Posts Tagged ‘farmerville gazette’

America went through a tumultuous time in its’ history during the 1960s. Civil rights went to the forefront of America’s interests and was right there with Viet Nam, the Kennedy assassinations and landing a man on the moon. It was a hard struggle and within Louisiana’s political landscape the ability for minority voting was enhanced with the abolition of the poll tax. Unlikely politicians such as Earl Long promoted minority voting and helped to open the doors for those that had never been given the constitutional right to vote.
Segregated water fountains and bathrooms disappeared as did segregated schools a minorities appeared at a quick pace on television and in movies. America had transitioned to an integrated society where African Americans no longer discriminated against in the deep south just and American Indians were integrated into a white man’s world in the West. America had grown up; at least in many quarters.
Many of us had fathers and grandfathers that went to war to fight a diabolical philosophy, an enemy that was committed to purify the earth from innocent men, women and children in a horrid social engineering experiment. The Nazi viewpoint was taken to an extreme and six million Jews were murdered simply because to their linage. Blacks were slated to be on the extermination list as were others deemed to be inferior and sub-standard humans. This was a sad time in the history of the world and a young black man by the name of Jesse Owens disproved this ideal race concept when he destroyed the track competition at the Olympics held in Berlin, Germany with Adolf Hitler looking on.
Many good men and women from the Allied nations never returned from World War II but their sacrifices insured that much of the hatred in the world would be eliminated and we could live in peace without fear of repercussion due to race, creed or religion. This ideal took a long time to be adopted and then understood by the masses. It took a long time after the war to fully espouse the concepts of Americanism; but America has come a long way. Is total equality with us today? The answer is “no” but it is so much better than a decade ago and it will be better in the future decades.
Last week a protest in Virginia ended in tragedy and death as a protest turned deadly. White supremist spit venom into a lovely southern community that is an echo from a time in Germany that saw the goose stepping Nazis terrorize a country and spread its’ hatred across Europe. Actions like this are not a part of our great nation and there is no place in America for this behavior just as marches espousing the killing of police followed by police assassinations are likewise divisive and filled with hatred.
It is imperative that we realize that a few protesters spewing a sick rhetoric in front of a news camera hungry for television ratings does not reflect the majority of any one group. We must look beyond these bumps in the road and look at the greater requirement ; the continued growth of our nation. We must continue to strive to place prejudice behind us from all quarters and place God and country at the forefront.


PTSD seems to be a term that has come to the forefront of visibility when discussing war injuries from the Iraqi Wars and the Afghanistan War.  Viet Nam had earlier taken its toll on the young men returning from war.  The mental anguish imposed on our youth from an unpopular war was apparent; however, the nation was not ready to embrace the returning military or the emotional effects the war imposed on many individuals.  Ignore it and it will go away.


While PTSD seems to be a recent malady of war, it is in fact as old as man himself.   In 490 BC the battle of Marathon took place.  The Greeks defeated the invading Persian army on the Marathon plains.  It was reported that Epizelus, a Greek soldier, witnessed the death of his friend and immediately went blind without being injured.  Dreams of battle and a fear of night was later reported of soldiers by the physician Hippocrates, the same man whose name is associated with the oath taken by every American Physician; the Hippocratic oath.  While ancient historical documents speak of PTSD, the Christian Bible eludes to what modern military historians and biblical scholars believe to be PTSD.  One battle depicts the Hebrew army destroying a city and killing every man, woman and child.  Upon returning home the army cannot enter their own city until they have had a week of cleansing.  It is speculated by many that this cleansing was not one of the body but instead a cleansing of the mind. 


In 1678 the Swiss described PTSD as melancholy, incessant thinking of home, insomnia, weakness, loss of appetite, anxiety, cardiac palpitations, stupor, and fever.  The term used was “nostalgia”.  During the Napoleonic war the term “cannon wind” was used to describe a near miss and later a German writer wrote of his own encounter with PTSD.   Your eyes can still see with the same acuity and sharpness, but it is as if the world had put on a reddish-brown hue that makes the objects and the situation still more scary … I had the impression that everything was being consumed by this fire … this situation is one of the most unpleasant that you can experience.”


America experienced the first recorded accounts of PTSD during the Civil War.  When the war ended, towns or states would pin a note on the clothing of the PTSD victim and send them off as being insane or allowed to wander off and let nature do the dirty work.  The term used at that time was “soldier’s heart”. 


War was not the only cause of PTSD.  The Industrial Revolution in America saw a vast expansion of the rail roads.  Horrific accidents took their toll on the men that worked in the construction and operations of the rail networks.  The term “railway spine” was used to describe PTSD at the time it was believed to have been caused by lesions in the spine brought on by the accidents.


By World War I the term “shell shock” was used to describe PTSD.  The renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud was called on by the Austrian government to see if there was a treatment to which he reported that his horrendous electroshock treatment had no effect on the illness.  All armies witnessed the same malady and unfortunately there was lack of understanding of the illness.  Many British soldiers were executed for malingering or cowardice. 


By World War II “Battle Fatigue” was identified and methods of treatment were developed.  One General, George Patton, did not believe in PTSD and was relieved of command for slapping two soldiers while in a hospital under medical care.  His referral to the soldiers actions as cowardice was a major black mark against one of the greatest Generals in the American Military.  While researching one of my books I uncovered a letter to the Secretary of the Army.  The letter objected to the treatment of the soldiers and criticized General’s Patton’s actions.


We live in a time that PTSD is understood and is treatable and is no longer ignored by a grateful nation; a nation that welcomes their military home from battle.  I have witnessed firsthand the scourge of PTSD.  My roommate while at NAS Memphis was there to be near the hospital following his tour in Viet Nam.  He told me of a truck back firing and then driving off the road onto the beach at Pensacola and then again how he fell to the ground when neighbor children set off firecrackers.  After leaving the navy I entered Northeast Louisiana and became friends with two individuals that never knew each other.  One was a recon Marine.  The other was an Army infantryman.  Both were in school and strived to re-enter society.  Each spoke seldom of their time in Nam.  One thing was common to each; their marriages had failed and then neither completed their education.  Years later when returning from Arabia I discovered that each had another common bond; they had both taken a firearm and had taken their lives. 


Thank God for a country that is far more understanding than the past and if far more grateful to its’ returning service men and women.





America had the seeds of democracy planted two hundred and forty-one years ago.  Following the penning of the Declaration of Independence the Constitution of the United states was written.  It was not until 1788 that the document we know as the Constitution was ratified.  Three years later in 1791 the Constitution was amended with ten constitutional amendments that are referred to as the Bill of Rights.  These amendments have now expanded to consist of twenty-seven amendments.


The first amendment is one of the most far reaching and impacting pieces of legislation that has ever been produced in the history of man.  This small set of words has the influence to guarantee freedoms to the citizens of our great nation and these freedoms originate as part of the Constitution of the United States.  This is a remarkable development in democracy that had never been attempted before.  This amendment, the First Amendment, prohibits Congress from obstructing the exercise of certain individual freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.


The Congress of the United States made it certain that freedom of speech is not to be curtailed by the government.  It is written that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”   As much as freedom of speech and the right to descent is a right given to the citizens of the United States there are limits that must be maintained to insure equal justice.  When a person is invited to speak at a public forum this person is allowed by the constitution to address those that attend the speech.  Today many attend the speech and instead of allowing the speaker to address the mass the speaker is jeered and in many cases forced to leave the podium.  The rowdy thugs that disrupt speeches and gatherings wrap themselves in the Constitution and proclaim they have freedom of speech and they are within their rights to disrupt someone else’s freedoms of speech.


Just as indignant as the disruption of speeches is, the contempt displayed to elected federal officials is even more saddening.  These men and women who represent their districts in Washington go home to hold town hall meetings and hear from the citizens of the area they represent. Instead of constructive civil discussion and a trade of ideas, the elected officials are met with childish outbreaks and immature behavior from members in the crowd.  There is nothing constructive in the dialogue and those who came to the town hall to hear what is happening in the nation’s capital are denied the opportunity due to the unruly behavior of a few.


So when does freedom of speech and the right to decent go too far and treads on the right of others.  Anytime that a person is not allowed to give his point of view because it contradicts another person’s thoughts, values or beliefs; the person stopping the speaker is wrong.  There is not debate to this, there Is no negotiating the issue; the person interrupting and disrupting is wrong, end of story!


What is causing this type of behavior.  The answer is simple.  Lack of respect for an orderly society causes a breakdown in the moral fiber of a great nation.  Respect is a learned behavior and one that has been lost over the last several decades.  Doing right, learning respect and developing into a mature individual begins at home and is reinforced in our education systems.  Our children are the future of our nation.  It is important that they receive the understanding of human values from the time they take their first breaths and continue with this home education until they leave the nest.  Discipline must be allowed and encouraged in our education institutions.  Today  a child cannot receive corporal punishment at school.  Too bad; if a child is unruly and all else has failed; the use of the paddle has an intended meaning.  As a person that received his share of smacks on the rump, it definitely made an impression on my outlook on life without causing hostile tendencies.  In the past this was supported at home.  If a child was disciplined at school the student could expect to receive the same thing upon arriving at the home.  That is reinforcement for what is right and also reinforcement of our school systems.


Let us hope that we can become more respectful for our elected officials and each other.  If not then we will experience a wider void within our country that will threaten to eventually tear the country apart.



Different industries and different products have a definite life cycle that is ushered in with an idea that grows from a seed to a full blooming business only to eventually wither and die.  There are exceptions like the giant Redwoods of California that break with tradition and live for thousands of years.  In our own short life times we have witnessed this cycle with major products.

When I was a teenager 8-track tape decks came into vogue.  A person could take his car into the 8-track store in West Monroe, Louisiana and in an hour and a half you could drive out with a new Munce tape player hanging from the dash connected to four speakers that had been installed in the doors or beneath the dash.  The industry exploded and while you waited to have the deck installed you could scan thousands of 8-track tapes that carried toons from hundreds of musicians.  Later the 4-track tape was introduced and the industry expanded.

As the industry reached its’ pinnacle it was quickly replaced with the smaller and higher quality cassette tapes and the introduction of the Walkman.  Cars and trucks came from the factory with cassette players installed and the 8-track player disappeared.  Then the CD discs took over and replaced the cassettes and today we are watching MP3 players and touch pads challenging the CD industry.

All of this evolution took place over a mere fifty years and we have witnessed this in many other endeavors such as the VHS player to the streaming video we have today; stick welding in industry changing to automatic welding; rotary dial phones to digital phones to wireless bag phones to the iphones we have today;  change is constant and icons of our society disappear over time.

One representation of the American fiber is the good ole News Paper; rolled paper arriving daily or weekly and brought to us through the mail or by a person tossing it from the window of a car in the early morning hours.  Many years ago it was a paper boy on his bicycle making money in his after school job that delivered the news to us.

The news papers was used to light the flame of democracy in our fledgling nation.  Benjamin Franklin was a publisher and writer.  The news paper was the single most important source of information for our country.  It carried stories of war and peace, of entertainment and history and how amazing it was when USA Today began printing in color and we could see images in living hues instead of black and white.

We also found other uses for the paper.  If a dog did wrong then a quick pop on the nose from a rolled up paper could be expected.  Many a read paper found itself lining the floor of the parakeet cage and when winter arrived a rolled up paper kindled many a fireplace.  Yes, the paper had multiple lives in our society.  Unfortunately the paper copy of the news paper is going through a transition that threatens the future of our historical landmark.

Internet and digital publishing are major threats to the hard copy newspaper.  The competition is unique and quit large as we transition to music, books and news available on one small electronic device.  Major papers such as the Rocky Mountain News are disappearing and a list of ten papers that are in trouble has recently been identified.  Leaders in the industry such as the Boston Globe and the Miami Herald are on the list.  How sad as we watch a major thread in the fabric of our nation dissolve and disappear.  But alas there is some salvation and like a beacon from the past the newspaper will survive courtesy of the small town community focused newspapers.

Our local communities in Union Parish are fortunate to have two well-focused papers.  This is at a time that the much larger Monroe paper is evaporating as it shifts its focus on digital publishing while minimizing news in its’ printed edition and at the same time encouraging its’ readers to move from paper news to digital news.

The local papers around the country have been with us since the founding of our country and it appears that these papers will be the torchbearer for the industry.  At a time that we are experiencing technology advances at an exponential rate it is comforting to revert back to a slower time and sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy reading about our communities in one of our local newspapers. The local newspapers are the Redwoods of the printed news industry.  And we will still have something to pop the dogs’ nose with.


During our lives we experience certain things that seem to brand themselves into our psyche.  These special events appear to have happened just yesterday as time seems to stand still.  Then one day the event is put into perspective and we say to ourselves that we can’t believe it has been that long since the incident took place.  It may have been something as tragic as the assassination of a president or the death of an iconic rock and roll king or perhaps something more local.  For me the recent epiphany was the 125th Anniversary of the birth of Farmerville.  I came across the souvenir program for the ceremonies and said to myself that it is hard to believe this took place fifty years ago, and it seems just like yesterday.

On March 15, 1976 the town of Farmerville began a four day birthday celebration.  This celebration exemplifies what a small community can do when it pulls together, what teamwork can accomplish when focused on a common result and what a fun environment rural America can be.

Festivities began the evening of March 15th when the Centenary Band performed in the Farmerville gym.  In 1976 a live performance was a big event for a community and for small Farmerville to have the Centenary College Choir travel from Shreveport to Farmerville to perform was no small event.  Admission was charged and students had to pay $.50 and adults were charged $1.00.  Committee Chairman for the Choir was Mrs. Cecil Read, math and physics teach at Farmerville high School.

The celebration moved into high gear on March 16th.  Farmerville was undergoing an economic growth spurt due to several individual and state investments in the area.  Farmerville’s celebration allowed an opportunity to showcase these successes.  International Paper held an exhibit in honor of one of its’ most prolific timber suppliers for its’ Bastrop Paper Mill.  Mr. Max Gilmore hosted this event.  A flower show opened to showcase beautiful flower arrangements prepared by the Farmerville Garden Club.  This club was formed by Mrs Ralph Harper in 1948, a teacher at Farmerville and the show was organized by Mrs. N.B. James.  A small museum was established in the lobby of the new First Federal Savings and Loan on Main Street with Mrs. Frank Yelton chairing this exhibit.  Also opening for the celebration was the art show that showcased the talent of Mr. Larce Holder’s art classes.  Mrs. James Fenton organized the art show.  Two locations were set aside for art from both adolescent and adult classes. On the afternoon of the 16th a large parade was held.  Marching bands, majorettes and floats that celebrated the birth of our town were all there.   Mr.  Richard Neely organized the parade.  Following the parade the Preaus-Auger Chip Mill was formally dedicated.  This was a major economic boom for the area and was hosted by Mr. Fred Preaus.  That night a banquet was held at the Farmerville Cafeteria and was chaired by Mrs. C.  R. Rainwater.  This was followed by a Convocation in the Farmerville gym that was accommodated by Mr. W.C. McMurrian.   Many may ask what a convocation is.  It is a gathering of people and in the deep south it use to have a religious theme.  Unfortunately the details of the convocation for the Farmerville ceremony appears to have been lost over time.   What a long but fun day March 16th was.

On Friday March 17th the Art Show, Flower Show, and Museum continued.  That evening the Farmerville Gym was once again the venue for the birthday when it hosted a variety show plus the Miss Farmerville contest.  Mr. Roy Forrester chaired the variety show while Mr. Jack Hill headed the Pageant committee.  Admission to the event was $.75 for students and $1.00 for adults.  This pageant morphed into the Watermelon Pageant and has produced Miss Louisiana’s and Miss America Contestants.

In the morning of March 18th  Gerald Farrah coordinated an air show that showcased precision parachute jump teams..  Then the culmination of the celebration took place in the gym.  The Ole South Ball took place with awards going to the lady with the most authentic gown.  This was not the biggest part of the evening.  Phares Corder and his orchestra played till mid-night and the gym rocked with old and young dancing through the evening.  I have to admit that I took full advantage of the event.  This was sponsored by the Farmerville Jaycees and admission was $2.50.

Hillary Clinton wrote a book, “It takes a Village”.  The 125th anniversary of the founding of Farmerville exemplifies that term.  It took a unified effort with a lot of leadership and a lot of pride to produce the ceremony and it was a grand event.

Happy birthday Farmerville.  For one hundred and seventy-five years old you are still quit a beautiful lady.

One note, I used the names of the chairs for the various committees as they were presented in the official souvenir program.  The women were identified as the wife of her husband and the ladies names were not used.  That was the way it was in 1967.  A lot has happened in 50 years.


Over the past several years we have had a growing cavity in our country that has been identified as ideology differences in Congress.  This has led to a large amount of grid lock within the federal lawmaking body of the United States.  While the country has been focused on Washington and criticizing  our elected officials, the election of our newest president has generated a profound outspoken divide between the general population of the country.  Protest marches are displayed on our news programs as are insolent loud mouthed rude protesters  that don’t have the respect to allow a U.S Congressman to address a town hall meeting.  Then it finally came to me that the problem is not what the two factions want to accomplish, it is what the two groups feel the strategy should be to accomplish a common end.

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives believes that America is great, that all of the population should be taken care of and everyone should have an opportunity for a good education as well as other goals of a developed country.   What differs is how we accomplish the end results.

The liberals that embody the Democratic party feel that power resides at a central power structure and this structure provides all aspects of life.  Education, medical, food and lodging would be derived from the government.  While this is a noble dream it does not work for a long period of time.  Central planning was the hallmark of socialism and ultimately it has failed.  The greatest experiment and the greatest failure of central planning that was intended to provide for the entire population was the Union Soviet Socialist Republic and it finally collapsed in 1990, years after Nakita Khrushchev declared to the United States that “we will bury you”.

The conservatives that embody the Republican Party have the same end goal that the liberals want to accomplish but they are looking at different methods to accomplish this. The Republicans desire a decentralized government.  They are not looking for someone to provide the creature comforts but instead are looking to remove government regulations that will allow them to make their own decisions.  The conservatives want the opportunity to achieve their own desires and do not want a central government to provide the material goods in life.

So can the two ever come together?  Probably not unless there is some catastrophic event that will truly threaten the future of the country.  When that happens ideology takes a back seat.  This happened during World War II and again after 9/11.  Unfortunately, at this period in our nation it is not recognized that we are in a crisis and the two factions in the country are spending wasted energy fighting each other.  If this energy could be focused on our nation we would have a much better world to live in.


Last week President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will make a major difference to the United States.  Depending on whether you are an environmentalist or an oil and gas capitalist, the perceived outcome of the executive order will be totally different.

President Trump didn’t just sign the executive order to allow the Keystone Pipeline to move forward, he removed the objections from the Obama administration that had stopped the development of this 1,000 + mile 36 inch pipeline from Canada to Houston, Texas.  On March 1st 2013 the United States State Department issued a finding that it had no objection to the construction of the pipeline.  That was four years ago, everyone thought the construction would soon begin but the Obama administration felt it best to prevent any potential environment damage from the increased production of crude in Canada and the construction was not approved.  In fact, the world is awash in oil and if it didn’t come from Canada to ports on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, the oil would come from somewhere else. It could have been Russia, Iran or Venezuela; the market doesn’t care what country it comes from as long as they get the crude.  Why allow countries that are not friendly to American values benefit from their oil sales while we sit idly by letting the budget deficit expand.

I am confident that the ink had not dried on the executive order when Trans Canada started moving the project forward.  The route has been selected and most of, if not all, of the design has been prepared.  This is no small task.  I was fortunate to have been on the Arabian East-West pipeline project that crossed Saudi Arabia with a 48” pipeline.  This was a massive project but there were few private objections to the line.  The Keystone pipeline will be going across thousands of tracts of private property so the legal logistics will be immense.  While many will feel their property is being infringed upon, all private property owners will eventually reap a new found income when lease payments for pipeline access begin to flow.

There are going to be several constraints that will need to be overcome to build the line.  President Trump was clear that the pipe will be manufactured in the United States.  This is no small task.  Contracts will have to be developed, manufacturing facilities will have to be upgraded and expanded, extra shifts brought in.  Steel suppliers will have to increase output and quality control inspectors will need to be trained.  Additional transport from the mills to the pipeline route will be required.  Rolling stock, railway cars, will be in demand to get the pipe to forward staging areas and trucks will then move the pipe to the pipeline route. To put this in perspective, a pipeline is constructed from pipe joints.  Each joint is 40 feet long.   Over 148,000 joints will be delivered to the pipeline route.  Once on site hundreds of pieces of construction equipment will be working digging huge trenches, placing the pipe and then testing the pipe and backfilling the trench.  Welders, trained and certified to perform the specialized welding will be on site working 24 hours a day, seven days a week; time is money and there is no time for time out.  Pipe inspectors will be inspecting the welds and hydrotest teams will be testing the structural integrity of the line.  Camp bosses will be running construction camps; camps that pack up and  move with the pipeline.  Support organizations will be paying salaries, coordinating shipments of material, tracking individual training and performing hundreds of jobs.  In other words, this segment of America will be at work.

Let’s look a little outside the box and expand the Keystone dream.  Today the crude will come from Canada and end up at the ports in Houston for transport to other countries.  Those countries will purchase the crude and refine it for their domestic use.  Why not tie a new pipeline into the 48” Keystone pipeline.  Let’s send a 16” pipeline from some point in Arkansas and send some of the Canadian oil to the large refineries between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  Spend the money to expand one or several refineries and then ship the refined product to countries that need it.  Instead of other countries fining the crude, we will do it for them and transport to the other ports.  Since we are now shipping the refined products we will now need to build new ships in American ship yards.  This will also require more workers at the refineries, employed to refine the additional gasoline that will go to foreign countries.

Bottom line, America is working.