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It was a time for American hero’s. Being the first man to orbit the earth put John Glenn right up there with all those great men of that time and that generation.

Now that I look back, John Glenn and the astronauts of those times all remind me of my father, an aeronautical engineer with Boeing for all of his adult life.

Dad didn’t orbit the earth, but he flew on the first Boeing 707 around the world. He didn’t go up in a space ship, but he launched the first Minuteman from Vandenburg Air Force Base in Santa Maria, California. He helped engineer and flight test the B-52 and the B-47. He took 5,000 people to upstate New York to develop and flight test the Chinook, our first jet helicopter.

I pay tribute to all the dedicated and talented men of The Greatest Generation.

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JFK and John Glenn (LBJ at right) when honor, respect, grace, humility and fortitude were exhibited by the men of The Greatest Generation.

A loud, smoky, rickety, logging truck goes 15-40 mph above the speed limit and destroys our peace and quiet.

It is driven by mostly out-of-state drivers (many are felons) who could care less about us and our civil rights.

Does someone have to die before the county commission does something about the number one problem in our county – careless logging truck drivers and unsafe logging trucks?

Email me your solution to this problem: ron@ronaldteejohnson.com images

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I have always disliked Halloween even though I’m not sure why. I never wore a costume and at Halloween parties I usually came late and left early.

But in 2009, the Mrs. (now ex) talked me into not only wearing a costume to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Halloween party, but entering into the best costume contest. And, wouldn’t you know, we won even though I looked like a dork.

Donald was in his favorite costume – blue suit, white shirt and red silk tie. I think he spent most of his time at the party looking for big busted women wearing certain types of costumes: Nurse, Wicked Witch, Pirate, Dolly, Mexican immigrant, Miss Universe, Miss Teen Universe, Policewoman, and/or his look-a-like daughter.

(Want to subscribe free to these columns from time to time? Email ron@ronaldteejohnson.com

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I just researched “nuts falling on tin roof and oak trees and North Carolina.” What I learned is that about every five years or so, one Oak Tree will drop 10,000 acorns.

So Sugar (my trusted Golden Retriever) and I don’t mind it too much during the day, but at night the Squirrels and other critters shake the branches of my big Oak Tree during their relentless collection process and the Acorns fall from the sky onto my tin roof.

The yard is almost entirely covered by Acorns because there are so many of them that all the creatures in the forest can’t eat them all.

A problem so I set my mind to dream during sleep about how I can stop the nuts from falling down on us. This morning I recalled my dream: Envelop my home in a tightly knitted, net dome. Leave a little space for Sugar and I to get in and out.

Now, where to find a net that big and a couple of guys to float it above the house and then figure out how to empty the Acorns onto a huge “chip” truck? And, find a sniper to take the Squirrels out, plus find more guys to blow the nuts into a huge nut mound?

Well, on second thought, I think I will just turn the TV sound up so that the 24/7 coverage of Trump going nuts will drown out the machine gun of Acorns falling on tin. The only problem though is that Sugar and I could end up nuttier than Trump and then I have to find someone to come over and apply psychiatric healing. Also, check our ears.

Enough Walter Mitty stuff! Sugar and I know that sooner or later Mother Nature will end the Acorn Storm. And, at the same time, we would appreciate if she can stop Trump.

Hey, I got it! We’ll bury him under a gigantic Acorn pile. I can just hear him under the pile and with a muffled voice claiming “This is the most fantastic Acorn Hill ever built by man and I’m the only person on the planet who could have done this. But, I’m not really under this pile of nuts. It’s a pile of nuts created by the Mexican Acorn Cartel.”
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I was sitting alone at a table to get a bit of a rest while covering a charity fundraising gala at the Mar-a-Lago Club, when Donald and Melania strolled by.

Trump, with a smile on his face, said: “What’s the king of Palm Beach doing sitting there alone?” Melania gave me that sort of half queen-like smile and they continued their stroll around the ballroom talking to people. His tone was light.

I didn’t know what to say to him as I had no idea why he said what he said. I was the publisher of Palm Beach Today and through about nine years, Trump and I saw each other frequently at events. I never had any problems with him, but “king?”

The other day, six years after I sold my interest in Palm Beach Today,  I was filing some old clips and photos and there it was! A tabloid in Palm Beach wrote a story about the “media wars” in Palm Beach and wrote: “There is a new king of media in Palm Beach …..”

I’ve been called a lot of things in my journalism career since sixth grade, but never “king.”

The article was referring to the war between my newspaper and magazine and the Palm Beach Daily News, the 100-year-old newspaper icon on the island. Because of a slight tinge of glossy in their news print they called themselves “The Shiny Sheet.” It was and still is the leading society newspaper in the world.

“The Shiny Sheet” did not like the fact that I was strongly competing with them so they went under ground and began telling socialites in town that if they allowed Palm Beach Today to cover their charity events, they wouldn’t put their pictures in their paper.

The town was split between socialites who loved Palm Beach Today and the idea that the “Shiny Sheet” had competition. Socialites who didn’t want to tick off the established paper kept their distance.

I fueled the split when I began describing my paper as “Shinier Than Shiny.” Actually it was as I began printing my broad sheet on high gloss stock which was unheard of in the publishing world.

Now that I have experienced Trump’s penchant for putting people down and demonstrating classic personality disorder on a daily basis, I now realize that he read the story in the tabloid.

I had maybe a couple of friends comment on the “new king” story and I laughed if off, but now I realize Trump was actually mocking me. He wanted to make sure that I understood that he was the real king of Palm Beach.

Does this seem familiar? Trump has actually blown his chances of becoming president because of his absolute need to dominate people who don’t believe he is, well, the king of Palm Beach and …the universe.

When I was watching the town hall debate last night I couldn’t help but think of the time Trump called me a king, a king who is very happy living in our beautiful, glorious mountains with my dog Sugar beside me, and surrounded by the real kings of our magnificent country – the good and decent folks of the Blue Ridge.

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The days of Camelot and Royalty in The White House

It was January, 1974 and it was one of those patented sunny and warm days on the island of Palm Beach. It was lunch time and all of my staff in my publishing office on Seaview Avenue had taken off for lunch. I was at my desk alone.

All of a sudden I looked up and there stood Rose Kennedy. She had on a yellow, flowery dress and had white gloves on. I leaped to my feet and I think I bowed. “Hello, do you know where Dougherty’s restaurant is?” she asked.

I told her that it was just down the street and I would be happy to take her there. In one of those moments in life that you never forget Mrs. Kennedy took my arm and we walked out of the office toward the restaurant which was only about a half block away on South County Road.

There I was escorting one of the most beloved persons in the world down the street and even though I think we talked about the wonderful weather, thoughts flashed through my mind of what this extraordinary woman had endured in her lifetime. She had weathered the losses of three sons, John and Bobby Kennedy to assassination and Joe Kennedy, the oldest son, to World War II.

When we arrived at the restaurant she turned to me and lightly took my hand and looked right into my eyes. “It was so kind of you to walk me here. Have a blessed day,” she said. I opened the door for her and immediately two men walked over to greet her.

On my way back to the office I felt like jumping. Did that really happen? Yes, yes it did! Later I wondered how she came to walk into my office. She had come in the door, walked past the empty reception desk and found me. Where was her driver? A butler? Someone? I will never know, but I am motivated by her presence that day as she was a bright and cheery 74 then and only four years older than I am today. Did you know she lived to be 104? Wow!

Of course I didn’t tell Mrs. Kennedy that I had been in her home (the Kennedy compound in Palm Beach also known as the “Winter White House.”) In 1965 I was doing work with the late Frank Wright and Frank insisted that he wanted to invite Mrs. Kennedy to speak before his Palm Beach Round Table. It had only been two years since her son’s death and I was against asking her.

Nevertheless, Frank asked me to take a package of information about the Round Table to her at the Kennedy home. Frank had arranged for me to give the information to Mrs. Kennedy’s secretary and off I went.

The only thing you can see from the street of the mansion is a big green wooden door and a wall. I got out of my car and knocked on the door, but no one answered. I opened the door and found myself in a garden with the main entrance door about twenty yards away. I went up to the door and there was a handwritten sign: “Please go around to the back entrance.” I walked around and came out onto the lawn facing the Atlantic Ocean.

I knocked on the door, but again no one came to the door. I opened the door and walked in. I looked up at the pecky cypress ceiling and the aroma of the old guard came to mind … blue blood and rich. A man in a suit appeared and took me into a room on the right where Mrs. Kennedy’s secretary greeted me with a smile. I introduced myself and handed her the information. The man then walked me outside onto the ocean side lawn.

Being only 23 at the time with a journalistic bent I asked the man if I could walk around a bit. He watched me closely as I walked out onto the middle of the lawn and memories of the Kennedy’s playing football came to mind. I walked over to the pool and the image of JFK sitting on a pool chair all tan with sunglasses was at that moment real in my mind.

Later in 1996 I was invited as a member to a Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce event at the Kennedy home, a home that was purchased by New York banker John Castle shortly after Mrs. Kennedy passed away. There was a guided tour through the mansion and when we were taken out to the lawn I vividly remembered the day Mrs. Kennedy came into my office and the day I visited.

As I stood there I could hear the music

… “For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.”

It’s true! It’s true! The crown has made it clear.
The climate must be perfect all the year.

A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot.
And there’s a legal limit to the snow here
In Camelot.
The winter is forbidden till December
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order, summer lingers through September
In Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
I know it sounds a bit bizarre,
But in Camelot, Camelot
That’s how conditions are.
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.

Camelot! Camelot!
I know it gives a person pause,
But in Camelot, Camelot
Those are the legal laws.
The snow may never slush upon the hillside.
By nine p.m. the moonlight must appear.
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.

Ramona Humphrey was laying on her living room floor in excruciating pain half in and half out of her front storm door. She had let her little Maltese, Katy, out the door for morning duties, but Ramona forgot that she had on her LL Bean bedroom slippers. With no traction she slipped on the ice and broke her hip and leg.

It was March 7 and at 10am it was 18-degrees at her Hanging Rock Estates Lane home in Banner Elk and the wind was howling and sweeping over the snow and ice.

Ramona tried to crawl to the phone to call 911 but she couldn’t move. The phone was six-feet away and to make matters worse she had not yet put on her Life Alert that morning. It was in her bedroom.

She could barely move. The storm door kept banging against her in the cold wind. Little Katy licked away her tears but all Ramona could do was lay there helpless with fire hot pain pulsating through her hip and leg.

She began calling for help. The snow and the cold blew into the living room and it was getting colder in the living room. She had so severely broken her hip and leg it hurt to yell. Across the street about 100 yards away from Ramona’s home, neighbor Reka Korossy couldn’t understand why her dog, Easy, was jumping up and down and barking.

Easy, a Scottish Wolf Hound (along with some Sheperd and Dalmation) was, well, “easy going” and hardly ever barked. Reke began to be alarmed over Easy’s jumping and barking. Three times he went from the kitchen where Reka was to the front door.

Anxiously Reka went to the front door and opened it. Easy was turning round and round and looking into Reka’s eyes trying to send a message. And then Reka heard something in the howling wind. She stood still and thought that she could hear someone yelling help. She opened her front door to better listen and Easy took off running through the snow and ice straight toward Ramona’s home a football field away.

Reka called her daughter, Evelyn, who lives two doors down from Ramona. Her son-in-law, Larry Oates, answered as he had not yet gone to bed after working all night as a trauma nurse.

Reka quickly put on coat and boots and followed Easy. As she got closer she could see that Ramona’s front door was half open. When she and Larry arrived at the door they found Ramona on the floor covered in snow. Through tears Ramona told Reka that her Life Alert was in the bedroom. Reka found it, activated it and then called 911.

Larry got on the phone and reported in detail what the situation was. Larry of course knew not to move Ramona. He and Reka covered Ramona in blankets and what seemed like an eternity Avery County Emergency arrived. By this time Ramona’s daughter, Marsha, arrived and followed the EMS truck to Watauga Hospital in Boone.

The trip took about 45-minutes and even though Ramona was deep in pain she thought about Easy and how he had saved her life. She had heard Reka describe Easy as having “angel ears” and now she knew why for sure. (Ramona passed away in 2014) This article appeared in Banner Elk Magazine. Facebook

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Logging truck drivers evidently like the sound of their giant, noisy engine compression braking as they speed well over the 35mph speed limit through the one mile of Linville Falls from Louise’s Restaurant to the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway on Highway 221.

The drivers are using their “machine gun” brakes because they like the sound. At 35mph braking of any kind is not needed according to the Highway Patrol.

Irresponsible log truck drivers are fraying our nerves, costing us sleep, and driving down our property values.

The Avery County Commission can write an ordinance about the noise and the signs could go up. Many counties in the U.S. have ordinances including Henderson County in North Carolina just to mention one near by.

Click here to read the Henderson County ordinance.

By the way, “No Jake Brake” signs like the one that used to be posted in Newland is illegal so it has been taken down. Jacobs, Inc., make the brakes and they claim the term violates their copyright. I don’t blame them for not wanting to be identified in any way.

I have asked people throughout the county and there is no question that logging truck drivers speeding and using their “machine gun” brakes is the biggest safety problem in the county. The signs are no replacement for more Sheriff patrols, but the ordinance will make it possible to stop a logging truck and give them a ticket (usually $200).

 

 

 

 

According to my survey, the biggest safety problem in Avery County, is the proliferation of irresponsible logging truck drivers.

Now that the economy is coming back there are more semi-trucks on our Avery County roads and highways than ever before.

Specifically the logging truck drivers are fraying our nerves, costing us sleep, destroying our well-being and violating our civil rights. One mistake would mean tragedy.logging truck.jpg

I have never seen a logging truck obeying our speed limits. In addition, they use their “machine gun” brakes when no brakes are needed if they are going the posted speed limit.

I have been told that these drivers like the sound of their big engines compressing. Many probably have faulty exhaust systems considering the black smoke spewing out.

I would be interested in your comments about this subject and, no, I am not negative toward logging companies as they contribute substantially to our economy.

You can comment here or email me at ron@ronaldteejohnson.com