Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
For two days beginning March 19, 1940, movie patrons at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg saw scenes like this one from the film “The Strange Case of Dr. Kildare,” starring Lew Ayres and Laraine Day. The movie was the fourth of 10 in the Dr. Kildare movie series. The big-screen version was later the inspiration for NBC-TV’s hit series, “Dr. Kildare,” which aired from 1961 through 1966 and starred actor Richard Chamberlain.

For two days beginning March 19, 1940, movie patrons at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg saw scenes like this one from the film “The Strange Case of Dr. Kildare,” starring Lew Ayres and Laraine Day. The movie was the fourth of 10 in the Dr. Kildare movie series. The big-screen version was later the inspiration for NBC-TV’s hit series, “Dr. Kildare,” which aired from 1961 through 1966 and starred actor Richard Chamberlain.

THURSDAY MARCH 14, 1940

An elderly McRoberts man is being held in the Letcher County Jail on charges filed after the slaying Sunday morning of his 20-year-old son. In what is believed to be the first murder committed in McRoberts in many years, Joe Barry Sr. is accused of killing Joe Barry Jr. near their home in the Bark Camp section. “It seems that the son had been out all night against the father’s wishes,” The Mountain Eagle reports. “Returning pretty early [Sunday] the father and son engaged in a quarrel, resulting in the shooting.” The younger Barry died after being shot in the head with a bullet fired from a high-powered rifle.

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A father and three sons were killed early Tuesday in a roof fall in a small “wagon mine” near Yerkes in Perry County, about 12 miles west of Hazard. The victims were identified as Luther Huff, the owner of the small coal mine, and his sons, whose ages are listed as 22, 12, and 11.

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The 1940 Pontiac Special Six Business Coupe is on sale now for $783 at Kyva Motor Company in Whitesburg.

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The musical comedy “Sunbonnet Sue” was performed twice on Tuesday by the 7th and 8th grades at Whitesburg Grade School. As an added treat, the performance was recorded on a Dictograph operated by Rapheal Salyer of Salyer Radio Company of Whitesburg and played back to the students on Wednesday morning during a gathering in the school’s auditorium.

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Russia and Germany are claiming great victory over the allies through the surrender of the weary nation of Finland. The Finns, lacking weapons and skeptical of foreign offers of help, ended their bitter 3-1/2-month struggle against Russia yesterday by yielding more soil and economic and military independence than was demanded before the war started.

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Members of the Letcher Fiscal Court are denying accusations of raising the poll tax on the county’s aged citizens, pointing to a state law that says all citizens aged 70 and older are exempt from paying a poll tax of any kind. [Note: All Kentucky men over 21 were once required to pay “poll tax” whether or not they owned real estate. The practice was outlawed by the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was ratified by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in June 1963.]

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Movie theaters from across the region are advertising the coming sale of reserved seats for weeklong showings of the hit movie, “Gone With the Wind.” The film, starring Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Vivien Leigh, will start showing at the Appalachian Theatre in Appalachia, Va., on March 25; at the Liberty Theatre in Pikeville on April 16, and at the Nova Theatre in Cumberland on April 18.

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“The Strange Case of Dr. Kildare,” starring Lew Ayres, will show March 19-20 at the Kentucky Theatre in Whitesburg. [Note: the movie was the fourth of what would be a total of 10 Dr. Kildare movies. The film series was later the inspiration for NBC-TV’s hit series, “Dr. Kildare,” which aired from 1961 through 1966 and starred actor Richard Chamberlain.]

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The Bentley Theatre of Neon this Saturday will show the Joe Louis versus Arturo Godoy fight for the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. The fight, held in Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 10, 1940, was won by Louis on a split decision after going the full 15 rounds.

THURSDAY MARCH 16, 1950

The Whitesburg High School Yellowjackets basketball team may have lost 49 to 39 to the Robinson Creek Blue Jays in the semifinals of the 14th Region Tournament, held in Whitesburg last week, but that isn’t keeping the players who represent the Orange and Black from attending the Sweet Sixteen state tournament in Louisville. Coach Ray Pigman, assistant coach Venon Whitaker and the following players are now in Jefferson County to see the state tourney (including this Thursday’s game between 14th Region champ Hindman vs. Fairdale): Bobby Stout, Leonard Duncil, Dean Nease, Ronnie Kincer, Can Craft, Eddie Collins, Jimmy Bert Tolliver, and Carol Sexton.

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Some 39 enumerators will earn $8 to $9 per day while traveling around Letcher County on behalf of the U.S. Census Office.

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A new drug store is opening today (Thursday) on Main Street in Neon. It is owned by Cossie Quillen, who operates Quillen Drug in Whitesburg, and Dr. Sam Quillen, Neon dentist.

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The new recreation spot located under Woody’s Sundries in Whitesburg has been named “Underwoody’s.” The name was chosen after it was suggested in a naming contest by Daniel Boone Hotel manager J.H. Potter.

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Four Letcher County residents were convicted in magisterial court this week after Letcher County Sheriff Hassel Stamper charged them last week will selling whiskey illegally. They are: John Henry Hall of Haymond; Jack Falls of Pert Creek; Oma Blevins of Payne Gap, and Jonah Smith of Smoot Creek.

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The Jenkins Kiwanis Club is celebrating its 11th anniversary this week.

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Malinda Jo Brown of the Stuart Robinson School at Letcher is being recognized as the county’s top speller after she won the county spelling bee held in Whitesburg last Saturday as part of the statewide contest sponsored by the Louisville Times and The Courier-Journal.

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Thirty-two Kingdom Come High School students attended the school’s annual junior-senior banquet held Friday night at the Pine Mountain Resort Hotel.

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Milford Leady has been re-elected to the office of commander of the Haymond post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He will serve through 1950.

THURSDAY MARCH 17, 1960

Laboratory facilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., are being enlisted in the study of human skeletons found recently of top of a mountain in the Linefork Creek area near Ulvah. The bones were originally sent to the Kentucky State Police by Letcher County Coroner Virginia Craft. KSP then sent the bones to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, which then requested the assistance of the FBI.

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A preliminary hearing will be held March 21 for Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Sizemore, who is charged with murder in the fatal shooting of coal miner Manual Bentley, 25. Sizemore is free on $10,000 bond pending the hearing before Letcher County Judge Arthur Dixon. Bentley was shot on Saturday, March 5, at the American Legion post in Neon after an attempted arrest. He died March 11 at Whitesburg Memorial Hospital.

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The new Letcher Consolidated School, now considered as southeastern Kentucky’s finest educational center, will officially open on Monday, March 21, when some 700 students report to classes at 7:30 a.m. The ultramodern building is located two miles east of Letcher on KY 7. The students will move from the campus of Stuart Robinson School, where it has operated for several years under rental from an agency of the Presbyterian Church. The move is being made under the guidance of Principal Jeff B. Mayes. The new Y-shaped structure with two wings holds 24 classrooms. It was built at a cost of $348,000.

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The Letcher Consolidated School PTA added 13 new members at its March 14 meeting, bringing the active roll to 123.

THURSDAY MARCH 12, 1970

The City of Whitesburg was forced at the end of its last budget year to borrow $4,000 from its parking meter reserve fund to pay general fund expenses. It has not yet been able to pay that back and sees no prospect of it. The city generally has to borrow from one fund to another during the year to make ends meet. The city has had to pass up help from several federal programs because it does not have the money to pay the required local share.

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“Whitesburg’s City Council recognized publicly this week that the town is going to have some more money or it may as well close up and forget about try to be a town,” says a Mountain Eagle editorial. “The councilmen know that they are going to have to raise money in the only way cities have to raise money — license fees, taxes, etc. — and they are genuinely concerned as to what kind of raises will do the most good with the least harm to the city’s residents. … We don’t know the best answer, and we’re not sure anyone does at this point, but we applaud the councilmen for facing an unpopular problem squarely and we hope the citizens of the town will join to help them reach an answer.”

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Thieves took more than $1,000 worth of merchandise and cash from Family Drug Store in Whitesburg. City police said several cameras and watches were stolen, along with the drugstore’s entire stock of narcotics. The thieves entered by kicking in a rear door.

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A number of residents of Cowan Community came out for a special meeting to discuss the possibility of getting a community kitchen and day care center in their area. The center is located in a former school building.

THURSDAY MARCH 13, 1980

The February Letcher County Grand Jury will remain in session until an investigation “concerning mismanagement and misuse of local and Letcher County funds” is completed by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office. Three representatives of the state auditor’s office are checking county records and bringing the records up to date. The auditors were asked to come into the county by the state Department of Local Government.

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The Letcher County School Board has resolved to meet within 60 days with all the teachers in the school system to “get some input and see exactly what they want.” Relations between teachers and the board have been somewhat strained since the board failed to agree to collective bargaining negotiations with the Letcher County Teachers Organization some time ago.

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Whitesburg Mayor Ferdinand Moore will contact L&N Railroad officials and “check into” complaints from two businessmen who say rerouting of the railroad tracks on Railroad Street will block access to their storefronts by trucks needing to unload supplies. Eddie Howard of Hoover’s Home Furnishings and Albert Jones of Home Lumber Co. asked Fire Chief Philmore Bowen to notify the council of their problem.

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“It has been real warm the past day or two but it sure got cold enough last week — cold enough, as the old saying, to freeze a cow’s horns off,” writes West Whitesburg correspondent Siller Brown.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 14, 1990

County law enforcement officers will get tough on litterers, Letcher County Sheriff Steve Banks says. The Letcher Fiscal Court met last Thursday to pass the second reading of an ordinance placing a dumping fee on garbage taken to the county landfill. Banks told officials then that he would give county residents one week to begin cleaning up garbage piles around their property before his office begins strict enforcement of litter laws.

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Commonwealth’s Detective Bradley Jones is back in jail after an appeals court panel upheld his conviction on contempt of court charges. Letcher Circuit Judge F. Byrd Hogg issued an order returning Jones to jail, four months after he was originally sentenced. Jones was sentenced to 90 days in jail for contempt of court in November, 1989, but Appeals Court Judge Janet Stumbo granted an order releasing him when he had served less than two weeks.

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A broken oil line has spilled several hundred gallons of crude oil into a small stream near the Letcher-Perry county line. A spokesman for Kentucky-West Virginia Gas said the break occurred in a collection line between an oil well owned by that company and a storage tank. He said the break was caused when a logging company operating in the area cut a tree on the line.

Letcher County’s unemployment rate rose 45 percent in January but was still the lowest official rate in the Kentucky River Area Development District. Letcher County’s January unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent in December.

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The Fleming-Neon Lady Pirates are in Bowling Green this week competing in the Girls’ State Tournament. They upset the Whitesburg Lady Yellowjackets for the championship of the 14th Region.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 8, 2000

Police have discovered seven stolen cars and trucks and a stolen equipment trailer abandoned in Letcher County since March 3. Two cars and a pickup had been burned. Police believe the vehicles are being dumped because of an on-going investigation of a multi-state vehicle theft ring. The eight vehicles discovered Friday and Saturday put the total number of vehicles recovered from the theft ring well over 50. Police say one of the warehouses where stolen parts were found was rented by Wilford Henry Niece of Van. Niece is already facing drug charges stemming from a raid on his home and other property on Feb. 9.

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A federal grand jury in Lexington has indicted Wilford Henry Niece and three other Letcher County residents on cocaine-related charges. Niece, 60, of Van; his wife Melissa A. Niece, 30, and Jackie R. Blair, 51, of McRoberts, were all charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Curtis Cornett, Sr., of Van, was charged in a separate indictment with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

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The closing of Foodland grocery store will benefit the Letcher County Food Pantry. Laurel Grocery bought out the Foodland and is closing the store. But rather than selling the stock or throwing it away, Laurel Grocery is donating it to the food pantry.

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“I would love to be able to go early in the spring and pick a mess of wild greens,” writes Sergent correspondent Vendetta Fields. “Years ago, everybody cooked a mess of greens that they gathered in the fields and woods. They gathered woollybreeches, dandelions, old field mustard, cress, plantain, and ‘turkey snout’ (sometimes called ‘tangle gut’ or Shawnee).”

WEDNESDAY MARCH 10, 2010

After 34 years, a public memorial has finally been erected near the old Scotia mine site to honor the men who died in two mine explosions in March of 1976. Respiratory Clinics of Eastern Kentucky and its parent company, Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, submitted an application to the Kentucky Historical Society for a historical marker in honor of the 26 miners and inspectors who died in the twin explosions.

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In a letter to the editor of The Mountain Eagle, State Senator Johnny Ray Turner praises highway departments for work their employees did to clear the roads. “We cannot thank (the workers) enough for doing such an excellent job of salting, scrapping, and just generally attempting to keep the roads and highways free of ice and snow,” Turner writes. “Crews worked many long hours to ensure that our roads were as safe as possible.”

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The Letcher County Board of Education voted this week to approve holding classes during the week originally designated for spring break. The district has missed 27 days this school year — two days because of flu and 25 days because of inclement weather.

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A groundbreaking ceremony for the Letcher County Recreation Center will be held at 3 p.m., March 12.

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