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The Manchester Enterprise: A Boy's Memories Bits of Clay

The little green ashtray… 6-16-11

Back in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Office of Economic Opportunity or the O.E.O. as most knew it. R. Sargent Shriver, who also served as its first director, created the office.

The OEO was responsible for administering most of the “War on Poverty” programs like Head Start, Job Corps, Community Action Programs and VISTA. Here in Clay County they brought us the Horse Creek Community Center.

The Community Center was headquartered in the old Horse Creek School building between Hima and Sibert. The building isn’t there anymore. It was bought and torn down by the congregation of the Horse Creek Baptist Church to make room for their new church and for more parking.

The Community Center at Horse Creek opened in the mid-60’s and stayed in operation until around 1973. When I was growing up the Center occupied a big part of my spare time. There was always something to do there.

The Center had one of the first volleyball and blacktop basketball courts I had ever seen. Before that, all the games we played were on bare ground. I found out that I really liked volleyball even though I had never played it before. But volleyball never came close to my love of basketball.

The ball court was a large ‘full court’ setup with two goals set on either end of the blacktop. But because of the numbers of players there every day, usually separate games took place on each end. Sometimes the winner of one court would challenge the winner of the other court for the championship each day.

It was a long way away from the basketball games we played at home as a kid. I remember the first basketball goal we had was a 20 inch bicycle rim nailed to the barn and an onion sack for a net. The rim had to be re-nailed often because it couldn’t stand up to the basketball hitting the rim time and time again.

Usually the rim hung downward so much that the ball had a hard time going through the rim because it hit the side of the barn and bounced back out instead of falling through. But I thought it was really something being able to touch the rim, even if it was only 8 feet off of the ground.

Later on, after running into the barn a few hundred times, we got a real goal and put up a backboard made from a wooden grocery skid on a locust pole in the driveway. Then the danger was the barbwire fence that kept in the livestock was only a few feet away from the goal. We learned real quickly that there could be no pushing under the goal.

There was always something going on at the Community Center. The first project I remember doing at the center was attending a “Pottery Class”.  I was probably 10 or 12 and knew nothing about pottery but I decided to give it a try. The class was just before Father’s Day and I thought it would be nice to make something for Daddy.

Working with clay seemed simple. My first thing I decided to make a coffee cup for my father. Daddy loved his coffee and I knew he would get lots of use out of a mug.  But it didn’t take long to figure out the cup was to complicated to get just right, being vertical and all. I couldn’t get my cup to stand up or even close to being round. I found out clay has a mind of it’s own.

My plans then changed. I decided Daddy would love an ashtray just as much as a coffee cup. Daddy also loved his Camel cigarettes. The ashtray, being mostly horizontal, was more forgiving of my talent. I molded the clay in the shape of a small boat with the edges built up to hold a lit cigarette.

My instructor then asked if I wanted to decorate the clay piece with a design or something to give it a personality of it’s own. I thought about it for a while and remembered a dish that Momma prized for its artistic beauty. The dish had a bunch of grapes surrounded with a vine.

“Yes, I would,” I told the lady, “I want to draw a bunch of grapes growing on a vine.”

“Great choice, Rodney,” the lady answered.

I worked on the grapes and the vine until I got them looking just right. One good thing about clay is, if you don’t get it right the first time just wipe with a damp cloth and you have a new palette instantly. My artistic talent was a little rough then but all I saw was a masterpiece.

The ashtray and then in was put into a kiln and fired. The next day I applied a green glaze to the piece and then it was placed in the kiln again to fire the glaze. It turned out perfect. I was so proud of my Dad’s ashtray.

I wrapped the ashtray up in a paper bag and carried it home carefully and handed Daddy his Father’s Day gift. My Dad said he loved it and somehow I really believed he did. He used the ashtray for years and then it just disappeared.

Years went by and I had given up hope of ever seeing the ashtray again. Then, one day after my Daddy died, I was going through some things upstairs in my parent’s bedroom. There, in a corner of Dad’s closet I found the ashtray wrapped up in a towel, broken. I gathered up the pieces and carried them downstairs to show Momma what I had found.

Momma smiled as a tear streamed down her cheek as I unwrapped the towel. “I broke your Daddy’s ashtray by accident years ago and never had the heart to tell him about it. You know how much he loved it. That was the first Father’s Day gift he had ever gotten. I hid it in the closet years ago and just about forgot about it.” Momma said wiping her eyes with her hand.

I told Momma that it was okay that she didn’t tell him because I could see that it was hurting her more now that Dad was gone. She asked if she could keep the ashtray and of course I told her that she could.

Twelve more years went by and finally Momma to passed on. I then went back to her house looking high and low for the ashtray but couldn’t find it.

I think about the small gift every Father’s Day that meant so much to my Dad and later so much to my Momma and wonder what became of it. I guess I’ll never know but it was comforting to know my Daddy really did love that little green ashtray, even more than I ever knew.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 12:52

 

Memorial Day…a boy’s memories 6-2-11

Memorial Day…a boy’s memories

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead".

While Waterloo, N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon B. Johnson in May of 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on  May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on  May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.

The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

The first memories of Memorial Day at my home were our trip to the cemetery where my Momma and Daddy’s kin were buried. All of my grandparents were laid to rest in the same cemetery, the Herd Cemetery at Sibert. My Daddy and Momma wanted to be buried on the property they live upon for over 60 years on Paw Paw.

Dad, a WWII veteran, placed a large flagpole on the grave site he cleared from the forest just a few years before his death.  Dad loved his country and fought to protect it from Hitler, a mad man who wanted to take over the world.

Dad was wounded twice in Northern Italy but was luckier than many of his fellow soldiers. Many never made it back home. Dad enlisted with his cousin William Sibert who was just one of the hundreds of thousands we call “causalities of war”. William was killed in Europe.

Dad had two brothers who also served for their country William (Bill) Miller served during the Korean conflict and James Edward Miller during the Vietnam War. James was also wounded in ‘Nam on the Fourth of July.

Two of my brothers also served in the military. My older brother Ronnie was drafted during the Vietnam War for the Army but choose to enlist with the Marines. He in now retired after serving 30 years. My younger brother Anthony enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany for two years. He pulled his four years and is also now retired.

I was a little more luckier that Ronnie. I missed the draft and never served in the military. I too would have gone like my family before me if I had been asked to do so but choose a different path. I started a family at a young age and did my best to provide for them.

The traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished greatly over the years. Many Americans now have forgotten the true meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored or neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades.

This Memorial Day please don’t forget all of the fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their blood so that we can live free in this great land we call America or the lucky ones whom have made it back to their home to live another day. My Daddy always said, “Freedom don’t come free. Somebody has to fight for it. And that somebody is the American soldier.”

 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 13:12

 

Memorial Day

Me

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead".

While Waterloo, N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon B. Johnson in May of 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on  May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on  May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.

The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

The first memories of Memorial Day at my home were our trip to the cemetery where my Momma and Daddy’s kin were buried. All of my grandparents were laid to rest in the same cemetery, the Herd Cemetery at Sibert. My Daddy and Momma wanted to be buried on the property they live upon for over 60 years on Paw Paw.

Dad, a WWII veteran, placed a large flagpole on the grave site he cleared from the forest just a few years before his death.  Dad loved his country and fought to protect it from Hitler, a mad man who wanted to take over the world.

Dad was wounded twice in Northern Italy but was luckier than many of his fellow soldiers. Many never made it back home. Dad enlisted with his cousin William Sibert who was just one of the hundreds of thousands we call “causalities of war”. William was killed in Europe.

Dad had two brothers who also served for their country William (Bill) Miller served during the Korean conflict and James Edward Miller during the Vietnam War. James was also wounded in ‘Nam on the Fourth of July.

Two of my brothers also served in the military. My older brother Ronnie was drafted during the Vietnam War for the Army but choose to enlist with the Marines. He in now retired after serving 30 years. My younger brother Anthony enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany for two years. He pulled his four years and is also now retired.

I was a little more luckier that Ronnie. I missed the draft and never served in the military. I too would have gone like my family before me if I had been asked to do so but choose a different path. I started a family at a young age and did my best to provide for them.

The traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished greatly over the years. Many Americans now have forgotten the true meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored or neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades.

This Memorial Day please don’t forget all of the fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their blood so that we can live free in this great land we call America or the lucky ones whom have made it back to their home to live another day. My Daddy always said, “Freedom don’t come free. Somebody has to fight for it. And that somebody is the American soldier.”

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 14:06

 

Only in America


I was watching a TV show the other day about how American made goods were almost a thing of the past. Diane Sawyer, a reporter, went to a home and removed everything that wasn’t made in America just to make a point. China is taking over the world.

After Sawyer had finished the home was almost completely empty. This show proved exactly what I’ve been preaching the last few years. What has become of “Made in America?”

When I was a young boy we never bought anything that wasn’t made in the good ‘ole USA. My Dad taught me that. He had fought in WWII against the Germans, Italians, and Japanese and knew when he purchased anything foreign our money went to another country. I other words, “Buying anything made anywhere other than the USA was considered Un-American!”

Why would we “Bite the hand that feeds us?” And that’s basically what we are doing when we buy that Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, BMW, Kia, Mazda, or Volkswagen vehicle. We might as well pledge allegiance to the flag of the Rising Sun and Heil Hitler.

Every person who is out of work or who has lost his or her house to the bad economy needs to wake up, and fast. We have created this monster with our own buying habits. Most Americans now think that if you don’t drive a foreign vehicle, you’re driving junk. I will tell you that American made autos are as good if not better than the foreign ones.

My father never bought a foreign vehicle in his life. If it wasn’t American made, he wouldn’t by it. Most of my family are the same way. We try to live by the motto, “Be American, Buy American.” But the sad truth is America doesn’t manufacture products like we used to.

Want to buy an American made television? You only have three choices, Vizio, Polaroid, or RCA. What about a computer? Then you have Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Olevia. The only cell phones would be Apple, Motorola, and Palm. But anyway, you get the picture.

We have shipped most of our manufacturing jobs either south to Mexico or across the water to Europe and Asia. What used to be the most productive country in the world. Now we are importing three times what we export to other countries.

Americans are also trying to “save” the world. Recently we have fought costly wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya trying to liberate countries that hate Americans. Our young men and women are asked to give their lives to save them from tyranny. But, too many young lives have been lost needlessly I think.

When natural disasters strike around the globe we are the first responders to help with money, medical supplies and to help rebuild. Most times we do a better job with their rebuilding than we do here at home. Just look at Japan. Plus, we never ask for anything in return either.

Americans citizens are asked to donate money to help with the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake victims in Haiti, the poor in Poland, and the starving people in Africa.

I believe we should help Americans here in our country first and then think about the rest of the world.  Sure there are people in need all over the world, it’s been that way since time began. But, who made us the saviors of the world?

If Americans want to help someone, they don’t have to go halfway around the world. Just look at your neighbors. Here is where your money and help is needed the most. You don’t even need to leave your county. At least then you would know for sure where your money is going.

We have flooding now in the entire South. There, tornadoes have killed over 350 people recently. Here, we live in the in a county with the second highest rate of poverty in the nation. My question is, why isn’t more done to help our own?

I heard our President say, “…that a State of Emergency had been declared” after the tornadoes ripped through Alabama. And he said, “Low interest loans would be available to help residents rebuild.”

But what I can’t understand about this is, if it had happened in another part of the world we would have given them what they needed and never would have asked for repayment. Why should we treat our American citizens any different than we would somewhere else in the world? Why not give them relief money instead of loans that have to be repaid!

Many Americans think they can save the world while they turn a blind eye to the things around them. I’ve heard people even say “People here get enough. They don’t need anything else,” and even, “They’ll only buy pills and drugs with the money.”

Well let me tell you, it’s not always the grownups who suffer in poverty. It’s the little children. It’s those who go to bed hungry not knowing when they will get their next meal. Those who don’t have enough clothes to keep them warm on cold nights. Those who live in homes where no one gives them the love they most desperately need.  Many will never have a chance to stop the vicious cycle.

In closing, I think it’s time people put thought in helping America by buying American products. Spend you dollars at home in our county. And if you want to help someone with charity, help your neighbors here in our county and in this country. I’m sure you will feel just as blessed for your generosity.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 12:25

 

You Didn't Have to Bring Me Flowers


Another Easter has come and gone and Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Like most holidays for the last few years, I miss my parents more than ever. Holidays change forever after loosing your mother and father. They’re never the same again.

I miss doing the little things I did with my parents around those special days. I miss the pretty Easter eggs Momma always came up with. She was, I guess what you could call, a “folk artist” and you never knew what to expect to see on her eggs. I miss my family eating at the dinner table. I miss the time we spent after dinner playing games, singing, or just talking.

Momma always planned for extra guest around every holiday. She never knew who might show up but if they did, she would also always have a place for them at the table and gift for every kid or person that came to visit. She loved to show her love that way.

I brought Momma flowers for holidays, birthdays, and lots just to fill her flower garden. For those who don’t know already, women love flowers. Every time I brought them, she would always say, “Rodney, you didn’t have to bring me flowers.”

Then I would tell her, “No Momma, I didn’t have to bring you flowers, but I wanted too.”

I could tell by her smile and the gleam in her eyes that even though she said “You didn’t have to bring me flowers,” that they really made her day. Flowers make a woman feel special. Momma not only loved flowers for their beauty but also for their sweet fragrance.

Momma would always find a special place to sit or hang her flowers so that every person that came into her home noticed them. Momma loved the smell they brought to a room. She proudly hung the baskets on the front porch for every passerby to see. She enjoyed watching the hummingbirds as they worked the flowers for nectar.

If it was a bouquet of fresh roses they sat in the center of her kitchen table filling the air with their heavenly scent. Most times she kept them long past their prime. I guess she only wanted to enjoy them as long as she could.

Daddy on the other hand liked more simple things on his special days. Every time I would ask him what he wanted for Christmas, Father’s Day, or his birthday he usually said, “I don’t need anything. Save your money!”

I knew he was probably telling me the truth but I still wanted to show him that Dads are special too. I found out Daddy was just like most other men when it came to gifts. He liked clothes, underwear, t-shirts, or socks. Something he could use everyday.

In his later years, I started to feel a little bad about giving him clothes every time. I guess it is kind of like buying a woman a washing machine for Christmas, you just don’t do that more than once.

After the many years of clothes for gifts, I wanted to do something different. I knew Daddy and Momma loved to fish and neither ever had a good rod and reel when it was time to go fishing. So I decided that year to skip the usual clothing gifts and buy him a new Zebco 33 rod and reel. When I gave it to him, his smiling face told me I made a good choice. He couldn’t wait to wet the line on that Zebco.

After that year, Dad was never without a good fishing reel. I saw to that. At the lake he would always brag about how the 33 was the best fishing reel ever made. I must say I agree with Dad, they’re still my favorite too.

Over the years I must have bought Momma enough flowers to fill a green house and Dad a couple dozen Zebco 33’s. And you know what, they never got tired of the gifts. Their smiles were always proof of that.

After Daddy died, Momma mostly gave up fishing. I guess she couldn’t stand the thought of going anymore without her fishing buddy. She gave my brothers and me each one of his 33 reels to have for a keepsake. I don’t fish with the one she gave me, because it’s Dad’s reel. It sits in my hunting room just like the day I got it from her and someday, I will pass it along to one of my children.

When my parents died, Margy and I decided we would never use the traditional fake silk flowers to decorate their graves. We only take live flowers and shrubs. After all, how can you smell a fake flower?

Each year we freshen up the flowers, trim the shrubs and mow the grass to make it pretty. And each time I visit the gravesite to bring the new flowers I can still see Momma on the front porch of her home smiling, saying, “Rodney, you didn’t have to bring me flowers.”

Then I smile back at her and quietly whisper, “No Momma, I didn’t have to bring you flowers, but I wanted too.”

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 12:18

 

Page 22 of 25

e-Edition A-Section 7-17-14

ME.A-1

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e-Edition B-Section 7-17-14

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e-Edition C-Section 7-17-14

ME.C-1

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