2017-11-01 / Columns

The Way We Were


Elvis makes film debut in Letcher County — finally! Love Me Tender, the 1956 black and white movie that marked the acting debut of rock and roll music star Elvis Presley, had been out for nearly one year exactly when it was finally shown for the first time at a theater in Letcher County. Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg showed Love Me Tender for three nights beginning November 8, 1957. Despite the lack of Elvis’s film presence, teenagers who could pick up the radio signal were able to hear Elvis Presley music for 15 minutes each Saturday on WNKY-AM (1450) in Neon. As Whitesburg High School senior Betty Pratt wrote so coolly in her weekly column in The Mountain Eagle, “Say you kids, remember the Elvis Presley we discovered in the senior play? Well, he now has a radio program. Be sure to listen to WNKY at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Buster Raleigh (our Elvis) will gladly receive all of your requests.” Elvis makes film debut in Letcher County — finally! Love Me Tender, the 1956 black and white movie that marked the acting debut of rock and roll music star Elvis Presley, had been out for nearly one year exactly when it was finally shown for the first time at a theater in Letcher County. Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg showed Love Me Tender for three nights beginning November 8, 1957. Despite the lack of Elvis’s film presence, teenagers who could pick up the radio signal were able to hear Elvis Presley music for 15 minutes each Saturday on WNKY-AM (1450) in Neon. As Whitesburg High School senior Betty Pratt wrote so coolly in her weekly column in The Mountain Eagle, “Say you kids, remember the Elvis Presley we discovered in the senior play? Well, he now has a radio program. Be sure to listen to WNKY at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Buster Raleigh (our Elvis) will gladly receive all of your requests.” Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, November 3, 1927 The town of Blackey will by getting a complete sanitary sewer system, officials with the Letcher County Health Department say. County Sanitation Officer J.D. Blair said the Blackey Town Council met Monday night and voted to accept a sewer system plan submitted by him and Dr. R.E. May, the county’s new health unit doctor.

. The Kentucky Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that stops Letcher County taxi drivers from picking up passengers on the roads over which the White Star Transportation Company holds exclusive franchises. The suit was originally filed in Letcher Circuit Court by the Wallen brothers, who own and operate White Star. In its ruling, the court says taxicabs can make special trips over a franchise route, but drivers cannot solicit passengers and must not pick up passenger at different stations along the way.

. A leading banker from eastern Kentucky is helping to lead the drive to have western Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave added to the nation’s system of national parks. “The opportunity to make the Mammoth Cave area a national park is one that should appeal to every Kentuckian,” said Jesse Morgan, president of the First National Bank of Hazard. “By giving these world-famous caverns and the beautiful regional in which they are situated to the people of the United States for a national playground, the people of Kentucky will make a contribution of everlasting value to the country.”

. The Karlton Theatre of Whitesburg is teaming with Continental Productions of Chicago “for a series of plays and specialty acts of the highest type,” including such plays as “My Gypsy Maid.” The series will begin on Tuesday, November 8.

. Two former Kentucky governors were campaigning in Whitesburg this week. Former two-term Democratic governor J.C.W. Beckham spoke at the Letcher County Courthouse Wednesday in support of his own candidacy for a third term the state’s highest office, while on the same day former Republican governor Edwin P. Morrow was here to speak on behalf of Beckham’s opponent, Flem D. Sampson.

Thursday, November 4, 1937 The City of Whitesburg is now home to a man who is believed to be nation’s youngest mayor. Bill Collins, 21, easily defeated Professor H.H. Harris, the city’s current mayor, in this week’s election. He is the son of prominent local attorney John D.W. Collins.

. Republican candidates swept to victory in the election for Letcher Conty offices in Tuesday’s general election. James M. Crase defeated Dr. B.F. Wright in the county’s judge’s race, while Cossie Quillen defeated Cro C. Caudill in the race for Letcher County Clerk. Doyle Hogg, also a Republican, is the new sheriff after defeating Prince Holcomb.

. Bing Crosby and Martha Raye star in “Double or Nothing,” scheduled to show at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg November 9 and 10.

Thursday, November 6, 1947 Fireman First Class Joseph Cox Wassum is the first of Letcher County’s war dead to be brought back home from foreign lands for burial here. Wassum, whom the Jenkins VFW Post is named after, was killed in action aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington in the Marshall Islands on December 4, 1943. His temporary grave was in a military cemetery in Pearl Harbor. Wassum, a graduate of Jenkins High School, was only 19 years old when he entered the service. His funeral was held November 1 at the First Baptist Church in Jenkins.

. Voters in the City of Whitesburg voted in favor of a bond issue earlier this week that will enable the city to build a new fire station and city hall on Webb Avenue. The issue passed by a 218-vote majority.

. Democratic candidates were easily elected in the races for statewide offices on the ballots in Letcher County and elsewhere in Kentucky in Tuesday’s general election. Earle C. Clements won the race for governor; Lawrence Wetherby won the race for lieutenant governor, and Robert Collins won the race for state representative for Letcher County. Voters in the county’s coal towns voted heavily while the turnout was low in the more rural areas.

. Alex Hall and Peggy Marcum were crowned as Whitesburg High School’s first Halloween Carnival King and Queen. The WHS Junior Class sponsored the event, with the crowning performed by Principal Millard Tolliver.

. Stephen Cornett of Whitesburg and Walter Hall of Blackey are among the 105 members of the University of Kentucky’s famed “Best Band in Dixie.”

. John Ed Sergent scored two touchdowns to lead the Jenkins Cavaliers over the Belfry Pirates Saturday night, 21 to 0.

. The Whitesburg Yellowjackets defeated the Fleming Pirates Friday night, 25 to 6, in Whitesburg’s final home game of the season.

Mrs. George Ellis Adkins, 40, was fatally shot at the Falcon Inn in Pike County on Sunday night and pronounced dead at the Jenkins hospital. Mrs. Adkins apparently went to the Falcon Inn with her sister, Mrs. Booker Wright, to look for Mr. Wright, who is said to have been there with another woman. Both Mr. Wright or the other woman are being held in the Pike County Jail.

. Sixty men are now employed in the Elkhorn Junior Coal Company’s Lorraine Mine at Thornton, where 400 tons of coal are produced daily, new state mine inspection records show.

Thursday, November 7, 1957 Letcher County voters went almost solid Democratic in Tuesday’s election, with the exceptions being Republican F. Byrd Hogg’s unopposed race for county attorney and W.L. Stallard Jr.’s re-election as Letcher Circuit Court Clerk. Democrats Arthur Dixon, Johnny Fulton and Charlie Wright won the races for county judge, sheriff, and county court clerk, respectively.

. Democrats swept into all city offices in Jenkins, led by mayoral candidate W.L. “Bill” Terrill.

. Whitesburg voters returned Mayor Arthur T. Banks to office this week by a 52-vote majority over challenger Charles Ihrig.

. The Kentucky Department of Highways has awarded a $256,549 construction bid for a new road between Payne Gap and Mayking. Greer Construction will build the road, which is expected to make travel easier between Jenkins and Whitesburg.

. Flu kept 1,600 pupils at home and closed 15 Letcher County schools this week.

. Jenkins High School defeated Belfry, 20 to 6, on Sunday to compete the school’s first undefeated football season. The Cavaliers, who also won their first Eastern Kentucky Mountain Conference (EKMC) trophy, will open post-season play against Catlettsburg High School at Paintsville Friday night.

. “A lot of firsts were chalked up in the records of Jenkins High School athletics last week, and we’d like to congratulate the best football team to ever wear the green and white of Jenkins,” Mountain Eagle editor Tom Gish writes in an editorial saluting the school’s first football team to finish the regular season undefeated.

. “He’s a lovin’ man in the story he was mean to play!” proclaims an advertisement introducing Elvis Presley as an actor in the movie “Love Me Tender,” showing Thursday through Saturday at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

. Margaret Moncrief, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S.G. Moncrief Sr. of Whitesburg, was recently elected cheerleader at Western Kentucky State College in Bowling Green.

Thursday, November 2, 1967 Army Pfc. Billy S. Whitaker of Whitesburg has received the Air Medal with “V” device as a result of “heroism while participating in aerial flight” in action in Vietnam. Whitaker is a gunner aboard a UH-1D helicopter. During surveillance mission near An Khe, his aircraft came under intense enemy fire and he “placed highly effective suppressive fire” on suspected enemy fortifications. He is a son of Mr. and Mrs. George Whitaker of Whitesburg and is a 1966 graduate of Whitesburg High School.

Halloween vandals set fire to and destroyed the Middle Millstone School, abandoned two years ago.

. Three hundred sixty-eight young people, about a fourth from Letcher County, were without jobs today because of the failure of Congress to pass an extension of spending authority for the Neighborhood Youth Corps program. In addition, about 20 professional and nonprofessional employees of the NYC staff will be without jobs next week. The Neighborhood Youth Corps is operated by the LKLP Community Action Council for high school dropouts. It employs young people who have not completed high school and gives them job experience, counseling and additional training for a six-month period. In addition, it also provides remedial education classes.

. During the gubernatorial election next week, no one will be permitted to go into the voting booth with a voter unless the voter signs an affidavit that he needs assistance because he is blind or cannot read or is physically disabled. In the past, election officials have accompanied voters into the booth to help them use the voting machine.

Thursday, October 27, 1977 More than 100 people were scheduled to appear before McCreary Circuit Judge J.B. Johnson as preliminary hearings began on charges stemming from last week’s battle between state police and striking miners at Stearns Mining Co. Ninety-four miners and 24 women, mainly miners’ wives, face charges of disorderly conduct and wanton endangerment after the bloody clash, which left at least 14 people injured.

. Currently, 66 companies — 27 strip mines and 39 deep mines — mine coal in Letcher County. All but 16 are less than five years old and only 12, none of them strip mines, operate more than one mine.

. U.S. Under Secretary of Labor Robert J. Brown recently called attention to a growing problem — unemployment among Vietnam and disabled veterans. During July, the unemployment rate among the 20- to 34-year-old veterans was 8.1 percent as compared to 7.9 percent for the nation.

. ”The Food of the Gods” and “Squirm”, a Halloween double feature, will be shown at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg October 28, 29 and 30.

Wednesday, October 28, 1987 Kentucky State Police say a chop shop operation uncovered at McRoberts is the biggest ever of its kind in eastern Kentucky. What police found was a hillside full of tractor-trailer trucks and parts and various types of other mining-related machinery stolen from as far away as Delaware. “I know it’s worth $3 million or more,” said state police Lt. Danny Webb. “We found 14 tractors, and in just one pile (of parts) I counted driveshafts that came from at least 50 or 60 other trucks.” The equipment was found at Band Mill Hill — off KY 343 at McRoberts — on land owned or rented by Vernon Andrew Mullins. The FBI also joined the search because it had already been conducting its own investigation of Mullins.

. The Letcher County Fiscal Court has postponed awarding garbage franchises, saying the bids were “too complicated” to evaluate during a meeting. At its October meeting, the court read 11 bids for the county’s two vacant franchises, but the magistrates could not make a decision.

. Blue Diamond Coal Company says 40 laid-off employees will begin clearing

equipment out of the Justus Mine, one of the steps in closing the mine permanently. All 225 workers were laid off October 10. The announcement ended any hopes workers might have had of returning to the mine, one of McCreary County’s largest employers.

. The Fleming-Neon Pirates defeated Virgie 19-14, while the Whitesburg Yellowjackets fell to Leslie County 37-8.

Wednesday, October 29, 1997 Letcher County’s unemployment rate rose 1.5 percent from August to September, but still was 1.4 percent lower than the rate for September 1996. Letcher had the highest September unemployment rate in the eight-county Kentucky River Area Development District at 10.2 percent.

. Letcher County Judge/Executive Carroll Smith has invited officials from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission to come to Letcher County to talk about problems with the proposed reconstruction of US 119 across Pine Mountain. The Nature Preserves Commission has come under fire from Transportation Cabinet officials and State Rep. Paul Mason of Whitesburg for refusing to delay its recent action to protect a tract of land on Pine Mountain from destruction caused by road building.

. The Letcher County Board of Education is asking its school facilities planning committee to reconvene for another session on the proposed location and construction of new school buildings. Chairman Steve Sexton said a facilities committee meeting on September 30 was not legal and not official because it was not properly advertised. He apologized the members of the press and the public for the error.

. Trick-or-treating on Halloween for children 12 and under will take place throughout Letcher County on Friday, October 31.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 Organizers of a Halloween “safe night” in Whitesburg say the event will give children a place to collect treats without being exposed to traffic and other dangers. As many as 50 businesses and organizations are expected to be at Riverside Park in Whitesburg to hand out treats between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m.

. Letcher County school officials did the proper thing by calling off classes at Letcher County Central High School for one day last week after a student was diagnosed with a drug-resistant staph infection, says Dr. Fares J. Khater, an infectious disease specialist who practices at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corp.’s Whitesburg Medical Clinic. Classes were back in session after workers spent the day using Lysol cleaner to disinfect classrooms, restrooms, lunchrooms and all other facilities at the high school.

. First Lady Glenna Fletcher came to Whitesburg to present a $27,000 check to the Letcher County Health Department for a new program focusing on helping pregnant women quit smoking cigarettes. Also during her visit, she presented the Letcher County Fiscal Court and the City of Whitesburg with an award for implementing a smoking ban that was imposed on July 1, 2006.

. The Letcher County Central High School Cougars, with a record of 7-1, traveled to Paris to take on the Bourbon County Colonels. The Cougars, who have already wrapped up the number one seed in the district, won the game by the score of 40-12.

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