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A Refreshing Knapp – Hometown news adds sense of pride

By Ray Knapp

Mayberry will be left in the dust!

Don’t you love it when the front page of your hometown newspaper offers good news – great news in fact? For instance, “Local teacher, Michael Scott is the 2017 Champion of “Peters Hollow Egg Fight.” (A contest on a farm over near Elizabethton that’s been going on each Easter for a couple of centuries to determine who has the hardest hard-boiled egg.) Just think, Scott brought home that coveted trophy right back to Erwin this year – making the whole county proud. Then the announcement of Fiddlers & Fiddleheads Festival of April 29th also made front page news. Another headline: “Limestone Cove residents make case for cell tower. Sadly they still can’t get out on cell phones. Perhaps they are better off not having that service as texting while driving causes more accidents than drunk driving. Hmm, wonder if Judge Shults will take that into consideration and go easy on the few people out in Limestone Cove that imbibe then get behind the wheel the next time one is brought into his court?

The front page top headline is a worry though; “Program offers Erwin direction” – as for me, I like things pretty much the way they are. Then after reading the article about local officials thinking “outside the box” by bringing in local broadband, and offering high speed Internet to some customers, I’m relieved; things are not changing much. Personally, as slow as I read, slow speed Internet service is too fast for me.

There is so much national and international news of violence; wars; suffering refugees; gang violence; senseless murders of people being shot or purposely ran over by cars and trucks, that reading the headlines of last week’s Erwin Record was a down-right relief, not to mention other articles in the paper of Easter Egg hunts for children, and the Christian’s “Witness Walk” – carrying a cross down main street in a show of faith. It’s a wonder the ACLU didn’t jump right on that with some kind of trumped-up lawsuit to take away the feeling of freedom of religion, and brotherly love.

Of course our local newspaper is miles ahead of the one in Carter County, Missouri, where I graduated from high school. Each little village and hamlet had a reporter that gave a blow by blow account of most everyone that did anything that week. For instance, Iva Wilds, the reporter from my hometown of Grandin, would report: “Jim Smith and wife, Nancy, motored to the Piggly Wiggly in Poplar Bluff Friday where potatoes were on sale for $4.00 per bushel.” Later in life Iva even reported on me: “Ray Knapp and family came all the way from Memphis, Tennessee, where he is stationed in the U.S. Navy, to visit his mother, Fay Knapp, this past weekend.” The Erwin Record couldn’t print stuff like that, as anymore; people would sue, calling it an invasion of privacy. Never mind that anyone owning a cell phone doesn’t have privacy; the government or police can pin point where you’ve been any day of the week … with the exception of people from Limestone Cove.

If it’s positive, people like to see their name in the newspaper. I recall when my wife, Frances and I ran the only store in Flag Pond for a year. People would sit at a folding table near the coffee pot and thumb through the Johnson City Press; it being a daily paper they would go to the names of people in the obituaries to see if there was a funeral they needed to attend, then they would turn to the police report to see if anyone from there had gotten into trouble. On occasion someone would get their name in that paper for doing something besides getting in trouble, or dying off. I was going to say Frances and I made that paper, but I believe it was in The Erwin Record, where Frances had a couple of post cards made of Flag Pond and we sold out of all that were printed. That was a first for getting our names in the paper. I like to sneak local people’s names into my column; you may be next.