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Last week on Mocking Bird Hill

April 21, 2010
One of my duties here at the Clarion News is to assemble the Backward Glance items that we publish each week. Most of that information comes from microfilms stored at the Crawford County Public Library in English.

I always enjoy this part of my job because I get to take a look back at the old newspapers of the area and the community, in general. The way that news was covered 50 years ago is a little different than the way it's done today, and the things that made the news have certainly changed. But there was a time when it was just as important who caught a big catfish in Blue River, who visited Aunt Nellie in Grantsburg and who went away to college as it was who robbed a local bank.

The Clarion News of yesteryear and the old News-Messenger were full of columns submitted by local correspondents who took the time to gather news and happenings from neighbors, relatives and friends. Many of those correspondents remain unnamed to this day, as the pieces were sent in under the heading of where they were located, not who wrote them. Some of those places no longer exist or are no longer thought of by name.

Ever hear of a place called Owl Hollow? Well, in April 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Nolan Underwood, of Medora, spent the weekend with Mr. and Mrs. Everett Underwood there. Mr. and Mrs. Ray Hudson visited Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Payton on Sunday.

That same week, in Mansfield, Mr. and Mrs. Dilvert Hickman, their grandson, Mrs. Harry Zettee, and son, Billy, of Lafayette, spent the weekend with Mr. and Mrs. James Small and family. And Mrs. Chester Eaton, Mrs. Rose Boman and Miss Joan Sacksteder were in New Albany, Thursday of last week.

And in Rock Springs, Emmett Price, son of the Rev. and Mrs. Boyce Price, of Louisville, was the Sunday guest of Randall Johnson. Johnnie, small son of Mrs. Sue Crawford, has had the three-day measles, and Timothy, small son of Mr. and Mrs. Guido Lee, has been ill with the flu.

Meanwhile, over at Simpson Chapel, Ernest Hamm, who was taken to the Orange County Hospital in Paoli Tuesday of last week, returned home Saturday. And SP4 Gary Main, who was in the Armed Forces one year in the U.S. and two years in Amberg, Germany, returned home Tuesday of last week.

On Mocking Bird Hill, Melvin Wiseman and daughter, Juanita, went horseback riding Sunday afternoon with the Saddle Club.

In Curby, Arthur Beasley, who has been ill, is somewhat improved. And Edward Levell visited Mr. and Mrs. Elmond Levell in English on Tuesday.

And in Harned Chapel, Charles Wade Dooley sustained a broken finger and lacerated hand while working with a plow Friday. He was taken to a doctor in Marengo for treatment.

How about Scarlet Ridge? Ever hear of that? Well, Mrs. Minnie Sturgeon visited her daughter, Mrs. Marvin Gray, recently, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Zahnd, of Illinois, visited his sister, Mrs. Lillie Satterfield, and family Saturday night. The Zahnds also visited Alva Sturgeon on Friday.

And let's not forget Harvey Flat, where Mrs. Maude Bullington and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bullington and family attended church at Alton on Sunday. The Bullingtons were also dinner guests of Mr. and Mrs. Cleo Seaton and daughter, Betty, at Fullenwider Ridge.

And, yes, Tower was actually a place, too, where Mr. and Mrs. William Beals and family were Sunday visitors of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Harris and family. And Esther Collins spent Saturday with Linda Coleman.

And down at Cape Sandy, Mrs. Ruth Cox, of near Leavenworth, visited Mr. and Mrs. Albert Cox and daughter Tuesday night and Wednesday. And Nova Coleman was in Corydon to consult a doctor due to a rheumatic fever attack.

The list goes on and on. There was correspondence from Birdseye, Goodman Ridge, Fredonia, Wickliffe, Fairview, Mount Sterling, Brownstown, Mifflin, Rock Springs, Valeene, Mount Prospect, Burnett, Bethany Union, El Bethel, Pilot Knob, Eckerty and Vicinity, Wyandotte, Riddle, Taswell, Sulphur, West Fork, Beechwood, West Point and Alton.

It's simply amazing that so many areas had their own correspondents who were willing to gather and write these articles and columns and send them in to the paper each week without, not just pay, but without even getting credit for writing them. Maybe they just wanted to serve their little communities. Maybe they felt like, otherwise, they would be forgotten in their rural hollows and ridges. And isn't it ironic that, as so many of them stopped contributing, many of those areas have fallen by the wayside and have indeed become lost in the bigger scheme of things. If you asked some young person where Tower is, I doubt if you'd get an answer. I seriously doubt that anyone younger than 40 knows where Scarlet Ridge is. Or who lived there. There was a time when all these areas were important, at least to the families who lived there. And the newspapers acknowledged their existence, their importance and their place in the bigger community.

I have no idea what happened to all of those correspondents or why no one took their places. Most of them were women, I'm sure. Back then, most women were housewives and were aware of what was happening daily in their community. Most, I'm sure, have passed away. Nowadays, most women hold jobs and everyone is going a hundred miles an hour and there's no time to stop, look around and write about what's going on around them.

But we've certainly lost something. A newspaper shouldn't just be news about other people somewhere else. It should be about us, our little communities, our neighbors, our children being born, our relatives returning home, our pastors retiring, who got hurt, who's sick and who went where. All in all, that's the kind of news that we all like to read.

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