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Thoughts While Shaving   Remember when tobacco was king in Bladen County? Many, many families depended on tobacco for their livelihood. Some worked public jobs but supplemented their income with 3, 4, 5 acres of the ‘golden weed,’ as it was referred to. Today, a few farmers do the majority of farming in the county.

It was easy to tell when area tobacco markets opened. Tent revivals were popular, merchants offered bargains and politicians attended the opening of the markets, including the Governor and NC Secretary of Agriculture.

Carnivals came calling until a carnival worker killed a local lady. Best I can recall, that was the last of the traveling carnivals in Bladen County.

We look around the county, state, nation and world, guess the consensus is, it’s a big, bad world and few would disagree. A few sorry human beings cause great pain, but still many wonderful, caring, loving people all around us.

I remember Elizabethtown Police Chief Jimmy Bell. He was a good man, law enforcement officer, small man of steel who rose through the ranks to lead the local force. I remember him being shot and killed on the streets of E-town, attempting to protect the citizens of the town. My point is, bad folks have been around for a long time and good people give their life to protect us. Chief Bell lost his life doing his job.

While I am in a reminiscing mood…we had relatives in the Ivanhoe area. A trip there was trip we enjoyed once or twice a year. NC 53 and NC 41 were unpaved and the occasionally the ruts were so deep the bottom or our old car would drag. It was a different world, same good folks.

Last year, golfers were beginning to feel better about the only golf course in the county, after it had been closed for a while. Few doubted the value of the golf course. Along comes Bill Augustine and he hired Bobby Davis, and today the Vineyard Golf Course is a good draw for the area. I gave up golfing many years ago, but sometimes regret after listening to friends describe the condition of the course.

Someone was showing me a recent photo of Barry Bridger and it brought back memories of two local heroes, Bridger and Frank Elkins. Both were pilots who were shot down in the Vietnam War. Bridger was a captured in 1967 and released in 1973. Elkins lost his life in the war a year earlier. Both from Bladenboro. Elkin’s family waited a long time for his remains to be returned. For more on both brave men, Google either or both.

Elkin’s wife wrote a book, “The Heart of a Man.” Good reading. According to Google, Bridger occasionally speaks of his experiences. In 2010, speaking to a group at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, he was quoted, “I am going to share a story with you today. This isn’t a story about a bunch of American POWs but it is a story about the power of American values.”

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with freedom. Bob Dylan

Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed. Bob Riley

It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle. Norman Schwarzkopf

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