Category Archives: Opinions

Nuclear fallout

I don’t spend a lot of time brooding about such things as nuclear holocaust.

But when I found out last week that the federal government is looking to put South Carolina in the business of manufacturing plutonium pits — essentially doomsday triggers — it pushed my hot buttons.

This is a bad idea on many levels.

First, a little background.

About 20 years ago, the Russians agreed with us to get rid of some of the excess plutonium the two superpowers had built up over the years by foolishly racing to see who could make the most bombs. The plan was to convert the stuff into a form that could be used in nuclear power plants, a process called mixed-oxide fuel fabrication (MOX).

We would build our MOX plant at the Savannah River Site in Aiken County, where

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Courier Letters to the Editor

Every litter bit hurts

Dear Editor,

Everyone needs to do what they can to stop littering.

Instead of throwing trash out your window, you can keep a bag in your car to put your trash in. You can surely throw it out at the nearest convenience store.

You should also keep trash picked up in your yard and neighborhood.

County employees go out occasionally and do their part to pick up trash on our roads. Prisoners can go out and pick it up, too.

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Endless summer days on the farm

We ate our first watermelon of the season last week, and the first bite took me back immediately to Grandmama’s back porch in summer. It’s been a long time since a watermelon has come my way that could be rated as good as Uncle Jack’s, but this one made the cut.

We had the perfect climate — hot — and the perfect soil — sandy — to grow world-class watermelons. And that’s what Uncle Jack did. It wasn’t the main crop, but it could be counted on to bring in a respectable amount of income if the weather cooperated.

He only grew two varieties of watermelons— Congos and Charleston Grays. The Congos had a dark green skin with stripes that were even darker. The Charleston Grays were a lighter green. They were both large watermelons, and both had a delicious sweet and juicy flesh.

When watermelons started getting ripe, the hands would bring them up from the

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Daddy’s fishing lake

Not many people own a lake. Well, our daddy built, owned and operated a fishing lake. Sometime in the early to mid-1950s, he decided to construct a lake just below the intersection of two small branches a short distance from the house.

A local contractor was hired to build the earthen dam. He had an old Caterpillar dozer that he used for such things. I remember he and Daddy talking about finding the right type of dirt for the core. The core is probably the most important part of the dam, because it prevents seepage. Generally, clay soil is used because clay particles are very fine and the water almost never flows through them. Well, they must have found the right type of clay soil directly below the old barn, because the dam has never leaked. When completed, the lake encompassed slightly more than an acre.

This pond was a young boy’s natural attraction. When I was not working, I could be found in, on or at least near the water. Strange as it might seem, I even enjoyed cutting the weeds from around the waterline with a sling blade or the old scythe. Daddy had

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What’s seniors’ No. 1 reason for ER visits?

A recent study revealed that the number of deaths from senior falls has tripled. This is not new. A 2015 study also concluded that the number of falls was increasing, even when America’s growing senior population was taken into account.

For those over age 65, falls are the leading reason we go to the emergency room. Falls can start a vicious cycle: A simple fracture or brain injury can lead to hospitalization, which can bring its own problems, such as catching an infection or becoming weak from staying in bed. Being weak can lead to more falls … and more decline. An older study concluded that one-fourth of seniors who had a hip fracture died within six months. Many of those who

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Pulpwood, you’re no friend of mine

Pulpwood, mind you, is really not wood. It’s generally roundish concrete cylinders made to look like wood, sort of. It takes a lot of sweat, a lot of muscle and a lot of ambition to cut, load and haul pulpwood. Not to mention the fun parts of pulp wooding, like yellow jackets, snakes, chiggers, chainsaws that don’t cut, briars, rain, sunshine and several more.

I have said and heard it said many times that the hottest place this side of Hades is a pine thicket.

We were a far cry from today’s pulpwooders. With the exception of the power saw, we did it all by hand. Today, they have machines that do it all — the cutting, trimming, loading and hauling. We had our two hands. There was no such thing as a stick of

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Overcoming the desire to remain the same

I’m sure you will agree that most of us humans have very peculiar and quirky personalities. It’s strange how we are easily influenced and persuaded in certain things, and stubborn as a mule about others.

When it comes to admitting we are wrong in our views or that we are heading in the wrong direction, it doesn’t take long for us to reveal our contrary and rebellious attitudes. Most people seldom say it out loud, but are content with the way they believe and hope that everyone will leave them alone and mind their own business. Which by the way, explains why many individuals are not interested in going to church or reading the Bible.

However, when it comes to personal transformation, our spiritual relationship with God is not the only topic on the menu.

I was reminded the other day about my own defiant nature when I was on the phone with my mother the other day and the conversation turned to food. We were talking about how difficult it is to diet and how

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Courier Letters to the Editor 6-19-19

A winning plan for mill

Dear Editor,

I enjoy reading the articles and letters to the editor concerning the Hagood Mill. As the public becomes more educated on the issue, public participation in the process has grown, and hopefully this time the final decision by the council will have the public’s wishes in mind.

Most above Highway 183 want grassroots tourism supported by local volunteers, with the purpose of protecting our wildlife and natural resources, while putting forth the Appalachian heritage, its community and family traditions.

This has been at the heart of the conflict. For instance, they grind grits at the mill and sell them. The volunteers see the heritage in the 150-year-old grinding process, and their purpose is to preserve that tradition. Chairman Roy Costner, the county administration and much of the council see the dollars, and want to commercialize the mill at the expense of the heritage aspect.

The idea of turning over the operation and strategic planning of the mill to the local volunteers and the Hagood Mill board is a good

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Honoring our heroes

Former Pickens County Councilman Tom Ponder, a leading figure in the Dacusville community and a guy I enjoy talking with, wanted to put a bug in my ear about the Quilts of Valor event coming up on June 22 at the Dacusville Community Center, and specifically about the devotion to our local veterans expressed in the quilt-making of a group of about 30 ladies who get together twice a month to ply the timeless art of quilting.

“They’re very dedicated to what they do,” Tom said. “It’s real apparent that their work makes a difference in some of these veterans’ lives.”

You may have seen something about this in last week’s paper, but they’ll be presenting six quilts of patriotic design to veterans — three from Pickens County and three from Oconee — on that day. There’s also going to be a “Ride for Valor,” led by the motorcycle honor guard group, the Patriot Guard.

Anyone with a motorcycle who wants to donate $10 and join the ride can take part. Motorcyclists will register at 9 a.m. and head out at 10 a.m. for a ride up Scenic Highway 11. They’ll return to the community center between 1-1:30 p.m. for the quilt presentation.

I hear there will be food.

I checked in with Linda Hall, who directs the quilting corps there, to find out what motivates these ladies.

“These quilts are to thank the veteran for his sacrifice for us,” she said. “And when I say us, I’m

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Summertime fun

For several reasons I always looked forward to summertime. The last day of school was greatly anticipated. Kinda like saying “Amen” to a six-month-long prayer or blessing, or eating the last morsel of cake or pie. A time of adventure, a time of discovery — and sadly a time to be Daddy’s slave or convict, at least in our minds.

I might add that a dad’s mind and a boy’s mind don’t work — did I say work, there’s that word again — the same. He’s thinking “look at the pulpwood in that pine,” while the boy is thinking, “this pine tree would make one heck of a treehouse.”

Speaking of treehouses, Joe McCollum and I constructed our best-ever treehouse in the pine thicket immediately above the yonder side of the lake. It had it all — a roof, floor, window and a hinged door, all of which were compliments of a certain George W. O’Shields. However, somehow we forgot to ask him if we could borrow all that extra building material.

The entry up to the house was via several small wooden boards attached to two spindly pine trees adjacent to the house. One afternoon, I discovered that No. 8 nails were not long enough to support oneself while climbing up and down this contraption called a ladder. One of the steps pulled free as I started to descend, and I vaguely recall examining it during the nanosecond it took me to fall the 15 feet to the ground, knocking

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