2018-06-13 / Columns

The Way We Were


WHEN NEW CAR RELEASES WERE BIG EVENTS — It was once a big event when America’s top automakers announced the arrival of new models. Such was the case during the the week of June 17, 1948, when Combs Motor Company of Whitesburg, one of the area’s Ford dealers at the time, announced that the Whitesburg High School Marching Band would lead the “Ford Parade” of new models for 1949 on Main Street in Whitesburg, stopping at the Letcher County Courthouse for a concert. Pictured above is part of a full-page ad announcing that event. WHEN NEW CAR RELEASES WERE BIG EVENTS — It was once a big event when America’s top automakers announced the arrival of new models. Such was the case during the the week of June 17, 1948, when Combs Motor Company of Whitesburg, one of the area’s Ford dealers at the time, announced that the Whitesburg High School Marching Band would lead the “Ford Parade” of new models for 1949 on Main Street in Whitesburg, stopping at the Letcher County Courthouse for a concert. Pictured above is part of a full-page ad announcing that event. Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, June 21, 1928

Herbert Hoover, 53, a Californian and former war-time food administrator who has served for the past seven years as secretary of commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, was nominated for the presidency on a first ballot landslide at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City. Kansas Senator Charles Curtis was elected to be Hoover’s running mate.

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A homeless and penniless man dropped off at the Day Hotel in Whitesburg last Friday by unknown persons in an automobile with Virginia tags died Monday about 8:30 p.m. C.W. Rector was found in one of the hotel’s beds and cared for by the Days and local doctors, who were treating him for kidney trouble and gangrene. He was said to be 65 years old. He was buried at Cowan.

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The largest crowd of Masons ever gathered in Jenkins was there Monday night to greet Hanson Peterson, Grand Master of Kentucky. About 150 Masons attended the gathering, sponsored by Jenkins Lodge No. 856 F.&A.M.

Thursday, June 16, 1938

The new Burke Funeral Home is now open in Whitesburg. Located on Broadway Street just below The Mountain Eagle building, the home is being operated by D.F. Burke and Emil Clay, both of whom were formerly associated with the Burke & Craft Funeral Home, also of Whitesburg.

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The Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in Whitesburg are holding a daily Bible school this week and report an enrollment of 140 youth.

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Letcher County Sheriff Doyle Hogg has been busy moving his office to the first floor of the Letcher County Courthouse into the space formerly occupied by the county court clerk’s office. Several other courthouse office space changes are expected soon.

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Codell Construction Company of Winchester is busy grading and graveling the road from Smoot Creek to Hotspot. Highway officials hope the gravel will make the road passable through next winter.

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A steam shovel was in place this week as work began on the Wise to Norton road in Virginia.

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Funeral services will be held in Millstone Sunday for Army Sgt. Bennie Sergent, a 36-year-old Letcher County native who drowned at Fort Lewis, Washington. Sergent and two companions were out on a motorboat on the river near Fort Lewis on the evening of June 9 when the boat sank. Sergent’s body was not recovered until the next day.

Thursday, June 17, 1948

Construction is continuing on the Kiwanis Club’s new swimming pool for Jenkins. The bathhouses are now under construction and the pool is expected to be ready soon.

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Cann Martin “Spider” Dawahare, a Neon native who completed his first four years of elementary school in Whitesburg, has graduated from Millersburg Military Institute in Bourbon County. Dawahare made the school’s honor roll during each of the eight years he was there. In his final year at MMI, Dawahare was vice president of the senior class and student manager of the football, basketball and baseball teams. Dawahare, who stands at 5’8” and weighs 123 pounds, hopes to someday attend Harvard University and become a lawyer.

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Twelve disabled coal miners from Kentucky and Tennessee, all paralyzed from the waist down, arrived by train in Oakland, California on June 9 to begin treatment that may restore them to active life. The miners arrived by special Pullman car chartered by the United Mine Workers. Some will undergo operations while others will be fitted with crutches and braces. All will be taught new trades. UMW officials estimate the treatments will take at least six months.

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Two coal miners — Howard Mortz and Claude Dise — were seriously injured at the Mortz Mine on Pine Creek Monday and are being treated at the Jenkins Hospital.

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World War II veteran Steve Adams, son of Elder and Mrs. G. Bennett Adams of Letcher County, received his law degree Tuesday during commencement exercises at the University of Louisville. Adams spent five years in the service before enrolling at UofL three years ago.

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Funeral services will be held Friday for 21-year-old Charles Tyree Jr., who died June 15 after being injured by a powder explosion in his own truck mine on Sandlick. Burial will be in the Smoot Creek Cemetery.

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Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn star in the new film drama “State of the Union,” showing Sunday and Monday at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg.

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Doyle Webb, a World War II veteran who fought for his country overseas for 22 months, has finished two years of college at Pikeville and has entered Georgetown College for summer school. He is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Dock Webb of Bottom Fork.

Humphrey Bogart and Walter Houston star in the new film drama “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” showing June 20 and 21 at the Haymond Theatre at Cromona, now celebrating its first anniversary. Directed by John Huston, this is one of the first movies to be filmed on location outside the United States, in Tampico, Mexico.

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Father’s Day is being celebrated this year on June 20.

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The Whitesburg High School Marching Band will lead the “Ford Parade” through Whitesburg Saturday morning at 10 as the new Ford autos for 1949 trail behind. The parade begins at Combs Motor Company and ends at the Letcher County Courthouse, where the band will perform in concert.

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The U.S. Bureau of Mines reports that unusually good safety conditions and operating practices” were observed during an inspection of Consolidation Coal Company’s Wright Mine near Jenkins. The mine employs 42 men and produces an average of 200 tons of coal per day.

Thursday, June 19, 1958

The Letcher County Board of Education has adopted a budget for the coming year of $1,036,504.

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Jenkins Police Chief Jesse Bates has led suit against the city in hope of obtaining his $250 a month salary. The suit says Bates is being paid only $100 by Cecil Holtzclaw even those Bates’s predecessor received $250 per month.

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Olan Mills Studios, a Tennessee-based photography firm, has filed suit in Letcher Circuit Court in an attempt to void the City of Neon’s occupational license tax as it applies to photographers. Neon currently charges photographers an annual license fee of $25. Olan Mills claims the tax is discriminatory and in violation of the United States Constitution.

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A total of 25 Letcher County students were graduated recently by the University of Kentucky, Morehead State College, and Eastern State College.

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Saying he is “shocked” at the poor condition of Letcher County’s roads, Bert Combs, a Democrat candidate for governor, pledged to “fill up the holes” in the county’s highways if he is elected. Combs said Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler has let Letcher County down on the matter of roads. He said that Letcher County’s roads are so bad that one driver got his car stuck so deep in a hole on KY 15 between Whitesburg and Hazard that he had to call a wrecker to get out.

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The cost of getting married in Kentucky became $6.50 today under the state’s new fee schedule, up from $6 previously.

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Members of Bradley Burkhart Post No. 66 of the American Legion at Jenkins will meet in special session at the post home at 7 p.m. Saturday to organize work groups for renovations needed at the post, including painting, window replacement, and cleaning and repairs.

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Jenkins Kiwanis Club members R.S. Davidson and J.H. Finch will attend the 43rd annual convention of Kiwanis International in Chicago June 29 through July 2.

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Several repellants against mosquitoes, ticks, mites and other biting insects have been developed in time for the summer of 1948, says Letcher County Home Demonstration Agent Roberta Halcomb. According to Halcomb, the repellants can be spread onto the skin with a few drops from a bottle or sprayed from a pressurized container. She said the new repellants are being sold under trade names.

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Don Hall has announced the opening of Don’s Pharmacy in downtown Jenkins, next to the Jenkins Theatre.

Thursday, June 13, 1968

The Kentucky Program Development Office and the Appalachian Regional Commission have jointly raised the possibility of a “new” Whitesburg with a 1970 population of 3,600 persons. The two agencies have asked for federal funds for a large housing development in the Whitesburg area. The main purposed of the proposal is to bring about enough economic growth in the area to lessen, or perhaps halt, the migration of residents from the area into the big cities.

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Congressman Carl D. Perkins announced federal approval of a project to repair the homes of 700 to 800 elderly persons in Knott, Letcher, Leslie and Perry counties. The $319,000 grant will be supplemented by several hundred thousand dollars in funds from other federal agencies. The project will be administered by the East Kentucky Housing Development Corp., an OEO agency set up to help solve some of the housing problems for low-income people.

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Air Force Airman First Class James D. Brewer, son of Mr. and Mrs. David I. Brewer of McRoberts, has been recognized for helping his unit earn the General Smith Trophy for 1968, the highest award in the Aerospace Defense Command. Airman Brewer is a refrigeration and air conditioning specialist with the 32nd Air Division, headquartered at Gunter AFB, Ala.

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Free buses will leave Appalachia for Washington, D.C., June 17 to take mountain residents to the Poor People’s Campaign set for June 19. Expenses of Appalachian residents who go to Washington will be paid by contributions to the Poor People’s Campaign.

Thursday, June 8, 1978

State Transportation Secretary Calvin Grayson has announced that bids will be let for work on the bypass for the city of Whitesburg on June 23. The project includes grading, drainage, blacktopping and installation of traffic signals along a 2.3-mile section of KY 15, beginning west of the city limits and extending east to US 119. The road will skirt downtown Whitesburg, enabling through traffic — particularly tractor-trailers and coal trucks — to bypass congested city streets.

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Several eastern Kentucky strip mines became the first in the nation to be shut down by federal inspectors under the new surface mining laws. Eastern-Deaton Coal Co., at Child’s Creek in Harlan County, Frederick Construction Co. in Perry County, and Adams Construction Co. in Floyd County have been served with cessation orders, forcing them to shut down indefinitely.

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Homes on Smoky Row Hill in Jenkins, most of which have gone without water for the past three winters, will be among the first to get improved service during the second phase of a half-million dollar program to upgrade the city’s water system. Work on water lines and a new pressure reducing station should be completed within six months.

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“American Hot Wax” will be shown Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

Wednesday, June 15, 1988

The Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, the coal industry and state government are involved in a court battle over the broadform deed. Four coal companies are seeking to stop the proposed constitutional amendment which would limit the use of broadform deeds. Broadform deeds were commonly used in eastern Kentucky in the early 1900s to separate ownership of unmined coal from the property above it. Modern coal operators have often used the deeds’ authority to plow up topsoil and timber on the surface despite opposition of surface landowners.

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Mountaineers were hard hit by the Depression, writes Whitesburg attorney and author Harry M. Caudill. A “long decline before 1932 doomed the hills to a depression much longer than was experienced elsewhere in the country.” Among the factors causing decline that Caudill lists are the overproduction of coal and tobacco, and the closure of distilleries by Prohibition, which also caused growers of corn and grain to lose their markets.

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New plaques have been installed on the wall of the Letcher County Courthouse honoring soldiers who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Sheriff Ben B. Taylor took up collections for and oversaw the commissioning of the bronze plaques.

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The Letcher County AAU basketball team will participate for the second straight summer in the USA Junior Olympic Basketball Association tournament in Frankfort.

Wednesday, June 10, 1998

A burst water main caused the City of Whitesburg’s water system to shut down completely twice in four days. Most residences and businesses began losing pressure Friday morning, but the whereabouts of the first leak couldn’t be located until early Sunday morning. That leak was repaired that afternoon. On Monday evening, just as city employees were hoping to restore full service to all customers, another major leak was discovered near the first one.

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The ancestry of Appalachian Melungeons is explored in an article on the front page of The Mountain Eagle. Among the stories passed down are that Melungeons are descended from Spaniards, are refugees from Sir Francis Drake’s ship, are Moors, and are American Indians. The prevailing academic theory is that Melungeons are descended from “tri-racial isolates,” a mixture of whites, blacks and American Indians.

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Federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, landowners and businesses in Letcher County for damage caused by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that began April 16 and continued until May 10.

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Melissa Anderson and Caleb Brock of Whitesburg High School have been named to the Big Dipper Sports All Mountain Senior Basketball Team, along with Candie Perry and Kristin Craft of Fleming- Neon, Jennifer Jensen of Jenkins, and Stephanie Caudill of Letcher.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Letcher Fiscal Court voted this week to enter into an agreement with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife that will allow the county to move forward with the Pioneer Horse Trail project on Pine Mountain.

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Deborah Watts, of Mallie, has been named to replace John Shook as superintendent of the Jenkins Independent School System. She will begin her fouryear contract July 1. Shook announced his retirement earlier this spring after being employed seven years as the district’s superintendent.

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Whitesburg-based Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation is allowing patients to clear old debts by paying only half of what they owe. Under a plan approved by MCHC’s board of directors, patients at the not-for-profit clinic who have overdue bills are now eligible for a 50 percent discount on the balance.

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J.T. Ward, 81, of Whitesburg died June at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. He was the retired president of Whitaker Bank, formerly the Bank of Whitesburg, and was a former member of the Local Advisory Council of Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital.

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