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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
IN DOWNTOWN NEON 80 YEARS AGO — Three months after its nationwide release in March 1940, the film version of John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” was showing this week in 1940 at the Bentley Theatre in Neon. The movie starred Henry Fonda.

IN DOWNTOWN NEON 80 YEARS AGO — Three months after its nationwide release in March 1940, the film version of John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” was showing this week in 1940 at the Bentley Theatre in Neon. The movie starred Henry Fonda.

THURSDAY

JUNE 24, 1920

The big new Daniel Boone Hotel will be opened to the public in about 10 days. This is one of the best and costliest buildings ever erected in the mountains. It is to be run in a modern way and every accommodation possible will be offered to the public. Already nearly $100,000 has been spent in its erection and in furnishing it. The owners from the beginning did not figure that it would be a paying proposition, but they believed the traveling public throughout the mountains were entitled to accommodations equal to the best to be found anywhere and so pulled out their money to accomplish this end. Already with the best school in the mountains and now with the best hotel, why should not Whitesburg get more and more on the map?

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We regret to state that Letcher County Jailer Fess Whitaker is now in the jail serving a sentence imposed on him by the Letcher Circuit Court at its last session. Sheriff Tolliver has charge of the jail and Mack Yonts is acting as deputy for the time being. From the jail, Fess declares he will be a candidate for county judge at the next election.

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The carnival passed through Whitesburg but did not stop this year. Why? Persons who claim to know say it was too dirty. If so, Whitesburg wants no such.

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The weather for the past few days has been so cold that people have had to keep fires burning constantly in their grates.

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We are glad Willie Sergent has decided to divide up his property into small blocks and offer them for sale. This property lies on Solomon Branch, about three-quarters of a mile from the Letcher County Courthouse and in sight of the high school — the best school in eastern Kentucky. It will be the thing to grab one of these “baby farms.”

THURSDAY

JUNE 20, 1940

Dr. Lee Moore, a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, has rented a suite of rooms in the Hogg Building which are being renovated to provide an operating room, reception room, laboratory, and vanity room to give the greatest comfort and convenience to his patients. When his office is completed June 26, it will be among the finest in eastern Kentucky.

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In the issue of June 7 of The Mountain Eagle, it was stated that young Johnnie Ludwick of Jenkins had been arrested and placed in jail on a charge of passing counterfeit money. It now develops that the young man was arrested on a charge of suspicion, brought to the County Seat and then released for lack of evidence. From what we learned later, Ludwick is a fine young man, works in the mines at Jenkins and is of good family. We regret any misleading statements and it is with pleasure that we make this correction.

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Flying Cadet Klair E. Bach will graduate on June 22 from the Army Aviation Advanced Training School at Kelly Field, Texas. He is the son of Mrs. Ella Bach.

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“Grapes of Wrath” starring Henry Fonda, Dorris Bowden and Charley Grapewin will be shown at the Bentley Theatre in Neon. Also scheduled at the Bentley Theatre is “Flight at Midnight” with Jean Parker, Phil Regan and Col. Roscoe Turner.

THURSDAY

JUNE 22, 1950

A program of activities for the giant Fourth of July celebration to be held in Whitesburg includes a huge parade, many contests, cash drawings, a Boy Scout exhibit, a softball game, fireworks and a street dance.

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Over 80 crippled children, including 29 new cases, attend the Crippled Children Clinic held in the Whitesburg Presbyterian Church. The clinic, which is held every June, is for crippled children whose parents are unable to pay for long or continued care and treatment. The clinic examines all types of cases including polio, clubfeet, deformity, crippling by burns, and other orthopedic conditions.

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M. Sgt. Dalton D. Pigman, State Commander of the Whitesburg Army and Air Force Recruiting Station, announced the enlistment of Carl H. Collins Jr. of McRoberts, and Arwood Hollins of Roxana in the U.S. Army. Collins is the son of Mr. Carl H. Collins of McRoberts, and Hollins is the son of Mr. Canvy Hollins of Roxana.

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There’s something new in Whitesburg. It’s an ice machine, but not an ordinary one. Woody’s Sundries has purchased an ice machine which manufactures ice and then cubes or crushes it as desired. With a capacity of 450 pounds, the machine was installed three or four weeks ago.

THURSDAY

JUNE 23, 1960

Considerable damage was reported over the county from Wednesday night’s thunderstorm. Heaviest damage was on Pine Mountain, where seven power poles were struck by lightning. One pole was shattered. The lightning burned down several conductors, and the wind felled a tree across power lines. The power was still out Thursday morning for about a dozen homes around Orchard Branch.

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The Letcher County Board of Education is making plans to start construction of two new grade schools before the end of this year. The schools will be located in the Colson and Campbell’s Branch areas.

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Army Pfc. Kenneth A. Sexton, 18, is en route to Okinawa after departing from Fort Bragg, N.C. earlier this month with other personnel from the 2d Airborne Battle Group 503d Infantry. Sexton, son of Mrs. Louisa Sexton of Burdine, is a machine gunner in the 503d’s Company A. He is a 1959 graduate of Jenkins High School.

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A completely copper still for the illicit manufacture of moonshine whisky was found this week on Cram Creek, near Mayking. Most stills are of old iron drums, which produce what connoisseurs call “a sorry grade of liquor.” Copper distills a purer essence of corn. There were signs of very recent activity at the site of the 40-gallon still, but the operators apparently spotted the unwelcome visitors and took to the woods. Four 60-gallon mash barrels were destroyed

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Electric power service for the Whitesburg and Millstone areas will be interrupted for two hours Sunday to allow time for testing of facilities at the Kentucky Power Company substations. Power in the Whitesburg area will be cut off from 9 to 11 a.m. Power will be cut off in the Millstone area from 4 to 6 a.m.

THURSDAY

JUNE 18, 1970

Five Kentucky Wing Civil Air Patrol Squadrons joined in practice search and rescue missions at the London-Corbin Airport. Included in the missions were 62 CAP members from Letcher County, London, Louisville, Lexington and Kentucky squadrons. Participating in the missions from Letcher County were Cecil R. Caudill, Arthur Pender and T.J. Wilcox.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial says it is “obvious that the U.S. Bureau of the Census needs to do a recheck on its count of Letcher County residents.” The editorial says letters from Eagle subscribers in the Jeremiah/Blackey area make it clear “that something less than a complete job of census taking was done in that heavily populated area.” The editorial continues, “An accurate Census report is of vital importance to the wellbeing of the county, because so many things depend directly or indirectly on the figures — in fact, almost everything upon which Uncle Sam and the state government spend money.”

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Captain Bert R. Francis, son of Sabina Francis of Whitesburg, was graduated recently from American University in Washington, D.C., with a master’s degree in public administration, in technology of management. A veteran of the Vietnam War, his awards include the Navy commendation medal, Presidential unit citation, Navy unit citation, National Defense medal, Vietnamese service and Vietnamese campaign medal. He was valedictorian of his graduating class at Whitesburg High School and holds a degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University.

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Myrtle Collier of Millstone was guest of honor at a surprise birthday party given by her family. Her birthday actually is on Christmas Day, so the gifts were a total surprise to her.

THURSDAY

JUNE 19, 1980

A discussion in the Louisville Courier- Journal this week of Letcher County’s political and financial troubles created excitement here, partly because of a mysterious lack of copies of the newspaper in Letcher County. Word got around that the county’s difficulties, which have been page-one news in The Mountain Eagle for years, had attracted page-one headlines in the Courier, and there was a scramble for copies of the paper. But there were no papers to be found, and several stores reported they had failed to receive their usual deliveries. Some subscribers whose papers are ordinarily delivered to their door also reported they did not get their newspapers. Courier-Journal officials told some county residents that they will remedy the situation by shipping into the county all copies of the Courier left over in other parts of the state. The copyrighted story detailed the recent state audit of county finances, the problems of the county handled by the Department of Local Government, the disputed construction projects involved in the county’s indebtedness, the payments of disaster and emergency funds to present and former county officials, and the deficiencies in the county’s record-keeping.

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Attorneys for families of 24 of the 38 men killed in a 1970 mining disaster at the Finley Brothers coal mine near Hyden, have asked for a new trial in a court case stemming from the accident because the judge presiding at the trial failed to reveal his financial interest in the coal industry. The attorneys claim that they were not told that Federal District Judge H. David Hermansdorfer had leased land to a Boyd County coal operator for mining. Hermansdorfer previously had dismissed the suit brought by the survivors of the disaster.

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Boundaries of Lecher County’s magisterial districts and the number of magistrates might not change before the next county election in 1981. In March, County/Judge Executive Robert Collins appointed a three-man committee in charge of reapportioning the county’s five magisterial districts. Bill Banks, Lee Adams and Dennis Dixon were to lay off boundary lines of each district, ideally keeping each area’s population equal in number. Once the new boundaries were defined, the commissioners were to file a written report in the county court clerk’s office “within 60 days.” However the report was never filed.

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Though jobs in the coal industry in the region increased by about 400 in April, eastern Kentucky continued to have the state’s highest levels of unemployment, 8.1 percent. Letcher and Knott were two of 12 counties in eastern Kentucky with unemployment rates higher than 10.0 percent during April. Of a labor force of 7,126, 863 Letcher Countians were searching for work during the month, putting the county’s unemployment rate at 12.1 percent.

WEDNESDAY

JUNE 20, 1990

Letcher County could have mandatory garbage collection by next month. Letcher Fiscal Court members held hearings for proposed increases in garbage rates by four contract garbage haulers, but instead of granting the raises, court members said they would vote on a mandatory garbage collection ordinance June 29. The ordinance discussed would allow franchise haulers to continue garbage collection, despite the fact that officials have complained that the system has never worked properly and despite the apparent public opinion that the county should operate its own mandatory collection system.

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Whitesburg officials have eliminated auxiliary police officers, saying the risks involved with using them are too great. The city council voted unanimously last week to do away with the unpaid officers after a closed session. Though officials did not say why the positions were eliminated, Mayor James Asher said later that auxiliary police had only a $10,000 bond and that some auxiliary policemen had been appointed without his knowledge, thinking they were qualified because they were already city employees.

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Brian Fleming of Jenkins was valedictorian of the 1990 graduating class at Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville. He is the son of Paul and Nancy Fleming of Jenkins and will attend Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

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Kentucky turkey hunters set a new state record this spring when they took 1,332 wild turkeys, topping last year’s record harvest by 35 percent. Christian County was the top turkey-producing county with 103 turkeys killed. Letcher and Harlan counties were tied for second with 85 birds each.

WEDNESDAY

JUNE 14, 2000

The Letcher Fiscal Court will take legal action against the state Transportation Cabinet in an attempt to force the agency to follow the state budget. Letcher Judge/ Executive Carroll Smith asked the court for the action after nearly two years of waiting for the cabinet’s Department of Highways to repair the roads in the Elk Creek-Bull Creek and Daniels Branch areas. The state transportation budget approved by the Kentucky General Assembly for the 1999-2000 biennium included $550,000 set aside specifically for those roads. But with the two-year budget at its end on June 30, no work has been done.

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Columbia Natural Resources has sued to condemn the land of 46 families and businesses in Letcher and Knott counties to install a natural gas line. The company filed suit in U.S. District Court in Pikeville on June 2 and has since added more than 25 names to the list of properties it says it needs for a 50-foot right of way. Many families have already settled with Columbia, partly because they were afraid they would lose everything if they didn’t.

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Unemployment in Letcher County rose half a percent from March to April, bringing the most recent jobless rate to 11.5 percent of the Letcher County labor force. Letcher County’s unemployment rate in April was the fourth highest in the state.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court voted to use the first $1 million available in its coal severance tax fund to pay for the first phase of water lines leading from Letcher School to Isom.

WEDNESDAY

JUNE 16, 2010

Gov. Steve Beshear will be in Letcher County next week to take part in a ceremony to announce Ferus Inc.’s decision to build a nitrogen liquefaction plant on the Gateway Industrial Plant near Jenkins. The Jenkins City Council was told earlier this spring that Ferus, which is based in Canada, was planning to build a facility here that will produce liquid nitrogen by separating it from the atmosphere through compression and cooling. The nitrogen produced at the Jenkins plant will supply the natural gas industry, which used nitrogen during the process of fracturing gas-bearing rock strata, known as fracking.

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Wet, humid weather conditions are making it difficult for local farmers trying to decide when to cut hay. Three days free of rain are needed for hay to cure once it has been cut. If it rains while the hay is drying, mold will start to grow on it, and moldy hay is not suitable for horses to eat because they can become sick and possibly die. The decision of when to cut hay is totally dictated by the weather.

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The City of Fleming-Neon has begun the process of tearing down the old Hazen store building that was donated to the city several years ago. The Hazen family deeded the building to the city, but because of a bad roof and other problems, it is not considered worth repairing, as the estimated repair costs exceed the building’s value.

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Lt. Commander Alex C. Baker recently retired from the U.S. Navy. He is now the senior Naval Science instructor in the Navy Junior Reserves Training Corps at Cairo High School in Cairo, Ga. A son of Clarence and Lois Baker of Millstone, he is married to former Whitesburg resident Susanne Ritter Baker, daughter of Pauline Ritter Combs and the late Goebel Ritter.

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