Roy Exum: My Garden This July

Saturday, July 1, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

What’s this! I have never stepped in my garden in July when the ground was soggy! We are five inches over normal rainfall for this time of the year and in June we gained another inch over what is normal for the month. After last year’s drought I’ll never complain about rain again. I love what this blessing is doing to farms that suffered so badly a year ago. And, as usual, we have an abundance of orchids and onions … 

AN ORCHID to the Erlanger Board of Trustees for boosting Kevin Spiegel’s salary to $1.5 million. I have never met anyone who deserves to make over a million a year, but if that’s what it takes to keep this “superman” on board four more years I’ll lead the cheers. 

AN ONION to the first-time horror of sitting on the porch and dozing off in my rocking chair. I’d gotten plenty of sleep the night before and I am paralyzed by the fear it is a valid sign I am officially old. It is also bothersome that my daily prayer list is growing – what’s that about? 

AN ORCHID to every single person who goes and personally visits with a terminally ill person just days before they pass on. The unwritten rule is you never stay for longer than 15 minutes but your “being there” will be – in fact – among the last happy thoughts of their life. (What do you say? Nothing, just show up and smile and the conversation will take care of itself.) 

AN ONION to the not-surprising observation that during the entire month of June I did not see one – not one – bicyclist using the idiotic bike lanes on Broad Street. 

AN ORCHID to every man or woman who buys an American flag and puts it proudly on display next Tuesday. It’s our heritage and it is jolly well our duty to honor our country. 

AN ONION to the letter in the newspaper praising a school principal for promptly firing a teacher found guilty of having sex with a student. My goodness, you are required by law to call the police! 

AN ORCHID to Adam Caine, who was just chosen as “Coach of the Year” in the newspaper’s Best of Preps awards. Adam’s father, Dr. Winston Caine, was one of my dearest friends and as I pictured “Winnie” looking down from heaven, it gave me the tingles. 

AN ONION for the sadness I feel as Fred Fletcher resigns as Chattanooga’s Police Chief. He’s easily one of the best we have ever had and I hope his successor will come from within the department because the members of Fred’s command staff are each superb and most deserving. 

AN ORCHID for the whisper that Dr. Bryan Johnson, our superintendent-elect for the Hamilton County Public Schools, is already becoming a frequent visitor to Hamilton County and has been actively meeting with leaders in the community. Word has it he’s already picked most of his Transition Team. 

AN ONION for the senseless way we don’t tap into our senior talent. I spent time with former Mayor Ron Littlefield earlier this week and he is a trove of wisdom and practical solutions. We talked about a variety of things and he had answers for almost all of them that really made sense. There are others – from surgeons Cauley Hayes and Andy Rittenbury, banker Frank Schriner, Editor Michael Loftin, and many more – whose invaluable insight has never been better. Ned Giles, the beloved pharmacist, comes to mind and, when Judge Neil Thomas and school leader Kirk Kelly retire, we don’t dare let those minds go unheard. 

AN ORCHID for the lives of Tom Edd Wilson and Louise Guerry. Tom Ed easily touched more lives in our community than anyone I can name while “Mrs. Guerry” fed all the kids in our neighborhood when I grew up with Zan, Pem and Chappell.  I read in her obituary that when she became the first woman to ever run in the Chattanooga Chase, an ambulance slowly followed her for the whole route. Louise was a huge reason why I will always believe our neighborhood was more fun than any other in the history of civilization. (And can you believe Zan is still playing in tennis tournaments around the world!) 

AN ONION to those who don’t recognize the need for our poorly-performing inner city schools to become year-round schools. When many of these kids are not in school, they are trapped in poverty and poor environments. Some don’t eat – not because they aren’t loved but because there is no money to buy food. JoAnne Favors, our longtime state legislator, raised four kids as a single mother and you ought to hear her wonderful suggestions. 

AN ORCHID to the wisdom of Andy Berke for knocking away a college degree requirement in the search for a new police chief. This enables assistant chief Edwin McPherson – who is working towards his degree – to be a viable candidate. Captain McPherson didn’t have the money for college when he graduated from Ooltewah but after 25 years on the force, I’ll guarantee he could teach any criminal justice course there is. He and two other officers, David Roddy, the chief of staff, and Danna Vaughn, assistant chief of the special operations bureau, should each be a finalist and I’d hate to be the one to pick from those three. Few in Chattanooga realized how blessed we are with such leadership. 

AN ONION for 1,760 shootings in Chicago for the first six months of this year, 334 deadly. President Trump just send 20 ATF agents to help stop the gun supply. Right now somebody is shot an average of every 2 ½ hours and two people are killed every day. This year 252 blacks have been killed compared to 48 whites. And since Rahm Emanuel became Mayor in 2011, there have now been 3,445 murdered.  

AN ORCHID to the federal judge who just ruled treatment of mentally-ill prisoners in Alabama is “unconstitutionally cruel.” It is estimated steps to fix it will cost the state $25 million a year. (One prisoner, Jamie Wallace, once testified a guard had offered him a razor blade to kill himself. Several days later, Wallace did indeed take his life behind bars.) 

AN ONION to the report from “The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy” that finds seven percent of Americans believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Please – that’s 22.7 million people! Further, a full 48 percent aren’t sure where chocolate milk comes from. That’s nothing compared to the admission 29 percent of adults” use” their children as cover to buy it for themselves! (The Innovation Center assures us that chocolate milk is cow’s white milk with added chocolate flavors and sweeteners.) And one-third of Americans don’t realize cheese is made from milk. 

AN ORCHID to a new study that confirms 12 minutes of ‘meditation’ is very valuable to athletes before practice or games. Exercise is stress, notes a recent article in the NY Times, and experts believe mediation is a cornerstone in the treatment of stress. 

AN ORCHID to the kid who asked, “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong?” 

* * * 

When I decided to share some of the really funny things that come through my email each weekend this summer, I had no idea how popular “The Saturday Funnies” would be. I also didn’t realize the first of July would be on a Saturday. My customary “Walk In The Garden” on the first day of the month is something I’ve enjoyed for several years so this week you’ll get “The Sunday Funnies” tomorrow before we go back to every Saturday next week.

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