Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Amusement/Tourture of Choice

Every morning, a couple of newspapers deliver their headlines to my email. One, the one I never fail to open, is the Harrison Daily Times. I did my student teaching there in 1998 and subbed at the junior high for most of a semester in 1999. I worked at American Freightways before it became FedEx Freight. It is also the daily newspaper from close to where I grew up. (Understand that "close" is a relative term.) They also publish the Newton County Times, which tends to publish more stories about people I know, but it only comes out weekly.

Of course, all the friends that I had from Harrison when I was young have moved away, so those aren't the people I read about. My relatives and childhood friends from "home," however, are occasionally mentioned. The cousins with untreated ADHD,depression and other problems that drive them to self-medicate. Self-medication is expensive, so that drives them to manufacture and sell products in order to imbibe.

I truly believe better mental health screening would solve a lot of this. And some kind of job program. Something certainly needs to be done, because the drug problems are becoming generational. What used to be a few bootleggers getting into a bit of trouble turned in to marijuana growers and has evolved into meth manufacturing.

I know there are people who would like to turn the area into a giant National Park or something, but I would really like to see small-scale manufacturing return. Throw in mandatory drug testing. But people need jobs and dignity. Not weed and meth.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another one gone...

Our friend and neighbor Conard Middleton died this week. He was 86. He was a lifelong Republican and long time member of the Newton County Quorum Court-- a JP.

The reason that I tell you that he was a Republican is because my Papaw was a Democrat. In the world where I grew up, such designations mattered. A lot. Such things determine if your road gets maintained and what jobs are open to you.

But Conard was bigger than that. He cared about people more than parties. I know that he called over a time or two to someone to get them to grade our road, because when the "wrong" party was in charge, our gravel road sometimes became virtually impossible to traverse in a car. And my mom always drove a car, in the days before quad-cab pickups and SUVs. (She still drives a car-- better gas mileage.)

And, when I was a beginning driver, I spilled some hot tea on myself and landed my dad's car in a ditch. And he pulled me out, and never called my parents.

That, my friends, is a good man.