I hope all of you will take the time to read my piece on Jack Culpepper and his experiences growing up in the wickedest town in America, which begins its run today. I had a lot of fun researching it and was fascinated by the background of the town.
This one came about after Jack's youngest son, a close friend of mine, recently took his parents down to Phenix City to visit family. His dad had been telling him for years about how rough it was growing up there, but he had dismissed the stories as typical of those that grew up during that time period ("I walked five miles through the snow to school everyday, etc...")
So the tales of growing up around murder, gambling and ladies of the evening would have probably sounded a little far-fetched. That is, until they arrived there and visited a museum that confirmed all of the old stories Jack would tell his kids.
After watching the 1955 movie about the events and checking into the facts behind the story, I was stunned that a county and a town could let something like this go on right out in the open with nothing done about it for decades.
But it is perhaps not so difficult to understand. Today, in this very area, you can go to various establishments and see video poker and slots in a backroom or even out in the open. The phrase "For Entertainment Purposes Only" is frequently seen in association with these machines, but it is obvious that these games aren't Pac-Man and it's even harder to believe that people are pumping tons of money into these devices just for amusement.
As you read the story of Phenix City and its "Machine," think about some of the things going on in your own community where folks look the other way instead of confronting them head on. Jack's story is certainly food for thought.
Another little piece that appeared this past week was Tuesday's photo page on a river tour of Europe, which was another item that came to me through someone else's travels, this time, my own mother's.
I thought a couple of comments she made should be shared with the rest of you. One was how remarkably clean everything was there. She said in all the places they visited, there wasn't a speck of trash, cigarette butts or any other typical item you see laying in the gutters and ditches of our towns around here.
The CD of over 350 images from the tour confirm this. There aren't even dead leaves in the cobblestone streets of these German towns. Either they have a hyper-efficient sanitation department over there, or people that live there know what a garbage can is for ... or both. It could be that since these are tourist towns, the locals take extra pride in keeping things tidy.
Or maybe we're just real slobs by comparison.
I live on a state highway and just about every day there's a new and sometimes interesting piece of trash for me to pick up out of my yard. There's a lesson to be learned here, if people would take the time to do something about it.
Another point she made was the absence of the overweight and obese. Everyone there was fit and in good shape, she said, although some of these comments may be directed at yours truly and his ever-expanding waistline. (I'm working on it, Mother!)
Lifestyle certainly has something to do with it. I doubt many Europeans spend as much time in front of the idiot box munching junk food as we Americans do. The number of people across the pond who bicycle everywhere is probably a major factor as well.
More food for ... well, maybe food isn't the right word to use here. It is something to think about, though.
What is it with some of our politicians these days?
We all know the current war in Iraq is causing a lot of division abroad and here at home, but recent comments by two prominent faces in the national scene makes one wonder whose side they are on.
The first statement was from Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Committee, who said Monday: "The idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong." This didn't come from Tokyo Rose or Lord Haw Haw, but a man that was a front-runner for the office of president of the United States.
It's a good thing he got nowhere near it.
But the really disturbing thing is that the man who did come close to winning, John Kerry, said the following on national television: "There is no reason ... that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women."
Unbelievable. And to think nearly half the voters in this county actually pulled the lever for this man.
This statement was made on "Meet the Press" live last Sunday, so there is no chance that the statement was something taken out of context. He accused our brave troops of terrorizing women and children ... as part of the War on Terror.
So when the spokesman for the GOP and radio personality Rush Limbaugh quotes Kerry's own words (and in the case of Limbaugh, plays them twice -- unedited) and gives their opinion on these outrageous statements, do you know what happens?
Why, Kerry spokesman David Wade says that GOP spokesman Ken Mehlman's "filthy and shameful lie about a decorated combat veteran is disgraceful. Political hack Ken Mehlman and draft dodging, donut eating Rush Limbaugh have something in common. Neither of them know anything about how to make American troops safe. John Kerry will continue to speak out about how to succeed in Iraq and protect brave American troops."
By calling them terrorists? By making a statement so inflammatory that he is quoted extensively by the al-Jazerra network? You know which news channel I'm talking about; the first place to turn to for the latest hostage beheading videos.
This is nothing new for Kerry, however. Saying horrible things about our men in uniform is a practice that goes back to his protest days during the Vietnam war. Remember, the presidential hopeful told the U.S. Senate in 1971 that our boys "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam..."
Both men are trying to back out and "clarify" their statements, but the damage has been done. I don't know if those in opposition to the war are either trying to outdo each other with more radical statements or if they actually believe their words are going to help our men and women in the field, but I for one think the only people that are benefiting from this kind of talk are the maniacs who are strapping bombs to themselves and murdering their own countrymen.