Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistIs it just me, but do you ever have the feeling that the world is spinning out of control? Every time I read the newspaper or listen to radio or watch a news program, I get the strange feeling that something is surreal about our present circumstances.
Over 8 million Americans are unemployed and can’t find work anywhere. I talked to a “Katrina victim” last week who had once been a TV producer. He is now a salesman. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. Honest work is still good, but this highly trained individual had been forced to change professions in order to survive. No one seems to be too upset about the lack of jobs.
Gas prices are averaging $3.24 per gallon now. When Obama came into office in 2009, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.84 per gallon. No one seems to be too upset about the price of gas. Like I said, it is all surreal to me.
A Harvard professor, Dr. George Church, is seeking an “adventurous” woman to give birth to a Neanderthal cloned baby. Dr. Church “believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.” Talk about Jurassic Park. Tell me that these crazy thoughts are not coursing through the brain of a normal, supposedly intelligent, fellow human being. Does this not seem a little surreal to you?
Do you remember Thomas Malthus? If you ever took a course in botany, you will remember that he is the man who did the experiments on peas in order to determine how we inherit our genes. I can still hear the teacher talking about the red pea blooms, the white blooms and the pink blooms. It was all pretty interesting to me until Malthus became a little surreal. He was worried that the earth could no longer support a large population of humans. He claimed, “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”
Enter that great thinker and profoundly misguided nut, Sir David Attenborough. “We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.”
Right on cue, Paul Ehrlick, the doomsday biologist, stepped to the plate. “Nobody, in my view, has the right to have 12 children or even 3 unless the second pregnancy is twins.” He went on to say, “Reducing the number of people is still the answer to civilizations woes.”
After reading this, I concluded that I had entered another dimension and nothing was real. But the coup de grass was yet to come.
Japan has a culture that has endured for literally thousands of years. Change was brought about after World War II, but yet the people had customs and traditions that they followed. One of their traditions was to honor the elderly. The elderly had lived long enough to gain some wisdom and this wisdom could be passed on to the younger generation.
Taro Aso, Japan’s Prime Minister has declared, “Let elderly people hurry and die. I would refuse end-of-life care and would feel bad knowing treatment was paid for by government.”
Don’t get upset. I’m sure it’s just me. There is probably nothing to worry about. My brain is probably not functioning at full capacity. It probably doesn’t matter that all of the people I have mentioned are liberals.
Perhaps I’m just having a “surreal” moment.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI knew something was wrong when I saw the look on his face as he made his way toward the car.
Our son James usually comes out of his school grinning from ear to ear. He eagerly tells me what letter he learned for the day or what fun game he played on the playground.
But today, he had a frown. He kept looking down, and I could tell something was on his mind.
“Momma,” he said, almost scared to look me in the eye. “I got put on red today.”
The children in James’ class have a system to monitor their behavior. Their names are placed on either green, yellow or red based on their actions.
Naturally, staying on green means you were well behaved for the day and didn’t get into any trouble. Yellow means you messed up a little, but you were warned. Red means you misbehaved and you could get sent to the office for a spanking if your offense was a major one.
So, the idea of landing on “red” really had James in a concerned mood.
“Well,” I said, leading him to the car. “What did you do to get on red?”
“I was playing in the cafeteria,” he said, looking down.
He even had a note from his teacher inside his book bag. He was telling the truth. He misbehaved in the cafeteria. He had been warned in the past about acting up at lunch, but this was the first time he was put on the dreaded “red.”
I gave him a lecture on the way to daycare. I told him I was disappointed because he had managed to stay on green for so long. This was his first time on red.
James kept looking out the window. He told me he tries to be good but sometimes the other kids “make him” be bad.
It took all I had not to laugh. I had to keep my stern appearance, but it was funny to think how another person can “make” you get crazy in the cafeteria.
I told him he wouldn’t be allowed to play his video game that night, and he would have to apologize to his teacher tomorrow.
A few hours passed, and it was time for my husband Jason to pick them up from daycare. I wasn’t feeling well so I told him I would just meet them at the house.
The idea of landing on “red” was still heavy on James’ mind because it was the first thing he mentioned to Jason.
“Where’s Momma,” James asked, looking into the car.
“She was sick so she is at home,” Jason said.
“Well, she has something to tell you, and you’re not going to want to hear it,” James sighed.
To his credit, James once again admitted to his offense.
I will give him a few points for being honest. I never told on myself when I was coming up. I wouldn’t necessarily lie about getting into trouble, but I sure didn’t admit to it.
I have had notes stapled to my shirt from my teacher. When I came home with a ripped sweater from snatching the note off...then I would admit to something. But only if I got caught.
James actually took his punishment like a man, admitted his wrongdoing and awaited his sentence.
The next day, he was still so concerned about “the incident.” He assured us he would work his way back to the green level, and he would apologize to his teacher.
I know there will be plenty of more days of landing on “red” left in James’ life. There will be more lectures, more punishments and more promises.
But I hope he will be as honest about it as he was yesterday. I have my doubts, but that’s part of being a parent. You never know what kids are going to say or do.
But if he comes home with a ripped sweater, it won’t be too hard to figure it out.
Jason Patterson Editor & Publisher“Jason, do you really believe that stuff you’re writing.”
My friend was looking at me as if my answer would provide an assessment of my mental health.
He was referring to stories and columns we’d written in this newspaper celebrating the positive changes taking place in downtown Yazoo City and predicting even more good things to come.
I responded that not only did I believe it, but I regretted that I didn’t have the money to invest in one of the historic buildings myself.
“But everybody knows downtowns are dying everywhere,” he added before rolling off a list of towns in the Mississippi Delta that seem to have more empty buildings than taxpaying citizens. “People have been talking about revitalizing downtown Yazoo City since before you were even born. Face it, it’s a lost cause.”
My friend is correct that downtown areas are dying in dying towns, but they are also thriving in towns where people have a vision and there are enough people to support that vision. Greenwood, Vicksburg and Cleveland are examples that immediately come to mind nearby.
Historic downtowns that thrive will be those that have business owners who can change with the times and offer something that will attract people. Yazoo City is blessed to have some of those kind of people. It’s happening right now.
Our downtown is a perfect mix of landmark businesses that have built a tradition of great products and service like Anderson’s Jewelry, Arnett’s Jewelry and Black & White or Webb’s Pharmacy and Ferguson Furniture. It’s a place where you can find one-of-a-kind items at places like Grace Hardware, Cindi’s or Downtown Marketplace.
About the only thing missing in recent times has been a place to eat.
That’s no longer the case.
Thomas Johnson, who operated the popular Yazoo Market for years now, has now opened a business on Main Street. There probably won’t be an empty parking space in front of Tom’s on Main for awhile, but there’s plenty of parking in the lot behind the restaurant.
The thing that many Yazooans love about Johnson is that he isn’t afraid to try new things. His menu often features items you won’t find anywhere else locally, and I think that is going to be popular not only with locals, but also with the many people who visit downtown.
The word on Main Street is that another restaurant may also be coming soon.
Tom’s on Main is the latest business to open in one of the colorful buildings downtown belonging to Paul and JoAnn Adams.
Paul and JoAnn have proven to be visionaries downtown. When they started renovating those old buildings I heard more than a few people opining that they were wasting their time and money investing so heavily into an area that seemed to be long past its prime. Today TCTI Fitness has a very enthusiastic local following, the No Smoking Smokehouse is the place to be for special events and Delta Darlins recently relocated to Main Street. Quaint Corners has opened right next door and has quickly developed an enthusiastic following for its art classes.
For the first time in a long time there is some serious positive momentum in downtown Yazoo City thanks to the efforts of a lot of people who care enough about this community to invest their time and money here when in many cases it might have been easier to pull out in search of greener pastures.
The ones who truly believed are finally starting to reap the benefits, and that’s something that all Yazooans should be proud to see.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorIt was almost as if history was repeating itself.
As I welcomed another year on my birthday last Monday, the state of Mississippi welcomed in a harsh winter storm whether it wanted to or not.
On the day I was born, 31 years ago, there was also a state of panic in the place of my birth. A major ice, slush, snow, etc. storm hit Natchez on Jan. 14, 1982.
As soon as the freezing rain and piles of snow began to accumulate, so did my mother’s choice to head to the hospital to give birth to her first child.
Jamie Lynn Kemp was born at 3:17 p.m., a healthy and happy baby.
But the events that led up to that moment weren’t such a blessing.
Granted, I am going by hearsay since I obviously have no recollection of these events. But considering more than one relative has shared the story, almost to the exact detail...it’s safe to say it’s true.
And before I begin the events of the day, I can’t help but think of the saying “country came to town” because when the Jackson family arrived, they let the whole town know about it.
My Momma first went into labor during the early hours that morning. She got to the hospital just fine that day with no episodes, no dramatic events, nothing out of the ordinary. She was just a first time mommy, ready to meet her baby.
The phone calls began to circulate among Momma’s family.
My Paw Paw picked up the telephone on the first ring that day. He was already up to keep an eye on the weather. A winter storm was barrelling into Adams County, and he wanted to be prepared.
Some say women are the only ones who get excited about babies. But Paw Paw was the exception.
“Earlene,” he yelled at the top of his lungs, slamming the phone down. “Get out of the bed. Rhonda is going to have the baby...right now.”
Running through the house, Maw Maw said he took down an entire wall of pictures trying to put on his coat. He burned his hand as he poured his Thermos up with scalding coffee. He even called his neighbor to let him know the good news.
Maw Maw was slipping on a sweater hat when he pulled the truck right up next to the bedroom window and let the horn ring out into the entire community.
Kingston Road was iced over, and there were a few bridges he had to cross. Maw Maw said he had a crazy look in his eye.
“We gotta go,” he said, trying to balance his Thermos and smoking pipe on the steering wheel. “Those babies....they come when they are ready. They don’t wait around.”
Maw Maw said she prayed the entire way into town, but they safely made it to the hospital.
Clear across the county, my Aunt Sonya and Uncle Herbert got the same call.
“Herbert,” my aunt yelled, throwing on a pair of shoes that didn’t match. “Get the car running. Rhonda is having the baby.”
“Why don’t we just wait and see what the weather is gonna do,” Uncle Herbert asked. “We won’t be able to do anything. She might in labor for hours. Let’s just wait an hour or so.”
“I’m going without you,” she said, grabbing her purse. “Rhonda needs me.”
Uncle Herbert said he didn’t argue with her. He didn’t even try to stop her. He knew it would be useless. He sat back in his recliner with his cup of coffee as he heard the car’s belt squeal down Pine Ridge Road.
I would like to tell you that Aunt Sonya made it safe like Paw Paw did. But that won’t be the case.
She made it into town, but right at the intersection going into the hospital, she had an accident.
She rear-ended another car. And not just any car...a shiny BMW.
In a panic, she sweet-talked the BMW owner into exchanging information. I’m not sure whether he felt sorry for Aunt Sonya trying to get to her sister or whether he thought she was crazy.
Aunt Sonya sped up the emergency ramp that led to the hospital. Yeah....the ramp that was iced over from the winter storm.
She began to slide sideways. Then she started sliding back down it again.
Once the car came to a stop, she just left it there. Right in the middle of the emergency ramp. A Lincoln with a huge dent in the front from her accident just sat there.
Hospital employees tried to stop her. She just threw her keys at a medic and told him to do what he wanted with it.
“My sister needs me,” she shouted, running into the hospital.
My family waited six more hours for me. Uncle Herbert even made it up there with a few hours to spare.
It may have been embarrassing at the time. An older man dressed in overalls with a Thermos of coffee, a burn on his hand, a pipe in his mouth busting through the door. A half-crazed woman with mismatched shoes and a smashed car outside.
But they were the folks who welcomed me into the world. And with such an enthusiastic greeting, I had to have known that I had arrived to the place where I belonged.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistI think I will label this column “Some passing comments on our peculiar culture.”
ALABAMA VS. NOTRE DAME:
Did you happen to watch the most talked about football game of the decade last Monday night? Alabama destroyed the “Fighting Irish,” and as a matter of fact, the game was never in question from the get go. But a strange thing happened during this game that still has me scratching my head. The ESPN cameras panned the stadium and found Miss Alabama USA, Katherine Webb, seated beside A. J. McCarron’s mom. McCarron is the Alabama quarterback who is presently dating Miss Webb. Brent Musburger, the ESPN announcer commented that “the quarterbacks seem to get all of the good-looking women.” The feminists came up off of their toadstools and cried long and loud that this statement was sexist, undignified, and disrespectful of women. The howls were so loud that ESPN issued a written apology saying that Musburger did wrong and now understands what “it was that he did wrong.”
Well, I don’t understand what he did wrong. Katherine Webb, the 23-year old Miss Alabama USA, is a beautiful young woman. Brent Musburger was absolutely correct in pointing this fact out. If Musburger, age 73, was correct, why did ESPN issue an apology?
Was Miss Alabama USA offended by Musburger’s remarks? Absolutely not. In fact she said that she was flattered. I asked Miss Judy if she was offended, and her immediate answer was a resounding “no.” I ran into a friend of mine at the school Wednesday, and she started laughing. “I’m a conservative southern woman, so you know that I was not offended.” Then she gave me the money line: “If Notre Dame had played a better game, maybe Musburger wouldn’t have been looking for things to talk about.” I don’t think I can add anything to that observation. I’ll just say that Miss Webb is a very attractive young woman, and I don’t plan to issue an apology for saying it –ever.
If you are a practicing physician, you might want to take cover. The leftist (Democrats) may be coming for you sooner than anyone thought. The Marxists among us are now asking the question, “Why should a doctor make a profit for treating a sick person?” To the left, doctors make too much money. “Why should anyone get rich from treating sick people?” The left in this country would love to see all doctors working for a non-profit organization – like the government, for example. Expect the healthcare in this country to spiral down very quickly now that Obama has revealed his plans. I pray that you are a healthy person.
LOW INFORMATION VOTERS (LIV):
A new term has been coined this year, low information voters or LIVs. These are voters who pay little attention to what is going on in the country, yet when election time comes, they vote with their hearts rather than with their heads. For example, several LIVs have told me that “Obama cares.”
“About what?” I inquired.
“Does Mr. Obama know you personally?”
“No, but he cares about me, and that’s enough for me.”
The sad truth is that not only does Obama not know them, but he could care less about them. If he cared, this economy would not be in the shape it’s in, and people, even LIV’s, could find work and support their families.
Beginning on the 9th of January, the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. will begin performing same-sex marriages. What a national disgrace. If I were an Episcopalian, I would immediately renounce my membership at the National Cathedral. Wait a minute; I think I may have experienced an epiphany. Since the U. S. Constitution is an “evolving document,” perhaps the Bible is evolving, too. I’m sure the liberals will tell us soon. Anyway, I would still resign.
PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION:
This may be an oxymoron since there is a great deal of evidence to show that little or no education is going on in our public schools across this nation.
When I was at the University of Oklahoma taking management courses, I made friends with many young people who had children between the ages of 6 – 18. These young people lived in places like California, Utah, Georgia, Washington, D.C, and Nebraska. To a person, they were dissatisfied with the products that are being cranked out by our public schools.
For example, we asked several students what the difference was between socialism and capitalism. None knew the correct answer. Economics may be being taught in America’s public schools, but it is most certainly done with a bias for socialism.