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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

A very, very bad day
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

By MORRIS STEPHENSON -

Years ago, when things didn't go as well as expected, it was called a "bad day." Some years later, there had to be a better definition for a bad day that progressed into something worse.

That's when I added a new category and called it "A Day from Hell," which has been the topic of several columns. Last Monday, of all days, turned out to be one of those DFH. Now, I've got to come up with something that is one step worse.

I was expecting a typical day back at the office, all rested up after the extra hour of sleep I reclaimed at the end of DST. I had a column and a story already written ready to be emailed to the News-Post. I was ahead of the game as I unlocked the front door.

Ten minutes later, it hit the fan. I couldn't send the column and story to the newspaper. I tried, tried and tried again only to be told to "try again." Reaching the "hacked off" stage, I ran copies of both and headed to the newspaper office to retype them on their system. Later, I learned Yahoo's service was down, not that it helped any to know.

At the N-P, I had to use a strange computer, not the one I had used for years. Getting used to a new keyboard is like getting used to a new wife, perhaps worse. I won't make my comparisons in the column, however. Let a sleeping dog lie, as they say.

It took forever to retype the two items. Once, I looked at the screen only to discover I apparently had placed my "master" fingers on the wrong keys. I had several lines of letters that didn't spell anything.

Finally, after finishing and about to leave the newspaper office, the cell vibrated. It was wife Hazel with an earth-shaking announcement. "We don't have any water."

I knew what the problem was, but my favorite plumber was out of town. I had to drive 20 miles round trip to take a ladder, go down some 7 feet into about a 4 x 4-foot "well house" and throw the pressure switch. That solved the problem that had been occurring on occasion for the past few days.

Then it was back to town to return some items and pick up more at Wally-World. En route back to the office, I had to stop at Paul Crawford's insurance office about my March claim following the hail/wind storm.

Next, I had to talk with David Campbell about getting my book printed ASAP. Christmas is fast approaching. He asked me to email him the copy, which wouldn't take but a minute. By this time, it was about 5 p.m.

Stopping at Hema's to get some food to go, I headed west toward Ferrum. I was about a mile away when it suddenly hit me I hadn't sent David the email. I was too close to home to turn around and go back. I'd just have to make the third trip to Rocky Mount after I'd eaten.

The final trip was made about 7 p.m., and my oversight took about five minutes. After I shut the computer down, I locked the front door and got into "Goldie," my '86 4-Runner. By then it was dark. Only after I turned on the headlights I realized I needed gas.

Deciding to go up North Main another 200 yards, I turned left at Jones Produce. I turned into an empty parking lot. A sign on the front door informed me that Jones was "Closed until Further Notice."

I had one of those stubborn, hard-headed Stephenson "fits," as my late mother would describe it. I elected to pull a "NASCAR full economy gamble" and see how low the little needle would drop before Goldie drifted to a stop.

Wailing into the kitchen, I was greeted by a very excited "Mr. Victor," our beloved Schnauzer who'll turn 2 next month. There's nothing like being met by something that repeatedly jumps up and down, runs tight circles, pants and wiggles its tail. Wife Hazel followed Vic into the kitchen. "That didn't take long," she commented.

Agreeing with her, I collapsed into the easy chair and tried to unwind. I was "tighter than a Dixie hat band," to borrow an old saying that I have no idea what it means. Finally, I hit the sack after turning on the TV. No, I didn't want to watch Michael Vick and his Eagles get beat by Drew Brees and the Saints. So the room became dark at 10 p.m.

An hour later, I was still tossing and turning. I recall rolling over and glancing at the clock at 1 and 3 a.m. before my hot feet hit the cold floor at 4. I should have just stayed up all night and gotten a really early start on getting to the voting precinct.

Right now, I'm just trying to come up with a new category for the above-mentioned day -- "ADFH." Got any suggestions?

Political Junk -- I was joking with someone the other day, saying after hours of thought and comparison, I had decided how I was going to vote last Tuesday in every political race. It's a simple formula for every election.

Before leaving the house for the voting precinct, I was going to check the messages on the house land line. After listing all the calls, I was going to write the names of those who did not call and vote for them. It's my simple solution and I may start using it.

Many people don't remember this, but Kermit "Red" Salyer, former N-P owner and editor, wrote a blistering front page editorial just before election day when Barry Goldwater (R) was opposing Lyndon B. Johnson. The two-column editorial stretched the length of the page...some 21 inches. He bad-mouthed both men, pointing out all their faults. And the very last paragraph of the editorial basically said, "Personally, I wouldn't trade one group of SOBs for another," only he spelled it out.

I am the only one still around who knows that the day after the editorial ran, two well-dressed FBI agents walked into the front office of the paper. I was holding down the fort, so to speak, while Nancy Adkins went to the PO to pick up the mail.

After showing me proper identification from their open billfolds and rocking me to the core, I asked how I could help them. "We're here to see Kermit W. Salyer. Is he in?" I told them I'd check and see, but what I was really doing was warning him in case he didn't want to talk to them.

Red asked me what they wanted, and I replied I had no idea. "Send the SOBs back," this time saying the words with a snarl. So I led the agents all the way to the back side of the building, where Red was waiting.

The door closed and I went back to work. More than an hour later, they walked back to the front office. I was still there. They wanted to buy two subscriptions for the FBI offices in Washington and Charlotte, N.C. I wrote up the orders and collected cold hard cash.

Shortly after they left, Red came out of the office. "What was that all about?" I just had to ask because my curiosity had gotten the best of me. "They think I'm a damn Communist and that I hate the government.

I let them know right quick I served in the Merchant Marines and I loved my country. I also told them they had better things to do than waste their time coming to Rocky Mount. I think the record's straight," he said with a few extra curse words here and there.

They never came back, and to my knowledge, Red never heard from them again!

TGIO or thank goodness its over! Since I don't make it a habit to discuss politics, I'll just say this. Wife Hazel has come up with a way to "jam" the answering machine by using her computer. I think she needs to patent her method and sell it to voters four years from now. When political callers got a pick up, the message said, "The mail box is full." Friends were informed to use the cell when calling us.

Are we all ready for another four years or should we hold presidential elections every other year? Perhaps every year would be even better.

My book "A Night of Makin' Likker" was pre-ordered Friday night during Mary Wray's marking of the second anniversary of her Artisan Center on Franklin Street. I had hoped the books would be in hand for her celebration, but it was not to be.

I have hit more bumps in the road than the local VDOT department has patches in its highway system. I am anticipating on having the books in a week to 10 days. The book is ready for the printer, and I am expecting a 24-hour turn-around time once the book is received at the online printer.

There is a bonus with the book, thanks to neighbor Bobby Radford. He will include a CD, featuring 10 Franklin County moonshine songs with each book. Bobby, an accomplished musician/singer, has his own recording studio where the CD was recorded. I happened to have a number of CDs Friday night and those prepaying for the book received a copy.

There was a good turnout during the evening, both by the artists, authors and crafters and people looking to buy Christmas gifts early. I really had a great time socializing with everyone in attendance. It was good seeing author Michael Abraham of Blacksburg. It's been a while since he last visited in the area. His list of books keeps increasing. He was also responsible for publishing the one written by Dwight Hayes at Elegant Photography.

I was joined by wife Hazel at the event but she chose not to stay until almost everyone had departed. It was a long, interesting and enjoyable evening.

The hummingbird vine is slowly withering away after growing from about 6 inches tall to trying to wind its way over the gutters of the house. Former wife Sue, who gave me the start, said it will return next spring from the seed it dropped as it died. I sure hope she's right and it will come back stronger than before.

 
Billy and Julie Kingery - Click for Website
Alpine Photography Studios - Click for Website
Weichert - Click for Website
Angie McGhee-Quality Realty - Click for Website
Joshua Shell - Click for Website
Penny Hodges - Click for Website
Harvester Center - Town of Rocky Mount - Click for Website