A friend on Facebook posted the other evening, "Be sure to watch the news tonight at 11:00 to see what happened at Westmoreland Foodland". Well, that certainly caught my attention. The Foodland store is just a couple of blocks from the church I serve as pastor. I often run by at lunch time to pick up something from their deli, or stop on the way home for items Linda asks me to pick up. (I don't know why she is unable to stop at one of the grocery stores she passes on her way home - but that would be another subject for another post)
Anyhow, the Facebook posting piqued my curiosity, and it was still an hour or so until the scheduled newscast. I wasn't sure I would still be awake at 11:00 so I went to the TV station's website to pick up the "breaking news". The story was shocking. The video feed showed that fire department and Haz Mat teams had roped off the parking lot, and guys in space suits were visible through the store windows going about some mysterious activity inside.
The report was that "6 to 8 employees" had become sick and had been transported to a local hospital after coming in contact with an unknown white powdery substance. The story said a "regular customer" had paid for groceries with $80.00 worth of pennies, and that the pennies were covered with the white powder. The store had been shut down and the suspicious pennies were taken to a state laboratory in Charleston for identification of the powder. Most of us remember the anthrax scares from the last decade, and any kind of white substance (not found in a Johnson's Baby Powder bottle) is deemed suspicious.
I went to bed that night, wondering about the strange happenings in the neighborhood, and concerned about several friends who work in the store, along with the many church members who shop there on a regular basis. Stories in the morning paper verified the reports from the previous evening, but reported that the store had been "completely cleaned" and that only two employees had been kept in the hospital. Officials were still awaiting lab reports on the mysterious powder covered pennies.
When I visited the store at lunch time yesterday, I asked one of the long time employees if he had been affected by the events of the previous day.
"Shucks!" he said. "That was all a bunch of junk. It wasn't $80.00 worth of pennies, it was $6.00! The guy wasn't what I would call a regular customer, either. He's a fellow that comes in here sometimes and buys cigarettes with loose change. That's what he was doing yesterday. There were two people who went to the emergency room, not six, and the firemen said it looked as though the pennies had been through some kind of fire. We're not going to take a bunch of loose change anymore" he continued. "From now on, they will have to be in rolls."
Well, that was a relief, but it just goes to show how stories can get blown out of proportion - even reports from a reputable news organization. The first clue should have been the story of a guy paying with $80.00 worth of pennies. Seems to me it would take a wheel barrow to transport that many little copper Lincolns!
Those of us who are long time Cincinnati Reds fans are reveling in the tremendous success this season by our beloved Redlegs. It seemed surreal that the Reds were leading the National League's Central Division by two games in early August, when MVP, Albert Pujols and the powerful second place St. Louis Cardinals came to town for a showdown for a highly anticipated series. The Cards swept the three game set, leaving the Queen City with a one game lead in the division standings, and Reds fans wondering if this were the beginning of the end for the miracle season.
Since the disastrous weekend series with the Cardinals, the Reds have been on a tear, and the wheels have seemed to come off for St. Louis. In only 20 days the Redlegs have made a 9 game swing in the standings, and now, on the second day of September, Dusty Baker's Reds have an 8 game lead in the standings, with only 30 more games remaining in the season.
Powerful offense, exciting base running, and tremendous outings from a young pitching staff have made for a magical season for us Reds fans. The Reds lead the league with 36 come from behind victories, many of which have come in their last at bats. They are a team that never gives up, and they are a joy to watch.
After a well deserved rest today, the Reds travel to St. Louis for a week end series with the Cardinals. The race could tighten by Sunday, or the Reds could drive the final nails in the Redbirds' coffin for 2010. I am hoping for the latter.
Speaking of sports, my beloved Marshall University Thundering Herd opens their 2010 football season tonight at the Horseshoe in Columbus, against the nationally number two ranked Buckeyes of The Ohio State University.
The new look Herd is poised for a turnaround season under first year head coach Doc Holliday, but the road to a winning season starts against two formidable opponents - two nationally ranked teams in OSU and the Mountaineers of West Virginia. In all, the Herd faces six teams who qualified for bowl games last year. Hopes are high, but reality tells one that tonight could be a real beat down, but who knows? Stranger things have happened. In fact, the only other time that Marshall has played at the "Shoe" it took a closing seconds, 55 yard Ohio State field goal to give the Buckeyes a 24-21 nail biting victory.
From the "What are they thinking department": Cabell County Public Schools (Huntington, WV) have announced that all swing sets will be removed from their elementary school playgrounds immediately. It seems that the swings are just too big a liability hazard for little Johnny and little Susie.
Two lawsuits and the resulting settlements over swing set accidents last year, have prompted the litigation weary school board in to making the decision to remove the playground staple.
Can you believe this?
It is a sad state of affairs when swings are outlawed from the grade school playground. What ever happened to personal responsibility? How many of us have had playground accidents ourselves? Think about the playground equipment that those of us (of a certain age) were accustomed to in our youth. Remember playing on school grounds with an asphalt playground? Remember the steel Monkey Bars and Jungle Jim's? Remember climbing up the high slicky slide the wrong way? Remember how we use to see who could swing the highest? Remember the contests to see how far one could jump from a moving swing? Remember even standing up in the swing? Sometimes we got hurt. Did our parents sue? No. Did the school officials remove the "dangerous equipment? Of course not! We got patched up, sometimes busted on the bottom, and sternly warned to be more careful.
How did we ever survive?
No swings in Cabell County school playgrounds. What will the Nanny State outlaw next?