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From China to April fool?

April 6, 2021 at 7:46 a.m.

It happened exactly a hundred years ago this week in Westside Eagle Observer country. In fact, it was on April 5, 1921, when readers of one of the newspapers in the area were greeted with a story in the then Gravette News Herald weekly which was headlined "Help Starving China." The ten-line story read: "Gravette has not yet bought the quota of stamps assigned the local committee for raising funds for Starving Chinese, but the workers are still busy and you have an opportunity to help a deserving cause. Be as free as you can to help the Gravette community raise its quota of these funds."

The article also had a stamp-size drawing of a Chinese man with the words "Chinese Life Saving Stamp" and, in smaller print, "3 cents Saves a Life for a Day 3 cents." I have no idea what the quota was or whether similar stories appeared in the Gentry or Decatur weekly newspapers.

What a change from then to today's atmosphere that clouds our nation and, in fact, the world. What is really worrisome is the trillions of dollars in our national debt which is fast approaching thirty trillion.

I'll bet a quarter the Gravette citizens and those in other towns purchased their quotas of those strange not postal three-cent stamps ... just as Americans have been helping much of the troubled world not only for many years but also today.

Can you imagine a group sitting around a square table somewhere chuckling and then when one of those leaders made the comment (with tongue in cheek), "Hasn't this turned out better than anything we could have hoped would happen?" Was that a roar drowning out the chuckle?

Let's change the subject. If you had passed the 'cuff abode recently, you may have seen somebody in the yard, carrying a little bucket, who was walking around (not the bucket), occasionally stooping down to pick up something, then moving his hand toward the bucket. I'll bet that quarter you know what this is going to be about. Yep, you guessed it; the topic is sweet gum balls, a topic that all too often finds its way into the 'cuff.

If memory is correct, several columns ago I indicated there weren't many balls on the ground ... but ... overhead the ones that had remained on the tree during the winter seemed to multiply multiple times. It took a long, hard 15-below zero temp to knock the remains off. That proved too good to be true. It took several March breezes (hurricane type) to finish the harvesting. So it was time to again dig out the lawn rake and go over the lot the fourth time since last October. The rake wouldn't cooperate, rather, it was the ornery half-size balls that messed up the job. So ... it was half-size balls that had held their place until the middle of March. They ignored the rake by sliding under or flying a half-mile away, that is if they didn't grab hold of the tines and make the rake look like a who-knows-what. Any idea?

So it was get a little bucket and don a pair of gloves to begin the hardest harvest in history. It was walk around, glaring at the ground and, when a ball was spotted, it was bend over time, pick up that little feller, put him in the bucket and go on. Get the picture? It was up and down and all around and an occasional look backward to see a couple of those little critters sticking their tongues at the harvester with the hurting back. Besides that, they kept sticking to the cloth gloves, so it became bare hands cradling the stickery little spheres to fingers and palms. Oh, what fun it was to ... I didn't fill the wheelbarrow but I counted 'em as I stopped and picked up and the grand total was thousands ... well, those 874 balls required thousands of bend overs made possible by fifteen-minute breaks. Oh yes, there were also 43 pinecones that really enjoyed being sent soaring by the lawnmower. The big question is: Why did the balls stop growing to the normal harvest size? Could it be because they lacked a little moisture last summer and hung on for dear life until those hurricane puffs and beginning growth of tree buds getting ready for a new crop finally pushed them all off?

That's enough sweet gumming and off to bad sights on the roads and highways during snowy, misty, rainy and foggy days during last winter -- the sights of so many motorists failing to turn on their lights, even when their windshield wipers were whipping away. It is when side windows are covered with drops of moisture or gobs of foggy mist that lights help persons coming on the main road from a side street to see approaching cars from the side. Why, or why not? It takes so little effort to turn that knob or whatever turns on the lights. Yes, sometimes I'm a bit forgetful and appreciate someone blinking their lights my way.

But a bit of good news, the announcement in the paper about the bypass of Bella Vista, and don't forget Hiwasse or Gravette or Decatur or Gentry who are also considered bypassed, and most of all roads to those cities which need to be widened in some places for passing areas. Why? Because the experts know such changes and improvements made now will be done much easier and certainly will cost a lot less rather than waiting for who knows when?

That's it, a conglomeration of sorts and also a confession that I waited until April first to dig out the old Smith-Corona (that daggum word again). Hope you didn't get pinched too many times (oh, that was not wearing green on St. Pat's Day) but rather weren't fooled too many times with April fool jokes. 'Till next time, Aloha. Is that spelled right? I can't find it in the crossword puzzle dictionary; that page is missing. I wonder why.

Dodie Evans is the former owner and long-time editor of the Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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