Letters to the editor – July 13th, 2016

Published 8:06 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ignorant of history

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    American’s unfamiliarity with their own history never ceases to amaze. To quote “lynching” and “period costumes” as a valid reason to change the name “Olden Days” shocks this student of black history deeply if only for its idiocy.

    The period costumes in question harken to the Antebellum period — pre-Civil War. For whatever misguided reason modern people want to wear wool uniforms and steel corsets in Virginia June heat, goodness help them! Lynchings were particularly uncommon in the Antebellum period with fewer than 300 taking place from the 1600s to 1860, according to lynching history expert James W. Loewen, in the foreword to A Time of Terror, a memoir by James Cameron, the only American to ever survive an attempted lynching.

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    By comparison, there are few costumes at Olden Days from the height of lynching, from 1882-1968. During that period, 4,743 lynchings took place according to the Tuskegee Institute (this is an undercount, due to Tuskegee not receiving Northern news accounts), some 72 percent of them black people, but over 1,700 of the victims were other races. 

    In short, if the name Olden Days offends the black residents of Isle of Wight County, they can speak for themselves. Smithfield can, and maybe should, ask. White people don’t need to assume we know better — that’s racist on its face — and make changes to Olden Days and its established brand out of ignorant fear, unsupported in any way by history. Changing the name will not make the Civil War re-enactors stop coming or wearing their sweltering costumes in late June.

    Mary E Tyler


Lessons from Windsor

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    News that no one will not be held accountable by the FBI and Department of Labor for what have seemed to me to be unlawful acts in building the Georgie D. Tyler Middle School has value. Students have yet another example, first hand, of the corrosion of our society’s principles. False official statements, lying about local needs, allowed IOW to beat out other schools for Federal grants. It’s a pity that honest counties are still looking for resources based on legitimate needs.

    Lessons for the next generation abound in our society. Accountability of those in positions of public trust has evaporated. The lives of convicted killers appear to have more legal protection than those of disposable innocents yet unborn. Public servants abuse their power to override the moral convictions of the faithful in favor of bizarre rights newly discovered in our Constitution. The oaths of public offices have all the sanctity of a vaudevillian tap dance. Students are maturing into tomorrow’s generation and may not be aware of an earlier time when principles counted. The unscrupulous, self-serving, and unprincipled ruling elite have become the social norm for the young seeking guidance.

    As a 70-year-old with 34 years of military service, I may have queer and unfashionable principles, but that is what a great generation taught me and to which I have devoted the better part of my years. I try to keep up with rapidly changing technology and trends, but I have difficulty subscribing to feckless codes of conduct. I am a stranger in my own country.

    Learning point here: Students get another real world lesson. Scalawags go unpunished and are encouraged. Isle of Wight County is shamed. A school somewhere still looks for help in a crooked world. I remain frustrated. And Georgie D. Tyler would not be proud.

    Chuck Spann


Why is this racial?

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    Regarding the column about changing the name of the Olden Days Festival: Does everything these days have to be a controversy about racism? This is, by far, the most outrageous thing I have read yet! “Olden Days” — what on Earth does that expression have to do with lynchings? What does it have to do with slavery? How does it point at the bad old days of segregation?

    The olden days have special meaning to all of us and that meaning is different to each of us, depending upon who we are, how old we are and where we grew up. The days of lynchings and slavery are part of the history of our country. That history is unpleasant to be sure, but do we need to harp on it constantly, encouraging more and more racism? Nobody today is responsible for the slavery and lynchings of the past.

    To me, Olden Days are the days of Grandma and Grandpa, Greats and Great-Greats. Wonderful stories from my parents of times long past when the ice man came to deliver ice for the “for real” ice box. They are about my grandfather’s stories of the great ocean crossings by great grand parents from Europe to find a better life in the US. They are my own memories of a childhood spend playing out of doors with no TV, cell phones, videos, of tree climbing, bike riding, cowboys and Indians, cap guns.

    Oh my! And here I am at the ripe old age of 73 with no racist feelings, no propensity to shoot my fellow man, no drug habits. However did I survive? Nobody ever told me that other races were inferior to mine. I had to learn that from the media and especially the current administration.

    Linda Reagan


Why is Tynes offended?

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    In reference to the article in which Denise Tynes said she wants to change the name of Smithfield’s oldest festival, “Olden Days,” because it offends her as an African American, as well as a friend’s remark that she said “slapped me in the face:”

    I am asking what in the name “Olden Days” offends Ms. Tynes. It’s not racist and doesn’t depict any race or nationality. She said it is because of her race’s heritage of slavery. The Olden Days festival has been around forever, so how come all of a sudden she is offended by the name? She has lived here for years, so what is it about this year’s festival that offended her? The remark from a friend? Maybe she didn’t like something in the parade or felt slighted in some way?

    In the 35 years I have lived here, I have never heard anything from my African American friends about the festival or its name offending them. They enjoy the festival and go every year if possible. They don’t feel that it’s not directed toward the black community. It’s fun and entertaining.

    My suggestion to Ms. Tynes is that her concerns be directed toward things that need to be changed. How about the homeless, the food bank that helps all in our community, crime and how we as a community can help with that. How about drugs, gangs, etc. Move on, Ms. Tynes. Get on the band wagon for something that really needs to change.

    Lorraine Carl


Bike trail boondoggle

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    The Nike Park bike path is a 2006 local government boondoggle that several present Supervisors in their campaigns said was nice to have, but not a need —not by any stretch. Of course, there’s a lot of federal money in $7.3 million right? Baloney! It’s taxpayer money better utilized to fix some decrepit county gravel roads, poor Grace Street in Smithfield and Bradby Park are still awaiting action.

    Did anyone take note that from Cypress Creek to Battery Park Road there are 21 business driveways and two streets on one side and 36 driveways and one street on other, to be safely navigated by a user of a bike path (depending on which side)? Every one is a danger to users from vehicles turning quickly off the main road into a driveway. Users with device earphones in will reality be sitting ducks. County staffer said it was for tourists/tourism promotion. Seriously? The Town Council would be fiscally negligent to participate in this charade because they’d gain zilch in tourism increase due to this, I submit. Police and Rescue Squad might be needed, however, periodically. Duplicating Windsor Castle’s nice uncongested trails anytime soon is absolutely foolhardy.

    People can pedal to the grocery store? Who’s kidding who? Cars reign supreme, especially in the heat of summer, cold of winter, rain days and for that matter rest of the year. Modern society is not exactly the “pioneering” bunch it once was. Any “Townees” feeling pioneering lately?

    Battery Park and Nike Park Roads are another matter. If the path is to be built, staying on the opposite side from historic Edward’s farm and Saunders’ gorgeous azaleas is the only way to go there.

    Meantime, has anyone done a survey of the South Church Street folks’ thoughts, as they are affected by this? That might be worthwhile. “Congrats” to Town Council for not drinking the county cool-aid on this boondoggle. I think the present supervisors may not accept this swill either

    Herb De Groft


‘Food for Thought’

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    “Food for Thought” is a new children’s literacy program at the Christian Outreach Program (COP)! Each month, COP’s clients are encouraged to select two new or gently-read books per child to take home to read with their children and to establish home libraries.

    COP volunteers help with book selections and share bookmarks, reading tips and their personal experiences concerning the value of daily reading. Some of the volunteers have donated books of their own. They realize that literacy development begins at home, and the volunteers are committed to encouraging and empowering Isle of Wight homes through COP! Many COP clients have expressed their sincere appreciation for the opportunity to have books to read at home with their children and grandchildren.

    Thank you to Terry Garner, a teacher at Isle of Wight Academy who coordinated a “Food for Thought” book drive, and the IWA students who donated over 600 gently-used children’s books during the last weeks of school. This is a wonderful example of sharing the blessing of literacy with others.

    Also, much appreciation to Isle of Wight Museum staff who graciously have offered the Museum as a drop-off location for new and gently-used children’s books. In addition, donations can be made at the Christian Outreach Program location on James Street Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Kirstin Cook is coordinating with the help of community youth a Story Time Hour involving reading, crafts, and healthy snacks at the Christian Outreach Center on July 22 from 10-11 a.m. for COP clients and their children. Each child will select at least two books to take home for his/her personal library. Sign-up is requested.

    During The Smithfield Times Concert Series’ Pirate Night on July 22, “Food for Thought” volunteers will be available to receive new and gently-read children’s book donations. Now is a great time to encourage children to go through their books and to share their blessings of literacy with other community children by donating books to the new program.

    Please remember “Food for Thought” at COP for children’s book donations and share the word of its existence and mission with others. Literacy empowerment benefits everybody!

    Beth Butner


Porno on computers

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    My family and I were at the Smithfield Library on July 2. The library was very busy. Children and adults were using the computers in the front of the library as well as children using the computer in the back on the library. I was using computer number 5 and had my husband next to me as I was doing research for a paper.

    A library guest was to my left using computer number 4. A few moments had gone by since the library patron had sat down next to me. My husband started to tap me on the shoulder and whispered “Look to your left.” I looked to the number 4 computer and saw that the library guest had pulled up pornographic images. I saw women who were completely naked with their legs spread apart for all to see. 

    I Ben Neal, manager of the Smithfield Library, and told him what was happening on computer 4. He said that was nothing he could do and that library patrons had the right to view whatever they wanted to view. I said there is no way that could be right, especially when there are children in the front right next to this man. He said that he could switch my computer and therefore I did move to the other side on computer 11. 

    Before I left, I asked Ben if there was someone over him. He gave me Library Director Jenny Bailey’s number. I called her and Ms. Bailey said Smithfield Library has state-required filters in the computers. Even though I might find the material to be disturbing, that citizens have a right to look at whatever material they want to look up. I responded by saying that computer filter must be broken and explained every detail of what I had seen. Jenny said that I might find that inappropriate, but by state guidelines, this man was fine viewing what he had pulled up on the computer. The filter would have blocked anything that wouldn’t be allowed to be viewed. I asked if there was anyone else I could bring this very important concern up to and She said no that she was as far as it goes. 

    So now I am writing to you to bring you aware of this situation. It is not at all appropriate to place our youth in such a situation. What if that man is a sexual predator? The library should be a safe place at all times for our kids and us.

    Jessica Leitch


Successful Relay for Life

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    As Event Lead of this year’s American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Isle of Wight/Surry, I would like to thank everyone for their generosity and support. Forty teams joined in this year’s Relay For Life and raised $94,834.23 to help save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, by helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back.

    A total of 137 survivors walked the opening lap and inspired those currently battling cancer. And again, our luminaria ceremony showed the community’s warmth and caring for those who are no longer with us.

    I would also like to thank the many Relay For Life volunteers, committee members and teams who worked to make this year’s event a success. And we certainly want to thank our corporate sponsors Prime Media, Smithfield Foods, Surry Power Station, Jacobs Technology, Eastern Virginia Tang Soo Do, Day & Zimmerman, Hanover Technical Sales, Inc., and Riverside, for their support which made all of this possible. A special thank you to Isle of Wight Academy for their outstanding hospitality and allowing us the opportunity to host our event at their venue.

    The 2017 Relay For Life will be forming soon. We will be hosting an interest meeting on Monday, Aug. 8 at Benn’s United Methodist Church starting at 6 p.m. If you would like to help make next year’s event an even bigger success and work toward the time we no longer hear the words “you have cancer,” contact Mynik Taylor at (804)527-3778 or mynik.taylor@cancer.org.

    Melanie Cena
    2016 Event Lead
    Relay For Life of Isle of Wight/Surry


We’re not all sinners

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    I don’t agree with what the Bible says about Adam eating the forbidden fruit and that we are all sinners because of it. I guess if someone murders someone then we are all murderers. If someone rapes someone then we are all rapists. If a man beats his wife, then all men beat their wives.

    I don’t think everyone is a murderer or a rapist or a wife beater. It would be a pretty sad world if all of this were true.

    There are plenty of good people in this world and they should not all be considered sinners. I don’t appreciate being labeled a sinner by any pastor, preacher or priest. If any one of them tells the congregation that they are all sinners, they should be barred from their profession.

Ruth Price