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Sunday, June 25, 2017

  • Friday, June 23, 2017 4:00 AM
    I turned 70 this year. And so did a 10-year-old freckled little boy named Howdy Doody. For those too young to remember, The Howdy Doody Show debuted in 1947, its star a convivial wooden marionette whose human partner in the show, Buffalo Bob Smith, lived in my hometown of New Rochelle, New York.
    Each show had a story line featuring Bob and Howdy. Howdy’s voice was actually Bob Smith’s, which had been prerecorded. Within the show was a cast of characters, some human (like Chief Thunderthud and Princess SummerFallWinterSpring) along with several wood-be human marionettes like the grumpy Mr. Bluster and the polymorphous creature Flub-a-Dub, who comprised the characteristics of eight different animals.
    And there was Clarabell, the voiceless clown who communicated with two horns strapped to a box around his waist, one side labeled YES, the other NO. Clarabell uttered not a sound for 13 years until the final show, when he said, almost under his breath, “Goodbye, kids.” For trivia aficionados, Clarabell was played by three different actors. The first was Bob Keeshan, who later became Captain Kangaroo.
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  • Thursday, June 22, 2017 4:00 AM
    It’s that time of year again . . . fair season! This year, just like years in the past, the Montgomery County fair will be holding an open class. Don’t know what the open class is? Well, the open class is an opportunity during the Montgomery County fair for everyone to bring in a project or projects and have them judged. Open class is a great opportunity to show the community of Montgomery County what your passions or hobbies are. Maybe you try something new in open class and find out that you are naturally talented in that area. A champion will be chosen from each of the 18 classes, and all ages are welcome to participate, even those already participating in 4H. There is something for everyone, some of the classes include: culinary arts, flower arrangements, fine arts, garden art, sewing, photography, etc. 
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  • Thursday, June 22, 2017 4:00 AM
    Tomorrow marks the 45th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the law that opened up many opportunities for women in the classroom, sports and more. The National Women’s History Projects notes “Title IX of the Education Amendments for the 1972, signed by President Nixon, is one of the most important legislative initiatives passed for women and girls since women won the vote in 1920.”
    Title IX, passed on June 23, 1972, states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
    While many people think of Title IX with its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the legislation covers all educational activities. However, the benefits Title IX brought to the playing fields of our schools can also be credited with increasing the numbers of women graduating from high school and college, earning graduate degrees and entering into traditionally male-dominated careers.
    Title IX was written by Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink who cited the adversities she faced in obtaining her college degrees at the University of Hawaii, University of Nebraska and the University of Chicago as a driving force for her to initiate this landmark legislation.
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  •  Prom started four decades for this duo
    Thursday, June 22, 2017 4:00 AM
    My taste buds were a bit fishy this week as hubs and I ventured to Long John Silvers. There, we encountered a couple I’ve been wanting to interview for quite some time. Luckily, they graciously accepted my request for an interview. Said they had fun and he even commented, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought!” I try to make it painless!
    Often, my first question is, “How’d you meet?” However, it was a stumper for this duo. Finally, he blurted-out, “I needed a date for prom!” Well, it’s a tad more complicated, as she was already committed for prom. However, their mutual cousin (don’t panic - different sides of the family), Sally Hester, kept after him to ask her out. Finally, since she really liked his Ford Grand Torino, complete with the white vinyl roof and knew he was raised a good Christian, that she said they’d go out. Also, his family had gone to the Browns Valley Christian Church for generations and hers had started going there, but the paths just didn’t cross. Oddly, they lived five miles apart on the same rural route but they really didn’t know each other. She went to New Market grade school; he to Waveland; he was in FFA and choir. She worked in the student store, in the library and was in business classes. In fact, at South, he was a noted librarian rebel-rouser (well, okay, he liked to talk) and she had to turn him in once so she did know his name. Obviously, things work out as God intended them, as these two celebrated their 40th anniversary last November. Congratulations, kids!
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  • Wednesday, June 21, 2017 4:00 AM
    I flew to New Hampshire without my luggage. It wasn’t lost, mind you, I know exactly where it’s located; right smack dab in the middle of my living room. Eager to get to my conference, I simply jumped in the car and drove to the airport empty-handed. 
    Standing in the parking garage, staring interminably into the empty boot of my vehicle, I finally had to accept that my suitcase was not going to appear.
    The Mall of New Hampshire wasn’t busy when I arrived. I hate shopping, so I made a beeline straight for the Macy’s clearance racks, and attempted to find a dinner dress that would not require purchasing a new pair of Spanx. 
    In the dressing room, a small voice called out, “Is anyone here?” 
    “I’m here,” I replied. 
    “Can you give me an opinion?” 
    Pulling back the curtain, I was greeted by the sight of a tiny, eighty-year-old woman with brilliant orange hair. 
    “What do you think of this skirt?” 
    With both hands she smoothed the fullness of the plain brown fabric, her toes barely peeking out from the hem. 
    “It’s a nice skirt, but does it come in a smaller size?” 
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  • Wednesday, June 21, 2017 4:00 AM
    It is with great anticipation and excitement that I write to the readers of The Paper of Montgomery County. The Clocktower Project for the Montgomery County Courthouse is coming closer to becoming a reality. The bid has been accepted by the County Commissioners, and the final fundraising is continuing. Dr. Kirtley and his committee started this project in 1996, and even though he passed away in 2000, the work has continued. Yes, in honor of Dr. Kirtley, as what was his dream during the last years of his life; however, this project has also been a dream and passion for many of the people in Montgomery County.
    The committee has forged ahead every day for the last twenty-one years, yes, I said, the last twenty-one years, because we feel the restoration of the clocktower will be a historical addition to our county. The courthouse was built in 1876, and the beautiful tower stood guard over Crawfordsville and Montgomery County for 65 years.
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  • Tuesday, June 20, 2017 4:00 AM
    Since we moved into the historic Athena Center a few weeks ago, it’s crossed my mind once or thrice that my buddy John Hammer hasn’t been by on a Saturday morning. I swear I was just thinking this (on a Saturday morning, no less) when the phone rang.
    “Where the hell are you, Timmons?” the gravel-laced voice of a man called Hammer boomed. 
    I smiled.
    “S’matter, John? Haven’t kept up on the news? We moved almost a month ago.”
    Got to admit, I took a little satisfaction in that.
    “I know you’ve moved Timmons,” Hammer said. So much for satisfaction. “I’m at Athena. Where are you?”
    How does Hammer always manage to stay ahead of me?
    I told him to come in the main entrance off Jefferson Street. Pretty soon his massive frame filled my doorway.
    “You watch sports much, Timmons?” he asked.
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  • Monday, June 19, 2017 4:00 AM
    Summer barbecue season is in full swing and it’s a good time to review food safety. Food-borne illness is something that almost all of us have experienced at some point in our lives.
    Food-borne illness is defined as more than two people having a similar illness with evidence of food as the source. The overall rate of these illnesses has gone down drastically in the last century with improvements in food handling and sanitation. However, we still hear about illness outbreaks.
    There are approximately 76 million cases of food-related illness in the United States each year. There are also about 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Underdeveloped countries, as a group, experience about one billion cases annually and four to six million deaths.
    The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 97 percent of all cases of food-borne illness come from improper food handling. Most of these (79 percent) are from commercial establishments, while the other 21 percent originate in the home.
    There are a few common denominators that account for most cases of food poisoning. Leaving foods at temperatures that allow bacterial growth is a frequent cause, especially in the summer months when food is left out in warm weather. This can result Staphylococcal food poisoning that is usually seen in foods like potato salad and pies that are high in salt or sugar content.
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  • Friday, June 16, 2017 4:00 AM
    Last week I had the honor of presenting to Carl Erskine the Heritage Place Award, given to six senior Hoosiers each year for their lifetime service to the Indianapolis community. For those who don’t recognize the name, Carl is a retired banker from Anderson, Indiana. He also previously pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers team that won their first—and only—World Series in l955.
    When I was a grade-schooler in New York, I feigned sleeping at night for six months of the year with a tiny transistor radio hidden under my pillow, praying for a home run by center fielder Duke Snider or another no-hitter by Carl (he had two). If you had told that nine-year-old kid in 1955 that his baseball hero would one day become not just a friend, but a golfing partner, he’d have thought you were nuts.
    Although it has been 62 years, my memory of Oct. 4, 1955, is clear. Even then I knew the majesty of those hallowed words: Seventh game of the World Series. This would have traditionally been a time for Dodger fans to wring their hands and prepare for the inevitable. Da Bums, as they were called, had faced the Yankees in what seemed like a hundred previous World Series games (four, actually) and lost every time. If the Dodgers hadn’t finally won in 1955, I probably wouldn’t be writing this story now. And giving Carl this award would not have felt quite so special.
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  •    Early summer brings beautiful bloomin’ Basswoods
    Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:48 PM
    Early summer means rising temperatures, popcorn thunderstorms, and blooming basswood trees. The American basswood (Tilia americana) is a member of the linden tree family and is native to the eastern United States. This tree is commonly referred to as a lime tree in Europe, not because of the fruit, but because of the bright green color of the bract that accompanies its flower clusters. The flowers produce one of the most pleasant aromas of early summer and they are also a favorite of bees. When not in flower, basswoods can be identified by their unique, oddly-shaped leaves that are somewhat heart-shaped overall and asymmetrical at the base. In fall, basswood leaves range from bright yellow to golden.
    In terms of wood products, basswood is used for a variety of purposes, including veneer, pulp, and hand carving. Although this tree is a hardwood, its wood is relatively soft and easy to work, making it ideal for carving and other artistic purposes. Its pale color makes it easy to paint. Because of its relatively light weight and affordability, basswood is commonly used in low-cost to midgrade electric guitar bodies. However, it is not very durable when used outdoors and can easily rot. This is obvious when observing older basswood trees; they tend to have open cavities in their trunks that provide excellent nesting areas for mammals and birds. Squirrels, chipmunks, and mice eat the seeds.
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  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 4:00 AM
    More than 30 years after the amnesty bill became law under the Reagan Administration, the stringent workplace enforcement many expected, and mandated use of the government’s E-Verify system (which confirms employment eligibility) for employers to check the legal employment status of prospective hires, is still being debated by lawmakers and the business community. Multiple iterations of federal legislation to require employment verification have been defeated in Congress. In fact, Congress has not been able to enact any meaningful legislation at all to deal with the complex issues surrounding immigration.
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  •  These two truly feel it's not about the "I" but the "WE"
    Thursday, June 15, 2017 4:00 AM
    Buddies then, buddies now, and I’m predicting buddies for eternity for my guests this week. Friends long before they started dating at the end of their Sophomore year at Southmont, they are the bestest of pals yet. Love how they get up early to walk together or the way they work-out their date night plans. Speaking of love, it’s such a joy to know this couple and watch the way their love blossoms in so many directions, yet keeping the focus on not only them, but their large and interesting family, and especially the Good Lord! Their amazing philosophy in regards to their marriage and family life is that it’s never about the “I” but the “we”. Not what I should do, but what “we” should and what’s best for all of us! Always since they were fairly young, I’ve thought they were great kids as individuals but as a duo, they are truly amazing!
    They graduated with my daughter, Suzie, and several in that class married. That class was pretty special, some awesome kids and these two were right on top. He had a sister and she had two brothers and all are South graduates. Their children will be, as well. The whole family has (he a great baseball player) and I’m thinkin’ will always be involved in sports. More on that later! 
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  • Wednesday, June 14, 2017 4:00 AM
    The National Society of Newspaper Columnists just wrapped up its annual conference, and as always, I am motivated and brimming with ideas. 
    I have been a member of NSNC for at least ten years, maybe longer, but I’ve only attended the last five conferences. My first was in Hartford, Conn., where, after years of entering my column in the annual contest, I finally received an award. I had won other awards, but this one I truly coveted. The celebratory dinner was the highlight of the conference weekend, and at that point, the highlight of my writing career.
    I wish I’d been surprised when the person who should have been the most supportive, ended up trying to ruin the day. The relationship had become increasingly difficult and tedious, but I still hoped to share my winning moment via Facetime.
    But the emotional and mental trauma started early that morning. By evening, I was trying to feel as beautiful as the event called for, but instead I was hiding in a bathroom stall, sobbing, and begging over the phone to be forgiven for whatever minor infraction had caused that day’s anger and devaluation.
    Prior to that weekend, no one in NSNC had heard of me. I was a peon in this world of journalistic giants whose syndicated columns ran in major newspapers, and whose novels made the New York Times Best Seller list. But I only knew these things because I recognized their names. They never mentioned their accomplishments or acted pretentious.
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  • Tuesday, June 13, 2017 4:00 AM
    Thirty-one years and change ago, I wrote a column in the Journal-Review about our first daughter being born. I said something about this circle of life thing. People are born. People die. Lives are impacted forever.
    Often, we don’t fully realize the impact of the event. As a new father, I certainly wasn’t wise or mature enough to appreciate the magnitude of what one new little heartbeat would mean.
    Over the past few days, I got another look at the whole process again. One was expected. One was not. Both brought tears to my eyes. And once again, I am not wise or mature enough to really understand the bigger picture.
    Let me tell you a story.
    My wife and I have been married for 34 years. We’ve been without grandchildren for the first 33 or so and might have mentioned the fact once or twice to our daughters, especially the youngest who has been wed for around five years. Then, as if God decided to once again prove He has a sense of humor, the oldest got married and we got a 3-year-old grandson in the process. A few months later, we found out the youngest was pregnant and a month later got the same news about the oldest.
    Famine to feast.
    No grandbabies to three.
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  • Monday, June 12, 2017 4:00 AM
    The mother of one of my patients asked me to write about meningitis. First of all, I want to state that meningitis is a very rare condition. The incidence of bacterial meningitis in the United States is about two to three per 100,000 people per year, while viruses cause about 11 cases per 100,000 per year. It used to be much more common when I did my training in the late 80’s, but with the advent of preventative vaccines, the incidence has dropped dramatically.
    Meningitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the meninges, the coverings surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord. Most of the symptoms of meningitis are caused by the inflammatory reaction of the body to infection by viruses and bacteria, and rarely fungi or parasites. These microorganisms reach the meninges either through the bloodstream or by direct contact of the mininges with the nasal cavity or skin.
    Meningitis, especially bacterial, can be very serious if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Death from meningitis occurs about 20 percent to 30 percent of the time in infants, about two percent in older children, and from 19 percent to 37 percent in adults. The risk is much higher in those who have other co-existing medical problems.
    Viruses are the most common causative agent in meningitis. Viral meningitis is usually caused by enteroviruses, herpes viruses, varicella (chickenpox) virus, mumps virus, measles virus or HIV.
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