2017-08-02 / Columns

The Way We Were

GOOD-BYE TO ‘BIG BOPPER’ — Former Cincinnati Reds greats Lee May, center, and Tony Perez, answered questions following the Tony Perez Hall of Fame luncheon in August 2000. May, a member of the Reds Hall of Fame known as “The Big Bopper,” died unexpectedly July 29 at age 74. The first baseman was among the most beloved Reds players of all time. (AP Photo) GOOD-BYE TO ‘BIG BOPPER’ — Former Cincinnati Reds greats Lee May, center, and Tony Perez, answered questions following the Tony Perez Hall of Fame luncheon in August 2000. May, a member of the Reds Hall of Fame known as “The Big Bopper,” died unexpectedly July 29 at age 74. The first baseman was among the most beloved Reds players of all time. (AP Photo) Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, August 4, 1927 Ward Renaker, manager of Kyva Motor Company of Whitesburg, and Joe Strother made a trip to Pontiac, Michigan last week and returned home to Letcher County this week in two new Oakland automobiles. Kyva is selling Oakland’s two-door sedan, the All-American Six, for $1,045.

. E.J. Picklesimer says there is no truth to rumors” that he has withdrawn from the August 6 primary election for the Republican nomination for the office of commonwealth’s attorney.

. Letcher Circuit Clerk Jody P. Adams is seeking a fifth six-year term in office, but must first defeat three other candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination to that office on August 6.

. Residents of the Fleming and Neon area are saddened by the unexpected death of W.B. Larkin, a well-known jeweler who fell dead after returning home from taking a drive in his automobile.

Thursday, August 5, 1937 Every student attending Whitesburg High School this coming fall will be required to contribute $1 to help buy new books for the high school library. School officials say the required contribution is necessary to create a library that meets standards required for accreditation. The officials point out that the state of Kentucky is now furnishing textbooks free of charge to students in the first six grades while transportation to and from school is provided at no charge by the county.

. Bill Collins, the only candidate on the ballot for mayor of the City of Whitesburg in the fall primary, just celebrated his 21st birthday.

. Dr. B.F. Wright, candidate for Letcher County Judge, is publishing a sworn affi- davit in this week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle in which Dr. Wright denies a report claiming that he once sponsored a bill in the state legislature that would have required all pregnant women to have their babies delivered in a hospital. Dr. Wright said this “vilest of falsehoods” is the work of Governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler, who Wright says supports his opponent for county judge, W.H. Lewis.

. Letcher County farmers are being reminded by the county agent’s office that alfalfa-seeding time is drawing near, with August 20 being the best planting date.

. Miners at Consolidation Coal Company’s Mine 214 and other McRoberts residents are mourning the death of 44-year-old Harrison Holmes, who died of heart failure while at work Wednesday night. He leaves behind his wife and four young children.

. Kentucky Senator Alben W. Barkley, 60, has risen to the third most powerful position in the federal government by virtue of his recent election to Senate Majority Leader.

Thursday, August 7, 1947 Ray Collins and Bradley Bentley now manage the Royal Crown Cola bottling plant at Neon. RC Cola now sells for five cents per bottle.

. At least 7,500 Letcher County coal miners were out of work this week after labor disputes resulted in the closing of most mines, including Consolidation Coal Company’s operations in McRoberts and Jenkins.

. Tarzan Amburgey, 29, died tragically at Kona Tuesday night when he became caught between two mine cars while trying to couple them. He leaves behind his parents and 10 brothers and sisters, all of Knott County.

. The August primary election drew little attention here Tuesday even though nearly every state office was on the ballot. The winners in the nominating races for governor were Democrat Earle C. Clements and Republican Eldon S. Dummit. Colson resident Robert B. Collins won the Democrat nomination for state representative and will face Republican Harry L. Moore in November.

. An unexpectedly loud explosion brought extra life to downtown Whitesburg Tuesday afternoon when the men working to repair the bridge leading to Watt Long Branch set off a charge of dynamite that was about twice as strong as ordinary. The blast knocked down power lines and sent rocks crashing onto the roof of Ammerman’s Garage. An auto belonging to Smittie’s Dry Cleaners was damaged heavily by a large rock that fell onto it while it was parked outside Ammerman’s and waiting to be repaired.

. Former Congressman Andrew J. May, Democrat whose district included Letcher County, was sentenced to a term of between eight months and two years in prison on charges of accepting $53,634 in bribes while he was the wartime chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee in Washington. Sentenced to the same prison terms were the two men accused of paying the bribes, munitions makers Murray and Henry Garsson.

. More than 200 students signed up for classes when the Kingdom Come School held its registration on July 21.

. Men and women will not be permitted to see the movie “Mom and Dad” together when it shows at Haymond Theatre in Haymond on August 12 and 13. The movie, which features an all-star Hollywood cast, is a “hygiene” film about a young girl who gets pregnant after having sex out of wedlock.

Thursday, August 8, 1957 Industry, tourism, a recreation center for the youth, and a grocery supermarket are the greatest needs for the communities that make up Jenkins, a poll conducted by The Mountain Eagle shows. A poll conducted in Whitesburg by The Eagle and published last week reached many of the same conclusions. “With some improvement and backing I feel that Jenkins could become a thriving tourist town,” Jenkins resident Theda Childers told Eagle reporter Barbara Stambaugh. “More entertainment for teenagers,” said Peggy Litts. Jenkins needs “more diversifi ed businesses,” said Seth Kegan, and “promotion for a tourist industry.” Dr. T.M. Perry said the community is a “one-industry town” in need of “more independent businesses so that people won’t have to go out of town to do ordinary shopping.” “There is nothing to hold the young people in town,” said Mrs. Edris Carter. Carrie Howard said the town needs “a recreation center for the young folks.” Bobby Adams offered this advice: “The people need to trade in their own town.”

. The Jenkins City Council has called upon the state Department of Public Safety for help in tearing down the city’s old recreation building. The building, which has been gutted by fire, was condemned by the state.

. The post office at Farraday has been closed permanently. The people who used the office will now be served by the Thornton Post Office.

. State-mandated changes in the assessment date from September to January has left the City of Whitesburg in a rush to find some source of revenue to keep the city from going into a financial hole between now and January 1. The city’s general fund already has a deficit of $165. It has $2,007 in the bank and bills against it totaling $2,172. Under the old system, the city would start to receive its annual tax revenue about now, but under the new system the money won’t start coming in until December.

. The Whitesburg City Council has voted to ban parking on Hays Street and to take out four parking meters, including two in front of the Methodist Church and two in front of Tepper’s and Letcher Electric Company.

. Robert B. Welch of Jenkins has been named band director at Fleming-Neon High School.

. Miss Phyliss Ann Hall, Whitesburg, was runner-up in the “Queen of the Mountains” beauty contest held Sunday at Cumberland as part of that town’s 40th birthday celebration.

. The Whitesburg Municipal Swimming Pool is not expected to reopen this summer because of a leak that has not yet been located. Also working against the pool’s reopening anytime soon is the fact that Whitesburg is now experiencing a water shortage as the result of a burned out pump.

Thursday, August 3, 1967 Funeral services are scheduled today for Private First Class Jerry Ray Holbrook, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett Holbrook of Mayking. Private Holbrook was killed in Vietnam July 26. He had entered the Army just a year ago — August 2, 1966, and had been in Vietnam since June. He was a 1965 graduate of Whitesburg High School.


The state of Kentucky this week cancelled the permit of Puritan Coal Mines Inc. to strip-mine in the Island Creek section of Pike County, near the home of Jink Ray. Ray and his neighbors had met the company’s bulldozers and turned them back, vowing to use whatever means necessary to halt the strip-mine operation. The reason given for cancellation of the permit was there is no suitable location for installation of silt dams or water-retarding structures.

. Leslie Dale Caudill, 43, died July 27 as result of injuries received in a slate fall at the Scotia coal mine near Partridge, where he was employed. Funeral services were held Sunday at the First Baptist Church on Craft’s Colly.

. Development of a new 5,000-tons-perday stream coal mine in Wise County, Virginia, was announced by Westmoreland Coal Co The all-conveyor mine will be developed in the 35,000,000 tons of coal reserves of the Dorchester seam. The new mine will go into production in January of 1969.

Thursday, July 28, 1977 Mines in West Virginia, Virginia and eastern Kentucky remain closed and a 22-year-old coal trucker is dead as 30,000 members of the United Mine Workers remain on strike in protest of health cutbacks. Byran Marshall Conley, of Chillicothe, Ohio, died after being shot in the head allegedly during an argument about the wildcat, at a service station in Floyd County. Conley had been hauling nonunion coal in nearby Martin County. Don Gearhart, an employee of Caney Mining Co., has been charged with murder.

. Uncle Jim Bailey, Blackey, took his first airplane ride at the age of 97 at Hazard Airport recently. He greatly enjoyed the flight and said it was just like riding a corn sled. He looks forward to flying again on his 100th birthday.

. Four members of an L&N train crew are being summonsed before Letcher County Judge Estill Blair to answer charges stemming from their night-long abandonment of an engine in Blackey on June 20. The four were charged with disorderly conduct after they walked away from their train and left it, whistling and rumbling, to return to their homes and get some sleep. The engine and train disturbed the entire town, Blackey residents say.

. When Scotia Coal Co.’s No. 1 mine exploded twice in March, 1976, killing 23 miners and three federal mine inspectors, that company and its parent firm, Blue Diamond Coal Co., were on a government “blacklist” and were ineligible for government contracts because of unsafe working conditions at Scotia. Blue Diamond was placed on the list in July, 1973, for mine safety violations at Scotia similar to the ones investigators believe caused the first of the twin fatal explosions at the Letcher County mine in 1976.

Wednesday, July 29, 1987 Two Floyd County coal firms have formed a separate company to buy more than $11 million worth of coal properties from Bethlehem Steel Corp. Pike-Letcher Coal Partners of Prestonsburg paid $6.565 million for a portion of Bethlehem’s Pike County properties, and $4.530 million for some of the company’s holdings in Letcher County. The partners in Pike-Letcher Coal Partners are Traveller Coal Corp. and Jen-Coal Corp., both of Prestonsburg.

. State Rep. Paul Mason of Whitesburg says he is seeking a legislative hearing on large-scale spraying of trees with pesticides in Letcher and other eastern Kentucky counties. Mason said he has had several complaints from Letcher County residents who believe their water supplies have been damaged by sprays applied around power lines.


The Burdine Elementary School addition will apparently be completed in time for the beginning of school. The Jenkins Board of Education met at the school Monday night to look over the new construction.

. The Fleming-Neon Pirates travel to Harlan on August 8 for a scrimmage contest before the Grid-A-Rama on August 15. The Jenkins Cavaliers will open their regular season by hosting Allen Central on August 21.

Wednesday, July 30, 1997 With a $15,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation, Joe and Gaynell Begley are converting the 65-year-old C.B. Caudill Store in Blackey into a history center. Dee Davis and Mimi Pickering of the Appalshop in Whitesburg helped write the grant application and will work with the Begley family throughout the planning phase of the project. The history center is scheduled to open in late fall.

. Funeral services for Joanne Lewis Collins, 73, of Whitesburg, were held July 26. Her father, William Henry Lewis, an attorney, never learned to drive and at age 13 she became his chauffeur and also was a stenographer for him and his law partner, French Hawk. During World War II, she and her husband, Sam Collins Jr., worked in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bomb. Later she helped her husband in mining and construction businesses, and for 10 years she served as administrative assistant at Eastern Kentucky Housing Development Corporation in Whitesburg and Neon, where she helped low-income people obtain housing built by older workers. She was a former member of the Whitesburg City Council.

. State officials apparently are taking a new look at the site on Carr Creek Lake which has been considered for several years as a possible golf course-resort site. Gov. Paul Patton is said to be enthusiastic about the possibility of the site for development as resort property and also about the chance of creating an industrial site in the nearby area where Letcher, Knott and Perry county lines meet.

. Coastal Corp., the parent company for ANR Coal Co., the parent company for Enterprise Coal Co., has rejected an offer from Eastern Kentucky University for the mineral rights the company owns in Lilley Cornett Woods. EKU, which manages the old-growth forest in Letcher County, had asked a state board for $1 million to pay the coal company for the rights. But the Heritage Land Conservation Fund board came up with a counteroffer of $80,000, which the coal company said was not an acceptable offer.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 The Letcher County Board of Education has approved a plan to spend $1 million on the construction of a baseball field, concession stand and two dugouts at Letcher County Central High School. The baseball field is to be built on land below the football field, and an access drive will be built to the lower level.

. The city and state government joined forces to clean debris blocking two bridges across the North Fork of the Kentucky River. In a photograph on the front page of The Mountain Eagle, a heavy equipment operator was shown using a claw/clam bucket to remove one of several large trees which had caused the river to dam at the stone bridge leading into the Upper Bottom neighborhood in East Whitesburg.

. The Letcher Fiscal Court this week awarded a $109,950 contract to American Ramp Company to build a “Pro Series” skateboard park to be located near West Whitesburg Middle School.

. Barry Miles and his dog were both bitten by a copperhead, reports Whitesburg correspondent Oma Hatton. “I’m scared to go out in the weeds now,” she writes.

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