2017-08-09 / Columns

The Way We Were


CRASH FATAL TO POWERS — Letcher County native Francis Gary Powers is seen in this photo using a microphone in the skies above Los Angeles to report on traffic for an L.A. radio station in 1973. Four years later, on August 1, 1977, a television news helicopter piloted by the former spy pilot from Burdine lies in a field in Los Angeles. Powers, 47, and another news person were killed while on assignment for local station KNBC. Powers was the pilot captured by the Soviets in the 1960 U2 spy plane incident. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) CRASH FATAL TO POWERS — Letcher County native Francis Gary Powers is seen in this photo using a microphone in the skies above Los Angeles to report on traffic for an L.A. radio station in 1973. Four years later, on August 1, 1977, a television news helicopter piloted by the former spy pilot from Burdine lies in a field in Los Angeles. Powers, 47, and another news person were killed while on assignment for local station KNBC. Powers was the pilot captured by the Soviets in the 1960 U2 spy plane incident. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, August 11, 1927 The Superior Motor Company of Whitesburg changed hands recently, and is now owned by the Boone Motor Company of Seco. The new owners are Sanders Collins, Watson Collins, and Lennon Spears. Olney Hammonds will continue as manager of the company, which is the local agency for the Chevrolet and Nash makes of autos.

. The Letcher County Fiscal Court has awarded construction bids for one bridge at Neon over the Boone Fork for $1,400, and one bridge at Blair Branch on Rockhouse for $2,200. The court on August 15 will consider construction of three other bridges — at Blackey, Ulvah and Roxana — that are expected to cost a total of $21,000. The town of Blackey will be required to pay one-fourth of the cost of the bridge there. All five bridges will replace structures destroyed by the floodwaters of May 30.

. Two men were injured Friday morning, one of them seriously, when the Ford truck in which they were riding crashed into a moving freight train at the Ermine crossing. The L&N train crew brought the men to Whitesburg, where they left them in the care of Dr. B.C. Bach before moving on down the line toward central Kentucky. R.L. Gibson suffered only minor wounds, but Lee Collins suffered a fractured skull and remains in a coma in the Seco hospital.

. A new Bible will be given free to any family who lost theirs or had it damaged during the May flooding. Inquiries should be made at the Presbyterian Church in Whitesburg.

. A new tennis court in the Collins-Harvie Addition [Upper Bottom] to Whitesburg is now open to lovers of the sport that has made Bill Tilden and Helen Willis famous. The site was furnished by Sam Collins and Lewis Harvie. “There is nothing exlusive about the club,” reports The Mountain Eagle. “Anybody who likes the game or wants to learn it is welcome.”

. D.W. Little is erecting a splendid new frame house in the Collins-Harvie Addition, next door to the residence of attorney Harry L. Moore.

. Dr. Can Bentley has opened a confectionery on Main Street in Neon.

Thursday, August 12, 1937 The American Automobile Association (AAA) announces that the counties of Letcher, Knott and Perry have been added to the franchise of the Eastern Kentucky Automobile Club, headquartered in Ashland.

. “Your highway to vacationland may wind into the mountains, or slope down to the beach, but wherever you may go, voice-ways of shining copper will link you to your home,” says an advertisement touting long-distance service now being offered to Letcher County residents by Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company.

. “By the time this is published the Bull Hole will be overflowing,” an unidentified Ermine correspondent writes about the justcompleted August primary election and the location near the top of Pine Mountain where losing candidates are said to go to lick their wounds. “Maybe those who don’t know when to quit running will possibly get their political cravings crushed completely out,” the writer adds. “If no one had no more interest in Letcher County than its politicians — both parties included — it would have been blown to toothpicks long ago.”

. Jody Adams of Letcher County is a starting guard for the football team at Morehead State Teachers College. A junior, he enters the new season weighing 170 pounds.

. Fields Motor Company of Whitesburg is the town’s Oldsmobile dealer. An ad says the Olds line of automobiles is “priced but a little above the lowest.”

. “The good mild rains of the past few days have put new life in all growing vegetables, and now the prospects are growing for an abundance of everything in and around our little town,” the correspondent for the community of Sergent writes for The Eagle.

. “Regardless of time, The Mountain Eagle always presents news to its readers that is authentic,” the newspaper says in a note to readers.

Thursday, August 14, 1947 D.W. Little of Whitesburg was appointed earlier today as Commissioner of the Kentucky State Game and Fish Commission. He was appointed by Governor Simeon Willis to succeed Dr. O.W. Thompson of Pikeville.

. Funeral services will be held today for Mrs. Polly Ann Holbrook of Mayking, who was killed in an auto accident Saturday night while returning to Letcher County from Corbin. The wreck occurred just below Cumberland.

. Coach Ray Pigman’s Whitesburg Yellowjackets football team is practicing in T-shirts and shorts because of the severe heat. The 30 spirited boys who reported for practice will get into their “moleskins” next week as contact work will begin. The 1947 season kicks off when Wayland High School visits September 5 and will end November 7 when Whitesburg visits Wayland in Floyd County. This year’s team is expected to be one of the school’s best.

. New additions to the Whitesburg High School football field include steel bleachers to seat 536 fans and flood lights that will enable all six of the Yellowjackets’ home games

to be played at night.

. Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Adams have announced the birth of a daughter, Dian, born at their home on August 5.

. A heat wave so severe it is a “serious threat” to all crops in the nation’s Midwest region has also hit Letcher County. “The current heat wave has been so severe the last few days that The Eagle’s feathers have dropping considerably,” jokes the newspaper’s editor, W.P. Nolan. “In fact, many feathers may be lost if the heat continues.”

. Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton star in “Duel in the Sun,” showing August 17-20 at the Bolling Theatre in Norton, Virginia.

. Mrs. Mabel Burklow demonstrated to the Fleming Homemakers for their August meeting, “How To Serve A Tea Party.”

Thursday, August 14, 1957 Kentucky Attorney General Jo McCown Furguson has filed a lawsuit asking that Basil Hall be removed from his elected position as member of the Letcher County Board of Education. The suit charges that Hall, a Whitesburg grocery operator, is ineligible to serve on the board because he sold 20 bushels of potatoes to the Whitesburg school lunchroom last September and received $20 in payment for them. Hall was elected in November 1954 and took office the following January.

. Work on installation of telephones in the Sandlick, Isom and Blackey areas is about 65 percent complete, says Carl Strauss, manager for Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company.

. Pigman Brothers Dry Cleaners moved into their new plant on Railroad Street in Whitesburg this week. The plant is in the building formerly occupied by the Kyva Post newspaper.

. Acting Kentucky Governor Harry Lee Waterfield has named nine men to a commission charged with planning eastern Kentucky’s future. None of the men are from Letcher County. However, Waterfield did name Harry LaViers Sr. of Paintsville to the commission. He is president of South-East Coal Company. The group will be known as the East Kentucky Regional Planning Commission.

. Mrs. E.J. Berlin of Jenkins has collected more than 50,000 buttons since she started a “friendship collection” 18 years ago. When Mrs. Berlin began collecting the buttons, there were only about 300 collectors in the United States. Now there are 3,000. She said she has traded buttons in almost every state in the Union while her address book has swollen to 519 names. Her collection, which includes buttons from clothing worn by General U.S. Grant, has gotten national attention since the United Press wrote about her hobby and how she keeps a record of every button she has ever received. She belongs to the National Hobby Organization.

. Betty Jo Collins of Whitesburg completed the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in education at Pikeville College this summer. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Collins, she was one of two Letcher Countians to earn degrees at Pikeville this year. Frank T. Welch of Neon received the Bachelor of Arts degree at commencement June 2.

. Mr. and Mrs. Chester L. Cureton of Seco have announced the engagement of their daughter, Betty Lou, to Gene Horn of Inez. The wedding will take place September 1 at Seco Methodist Church.

Thursday, August 10, 1967 The Appalachian region as a whole shows an economic improvement, but eastern Kentucky’s mountain counties still lag considerably behind, the Appalachian Regional Commission said in a progress report. In the Appalachian region as a whole, employment rose 7.4 percent from 1962 to 1965. In the nation as a whole, the rise was 9.3 percent in the same period. But in the

eastern Kentucky mountains, the rise was only 5 percent, from 191,000 jobs in 1962 to 200,700 jobs in 1965.

. E-3 Danny H. Ison, son of Mrs. Maude Ison of Letcher County, is serving in Vietnam. An older brother was killed during the fighting in Korea several years ago.

. An advertisement in The Mountain Eagle describes a “gigantic auction sale” of the Hazel Bentley property in Neon. To be auctioned are the Show Building located on Main Street, a lot adjoining the theater building, a lot known as Old Theater Lot, and a home in Neon behind the theater lot.

. William Wright, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wright, was chosen from Whitesburg High School to represent Kentucky in the annual Kiwanis Bowl football game to be played Aug. 12 at Williamson, W.Va. Danny Carl Collins was also chosen to represent Kentucky.

Thursday, August 4, 1977 President Jimmy Carter signed the nation’s first federal strip mine bill into law during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday. Invitations to the bill-signing were sent to a number of Appalachian residents who have fought for controls or abolition of strip mining over the years, but several turned it down. Representatives of the Appalachian Coalition and West Virginia’s Save Our Mountains refused to attend, saying it would help the White House create an illusion of unified support for the bill from environmentalists. Several critics of strip mining planned to attend including Harry Caudill of Whitesburg, and Joe Begley of Blackey.

. An estimated 1,500 coal miners will stage demonstration at the White House tomorrow in protest of health cuts for United Mine Workers and their families. The ranks of wildcatting miners swelled past the 50,000 mark this week as West Virginia miners began organizing the march.

. Francis Gary Powers, 47, the Burdine native who became an international figure when his CIA spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, died Monday in a helicopter crash. Powers’s 1960 crash revealed the existence of the United States’ UI-2 spy plane, which officials previously had said was a weather research plane. The incident led to the cancellation of Paris summit talks between President Dwight Eisenhower and Premier Nikita Khrushchev and accelerated the worsening of U.S.- Soviet relations. Powers was exchanged two years later for Russian spy Rudolf Abel.

Wednesday, August 5, 1987 A New Zealand television crew taping a documentary on America spent last week in Letcher County. The programs by the TV crew will focus on 24 Americans from all over the country. The crew interviewed several people including Verlin Sanders, Gary Rakes and Marvin Jarrett, all on WMMTFM at Appalshop; Jenkins Police Chief Bill Tackett Jr. and Bill Tackett Sr., a retired coal miner, and Frank Campbell, a coal miner from Jenkins. They also taped a coal tipple in operation and a coal mine.

. The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department, the Neon City Police and the Jenkins City Police confiscated more than 300 mature marijuana plants in a raid at Haymond, Sheriff Ben B. Taylor said. The departments converged on a field at Haymond Hill between Jenkins and Neon and ended up finding a string of marijuana patches linked together by a footpath.

. Several new programs and policies are being implemented in Letcher County schools this year. They include an alternative education program for grades 7-12 for students who have troubled functioning in a classroom setting; a guidance program for elementary schools; academic teams in elementary schools; a new elementary librarian and remedial reading teachers; closed lunches for high school students; and stricter districting.

. “The hot, dry weather has really hurt the

gardens, really encouraging the bean bugs to devour the bean vines,” writes Sergent correspondent Vendetta Fields, “but still we have had a beautiful harvest.”

Wednesday, August 6, 1997 Mining in the Camp Branch and Stinking Creek area of Letcher County has damaged the groundwater in those watersheds say state mining regulators after investigating the water quality complaints in the area for four months. Monitored wells show an increase in sulfates and iron levels. Golden Oak Mining Co. has conducted strip mine and deep mine operations in the area. The preliminary report does not state that Golden Oak caused the current water problems, but does say that Golden Oak needs to do additional work to bring residents’ water supplies up to pre-mining conditions.

. Mine worker Harold Brooks, 63, of Hardburly, was killed in Letcher County last week when his rock truck rolled 315 feet down an embankment. Brooks was hauling and backdumping refuse at Big Elk Creek Coal Co.’s Kelly Fork No. 38 Mine near Blackey when the accident occurred around 3:10 a.m. on August 1. He is the state’s second mining fatality of the year.

. Letcher County lottery players lost a total of nearly $1 million in the Kentucky state lottery during the fiscal year 1997. Players bought $2.1 million in Letcher County from July 1, 1996 to June 30, 1997. Their winnings, $1.28 million, totaled about two-thirds of their spending.

. Workers have corrected problems at the Letcher County Jail after a relative of an inmate complained of sweltering heat and nearly unlivable conditions at the jail. An inspector was sent to jail last week after the relative complained, saying the jail had a leaky roof, no hot water, dust in the air, little ventilation and no air conditioning. The inspector found no problem with the air conditioning or with any dust in the air, but did find a leaking roof, which workers repaired. The inspector also discovered a faulty fire alarm system, which has since been repaired. The hot water was not broken, but had been turned off for one day because of ongoing renovations at the Letcher County Courthouse, where the jail is located.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 About 17 percent of Letcher County’s 155 bridges are rated “structurally deficient,” according to 2006 statistics from the Federal Highway Administration. The statistics show that 59 bridges in Letcher County are rated okay, while 27 bridges are rated as deficient. The statistics don’t identify which bridges are okay or deficient.

. Police in Whitesburg and Fleming-Neon are advising residents to lock their doors and be on the lookout for two scam artists who have been visiting homes in the area. Whitesburg Police Chief Scott Adams said a man and a woman went to at least five homes in the lower end of West Whitesburg on August 2, trying to see what valuables people have in their homes The couple gained entry into elderly women’s homes by saying they were selling books or conducting surveys. Adams say no one has reported anything stolen, although the couple was trying to find out financial information about the homeowners.

. Charles Howard, a Letcher County coal miner, claims he has been targeted by the company where he works because he spoke out against unsafe working conditions at one of the company’s mines. Howard, of Roxana, filed a complained with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration saying he was being discriminated against by Cumberland River Coal Co. Howard said he received written warning from the company for potentially creating an unsafe work environment when he made a videotape underground in April. Howard showed the videotape — which showed unsafe conditions at Band Mill No. 2 mine in Eolia — at a public hearing conducted by MSHA in July. The tape showed several leaks and cracks in several seals in the mine.

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