Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


January 15, 2013

Random Thoughts: Watching the pickle drop

CROSSVILLE — Not only do I love history I have respect for getting it right. Last week a headline sent me into a tizzy. It read “Watch Nights mark Emancipation Proclamation 150th.”

I remembered the members of that little church by the side of the road, our Methodist Church, gathering every New Year’s Eve for Watch Night services. It was a time of prayers, Bible readings and silence. Missing from that service was any mention of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Turning to Google I learned that in 1740 Methodist minister John Wesley introduced Watch Night. He was distressed by the wild drunken parties that celebrated the holiday season. This alternative solution was picked up quickly by other religions and the faithful observed Watch Night as they waited for the arrival of the new year.

In 1862 during the bloody Civil War, Abraham Lincoln paused to issue the proclamation that his Union forces would be fighting to bring the Union together but without slavery. On December 31, 1862, many black churches held Watch Night services as they waited for the Emancipation Proclamation to go into effect.

Now in this 150th year since the official document appeared it was displayed in Washington, D.C. for a very limited period during this 2013 season. Lincoln wrote in that proclamation,  “I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and part of States, are, and henceforward, shall be free.”  

It is rare that Watch Night is mentioned today and perhaps some will learn why it was added to the holiday season in past years. Others, including me, now know more about the timing of the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago. 


I would guess that many homes in Crossville have Mt. Olive pickles in their refrigerator or on their grocery shelf. But how many know that since 1926 there is a small North Carolina town named Mount Olive because that is where the Mt. Olive Pickle Company began business about 80 years ago.

In the early days the company used a number of names for their brand. It was not until the 1950s they decided to use only the Mt. Olive name. Today that name appears on grocery shelves in all 50 states.                               

In 1998 the Mt. Olive folks began a Mt. Olive’s Pickle Drop. It became an annual tradition. At 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve a three-foot pickle, well lighted, slides down a flagpole as the crowds watch for the coming of a new year. 


Since it is still January it seems a good time to remember how involved the South has been in the acceptance of dropping the ball on New Year’s Eve. It was in 1904 that the publisher of a Chattanooga newspaper and the failing New York Times, Adolph S. Ochs, decided to move the operations of the papers from Chattanooga to New York City.

He chose land known as Longacre Square to establish his business. Unhappy with the name he persuaded the mayor to rename the land Times Square. For several years they held fireworks displays from the top of the buildings to welcome the new year but the danger of a bad fire changed that. In 1907 they dropped the ball from the top of the building and a tradition was born.

As long as there are country store owners like Clay Logan in Brasstown, NC, there will always be quirky possum drops or Mt. Olive’s pickle drop but millions will insist on the best of all, Times Square!

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: Our war on women

    Jimmy Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, has had quite an impressive career as an author. His first book was published in 1975, and he has now written a total of 37 books, 23 of them after his presidency. He has set a high example for other past presidents, especially those who would like to find ways of being as beneficial to their nation as possible in the days after their retirement.

    April 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: "Selfie" destruction

    Technology continues to profoundly impact our daily lives, from the Heartbleed Bug that put hundreds of thousands of websites at risk of compromising customer usernames and passwords, to the little light that tries to tell me I'm about to run out of gas. Technology also impacts our language, with new words being created to describe the latest gizmo, gadget or trend.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stumptalk: It depends on what you mean

    A writer’s headline asks, “Do we really believe in democracy?” To which I answer, “What do you mean by democracy?

    April 21, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice