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PAGE 4-A, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7, 1993
Legislature Joining Trend
Of New Respect For Elders
There is one "special interest group" whose new foothold on
state government should be welcomed by citizens of every politi
cal persuasion, race and age. The recent move by the North
Carolina General Assembly to create a Senior Tar Heel
Legislature could serve to enhance senior involvement in govern
ment and politics, benefitting all concerned.
The number of adults 64 and older is growing faster than any
other age group. The 1990 state census found about 676, fXX) of
them in North Carolina and approximately 7,600 in Brunswick
County, 14.6 percent of the population.
We really don't need statistics to convince us, however.
Devotees of the arts have noticed a recent sudden increase in
plays and movies about older people: Driving Miss Daisy, The
Cemetery Club, Whales of August, and I'm Not Rappaport, to
name just a few. Even television is discovering that white-haired
people have lives, even ideas, romance and career capabilities.
The late but popular Golden Girls, Matlock, Murder, She Wrote,
and the new Frazier are a few examples of realistic TV attention
As this segment of the population lives longer and grows, a
number of problems result. People over 64 make up a dispropor
tionately large percentage of those living in poverty, for instance.
In our area, 27.5 percent of the poor are in that category, and the
percentage has been increasing.
Medical attention for this age group represents the largest piece
of the health care pie. Seniors as a group are sicker, sick oftener
and for longer periods than other groups.
The social and personal aspects of aging are even more painful.
In America there is not an automatic respect for the elderly; too
many of them are shunted into institutions, ignored, seldom val
ued for their wisdom and experience, and often live in helpless
However, another kind of senior citizen is increasingly visible.
As medical science has kept us alive longer, it has also bestowed
greater vigor and health on many into their 60s, 70s and 80s.
These alert, vital people are participating vigorously in the politi
cal process, individually and through such organizations as the
American Association of Retired People. They vote, demonstrate
and write to their legislators. In cities and small towns they are on
the cutting edge of every social issue, from environmental pro
tection to abortion.
Now, in North Carolina the new senior legislature will bind
them closer still to a government that has not fully heard or spo
ken to them in the past. Its purpose is a two-way street of com
munication. The General Assembly can speak through county
delegates to seniors statewide, explaining legislation, taxes and
programs that affect them. Conversely, in county forums and by
personal contact, individual seniors can convey through their del
egates their concerns, their suggestions and questions related to
Creation of a senior legislature is, we hope, not a token effort
to appease this important population group. It seems to be a mes
sage from the General Assembly that says, "We realize your
health care and poverty issues are intricate and severe, and we
want to do something about them; we also value your ideas and
expertise in all aspects of state government."
If that's the message, we're all winners in a new day of respect
for our elders.
? Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make
you break your word or lose your self-respect.
? Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
" The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that
age brings wisdom.
? H.L. Mencken
? Queen Victoria was like a great paper-weight that for half a
century sat upon men 's minds, and when she was removed their
ideas began to blow all over the place haphazardly.
? H.G. Wells
? Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better
than we do.
? Michel de Montaigne
Confessed Job- Hopper Accepts Herself
Returning to the Beacon news
room this week has reminded me of
the many times I've sat here over
the past 15 years, looking out on
Shallotte's Main Street, happily
pecking away on a computer, or,
once upon a time, a typewriter.
Last week 1 was just "visiting,"
filling in for the vacationing Susan
Usher. But on at least five or six oc
casions over the last 15 years. I've
walked into a Beacon job, swearing
it was "forever," and as many times
traveled the other direction soon af
ter with a regretful "farewell." In
their infinite kindness. Beacon pub
lishers have kept an open door poli
cy for me.
In between these returns have
been a fascinating array of jobs,
somewhat more hifalutin' "careers,"
everything but any semblance of re
tirement. I have worked as a Kelly
temporary, it's true, but even perma
nent jobs proved to be temporary, by
my choice. All but one of these em
ployment moves were based on my
butterfly mentality. Sipping the nec
tar from one lovely flower, I invari
ably spotted a more enticing one
nearby and fluttered to it. only to
move on soon to still another flower
that seemed to offer sweeter nectar.
On a given day as a journalist, for
instance, awash in dull meetings, 1
would answer the siren call of
Congressman Rose's office and be
come his aide; from there, the job of
Wilmington's cultural arts coordina
tor appeared dazzling; and again,
two years down the road, the role of
program director at a Methodist
church captured my allegiance.
Job-hopping has been my life's
story, I'm afraid, and until recently I
have felt apologetic about it. What
kind of restless, frivolous gadabout
would hold down five successive
jobs in one year? How could a per
son whose longest employment ten
ure was four years have any sub
stance or redeeming social value?
Just as I was about to claim
Attention Deficit Disorder or seek
psychiatric help, I rethought the
whole mish-mash of my working
life. 1 now insist there has been
some merit in that merry round of
It has, for one thing, given me a
breadth of experience and education
few people enjoy. I learned in the
congressman's office about the des
perate plight of those who subsist on
governmental help, and "shiftless" is
the last thing I would call most of
Having owned my own weekly
newspaper for one painful year, I
know (but can't practice) what it
takes to succeed in a small business.
Two years inside the workings of the
Methodist Church stripped me of
some illusions about the clergy and
organized religion in general.
Five months as a junior high
teacher gave me new respect for ed
ucators, but also for the turbulence
of adolescence. Secretarial duties in
a tutoring organization offered in
sights into the lives and possible sal
vation of inner city children.
The job I left the most readily, af
ter just two weeks, was that of a
technical writer. It amazed me that
anyone who loved the craft of writ
ing could find any pleasure in
"dumbing down" instruction manu
als on the operation of machinery. I
found none at all.
You get the picture. I have, after
20 years of flitting from flower to
flower, accumulated considerable
breadth of knowledge (no depth,
you understand) and perhaps even a
little wisdom. Certainly I have been
exposed to wildly diverse employers
who had much to teach me from
their own lives as well as thrpugh
the work they paid me to Uu' And
usually, the offices, churches and
plants where I spent a year or so
were "home" to a congenial family
of workers in which I was warmly
None of these advantages have
been more present than at The
Brunswick Beacon, where the em
ployers, the "family" and the work
have lured me back to them over
and over. I can say that of no other
job and no other people.
If I were writing today as a per
manent staff member, I would be
overjoyed and content to stay forev
er. Yes, I would.. .and yet... wouldn't
it be fun to try my hand at writing
grants for that theater company?!
Hmmmm! Well, here 1 go. ..flutter,
flutter.. .and Farewell!
News Nuggets From Nome, Sweet Nome
There's no place like Nome."
So says the motto of the Nome
Nugget, "Alaska's Oldest News
paper." And while I can't vouch for
the accuracy of their claim, reading
the Nugget convinced me that i, for
one, have never been any place like
A glance at my trusty atlas re
veals that Nome is a town about the
size of Southport on the coast of the
Bering Sea about 250 miles below
the Arctic Circle. That puts it less
than 300 miles from the former
Soviet Union and about 4,000 miles
Our pal Dr. Paul the optometrist is
living in Nome for a while, flying to
remote communities to administer
eye exams for the U.S. Public
Health Service. He is the only op
tometrist serving an area roughly the
size of Oregon.
He sent us a package last week.
Inside was a vacuum tube from an
abandoned Distant Early Warning
(DEW) station located on a hill out
side Nome. It was one of many
DEW stations that used to watch the
skies in case the Soviets decided to
lob a few ICBMs across the North
Paul figured I might want to save
the radio tube as "a memento of the
Cold War." Besides being thought
ful, Paul has a remarkably different
outlook on life. More so since he fell
75 feet off a waterfall and onto his
He also sent us the Sept. 16 issue
of the Nome Nugget, which is "pub
lished daily, except for Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 'Satur
day and Sunday." in that regard, it is
not unlike The Brunswick Beacon.
There are other similarities. The
front page has a heartwarming pho
tograph of children hanging upside
down on playground equipment, an
image that could have been captured
at Waccamaw Elementary School.
The lead story tells of a citizens
group voicing opposition to a pro
posed 4-percent rental occupancy
tax. If you take out the references to
Nome and replace them with Cala
bash or Holden Beach or Shallotte,
you wouldn't be surprised to see the
same article here.
Even the district court docket
looks pretty familiar. Albert Johnson
pleaded no contest to a charge of
disorderly conduct and w?s sen
tenced to one day in jail. John Okie
pleaded guilty to assault and tres
passing. He got a suspended sen
tence and probation.
But take a closer look and you'll
see names like Jotilda Noongwook,
Anna Rookok. Eugene Ikonikonok,
April Wongitillin, Bernard Irrigoo,
Derek Nayokpuk and Frances Kin
Now I may be wrong, but 1 don't
think we have too many lkon
ikonoks or Wongitillins around here.
1 couldn't find a single Kingeekuk
or Irrigoo in the phone book, al
though they may have unlisted num
Of course, Nome probably
doesn't have a lot of Stanalands or
Formy-Duvals or Varnams (or even
Varnums) and not nearly as many
Hewetts and Gores and Millikens
(and Milligans) as we do.
On page seven, there was a sad
story about the funeral of Chris
McCulloch, one of the air carriers
that provide Nome with its only ac
cess to the outside world. (You can't
get there by car.)
McCulloch's fellow pilots flew in
a broken formation over the city,
with one plane missing to symbolize
their fallen comrade. "Chris's ashes
were scattered over the tundra near
the site where he crashed while per
forming an air show before a crowd
that included many of his friends,"
the story said.
On a lighter note, Lana Creer
Harris reported in her "Tundra
Trips" that she had recently spotted
a sharp-tailed sandpiper. It was num
ber 493 on her bird list.
Sandy Amazeen, in her "Arctic
Kitchen" column, offered a delight
ful sounding recipe for "Cranberry
Mincemeat." She advised that it can
be made with or without the 2 lbs. of
cooked, chopped moose meat.
In the same way that Brunswick
Islanders keep close tabs on passing
fish species, Nomeites seem to be
very interested in the comings and
goings of bears. Judging from the
story titled "Bear Tales On The
Prowl," it sounds like they need to
Bill Buchanan reported watching
a mother bear and three yearling
cubs through binoculars from about
500 yards away. He said he "bel
lowed" at the bears and was sur
prised when they "just ran off in
stead of slapping his head off."
Jerry McCall and Pat Houghton
of the Alaska Fish and Game
Department were sleeping after a
day of counting fish when a bear
wandered into one of their tents.
"Pat yelled and woofed and clapped
his hands to scare the bear," the sto
But "the more noise Pat made, the
more curious the bear became" until
he apparently wandered off. Hough
ton said the bear wasn't aggressive
or destructive, "He was just checkin'
In one of the Nugget's advertise
ments, Robert "Fat Freddie" Mad
den promoted himself as "a fiscal
conservative candidate for Council
Seat A." Madden told readers, "Talk
to me. I want your vote!"
Morgan Snowmachine Sales of
fered $300 worth of WinterWear
clothing and accessories free with
the purchase of a new Polaris snow
Milton Johnson, a certified public
accountant, advertised his plans to
set up shop in Nome for the week of
Sept. 18-24. Chiropractor Dr. Sandra
Vaisvil and massage therapist Cath
erine Thundercloud Nicholas ran a
notice offering their services the fol
And in a sure sign of changing
times, Bering Air service announced
that it would begin twice weekly
flights from Nome to the (former
Soviet) city of Provideniya for $200
Now, to answer the question on
all of your minds. It doesn't appear
to be all that cold in Nome just yet.
Highs in the 50s and lows around 30
degrees. Still, the local extension
homemaker wrote her Sept. 16 col
umn on what to do with all those
garden vegetables already hit by
The almanac lists the average
February temperature in Nome at 3
(that's three) degrees. The lowest
temperature ever recorded on the
North American Continent was mi
nus 81 degrees at a small airport in
Snag, Alaska. Which is nowhere
near Nome, but too close for com
Paul writes that he is looking for
ward to seeing the Bering Sea freeze
solid. Personally, I'd rather spend
February right here ? where the av
erage temperature is around 50 ?
and read all about it in the Nugget.
(Want to keep up with Nome
town news? Out-of-state subscrip
tions are $55. Write the Nome
Nugget News, Box 610, Nome,
Spelling Bee IV:
It was, to steal
a phrase from
Richard Pryor, as
hard as Chinese
The men beat
givern and I lost
the spelling bee in the umpteenth round when John
Meyer and Richard Myers of the Wilmington Star-News
bested us by correcting our misspelling of "amanuen
sis" and then acing "antimacassars."
An amanuensis, says my ragged copy of Webster's
9th Collegiate, is "a slave employed to write from dic
tation or to copy manuscript." Antimacassars, it says,
are covers which protect the backs of furniture from be
ing soiled by Macassar, a hair oil used in the mid- 19th
But, hey, it said right there in the spelling bee rules
that obscure words were fair game.
We fought tooth-and-toenail, and I probably would
have passed out had it not been for Marjorie, whose
theatre experience keeps her ever cool in the spotlight
She's also a crack speller, surviving "inveigle" and "ca
tarrh" and reminding me to put a second "L" in
"pointillism." Nothing but her steady confidence kept
me from stumbling as I squeaked through "mnemonic"
I told you it was hard...
So hard, in fact, that I didn't feel even a little cheated
at having come in second. After all, can you spell "nyc
lalopia"? Probably not unless you are an "ophthalmolo
gist," and most people can't even spell that.
There was that moment about 3 this morning when it
occurred to me that one little "n" could have cinched it
for us. I had spelled "ratatouille," then they misspelled
"connoisseur." I was sure I could correct it, but I was
one lousy "n" short of ending the suffering.
If you remember how shamelessly I gloated when
the Beacon won last year's bee, you may be surprised
to learn that 1 can't say a single nasty thing about the
victory of Team Meyer/Myers. They are, in all defer
ence, the best pair of spellers I've ever seen.
Last Friday was what my dad calls my "Jack Benny
birthday" ? you know, the one number no one believes
when you say how old you are. My own grandmother,
rest her soul, miraculously remained 39 even after her
children entered their forties.
It was a delightful coincidence that I spent an hour or
so on my first 39th birthday visiting with Madgelene
Bennett. Most people who don't know Mrs. Bennett at
least know of her, but here's a little background any
She was honored Sept. 25 with a surprise 90th birth
day party at the Calabash Volunteer Rescue Squad
building. For 10 years, she has operated the popular
Saturday thrift shop whose proceeds go to the squad.
Two weeks ago, she was among those receiving the
Governor's Award for Volunteer Service from Jim
Mrs. Bennett, at 90, is a beautiful, strong woman
with plenty of energy, a gracious disposition and a mind
as clear as spring water. She was widowed in 1978, and
later took up her volunteer work. "I had to do some
thing," she said. "I'd have been gone a long time ago if
I had just stopped right there."
Eric was with me during the visit, and on the way
from Calabash back to Shallotte we marveled at Mrs.
Bennett's vigor and how much we had enjoyed meeting
her. We agreed that I couldn't have asked for better in
spiration on this most middle-aged of birthdays than
this wise, happy, lovely woman entering her tenth
decade on this earth.