Bits of Stone
A sincere Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Bits of stone readers
This is not a tired platitude left over from childhood but a sincere greeting to all from one who has never forgotten, but always treasured, the reason for the Christmas season. For 50 years I designed and had printed a special Christmas card which with considerable family help was mailed to a number of friends.
Despite my unwavering belief, in recent years that has become impractical for me. So, to each of you who were kind enough to remember me with greetings during this special season, please accept this as a personal message for you!
‘Blount Memorial Hospital History’ books will be signed at Times’ office
Our regrets about the unpleasant weather we had for the Thursday night book signing for The Daily Times “Blount Memorial Hospital History” at the Blount County Public Library.
For those who still want their books signed, I will normally be in the office from lunch time until dark daily and will be glad to autograph books. If you miss me, just leave the book and it will be signed by the next day. Access to the office is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Also, Volume VI of “Snapshots of Blount County History” which has been out of print and in high demand, is now available at The Daily Times office, 307 E. Harper Ave., (just behind Broadway Methodist Church), Maryville.
David Black is named a Knoxville Regional Best Lawyer of the Year
Blount attorney David T. Black is one of 26 named Best Lawyers of the Year in the recently published 2013 Knoxville Regional Directory. He was named in the category of litigation, real estate.
David Black and attorney Martha S. L. Black, David’s wife, are the only Blount Countians listed in the new Knoxville regional edition of the national Best Lawyers in America. Published since 1983, the directory lists 124 specialities. Those listed are chosen based on evaluation of their professional peers.
Three Knoxville attorneys, sons of three Blount brothers, are listed in the directory and two are honored as Best Lawyers of the Year. All are from the Kramer family, descendants of the late R. R. Kramer, well-known East Tennessee attorney. The Kramer family home across from Maryville First Baptist Church is now the offices of Kizer and Black attorneys. Steven E. Kramer is son of retired Southeastern Conference Commissioner Roy Kramer and his wife, the former Sara Jo Emert, who reside in Vonore. Steven was named Best Lawyer of the Year in labor law, management.
Wayne R. Kramer, son of the late Frank Kramer, was named Best Lawyer of the Year in trusts and estates. Also on the Best Lawyers of America list is Jackson G. Kramer, son of the late Jack Kramer.
Jack, Frank and Roy all grew up in Maryville and graduated from Maryville College where they played football.
The rest of the story behind the Steve McQueen movie, ‘The Great Escape’
One of the most interesting and least reported stories resulting from World War II occurred a few months ago with the unearthing of the undisturbed tunnel used in the escape from Stalag Luft III in western Poland on March 24-25, 1944. Undisturbed for nearly seven decades because it was in Soviet territory, it recently was excavated by British archaeologists.
A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. Just two feet square for most of their length, they were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry. Initially, 76 Allied airmen (no Americans) escaped through Harry, fewer than a third of the 200 prisoners planning to slip away. Many wore fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carried false identity papers. The alarm was raised when escapee No. 77 was spotted.
Only three made it back to Britain. Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolph Hitler who was furious after learning of the breach of security.
The archaeologists found 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches as well as thousands of items, including knives, spoons, forks, tools and blankets squirreled away by the prisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their captors.
The latest dig over a three-week period located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104. The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted. It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army approached in January 1945. Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, a Royal Air Force radio operator who was 140th in line to use Harry and failed to escape. Wiping away tears, he said, “I’m amazed by what they’ve found.”
Notes of interest:
• Walmart publicists had an interesting day a few weeks ago when the company’s three-ply Ultra Soft White Cloud toilet paper was the quality winner when Consumer Reports tested the top 25 brands. Scoring 91 out of 100 points and beating its closest competition by 10 to 50 points. It also showed that a premium tissue does not require a premium price. It costs only 19 cents per 100 sheets as compared to well-known premium tissue priced between 30 and 38 cents per 100 sheets. The top 25 brands were subjected to specially trained sensory panelists and an extensive battery of tests, grading on softness, absorbency, value and strength. White Cloud ranked the highest across all categories.
The test by Consumer Reports, publication of the non-profit Consumers Union since 1936, brought forth some fun facts. Preferring the first sheet over the top of the roll was 72 percent of users while 28 percent favor the first sheet under the roll. Women are more apt to be grabbers and men tend to be folders. Americans listed toilet paper as their No. 1 necessity (even before food) if stranded on a deserted island.
• Hundreds of years ago, residents of a remote valley in the East Khasi hills of India developed a good home-built bridge. That was centuries before we began using swinging bridges in the Smokies 100 years ago.
Faced with monsoon-swollen rivers, they developed homegrown bridges made of living roots. They were difficult to knock down and thrived in the super-soaked area, getting stronger in the wet weather, rather than rusting or rotting.
About 10 years ago, a local resort owner started promoting them as a tourist attraction. The attention encouraged local villagers. They had been considering replacing their bridges of roots with modern concrete ones but decided instead to revive their root bridge-making craft. New bridges are growing today, including one double-decker root bridge!
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.