Swamp history

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One of my most enjoyable experiences last week was one I wasn't originally looking forward to: the 100th anniversary celebration of the Little River Drainage District held in the lobby of the newly renovated Kent Library on Southeast Missouri State University's campus. However, it proved to be highly informative.

The 300 boxes of letters, photos and records that the library staff is cleaning, fixing and archiving will historically preserve documentation of possibly the greatest land reclamation in the history of the United States.

The draining of the swamps from southern Cape Girardeau County to Arkansas was visionary, hard work, beneficial and all done without federal or state assistance.

Riley Bock spoke briefly of some of the history. A 15-minute video was shown (it would be a perfect addition to the Crisp Museum at the River Campus). And three pictorial displays are set up on the first floor of Kent Library.

Larry Dowdy has served 37 years as the chief engineer of the district and introduced a number of the board members with folksy quips about the project, personalities and some of the nuts and bolts.

I've been little slow in acknowledging the following, but these are busy times.

Thanks to Big River Telephone Co. (how appropriate) for sponsoring the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri reception for the Otto F. Dingeldein Award winner Vickie Outman, a mainstay with her outstanding original art paintings at the monthly art gallery show.

Also, one of the most deserving winners of the Jeff McGuire Friend of the Arts Award was presented to local musician Jerry Ford. For more than 50 years Jerry has lent his talents to the area music scene. He and his band have been the chosen group for Missouri's inauguration ball in Jefferson City, where Ford once served as Cape Girardeau's state representative.

The reception was followed up by attending the "Big River" musical at the River Campus.

The almost two-year-old but still unused federal courthouse has taken longer to complete than the Canadian and British waiting lists for a number of their socialized medicine procedures.

The building is becoming a living monument to the inefficiencies of government action. There's no way the Little River Drainage District ditches would have been built in a timely manner today.

In the first place, they probably couldn't get environmental approval.

If you build a mile of road, you can go a mile. If you build a mile of runway, you can go anywhere in the world. -- William T. Piper

Cape Girardeau is scheduled to get airline service back Sunday when Delta Connection starts service to its Cincinnati hub airport and beyond.

By the end of February both parties will probably have selected their presidential nominees. On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and U.S. Sen. Kit Bond have endorsed Rudy Giuliani. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has endorsed Fred Thompson. House Speaker Rod Jetton and Gov. Matt Blunt have endorsed Mitt Romney.

I received the following list of lessons learned (author unknown) via the Internet from a good friend, Dr. Jim Grable on Oct. 30. Jim's funeral was Nov. 11. Thos of you who were privileged to know him will recognize Jim's positive outlook on life in this list.

I've learned:

That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

That when you're in love, it shows.

That just one person saying to me "You've made my day" makes my day.

That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

That being kind is more important than being right.

That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.

That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

That money doesn't buy class.

That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

That love, not time, heals all wounds.

That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

That life is tough, but I'm tougher.

That opportunities are never lost. Someone will take the ones you miss.

That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

That I wish I could have told my mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you're hooked for life.

That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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