and its reception. Imagine, if you will,  the response had this comment  originated from any one of several conservative speakers who would have been just as wrong in saying it.

I am a union member and am supportive of workers rights and collective bargaining but I have no wish to get out in the streets and get a little bloody in promoting those rights. ( Yes I know that there are instances of this in our country’s labor relations) I must admit, when I first became aware of his comments my mind veered towards the turmoil that has gone on for weeks now in the Middle East and North Africa , with no end in sight. Many people have gotten a little bloody(  and much worse) in pushing for change.

As with any statement such as his, I fervently hope that no one takes then literally to heart and chooses to act  accordingly. I trust that the congressman will really the troops  in a different manner when he next has the opportunity.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Back Home

Thomas Wolfe 1937 4

Image via Wikipedia

Asheville native Thomas Wolfe once wrote that you can’t go home again. I have wondered about that phrase. After all, one can almost always go home again unless there are extraordinary circumstances that prevent that from happening. But, after this past weekend I think I have a better grasp on what he meant.

My wife and I have different hometowns and at this time in our lives we live in hers, having lived in my hometown of Eden,NC  on two separate occasions.

For many reasons, some valid and some  not , we have not been to Eden  in over 20 years. As is often the case we returned under difficult circumstances; the  sudden death of a relative. One of my sisters lost her husband quite suddenly last Wednesday and were drawn home again, at least it was home in my case.

I  have tried to put the trip into some type of perspective, knowing all the while that the trip was not about me, but rather being there for my sister. My wife and I talked   a bit about going back as we traveled, particularly as we  drew closer. The main artery for us is NC Hwy 14 into town and  I was predictably astounded at what I observed. There were businesses galore that we did not know,and could scarcely believe that were there. They had a Cookout, for goodness sake. Old businesses were gone, others inexplicably remained. The hospital ( Morehead Memorial) seemed to be stretching its tentacles everywhere as if it were the only game in town and maybe it is.

Going down main street, Washington,was, as in most small towns sorta sad.  Alas,vacancies seemed to outnumber stores. But, even more surreal was arriving at my home church, Bethel Baptist. The church sanctuary was the venue for the receiving line prior to the funeral. This was a place where I had not set foot since probably 1970. Really, really strange.

Predictably, I  did   not know most of those paying their respects, but every now and then, a familiar face emerged and once again the past became the present and quite nicely I might add.

The service itself was not really a funeral but more of a celebration of what had transpired in my brother in laws life and really my sister’s as well. She was that crucial figure, largely unseen that made a lot of what he did possible. There was as much laughter as tears, largely due to the common bond of Christian faith shared by the members of my family.

The church’s pastor, Darrell Boles, was one whom I knew by word due to my sisters and their spouses, two of whom faithfully attend. I was so very pleased to met him and get to know him for myself. From this point of view he is the right man in   the right place at the right time. I would be remiss if I did not mention  the caring  but professional job done by Fair Funeral Home under the direction of Neil Fair.

So, we went “home” again and I think I learned once again that it’s not so much the  place but those people who are there and were once there that really provide that  unique aura that is no where else.

To all who were there,

Shalom.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Family, Life and Death | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Revolution by any other name is?

Events in Egypt are still unfolding. The anti-government protests are into day#14 and the final outcome is far from being determined.So, what can we say at this point? Therein lies a problem. What one says sort of “smells” like instant analysis. Although that is a staple of  our culture, it often misses the boat completely. As an illustration, look at how the Obama administration has reacted or spoken at various times since events began to unfold.

Remember vice-president Biden saying that Mubarak was not  a dictator and should not resign?  Then we have Secretary Clinton saying that we are not advocating any specific  outcome  but then urging an orderly transition. The President has spoken to Mubarak, probably more than once and has reportedly urged him to go. He has stated that we hear you in referring to the demonstrators. Today he said that Egypt was not going back to the way it was, although I believe the Egyptian military will have  a big say in that. He opined that the Muslim Brotherhood will have  a role but not a significant one. He accurately said that we cannot dictate to Egypt but  we want to see orderly change. By definition, that seems to be quite unlikely.

But what most grabbed my attention in the Associated Press article were the phrases “pro-democracy protests” and “pro-democracy protesters.” I don’t  know if those words came from Robert Burns or Kimberly Dozier who bylined the article. And I hesitate to comment to strongly but I firmly believe those characterizations are way off base. It would be wonderful to see a democracy in Egypt. But what ever form of government emerges, it will not be  a  democracy. If there were a way to ask a representative sample of those demonstrating if they were pro democracy you would get few if any takers. As an illustration walk backwards in  egyptian history ans see what you discover.

So we watch and we wait and we wonder and some of us demonstrate in support of Egypt. Those of us who are so inclined would also do well to pray.

February 6, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who is the President of the world?

Monday, February 21 is Presidents Day. Ostensibly  it is a day set aside to honor two of the greatest, if not the greatest of the 43 men who have served in that office.The 42nd president as we all  know was William Jefferson Blythe Clinton from Hope, AR. Mr Clinton has been called many things by friend and foe alike. He may now have acquired the ultimate title, “President of the World.”

Thanks to his new bff, Chris Matthews (alias tingles) , that is the title of a special set to air on Presidents Day. Matthews spent time with Clinton on  a veritable  whirlwind week  chock full of all the wonderful things in which he is involved. I will acknowledge that Mr Clinton has done some  very good things since leaving office, partnering with George H W Bush in humanitarian activities, pushed for aid to Haiti, just to name a few. His global initiative has  also been quite active.

This program and its title raises a few questions. The title itself may be the most significant. Come on, fellows. No one merits such a designation. Perhaps the title is meant to catch one;s attention or maybe it is just a blatant example of fawning from a network who has done it before. Remember the tingle that ran up a newsman’s  leg when a certain president spoke; the same president that he was bound to help succeed. Who was that gentleman? Why the same president often spoke of as the One. Have we changed our allegiances?

Have we turned our back on the individual often called the greatest former preside, Jimmy Carter? He too has been a prolific traveler abroad since leaving office in 1981. He has monitored  elections, met with many world leaders and also started the well-known Carter Center in Atlanta.

Now, if were to attempt to compare the two men since they left office, there would be strong similarities. Could the main difference be that along the way Mr Clinton  has become quite wealthy and maybe, just maybe seeks out the spotlight a bit more? Bet he’s a lot more fun to travel with as well.By the way, remember that only two of these three presidents have won the Nobel peace Prize. Could this have anything to do with that, Nah!

February 3, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eli’s Coming( and Howard and Nancy and Harry etc)

Caught a headline in the News&Observer today that was very attention-getting. Said headline announced that the great state of North Carolina and Charlotte in particular will host the 2012  national convention for the Democrat Party. On some levels this is  a really big deal. The economic impact will be considerable and Charlotte will have quite  a prominent place on the national stage. Considering that these conventions are typically held in cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago  Los Angeles, Charlotte’s win had to be  a surprise/shock to many.

A press release from the first lady announced that this 46th edition of the Democrats lovefest ( except for 1968) would be called The People’s Convention, yawn. More interesting though was her praise of a signature North Carolina delicacy, good ole barbecue. Wait a  minute. How could barbecue possibly fit into her healthy eating plan for us all. Because, there is just no such thing as fat free barbecue. Cannot wait to hear the spin on that one.

The convention is set for the week of September 3, ironically beginning on Labor Day. I trust that all affected football teams, college and professional have ben notified so their schedules can be adjusted as necessary.

I almost regret that I no longer live in the Charlotte area. Just think, I would  have been a scant 45 minutes away from Democrat royalty. So welcome  the President and his party, show them some good southern hospitality and give them  a few lovely parting gifts.

Has algore approved the weather or can he do that in advance? Just wondering.

 

February 2, 2011 Posted by | Media, Politics | Leave a comment