Petersburg Piddlings

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blane Tankersley recently took what might be the last Gulf fishing trip for him for a while, due to the now infamous oil spill edging its way around the coast. I shouldn't say infamous yet, because I think as the days have passed, the ecological disaster is just now really sinking in for most of us. The spill is not just an ecological disaster, but also a huge economic one as well. I can only think about what it must be like for the commercial and sport fisherman, hospitality workers in restaurants and hotels, not to mention the diehard beach bums who sell shaved ice or shell necklaces all year for a living. People that live off their kind of land and environment just like we do.

I know what it was like when the sewing factories closed first here; then places like Inter-City in Lewisburg and Eaton closed in Shelbyville and then the pencil mills began to die off one by one. We saw our factory jobs that have supported many of us most of our lives and a lot of our parents raised us on that hard-earned factory money even before that. A good deal of those folks were left high and dry in a world that no longer needed 1,000 hard-as-nails men and women that could hold up to the hard work. They now needed 250 men and women that could manage accounts for the labor being produced cheaper overseas. Some went back to school and some went home. A few found jobs in what remaining manufacturing we have left. It's hard to see people crying because they know their way of life is over and maybe for some of the older ones, for good. Remembering the economic struggles that followed the closings and how many people it affected is probably only a small taste of what folks on the Gulf are feeling right now. I don't even want to mention what they think the prices of seafood and seafood-related products are going to be.

Blane said he and the crew headed out on a six-hour charter on the Necessity, which some readers may remember was the boat on which he would have been working a summer internship had it not been for the oil leakage. Blane said that it was a beautiful calm morning and they were catching bait fish and everything looked great. Then they could see a light sheen of oil on the water as they went farther out. About five miles off shore they started seeing black lines and big clumps of oil that was about two inches thick. He said he stuck his hand in the clumps and it was difficult to get it off afterward.

I remember seeing all those birds dying with the same gunk all over them when the Exxon Valdez spilled oil in Prince William Sound off the Alaska coast in 1989. The Valdez eventually spilled 11 million gallons into the ocean in what was, until now, the greatest ecological disaster in U.S. history. I remember the shoreline and soil base ruined for years and years to come. There are places where the wildlife and the shores are still contaminated and may take decades or even a century before the land and the sea are healed. Oil remains to this day in Prince William Sound 21 years later and it was "only" 11 million gallons. Those 11 million gallons went as far as 600 miles into the ocean and damaged 1,500 miles of shoreline. To put this in perspective to the spill in the Gulf at this time: Scientists claim that 11 million gallons of oil are being released into the ocean from this spill every one to 10 days. May our thoughts be with those good folks down there working hard for a living and also with ourselves as we realize how this gigantic disaster will soon be reaching into our own pockets as well.

High winds Tuesday took out some trees at McGee Livestock and the Jobe Plantation House, both on Hwy 431 and did even more damage at the Wells Hollow Cattle Company where the mechanics shop, which was made of cinder blocks, lost its entire roof, and only two of the walls remain. The neighboring building had a window blown out but remained unscathed, except for the trash cans which were found a good distance away at the hay barn. Oh by the way, the outhouse I built was toppled, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief, according to Barbara Hargrove, it was OK and soon back upright in its prestigious splendor. Thanks to Barbara for the information and, seriously, it was a bad storm and we hated to hear about the loss of the WHCC shop.

Good to see another event happening in the burg! The City of Petersburg and Middle Tennessee Gun Shop will sponsor The Petersburg Civil War Festival on Saturday, June 26, which includes a pie baking contest, an encampment, little Mr. and Ms. Petersburg and several other fun events. This will be an all-day event with the highlight of the festival being a live skirmish complete with cannons booming and guns firing. There will also be hands-on activities for the kids. Contact the Middle Tennessee Gun Shop at 659-9385 or go to for more info.

Kay Talley came over today to get some hackberry limbs to keep the dogs out of her flowers like folks did in the old days. I love hearing about the old days and seeing folks do things the old fashioned way. Speaking of the old days, recently my Daddy reminded me of Petty's Cave on North Fishing Ford Road. Petty's Cave was a major tourist attraction around here in the old days and many a boy and girl from Petersburg went to it. People came to Petty's Cave from all over the state. I think it is part of a nice homestead now and I wonder if you can still go visit it. We used to swim in the Collier Hole on South Fishing Ford, but I have never laid eyes on Petty's Cave. Good luck with the dogs and the flowers, Kay.

We are sad to report the passing of Tracy Welch Echols. Tracy was the daughter of Bill and Peggy Welch of Lewisburg. Our sympathies also to Tracy's husband and children and our friends here at Petersburg: Hillard Welch, Lillard Welch, Dean Dunivan and the entire family. Tracy was 48.

Our sympathies also to Nicky Foster, Tracy and Travis after the death of wife and mother, Janice Foster recently. Nicky and my Daddy were great friends and we are sad to hear of their loss. The Fosters have always been a steadfast part of our community. Janice was 63.

Petersburg native Lonnie Nichols also passed away recently in the Alvin C. York Medical Center in Murfreesboro after a long illness. Lonnie returned to Tennessee after 26 years in the military and worked for Davis-Ralston-McCauley funeral home here in Petersburg for years before going to work at Gowen-Smith in Shelbyville. Sympathies to the Nichols family. Lonnie was 91.

Happy Birthday this week to Chasidy Arnold, Margaret Ann Rogers and Gayle Escamilla. Call me with news big or small 659-9060 or