Ecclesiastes 1:9

Picture of Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year Two, Week Twenty-Five

I had the privilege of seeing several of my elementary school classmates during the past month. One of them, my friend Kevin White, reminded me of a circumstance that happened in third grade.

That was the year we received new reading books. I was not impressed—whereas I found the stories in our older series interesting, the first story in our new book Panorama was titled “The Snake in the Carpool”. I did not like snakes, and had little interest in anything to do with them. But take a not (at least to me) very interesting reading book, and give it to a legendary teacher like the great Florence Chesney to teach, and it became motivational.

Kevin remembered that Ms. Chesney had me memorize an entire story from that reading book about an aardvark named Arthur. She taught me how to read it dramatically, to use the proper inflection and hand and body motions to dramatize it. She encouraged me to enter the school talent show, directed by none other than our great music teacher Aleene Griffith. I won third place, if to no one else’s amazement, at least to my own. The details are a little foggy with age, but I do remember that this somehow earned me the privilege to travel to Big Ridge Elementary and Horace Maynard High to do my presentation.

In later years, as Ms. Chesney and I reminisced about this, she told me that she never asked my father’s permission for me to take that trip. She was afraid that if she asked he would have said no, and she wanted me to have the opportunity to expand my horizons even this little bit. She decided to take the risk, let me go and pray that nothing happened to me. She said she was greatly relieved when I returned safely to school.

I also went to church with Ms. Chesney. I never actually participated in the Christmas plays as a performer, but I always read an introductory Christmas poem at the beginning of the service. It was really not a big deal, but it was to Florence Chesney! She would praise me to the highest Heaven in front of my parents, encouraging them to encourage me. Florence Chesney could honestly convince me that it was possible for me to do anything if I put my mind to it.

Sometimes the stars just align—at a later age not even the great Florence Chesney could have convinced me to perform in front of hundreds of Union County students, but who knows? I remember once in her retirement Ms. Chesney substituted for Martha Warwick in our seventh grade homeroom. We were practicing our 4-H club meeting. Ms. Chesney didn’t seem to think we were doing very well with our singing. In the space of the few minutes we had before traveling to our afternoon classes, Ms. Chesney had us energized, excited, and belting out whatever it was we were trying to sing.

I wish I could say that I was a great motivational teacher like Ms. Chesney, but I know I fell far short of that lofty goal. In my travels throughout Union County as a supervisor for the school system, I look for teachers who have the same ability to motivate their students to excel. I have seen many great teachers both in this and other districts, but I can only at present think of one who comes close in my estimation.

And I find it amazing that what the “experts” are now trying to put forth as the latest, most effective teaching methods pale in comparison to what we had in Florence Chesney. It has been forty-five years since I left her class, but I think of her daily and know that mine and many other lives were changed forever for the better because of her love and dedication to her students and the teaching profession.

Even today I marvel at my former ability to memorize. I believe that memorization is definitely a learned skill. Though my ability seems to have deteriorated with age, we memorized everything in elementary school—multiplication tables, states and capitals, poetry. I memorized the poem “If” in seventh grade in Kate Ray’s spelling and writing class. In seventh grade Ms. Martha Warwick taught us the names of the major bones of the body. In high school Mr. James K. Palazzola had us memorize the rules for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of positive and negative numbers. Ms. Eileen Monroe had us memorize several poems, and the saintly Mr. Harrell Edmondson had us memorize the Preamble to the Constitution in civics class. I had already memorized that one, thanks to “Schoolhouse Rock” on early morning Saturday television of my childhood. I still recite it today with the tune in my head.

Now, times are different. There seems not enough time to memorize entire stories. Poetry and “dead white men and women’s” literature is no longer in vogue. Cursive writing and civics had for years pretty much ceased to be taught in Tennessee’s public schools. No need to memorize facts, just ask Google or some of her more modern sister technologies to feed information with little or no human mental effort. I wonder if there will be a tremendous upsurge in Alzheimer’s and dementia rates for future generations who do not have to exercise their brains through memorization, calculation and other thinking tasks?

I wonder if some of the teachers of my childhood and youth could return to this earth for a day if they would feel all the effort they put into educating future generations was in vain? There is hope—I hear rumblings of cursive writing possibly making a return to our public schools, and Tennessee lawmakers have passed legislation requiring students to pass a civics examination as a prerequisite for high school graduation. As Ecclesiastes 1:9 (King James Version) says:

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be;
and that which is done is that which shall be done:
and there is no new thing under the sun.”



Winter recreational activities

When snow, ice and frigid weather blast into town, you should take precautions to prevent injury. Winter recreational activities can pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not properly conditioned. Winter sports like skating, skiing and sledding can cause painful muscle spasms, strains or tears if you haven’t taken the time to warm up.

Author Russell Fine Releases Sixth Novel

Knoxville TN: Local, multi-published author Russell Fine, Author of the Frank Carver Mystery books, has released his sixth book, The California Experiment.
The California Experiment takes place in 2025, after the democrats lose their third presidential election in a row. A California billionaire, who has used his wealth to buy the California legislature decides that California must secede from the United States and become an independent country. He makes it happen, but quickly discovers that he is not going to be able to create the utopia he expected.

Local Author Nan Klee Releases Book Three in Series

Knoxville TN: Multi-published science fiction author Nan Klee has announced the release of DreaganDance, the conclusion of her DreaganStar Saga. Following DreaganStar and DreaganGrey, books one and two in this series, DreaganDance carries readers to the conclusion of the chaotic universe of Samantha Alexander due to her involvement with the first experimental faster-than-light (FTL) spaceship, the DreaganStar. Set in the five lunar colonies, DreaganDance tells of the espionage, intrigue, romance, and mad science surrounding the first FTL starship during its experimental stage.

Miracle in the Ditch

When my Papaw E.O. was young, his father once told him that he would have to hire another farm hand just to keep an eye on him.
If you have read any of my articles or storytelling books, you know my Papaw E.O. was very accident-prone. Yes, I’ll admit it, I am that way too. But I think most of his came from the fact that he was easily distracted.

A Captive Audience

After a long day, with a few extra hours at work at the office, I drove home to eat a bowl of popcorn. It was lightly flurrying when I arrived home. After a pleasant hour and a half with my cat, wife, popcorn, and the local and national news, it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten to write and submit this article. Thanks to a phone conversation earlier this evening with a co-worker, I did have a topic for you, Faithful Reader. There are times that inspiration just doesn’t seem to find me, but luckily due to the lateness of the hour I don’t have writer’s block.

Turkey and noodles

This recipe is so simple. We know you have turkey leftover from the big day. Make it when some time has passed and the leftovers are lounging in your freezer. Of course, you could make it with the leftover pieces of rotisserie chicken you picked up at Food City. It is good either way. I first made this recipe the Thanksgiving I discovered Brined Turkey Breast. It is a staple in my menu box.

My unhappy poinsetta

How can a poinsettia be unhappy, you say? Let me tell you this sorry tale. It began Easter 2018 when I donated two Easter lilies for the altar at church. They were returned to me after the holiday. That is the usual procedure.
I sat the lilies, still with blooms, on a bookcase below a southern exposure window in my office at the back of my house. I watered them from time to time during that summer. By fall, the leaves had fallen and the stalk was dead. I stopped watering them, but they remained at the window. I cut off their stalks.

The Christmas Tradition of Advent

My church celebrated the beginning of Advent December 1st by carrying out the “hanging of the green” tradition of decorating the church sanctuary for the Christmas season. Our pastor explained the meaning of the Advent tradition, which was good because while I had heard of it, I didn’t really know what it about. I’m all about old traditions, and so it sparked my own research on the subject, which I thought I would share.


Miracles of Christmas Past

Children's Nativity scene, Cleveland, TN LDS ward. Picture taken by the author.

Christmas can be such a magical time of the year, even under adversity….

There was a Christmas when I wondered if we’d be able to give our young children Christmas presents. I had begun working for the McMinn County School system a few months earlier and we were still recovering from six months of unemployment.

Hold On To Your Hat

How fast are you traveling right now?

Hopefully, your answer is something like “zero” or “I’m not moving at all” unless you are reading this as a passenger in a car, plane or bus. Whatever your answer is, I can say with a reasonable amount of assurance that you are wrong. Some of you may be way ahead of me here, but my guess is that most of you never give this subject much thought. I’m about to change all of that. I’m sorry–and you’re welcome.


UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.

Homeschooling Mom's Meeting

Monday, January 20, 2020 - 18:00

"Keeping it in Perspective, Encouragement for Homeschoolers"
will be presented by Katie Nemeth, director of AliYah Academy, homeschooling mother of 7 with 23 years of experience. She has successfully graduated 3 and her youngest is in Kindergarten. Persons interested in homeschooling are invited. For more information contact Connie Dickey, 865-992-3629.


Tammy Marie Savage

Tammy Marie Savage- 54 of Washburn, born February 28, 1965 passed away Saturday morning, December 14, 2019 at her home. She was of the Baptist faith. She married Terry Glenn Savage on July 10, 1981 and they raised two sons. Tammy was preceded in death by her father, Thomas Epperson; sister, Sherry Epperson Greer.

James "Jim" Burl Hall

James “Jim” Burl Hall age 86 of Halls went home to be with the Lord 3:00 a.m. Saturday, December 14, 2019 at the Waters of Clinton. He attended Dutch Valley Baptist Church. U. S. Army veteran with the Korean War. Preceded in death by loving wife, Frances Hall. Parents, James Oscar and Eunice Nevada Hall, Children, James “Jimmy” Hall, Daughter, Charlotte Treece and granddaughter, Christi Treece. Survivors, Daughter and son in law; Debbie and Jimmy Vandergriff. Brother and sister in law, Ron and Charlsie Hall. Sister, Harrilyn Tipton of Rock Port, Tx. Several nieces and nephews.

Clarence "Bud" Hall

Clarence “Bud” Hall, passed away Friday, December 13, 2019, at the age of 80 in Knoxville Tennessee. Clarence loved hunting, fishing, and sitting on his porch watching the wildlife. He retired from White Lily Foods after working for 42 years. He was a great husband, father, and brother, and loved his family very much. Preceded in death by his parents, Theodore and Mary Hall.

Howard "Eddie" Wright

Howard “Eddie” Wright-age 60 of Maynardville passed away Saturday, December 7, 2019 at U. T. Medical Center. He was a member of Ailor Dale Baptist Church. Preceded in death by brother, Walley Wright; father and mother-in-law, Seb and Gloria Ailor; sisters-in-law, Karen F. Miller, Lila G. Tiller.

Brentley Justin Keelen

Brentley Justin Keelen-age 2 of Indian Ridge Road, Rutledge went to become an angel Saturday afternoon, December 7, 2019 near his home. Preceded in death by grandfather, Mitchell Burgess. Survivors: mother, Samantha Burgess; father, Dustin Keelen; half-brothers, Darius Gage Morgan and Xavier Blaze Morgan; grandparents, Bruce Keelen; Mavis and James Harrell; Trishia Burgess; great-grandmother, Lillie P.

James A. "Jim" Clay, Jr.

James Anderson “Jim” Clay, Jr.-age 63 of Washburn went home to be with his Heavenly Father Friday morning, December 6, 2019 while surrounded by his family at his home. He was a long-time member of Mt. Eager Baptist Church. Jim was a former employee of Plasti-Line Inc. and was a retired Barber. Everyone who knew him loved him. Preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Ruth Clay; sisters, Lois Dalton and Rhonda Clay; brother, Rev. Johnny Clay.

Barbara Beeler McGinnis

Barbara Beeler McGinnis-age 84 of Washburn went to be with the Lord Thursday, December 5, 2019 at her home. Preceded in death by brothers and sisters-in-law, J. R. (Grace) Beeler; Don (Wanda) Beeler; Bill (Lillian) Beeler, all of Washburn; Hazel Lester of Tazewell.

She is survived by her children, Rick (Alice) McGinnis of Knoxville; Rita (Jim) Teffteller of Rutledge; Debbie (Gary) Wood and Jeff McGinnis, all of Washburn. She had eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren. Several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Wayne Clifton Smith

Wayne Clifton Smith-age 86 of Heiskell passed away peacefully Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at his home with is family by his side. He was of the Baptist faith and a member of Macedonia Baptist Church. He was a U. S. Army Veteran and a member of the Tri-County Veterans Honor Guard. He was a member of J. C. Baker Lodge #720 F. & A.M.

He leaves behind his wife of 61 years, Shirley Smith; children, Charlotte Diane, Wayne, Tim, Rick and wife, Dolly; Darrell and Beverly. He was also blessed with 19 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

E. J. Ray

E. J. Ray-age 73 of Maynardville went home peacefully Monday evening, December 2, 2019 at his home. He was a member of Fairview Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Andy and Maggie Ray; sisters, Dorthy, Gladys and Mary Patricia Ray; brother, Jr Ray.

Cynthia Dawn Hensley

Cynthia Dawn (Cooper) Hensley-age 53 of Luttrell, born January 18, 1966 passed away Monday morning, December 2, 2019 at her home. Cynthia was a member of Jim Town Baptist Church and an employee of the Horace Maynard Middle School. Preceded in death by father, Rev. E. R. Cooper; mother, Opal Raley Cooper; brothers, Mark and Tony Cooper.

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