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The Way We Were

Hers was first song to top both country and rock charts With her career-defining hit song, 23-year-old Jeannie C. Riley accomplished a crossover feat that no other woman would match for another dozen years: On September 21, 1968, she became the first female performer to top the Billboard Country and Pop charts simultaneously, with “Harper Valley P.T.A.” Perhaps never in pop history has one voice been more right for one song than Jeannie C. Riley’s was for “Harper Valley P.T.A.” Indeed, it was her speaking voice, and not her singing, that got Riley noticed and picked out for the song. She had come to Nashville from her native Anson, Texas, in her early 20s to pursue a singing career, but it was on her day job as a receptionist at that she was noticed by the legendary country-music record producer Shelby Singleton. Recognizing her voice as perfect for the protagonist in songwriter Tom T. Hall’s crypto-feminist tale of a small-town Southern widow’s fight for her right to wear her skirts short and her heels high, Singleton had Riley record “Harper Valley P.T.A.” as her first professional demo, which was released as a single that charged up the Pop and Country charts in mid-summer 1968. — The History Channel Country music singer Jeannie C. Riley of “Harper Valley PTA” in 1968. (AP)

Hers was first song to top both country and rock charts With her career-defining hit song, 23-year-old Jeannie C. Riley accomplished a crossover feat that no other woman would match for another dozen years: On September 21, 1968, she became the first female performer to top the Billboard Country and Pop charts simultaneously, with “Harper Valley P.T.A.” Perhaps never in pop history has one voice been more right for one song than Jeannie C. Riley’s was for “Harper Valley P.T.A.” Indeed, it was her speaking voice, and not her singing, that got Riley noticed and picked out for the song. She had come to Nashville from her native Anson, Texas, in her early 20s to pursue a singing career, but it was on her day job as a receptionist at that she was noticed by the legendary country-music record producer Shelby Singleton. Recognizing her voice as perfect for the protagonist in songwriter Tom T. Hall’s crypto-feminist tale of a small-town Southern widow’s fight for her right to wear her skirts short and her heels high, Singleton had Riley record “Harper Valley P.T.A.” as her first professional demo, which was released as a single that charged up the Pop and Country charts in mid-summer 1968. — The History Channel Country music singer Jeannie C. Riley of “Harper Valley PTA” in 1968. (AP)

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 1928 A modern laundry will be installed in the Turner Building in Whitesburg. Reports say the laundry will be operated by T.N. Carter of Norton, Virginia, who has leased the location. The new plant will be thoroughly equipped to do all kinds of laundry and dry cleaning.

. A Jenkins area family nearly lost their house to fire this week after a 2-1/2 year old child started a fire. The home of E.H. Johnson, located 1-1/2 miles from the Marshall’s Branch School where he teaches, was damaged considerably after young Guy Johnson managed to light a section of wallpaper on fire while his mother was outside scrubbing a porch. Homer Johnson, 4-1/2 years old, alarmed Mrs. Johnson about the flames. Mrs. Johnson then set to work carrying water from a force pump operated by young Homer and throwing it on the flames. Other neighbors were able to help extinguish the flames. Mr. Johnson was teaching at the school when the fire broke out.

. A typographical error in last week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle [September 21, 1928] listed the date of Daniel Boone’s visit to Letcher County as 1871 when date should have read 1781. “Just a matter of 90 years!” the paper embarrassingly explained in a front-page correction.

. A telegram was received during the first of the week stating that Virginia and Clara Speaks, daughters of James Speaks of Letcher County, were in a bad auto wreck Sunday in Glendale, North Carolina. A cousin of the girls was injured in the wreck that left them badly injured.

. Passenger service on two L&N Railroad passenger trains was greatly improved recently when new equipment was installed in the No. 1 and No. 2 trains. The improvements consist of all-steel electric lighted coaches with closed vestibules.

. Linefork residents E.D. Polly and Bob Polly killed 17 rattlesnakes and nine copperheads after they found them in a long crack in a rock in the head of Picture Branch near what is known as the Bear Hole. “We expect to make another visit next Sunday,” says E.D. Polly. “If anybody feels brave enough to go with us we would love to have the help.”

. All popular brands of cigarettes are on sale at the A&P Store in Whitesburg for $1.15 per carton of 200. A 25-pound bag of sugar is on sale for $1.61. A one-pound pail of peanut butter is available for 25 cents. Flour is on sale at 93 cents for a 24-pound bag.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1938 A joint meeting of interested citizens from Letcher and Harlan counties was held Tuesday at the Methodist Church in Cumberland to discuss the proposed flood control dam on Cumberland River. Engineers are already at work and are making surveys of several possible dam sites. They expect to complete their work within the next three weeks.

. Letcher County’s tobacco “chawers” will get the chance to find out who is the county’s “most accurate spitter” when contests will be held Saturday to settle the question. The event will be held in the yard of the Letcher County Courthouse in Whitesburg. First prize pays five dollars.

. Edgar Jackson, well-known furniture dealer in Letcher County, was killed Sunday night in a freak traffic accident just below Kona. Mr. Jackson was on his way to Whitesburg about 10 p.m. Sunday when his car struck a pile of rock on the roadside. After the wreck he was sitting on the running board of his car when another car crashed into his vehicle, crushing him in the process.

. Letcher County Sheriff Doyle Hogg has announced that the names of all dog owners who have not secured a dog tag or kennel license will be referred to the Letcher County Grand Jury for further action after October 1.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1948 Two armed men pretending to be law enforcement officers entered the Letcher County Jail in Whitesburg at about 8 p.m. Tuesday in an attempt to lynch Hassel Smith, a prisoner charged with murdering Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Matthew Collins. Jailer John M. Adams said he had heard a mob would be coming to the jail and had already moved Smith to the Pike County Jail for safekeeping. The two men, who were part of a three-car caravan, displayed the rope with which they hoped to hang Smith. Collins, who had recently been appointed to replace Letcher County Constable Jody P. Adams, was killed while coming to the aid of his brother, Benny Collins, during the arrest of Hassel Smith’s brother near a roadhouse on Rockhouse Creek. Collins, 57, of Isom, was serving in the constable’s seat formerly held by Jody P. Adams, who was recently sentenced to the state penitentiary for murdering Howard Polly about three miles from the spot where Collins was killed.

. Kentucky State Police Commissioner Guthrie F. Crowe announced today a policy of vigorous enforcement of the state law that requires motorists to stop their vehicles when there is a school bus either loading or unloading children.

. One of the most fashionable weddings of the season was held in Williamson,

West Virginia on Saturday, September 12, when Mary Dawahare, daughter of Mr. S.F. Dawahare of Whitesburg, became the bride of Edward Dawhare, son of Mr. and Mrs. M.F. Dawhare of Wheelwright, Kentucky. The new Mrs. Dawhare is a graduate of Whitesburg High School and is employed at her father’s department store.

. The Whitesburg Yellowjackets defeated Paintsville, 47 to 0, in a football game played Friday night. The starting lineup for Whitesburg was Billy Kincer, left end; Harrison Garrett, left tackle; Glenn Pendleton, left guard; Harold Minns, center; Johnny Banks, right guard; Edison Garrett, right tackle; Porky Polly, right end; Eddie Minns, quarterback; Gayle Fields, right halfback; Alex Hall, left halfback; and James Gose, center.

. Carbon Glow Coal Company’s Carbon Glow Mine employs 118 men who produce 800 tons of coal daily, according to an inspection report released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

. The City of Whitesburg reports assets of $5,496.28. Of that total, $2,215 comes from fines paid in police court while $1,384 comes from parking meter collections.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 1958 The third meeting of the Letcher County secessionists will be held at the Letcher County Courthouse Monday night at 8. Chairman Ray Collins said this is expected to be the biggest and most interesting meeting yet of citizens interested in letting the rest of Kentucky know that Letcher County citizens have “been treated like orphans long enough.”

. The United Mine Workers union has negotiated a new contract that calls for a wage increase of $1.20 per day for miners.

. The City of Whitesburg has closed its deal to purchase land on Broadway [behind the Letcher County Courthouse] for use as a new city parking lot. The deed for the property was signed Monday. A survey by parking lot designers showed that 56 cars can be parked on the lot.

. A motorcade sponsored by the Whitesburg Chamber of Commerce will travel to Frankfort Tuesday so that community leaders can talk with State Highway Commissioner Ward Oates about the need for a new bridge in Whitesburg. The proposed bridge would cross the North Fork of the Kentucky River from Broadway to a point near the L&N Depot, opening Broadway to business development.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1968 Three Letcher County students are semi-finalists in a national scholarship competition. They are Linda Ison, Danny Mohn and Jimmy Sparks.

. The new Boone Fork Community Kitchen, set up to feed elderly disabled low-income persons, has no money for food and must depend on donations to serve meals to its clients. Opal Hughes, director of the program, says she expects fund-raising events and volunteer donations to provide enough money for the food. Those who are 60 years old or older and have monthly incomes of $75 or less will qualify for free meals. If they choose, they may go to the Boone Fork Community Center to eat, or an aide may

take meals to their homes. Persons with incomes of $80 or more will be expected to pay 40 to 50 cents for each meal.

. “Fall’s colors don’t mean much to those whose loved ones are having to fight on in Vietnam,” writes Millstone correspondent Mabel Kiser.

. Mr. and Mrs. Greeley Hollon of McRoberts recently celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1978 Ground breaking ceremonies for the long-awaited Whitesburg Bypass have been delayed indefinitely and The Mountain Eagle has learned that disagreements between the contractor and the state Department of Transportation may delay the project itself. The state has not yet issued a work order on the $13.4 million contract, awarded June 27 to S.J. Groves Co. of Minneapolis, Minn., because the firm has not met at least two contract requirements, according to a DOT official. He said Groves may pull out of the project entirely and that the bypass may have to be re-bid.

. Some 200 former residents of Marlowe and their friends and relatives attended a reunion on Labor Day. Among the guests were John Niece, A.P. Williams, Larkin Brown and Bill Howard, all former employees of Elkhorn-Jellico Coal Co. at Marlowe.

. The Whitesburg City Council has passed an ordinance prohibiting persons from dumping garbage and other debris into manholes. Council members said a dumping problem has arisen, and is damaging the city’s sewer system. Fire Chief Philmore Bowen said the debris clogs up machinery in the sewer treatment plant.

. “Capricorn One” will play at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 1988 Higher school taxes on unmined minerals should take effect in Letcher County next month. The Letcher County Board of Education will vote Sept. 29 on a new tax rate for the 1988-89 school year — a rate that is expected to include unmined minerals. The proposed tax rate of 29.7 cents per $100 assessed value would generate an additional $207,000 for the school system.

. Construction will begin next month on Letcher Manor Nursing Home in Whitesburg. Ground breaking for the facility is set for today at 11 a.m. The 94-bed center has been in the planning stages since 1987.

. Vicki L. Hubbard, daughter of Richard and Doris Hubbard of Eolia, has enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. She is a 1988 graduate of Whitesburg High School. She will receive her basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, near San Antonio, Texas.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1998 The Rev. Jesse Jackson will return to eastern Kentucky next week in a new effort to draw national attention to the problems of coal miners and other residents of the Appalachian region. Jackson will speak in both Jenkins and Whitesburg September 21. The visit will be Jackson’s second in 10 years. He was in the mountains

in 1988 when he was a candidate for president of the United States in the primary elections of that year. He spoke in Hazard that year.

. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will hold a public hearing October 18 at Arlie Boggs Elementary School at Eolia on the proposed reconstruction and relocation of a portion of US Highway 119 from KY Route 932 (the Eolia Road) to Partridge, near the Harlan County line. State highway officials said the road will be relocated to the old CSX railroad bed and will generally be on the opposite side of Poor Fork of the Cumberland River from its present location.

. Eastern Kentucky’s fall forest fire season is still officially two weeks away, but a combination of record high temperatures and extremely dry weather has forestry officials on “pins and needles.” With no measurable rainfall for more than two weeks and temperatures reaching well into the 90’s, forests in Letcher have become tinderboxes just waiting for the first errant flame or spark.

. The Letcher County Economic Development Authority has approved spending $500,000 in coal severance tax funds for the design and construction of a Letcher County welcome center at Pound Gap.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2008 Deanna Tackett, 37, of Whitesburg, a Letcher County social services worker, has been named in seven eight-count indictments charging her with fraudulently obtaining food stamps and heating assistance. The Letcher County grand jury says Tackett conspired with her mother, Linda Johnson, and her stepfather, Bruce Johnson, both of Hi Hat, to illegally obtain food stamps and heating assistance administered by the Leslie-Knott-Letcher- Perry Community Action Council (LKLP).

. Seth Long, a highly respected citizen volunteer who has helped to build the Letcher County Water and Sewer District into the second-fastest growing utility of its kind in Kentucky, has been removed from the district’s board of directors by the Letcher Fiscal Court. Court members indicated they are unhappy with the refusal of water and sewer commissioners to succumb to pressure that was placed upon them in August to divide the district’s engineering work among at least three different engineering firms. Long said the board always chooses engineers based on guidelines recommended by the federal Rural Development Agency. He said the process awards points for quality of past work, engineering capacity and other criteria.

. With no significant rain in the forecast, drought conditions are expected to continue in Letcher County next week. Letcher County is still categorized as being in moderate drought conditions with no new water restrictions being called for. For the month of August, one Letcher County weather observer reported 1.6 inches of rainfall; the normal amount of rainfall is 3.66 inches.

. After starting the volleyball season with an impressive 14-1 record, the Letcher County Central High School Lady Cougars won the Silver Division championship trophy of the Lafayette Invitational Volleyball Tournament.

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