2017-07-26 / Columns

The Way We Were


Whitesburg’s oldest retail store turns 70 this week The Western Auto store in downtown Whitesburg first opened its doors to the public on July 26, 1947, according to this advertisement that appeared in the July 24, 1947 edition of The Mountain Eagle. The store’s original owners were Owen W. Wright and his wife, Myrtle. The store is operated today by Owen W. Wright Jr. and his wife Barbara. Whitesburg’s oldest retail store turns 70 this week The Western Auto store in downtown Whitesburg first opened its doors to the public on July 26, 1947, according to this advertisement that appeared in the July 24, 1947 edition of The Mountain Eagle. The store’s original owners were Owen W. Wright and his wife, Myrtle. The store is operated today by Owen W. Wright Jr. and his wife Barbara. Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, July 28, 1927 Newberry Meade was held without bond by Judge Noah Bentley after a preliminary hearing into the death of Letcher County Deputy Sheriff P.H. Bates. Funeral services for Bates, who was shot July 10 and died several days later, were held July 18 at Fairview Cemetery near Sergent. About 400 people attended the service.

. New smallpox cases are reported at Elsiecoal and Beefhide.

. Letcher County residents are being encouraged to build fly-proof outhouses to help control typhoid and other diseases. “The worst enemy to the human race is the common housefly,” says J.D. Blair, the county’s new sanitary instructor. “He carries the germs that make us sick, his breeding place is the dung pile of the human race. … He visits and crawls over the dung pile and gets this filth on his feet, then flies on your bread, gravy, and in your milk that is on your dinner table. So treat the fly like you would me if you were to catch me putting poison in your food.”

. T.P. Callahan of Louisville is the new Underwood typewriter representative for Letcher County. He made his first trip here last week and says he plans to spend several days in Whitesburg each month.

. Between 400 and 500 people were in attendance when the Thornton Church of Old Regular Baptists gathered on Sunday.

. The Garner Reds, a basketball team at the mouth of Little Colley, opened its season recently by defeating the Dudley team by a score of 38-13.

. Cecil L. Spradlin has been promoted to chief clerk at South-East Coal Company’s offices at Seco and Millstone. Spradlin, a native of Van Lear in Johnson County, came to Letcher County 12 years ago as a stenographer for South-East official Henry Pfening Jr., and has received several promotions since.

. Sleeping cars to and from Cincinnati have been added to L&N Railroad’s westbound train No. 2, which now leaves Whitesburg at 3:35 p.m., and eastbound train No. 1, which leaves Cincinnati at 9:41 a.m.

Thursday, July 29, 1937 Monday marked the beginning of the end of the Harlan County coal operators’ fight against the United Mine Workers of America, as the National Labor Relations Board held a hearing in the Lynch School auditorium to set guidelines for an election to determine the bargaining agency for the miners employed at U.S. Coke and Coal Company’s mine at Lynch.

. Walt Disney’s first job was as a mail carrier in Chicago, where he was born in 1901.

. Letcher County motorists have only one more week to renew their driver’s license, says Letcher Circuit Court Clerk D.D. Frazier. A fee of $1 will be charged for each renewal.

. In a political advertisement themed Yes, the Smiling Cro is Still Smiling,’ Letcher County Court Clerk candidate Cro C. Caudill tells voters he has been a card-carrying member of the United Mine Workers of America since shortly before he lost his left arm in a mining accident while working at Consolidation Coal Company’s No. 214 Tipple at McRoberts in September 1918. Caudill, who previously served as country clerk for eight years, says his only hope of holding a job is if voters put him back in the courthouse.

. Spencer Tracy stars in the World War I movie, “They Gave Him a Gun,” scheduled for showing at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg on August 3 and 4.

. Bentley Theatre of Neon will show “Hittin’ the Trail,” a movie starring Tex Ritter, on Saturday.

Thursday, July 31, 1947 An estimated 1,500 miners returned to their jobs at Consolidation Coal Company in Jenkins Wednesday after a strike that began last Friday. The walkout began when the company dismissed 25 men whose places had been worked out. The company has agreed to find new positions for the 25 men.

. The new Kay Beauty Shop, owned by Verna Holbrook and Geraldine Lucas, is now open on Main Street in Whitesburg.

. President Truman has returned to the White House after attending the funeral of his mother, 94-year-old Martha Ellen Truman, who was buried Tuesday in Kansas City.

. A new grease rack and air compressor have been installed at Public Square Service Station in Whitesburg, which is now under the ownership of Gilbert Polly and Gene Adkins.

. Forty-six Letcher County boys and girls from 4-H clubs in Blackey, Bottom Fork, Campbell’s Branch, Colson, Cumberland River Valley, Indian Creek, Little Cowan, Linefork, McRoberts, Smoot Creek and Tolliver Town are attending 4-H Club Camp at Quicksand this week.

. August 1 is the date set for the opening of Alice’s Beauty Shop in Whitesburg. It will adjoin Tolliver’s Barber Shop.

Thursday, August 1, 1957 Solving the town’s parking problem, attracting new industry and providing a recreation facility would greatly improve life in Whitesburg, according to the results a quick poll taken by The Mountain Eagle. “A by-pass” was the answer given by City Patrolman Eddie Howard when asked the one thing Whitesburg needs the most. “Better parking facilities,” said businessman Hoover Dawahare, citing the need for a “cleanup campaign, (a) bypass, (and) someone with initiative and foresight.” Mrs. T.E. Cochran and Loraine Collins both said the town needs “a recreation center,” while citizens Rose Adams and Janice Webb called for “factories.” “Vote Whitesburg wet,” said shoe shop owner Ancil Morgan.

. Two Letcher County athletes have signed to play football with the University of Kentucky. They are Lloyd Hodge of Whitesburg and Harry Johnson of Fleming Neon. Hodge, who made first-team all-state, will play fullback and Johnson, who received all-state honorable mention, will play tackle.

. Four Letcher County beauties are among a group of young women vying for the title of “Queen of the Mountains,” a pageant to be staged in Cumberland Sunday during the celebration of the town’s 40th birthday celebration. They are Patsy Darnell of McRoberts, Linda DePriest of Jenkins, Phyllis Ann Hall of Ermine, and Adrienne Jackson of Neon.

. A shortage of teachers and principals continues to trouble the Jenkins Independent School System, but has eased somewhat. As the August 23 start date for the new school year grows nearer, Jenkins Superintendent C.V. Snapp is still looking for a principal to serve at Burdine Elementary School. In a related matter, Snapp says the 1957-58 school year will represent the largest enrollment in the school system to date.

. John Wesley Wright, one of Letcher County’s first watchmakers and a master machinist, died at the Fleming hospital July 26. He was 75. It was only after teaching school and working as foreman at the railroad yards in Neon during World War I that Wright went into watchmaking, a mechanical skill that “enabled him to repair almost anything that needed fixing,” The Mountain Eagle reports.

. The Kentucky Department of Highways has announced that planning is underway for the construction of the Jenkins- Whitesburg Road, from U.S. 23 near Payne Gap and extending toward Mayking to junction with road to Kona.

Thursday, July 27, 1967 An editorial and an article introduced “an exciting new idea in housing for the area” to Mountain Eagle readers: “The Pole House, designed by student architect Bill Richardson, who has been working in the mountains as part of his training at Yale University. … Thirty-five hundred dollars and some labor can provide a fouror five-bedroom home, but price is not the only consideration. Equally important, the house is aesthetically appealing. It has a rugged quality that can blend naturally and beautifully with our steep hillsides. The house which we picture under construction at Hindman Settlement School, is suspended on nine telephone poles, with some seven rooms stair-stepped up and down the poles, and up and down the hillside, on three floors.”

. The Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry (LKLP) Community Action Council Board of Directors, at a special meeting, voted to require that a board member request a leave of absence if he or a close relative applies for a job with LKLP or any of its subsidiary agencies. The board had been concerned for several weeks with the problem of board members or board member relatives applying for work in the council.

. The Letcher County Health Department will give physical examinations to all children who will enter the first grade this fall and who are not in the Head Start program and have not had physical examinations by their private doctor.

. Funeral services will be held July 28 for Harold Larue, who was killed in a slate fall in the mine in which he was working. Two other miners were with him when the fall occurred but escaped injury. Mr. Larue was 37 years old and the father of 10 children.

Thursday, July 21, 1977 An estimated 150 men gathered at several Beth-Elkhorn mines in Letcher County over the weekend, hooting and threatening miners and management personnel alike as mines throughout eastern Kentucky remained closed in protest of recent cuts in health insurance for United Mine Workers members. Miners at Beth- Elkhorn’s Mine No. 22, near Deane, reported being harassed with curses, rocks and gunfire when they approached the mine Sunday night to check out reports that the mine was being picketed.

. Reporting on the weather, Sandlick correspondent Daisy Halcomb said, “it is so hot here you can’t do anything but sit in the shade or buy a fan. Thursday it was 102 degrees at 5 o’clock and Saturday it was 100 degrees but that is the Lord’s doing and we thank Him for everything, the hot and the cold.”

. Employees at Jenkins’ water, sewer and police departments began striking Monday over grievance procedures which they feel have been disrupted by the appointment of a three-man water commission to handle the city’s chronic water problems.

. Whitesburg native Steve Banks, a 6’10’’ senior center, received All-KIAC and All- NAIA District 32 honors last season, and should be even better this season according to Cumberland College coach Ken Trivette.

Wednesday, July 22, 1987 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wallace Wilkinson visited Letcher County for the first time since his victory in the May primary election. He was here for a by-invitation-only barbecue sponsored by Golden Oak Mining Co. and the Knott- Letcher-Perry Independent Coal Operators Assoc.

. Three Letcher County natives, Col. Verdell Back, Col. Charles H. Back and Col. Klair E. Back, are sons of Capt. Charles H. Back of the Kentucky Militia. Their father had been Letcher County sheriff and county court clerk and had fought under Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing in the wars against Pancho Villa on the Mexican border. Each of his sons joined the Army Air Corps and served in three wars, retired with the rank of colonel and held the highest commands possible for their rank.

. A circuit court jury will decide how to punish Donald Terry Bartley, 28, of Evarts, for his role in the murder of 23-year-old Tammy Dee Acker of Fleming-Neon, and the robbery of $1.9 million from her father. Dr. Roscoe Acker. Bartley pleaded guilty, but said in a hearing last week that he did not agree to waive his right to be sentenced by a jury.

. The Whitesburg Senior League All-Stars won the district baseball title by defeating all-star teams from both Jenkins and Letcher.

Wednesday, July 23, 1997 Workers with jobs inside the City of Whitesburg may be asked to give up one percent of their weekly paychecks to help convince Gov. Paul Patton that the city should get priority status for grants and loans to help finance new economic development projects. City and county governments have until August 15 to submit applications for participation in the new Kentucky Appalachian Community Development Initiative. Whitesburg Mayor Jack Howard said Whitesburg is in the running but won’t be selected unless city officials can show that local funds will be able to maintain the improvements.

. Letcher Fiscal Court has adopted a county-wide speed limit that lowers most county roads to 25 miles per hour unless otherwise posted. The speed limit on roads in Seco, Hemphill and Pert Creek has been lowered to 10 miles per hour.

. The Fleming-Neon Little League All-Stars will travel to Owensboro this Saturday to compete in their first-ever state tournament.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 Kenneth Meade, 44, has been charged with attempted murder of Ernie Yonts, 12 days after Meade obtained a citizen’s warrant charging Yonts, 45, of Neon, with misdemeanor assault for hitting Meade in the head with a beer bottle. The two men got in a fight at the American Legion in Neon and police say Meade “shot Yonts in the leg with a firearm.”

. The Letcher Fiscal Court has agreed to spend $60,000 to hire two more sheriff ’s deputies. The court voted unanimously to pay for the two deputy positions with money from the county’s road and bridge fund. Magistrate Wayne Fleming said the transfer of funds is legal under the rules that allow for money for police protection of highways.

. Letcher County’s newest eatery, Summit City Coffee, will mark its grand opening this weekend with performances by Gravy, a Los Angeles-based band, and folksinger Si Kahn.

. North Carolina correspondent Gladys Smith named her granddaughter, Alizah Cailyn Simpson, as her person of the week.

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