Old towns bring flood of memories
Once again it is time to remember “Old Butler.” This was a great time back when these days included the reunion of Watauga Academy alumni. My parents always went, and my Uncle Warren came from North Carolina and my Uncle Dwight from Knoxville and a good time was had by all.
I never went, but I do remember the original Butler. I have stronger memories of Doeville. We left Doeville for Johnson City when I was very young, but continued to visit Johnson County frequently. My grandparents lived far enough up Roan Creek to be out of the range of TVA and so kept their farm.
Doeville, like Butler, was flooded and destroyed by the building of the dam and creation of Watauga Lake. It was a much smaller community—a Baptist church, a two-room school, a post office housed in Uncle Tom’s store, a few houses — located where Roan Creek and Doe Creek merged and was surrounded by farms.
There was another community at that time (pre-Watauga Lake) called Little Doe that for some reason is now called Doeville. I don’t know when this happened or why. I first noticed this sign on Highway 67 and thought the highway department had made a mistake. But now everywhere you look, Little Doe is identified as Doeville.
I noticed also the sign for Cook’s Hollow is in the wrong place along Route 167 (Cook’s daughters confirmed this several years ago — Cook wasn’t really his name, it was his job in the army but I have forgotten his name).
I imagine similar changes happen everywhere over time, these are particularly noticeable to me because of my childhood. I have very good memories of Doeville, the place of my birth, and reading about Old Butler Days in the paper brings back those good memories.
Who’s to blame for wildfires?
A Fox News Channel science piece in June noted that “We were warned” about the warming climate, by Dr. James Hansen 30 years earlier, but didn’t listen.
The report stated that far more wildfires rage these days as the temperature in the United States has gone up nearly 0.85 degrees (Celsius). Firefighters out west who “used to think a fire of 10,000 acres was big” are battling conflagrations ten times as large. Wildfires now consume nearly twice the acreage of 30 years ago.
Tragically, human lives are lost in these — beyond their heavy toll on wildlife — as they were in the November 2016 wildfire in Gatlinburg. In May, the Associated Press reported that two survivors who lost loved ones and a home are suing the National Park Service for what they perceive as negligence by park workers — Great Smoky Mountains National Park — in not promptly enough containing the fire.
The Court action is directed at the wrong entity. Not only had the National Park Service been greatly underfunded. Its service and cyclical maintenance budget had been reduced by some 20 percent during the preceding decade, with large ranger and seasonal worker losses reported by the superintendents of many parks.
More to the point, climate change is killing trees by the tens of millions, thus heightening the spread and speed of wildfires that send forests up in smoke and place our communities at risk. For the national failure to listen to Dr. Hansen’s warning, a large part the legal responsibility rests with the fossil fuel companies. They knew back in the eighties the damage their products were causing, but chose to spend billions to mislead the public and the media and effectively block much needed legislative action toward reducing the climate-warming emissions.
The fossil-fuel industry’s is the real culpability in this matter.