Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 11, 2012

Random Thoughts: A little of this and that for 12-12-12

By Dorothy Copus Brush
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — So today is another Wednesday, but numerically it is special because today is 12-12-12, and the column is a bit of this and that.

'Tis the season to be jolly, but what is the meaning of jolly? Webster defines it as full of merriment and good spirits; fun-loving; gay. Could that be the reason that daily I find stacks of letters from charities asking me to respond with a jolly big check? Many are from organizations I have never heard of.

Thanks to the Better Business Bureau for their accredited charities division. Annually they take a full newspaper page to list the names of well over 300 organizations they have approved as being OK to support.

We have many local charities doing good work. It seems more sensible to give our hard earned money to our own community.

***

On Nov. 14 Random Thoughts told about the pharmacist who created Vicks VapoRub. This week, the December issue of North Carolina’s Our State magazine arrived in my mail box. What a surprise I found inside.

Titled “The Father of Vicks,” I found a five-page story which included a large picture of pharmacist Lunsford Richardson. Greensboro, NC’s, Historical Museum has an exhibit of Richardson’ life and an assortment of the different bottles and jars that held Vicks over the years. Jimmy Tomlin’s story concluded, “Richardson will never be a household name, but his salve has held that status for more than a century – and may do so for the next hundred years.”

***

The headline “Georgia city takes on utility over right of eminent domain” brought back a painful memory. My favorite aunt married a farmer who owned a large amount of land on a quiet country road. A very old log cabin remained there.

All went well for years until the government decided that was just the  place to store army tanks. Negotiating was tried and failed. Eminent domain, the power of the state to take private property for public use with payment of compensation to the owner, was invoked. The land was condemned and only the family’s bitter feelings remained.

The history of eminent domain is clouded but it was first mentioned in the 17th century. It is used in countries world-wide. The fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation,” but it only applied federally. Soon states had their own procedures.

My encyclopedia discusses eminent domain and the question of compensation with the words, just, taken, public use and quick-taking, all in quotation marks to emphasize their importance.

Courts determined the fairness of all those above words for a long time. Eventually legislatures were given that responsibility, except for “just compensation,” which remained to be determined by the court.

Television’s 60 Minutes featured eminent domain in February 2009. They interviewed people who had their land taken for the “public good.” One couple had been forced out so an expensive property which would produce more taxes could be built. Another lost their home because the area was declared blighted even though it was a very normal neighborhood.

At that time a team of lawyers had documented that in a five-year period there had been 10,000 cases across the country of the government taking property by eminent domain. 

***

One last thought on Pearl Harbor came to mind when I learned a sailor survivor has worked for over 20 years to identify the many unidentified who perished. On my trip to Hawaii, our group was bussed through Punchbowl cemetery. Suddenly one woman screamed, “Stop.” She saw a gravestone bearing her uncle’s name. After 33 years, the family had never been told he was buried there.

***

May 12-12-12 be good to you!   

• • •

Dorothy Copus Brush is a Fairfield Glade resident and Crossville Chronicle staffwriter whose column is published each Wednesday. She may be reached at dcb1@frontiernet.net.