Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alcohol Sales in Valdese

Valdese, North Carolina is holding a special election on March 2, to decide if will be legal to sell alcoholic beverages within the town limits.  Currently, it is not.

Last year some people got together and decided it would be a good idea, that it would bring new businesses to town, which would either directly or indirectly help current businesses.  It also would bring increased tax revenues, which would help the town, so the theorey goes.   They gathered enough signatures, followed all the laws and got the measure on a ballot, to be voted on.

I actually know a few of the people instrumental in getting this going.  It is possible some of them may benefit financially from local alcohol sales but I doubt any of them would get rich from it.

When I first heard of it, I remember thinking, this is really going to be an uphill battle - and so far nothing has changed my mind.  The pro-alcohol sales people got their signs out first, but the anti-alcohol sales people have struck back with a vengeance, sign wise.  If singage is any indication, this measure will not come close to passing.

Valdese is a small town in the south, and it is no different than thousands upon thousands of other small towns in the south.  There are a boat load of churches in town, all protestant, all conservative, all (except perhaps one), White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (I'm sorry, but the Waldensians, who's heritage is Italian, have become as WASPy as the rest of us - its a state of mind more than actual heritage),  they equate drinking a beer with immorality, are adamantly opposed and are the driving force behind the opposition to this.

They don't put that on their signs though. On their signs they identify themselves as citizens for a drug free Valsese, or something like that.  Well the good ship SS Drug Free Valdese left port over 40 years ago, and it has yet to return. 

No, they think it is immoral.  And how do I know this?  It was how I was brought up, that's how I know.   Kentucky, where I grew up, has 120 counties.  When I was a child, 109 were dry - it was illegal to sell alcoholic beverages in them.  It just so happened though, that in Perry County, right next to Knott county, alcohol sales were legal.  When we drove from Hindman to my Granny's house, we left Knott County, went into Perry County, then back into Knott County (this was before they built the new road) - it was the only way to get around the mountain, I guess.  The first thing that greeted us in Perry County was a liquor store.  It had a big sign - Beer Wine Liquor.  I was six years old, I remember pressing my face against the car window looking at it in disbelief, everytime I passed it.  I remember thinking, these were bad, evil people, and not only that, they didn't care if everybody knew they were bad and evil.  I was positive they were going to go to hell, and burn for eternity.  Now, I was six years old - where did I learn that?  Why did I think that way?  I knew nothing of alcohol.  My parents did not drink, I didn't know anybody who used it, it was not any part of my culture.  I don't remember my parents ever talking about it.  But yet I had very strong six year old views on the subject, how did I get them? They came from church - the Montgomery Baptist Church, Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible School,  tent revivals, the Mennonite church I sometimes attended and some of the various other fundamentalist churches that were a part of my life back then.

So, that's how I know.  Even though they don't put it on their signs, the opposition is church driven, and they are opposed because they feel it is immoral. 

I think they are also better organized, and have more money, and certainly have a lot more people willing to donate their time to supporting their beliefs. 

So, my prediction is that Valdese will stay safely dry.   I'll let you know on March 3rd.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Religious Freedom

I recently read a pamphlet from 1961 called "Meet The Mennonites".   It gave a short history of the church, and the various sects in and around Southeastern Pennsylvania.  I learned a few things, so I count the the reading as a success.  One of the things I learned was that the Amish are actually a Mennonite sect, born from a schism within the church in Europe in the 1690s.    They brought their differences to the New World.

There seem to be division upon division within the church.  Some Mennonites are conservative to the point that you'd think they were Amish - apparently one of the main differences being that Mennonites have a meeting house, while Amish hold services in the various member's homes.   Other Mennonites are quite mainstream, driving cars, having professional jobs and so on.

But this was the neat thing, that people here take for granted.  There were all kinds of divisions within the church, with people breaking away from a larger group and forming their own congregations.  While their may have been animosity among the people involved, officially no one cared.  It was their right.  No state police, no federal entity of any kind interfered.   Religious persecution in Europe had existed for centuries, but in the United States religious freedom was guaranteed. 

My father's parents attended a Mennonite Church in Knott County, Kentucky.  Granny would put on a prayer cap, and I remember a lot of people in dark pants and white shirts, no neck-ties.  I seem to remember men & women sitting on opposite sides of the building, but I'm not sure. 

My mother's parents were Baptists, but with a minor adjustment, they could have easily been Old Order Mennonites.  Grandma, especially, was very religious.  They were farmers, maintaining fairly large fields by Eastern Kentucky standards.  Grandpa plowed with a mule.  They kept farm animals - mules, cows, pigs & chickens, and that provided a lot of protien for them. They did not own a car, a tractor or anything like that.  I remember watching Grandma make soap - she deemed it to dangerous and me to young to help, so I just watched from a safe distance.  They did not have indoor plumbing.  But, they had electricity, a telephone, (no TV), and a gas powered lawnmower.  So just get rid of the electicity, telephone & lawn mower, put a prayer cap on Grandma, teach them German, and there you go.

It's interesting.  A little history I did not know.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


My son recently had his 23rd birthday.

I remember my 23rd birthday. I was in the Army, in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. On my birthday I was at the rifle range, qualifying with the M-16. I'm not sure if I had ammo detail that day or the day before, but I remember liking ammo detail, because it got me out of a forced march. Qualifying was a several step process. We had to be able to shoot a tight grouping of 3 shots or so into a paper target - I can't remember how far away it was, but it wasn't close. Those three shots had to fit within the space of a quarter or half dollar, I can't remember. Once you could do that, they figured you had the basics down, then you adjusted your sites so that you could hit the bulls eye. My intial grouping was off to the right and a little low, so I had to adjust my sights to move it up and to the left. Once I got to the point that I could consistantly hit the bulls eye with that tight grouping, then I was ready to qualify. I got though the process without too much difficulty and qualified as a sharpshooter, which was average. Some people struggled - they could not get that initial tight grouping, and by the end of the day they were getting a tremendous amount of grief from the drill sergeants.

I always wondered about the advisability of giving tremendous amounts of grief to people with a loaded (and fully automatic) weapon, but I assume they knew what they were doing.

Having a son brings back memories, it seems.

I called my son & talked to him for awhile on his birthday. Near the end of our conversation I told him not to do anything crazy. What I was really saying, though I doubt he knew it, was please don't do the things I did.

I got through my 20's without any kind of injury or jail time, and that was due to dumb luck more than any other single reason. I'm begining to think that's the case for the majority of men. Can't speak for women. But now my son is going thru that age and I worry. I've been a father for 23 years, I suppose I'll never get used to it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Part of a conversation overheard at the post office & duly reported to me so I could write it in this blog.

I like our post office. I sometimes approach entering buildings, such as restaurants and grocery stores, with a bit of trepidation, but I've gotten quite used to going into our little post office. I may not be the most sociable person who ever walked thru their door, but I can make the occasional small talk. Everybody has always been very friendly & helpful.

Anyway, I didn't witness this conversation, so I may not have it exact. It involved a passport application. If you get behind someone dealing with a passport application chances are you're going to be standing there a few minutes. But that's ok. Its a small town, where else would you go?

Clerk: Did you git a gold form?
Elderly Man: No, I didn't git no gold form.
Clerk: Well, did you git a yallar one?
Elderly Man: No, I didn't git no yallar one.
- one minute pause while they stared at each other -
Clerk: Did you git a gold form?
Elderly Man: No, I didn't git no gold form.
Clerk: Ok, we'll just send off what you got then.
Elderly Man: Ok.

I refuse to divulge my source, although he/she/it is free to divulge his/her/itself if he/she/it so desires.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Frozen Fountain, Main Street, Valdese, NC

This picture, taken by our own Patti Anne (nice picture Patti Anne - that's 4), is just off the corner of Main & Roderet in Valdese.  It shows ice spilling over the sides of the fountain located in the courtyard of the Waldensian church.  It's just not natural, and not because there is an erie blue color about the ice.  It shouldn't be this cold here.  

This morning Pickles the dog and I went for a longish walk in a nice soft rain.  If it were summer time, that might be pleasant.  But since it was barely above freezing, it was pure dedication to walking the dog.  Pickles didn't seem to mind, but the human in the group was quite uncomfortable.  I suppose I need to get in touch with my inner dog.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One reason I like Saturday

We have DVR so I don't have to physically be here to watch it.........oh who am I kidding. 

Saturday evening is when the North Carolina & South Carolina public television stations decide to show episodes of Keeping Up Apperances.  They show 3 of them, two back to back, and one on another station at the same time as one of the other episodes.  We can record them all.

It provides 90 minutes of laughing like a clown (at least for me).

Minding the Potholes.