In June 20 IssueRussell County NewsBy Debbie Bell, Columnist
A dear friend once recommended me for a job at a consignment store.
This lady was told that I was the perfect person for the job—I’m older and I don’t Twitter or anything like that.
I don’t know if that was a compliment or an insult.
I’ve been very busy for the last few days so I think I’ll just Twitter here about my week. We’ll call it “Twittering for dummies.”
I am in charge of cleaning the Star Theater before plays and productions. I enjoy cleaning and I am not at all afraid of dirt.
I take a great deal of pride in getting the theater clean and ready for a play. What I hate is when I’ve already cleaned an area and I come back the following day to find the cast has completely destroyed it.
I have found the lobby covered with crushed chips from a Doritos-fight. I’ve found the commodes full, the bathroom TP’d and liquid soap everywhere. I actually sat down and cried my eyes out.
This weekend and next Barb Harford and Kelvin Baily are directing their first major play, “Charlie Brown, The Broadway Musical.” Yes, that is a blatant plug for the production.
As I went in to clean this week I had to search from room to room to find even a minimum amount of dirt.
Barb and Kelvin have taught their cast that there is more to theater etiquette than learning lines and getting into character, such as throwing their trash in the garbage cans, hanging up their costumes and other proper decorum.
For all of that I want to say thank you to Barb and Kelvin and just let them know that it is greatly appreciated. Only next time leave just a little dirt so I don’t have to bring some from my house!
On Friday my children, my grandson and myself went home to Letcher County for my niece’s high school graduation. The drive home was beautiful. My parents weren’t originally from Eastern Kentucky, they felt hemmed in and claustrophobic because of the mountains, and preferred the flat land.
Not me. The mountains feel like welcoming arms, enveloping me. I even love the plentiful but much maligned and misunderstood Kudzu vines.
Not only can it be used to make clothes and food it can be used as a substitute for flour and has many medicinal properties.
Better yet it is abundant and free. As soon as they say it is great to smoke I’m going to grow me a crop.
Driving to the graduation with my family was very nostalgic and sad.
I had not been back to that part of the county, where I grew up, since I left in 1973.
There is some truth to that old sayin, “you can’t go home again.” As we drove I would point places out to my kids.
“There’s where I went to school,” I’d say.
Oh yea, there is no more orange & black of Whitesburg High. All three schools in the county have been consolidated.
“There’s Main Street,” I said.
But oh yea, it is a by-pass now. The place we used to hang out has been replaced by a Super Walmart.
During the ceremony my sister pointed out to me 2 people I’d graduated with; Kathy, who was one of my best friends and Stevie, who was our seven-foot-two-inch center.
I didn’t recognize Kathy and what little hair Stevie had was gray. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I turned to my family and said, “please tell me I haven’t aged like that.”
My sister asked if I was going to go over and speak, but I said “no.”
There is a reason I haven’t gone back to my part of the state, a reason why I’ve never went to a high school reunion. I want the youthful faces and memories of that by-gone time to remain the way I remember them. I am not a creature of change.
Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny and much happier day. My brother and his partner decided to throw a huge barbecue and invited family members I hadn’t seen in a long time.
I had the most fun with my Aunt and Uncles’ two 5-year-old grand daughters, Tessa and Willa, who I’d not seen since they were babies.
The two of them were playing ‘fairy tails,’ when I noticed Willa sitting alone and looking sad.
I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I’m so tired of waiting for my prince to come and I’m boring.”
So my sister and I decided to teach the girls games we used to play. We had so much fun playing freeze-tag, Simon says and Mother May I but the most fun was teaching the girls how to catch lightning bugs.
Willa wanted 20 million of the insects in her hair and by the end of the evening she looked like a lit-up Christmas decoration.
We played school with the girls and they both knew who our president was but couldn’t answer the question, “Which state do you live in?”
I leaned over and whispered the answer so when asked again they both replied, “We live in the state of poverty!”
My 2-year-old grandson, Hunter, discovered the train which runs right in front of my mom’s house. A dozen times a day he would excitedly run to the front yard, point and say “Choo!”
My mother amazed and astonished me. Over the years she scrimped and saved every quarter she could get her hands on. She gave each of her four grand children $1,000 in quarters. That much, from a woman who survives only on her Social Security.
With her home in a state of disrepair, her washer and dryer on their last legs and nothing new for as many years as I can remember. This woman could’ve certainly used the money for herself. She has sacrificed so much for all of us and I don’t know if the grandchildren appreciate it but I have gained a new found admiration and respect for her.
Over this past weekend I have experienced every emotion imaginable. From the sadness of seeing how my town has changed to the nostalgia of seeing old faces from the past, to the utter joy of being with loved ones and family, to the child like fun of watching Tessa and Willa romp in their formal ball gowns at the family barbecue.
And as we crossed the Russell County line on the way home I felt the emotions Dorothy must have felt coming back from Oz. That is to say, “there’s no place like home.”
Till next time, forward ho!