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Mr. White scourges Sir Groundhog

By JIM

Melvin White, a native of the Gadberry section, departed Adair County for North Carolina at an early age, and with the exception of a year or two teaching in Carroll County, Missouri, he spent the rest of his life in the Tar Heel state. Still, he remained a son of the Auld Sod at heart, and his loquacious letters, laced with humor, well-seasoned with dry wit, and tinged with longing reminisces of his earlier years, frequently graced the pages of The News from its inception in late 1897 until his passing nearly 35 years later.

One such letter, date-lined Shelby, N.C., April 2, 1930, appeared in the April 8 edition of the newspaper. In this particular missive, Mr. White took up the lash of the wordsmith to thoroughly scourge Sir Groundhog, the proxy of Everyman's favorite whipping boy, the weather. Thus spake he:


"[T]he last three months have furnished us with very freakish weather. Of course we hammer the groundhog as a sooth and a prophet; but his administration has closed. Sir Groundhog has control of the weather from the second of February for the period of six weeks when he retires to private life.

"He clearly saw his shadow on the accepted date; which meant 42 more days of winter. But when his period of reign closes he has no business afflicting us with more rough weather and the time comes when forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

"It is therefore ordered that he behave himself and let the weather alone. Otherwise it is decreed that he faces a firing squad and I have volunteered to serve as one of the executioners. Old as I am and as infirm by reason of shattered health, I am still able to shoot straight. We mean to give him three days of grace and if weather does not become more temperate he shall die the death of the unrighteous."
From this apex of apoplectic indignation, Mr. White segued into a tale about an Arkansan who had occasion to spend a year in Iowa. Upon his return home, friends and family questioned the traveler as to the society and wages from whence he had lately departed, to which he replied favorably. When asked about trouble in that far northern land, however, the sojourner "laid it off on the climate," stating that "Iowa had nine months of winter and three months d----- late in the fall."


This story was posted on 2020-04-01 08:25:03
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