How are you?
My former boss, and general manager of The Daily Sentinel, Charlene Hoeflich, made a habit out of greeting visitors to her desk with that question, only with a twist – “How are you? Tell me what you know!”
So, how are you?
I hope someone has asked you this question in the last week and if not, well, consider yourself asked by me. As a collective, we all appear to be in this (whatever this is) together at the moment, at least in theory, though I know there are those out there struggling with different circumstances than their neighbors. For those struggling, let me say firstly, I am sorry. Secondly, let me say, we here at Ohio Valley Publishing are doing our best to push information out to you as fast as we can, in as many ways as we can, so that you might find something useful during these strange days full of scary headlines. We are still here at OVP, doing our jobs though we’ve had to make adjustments as to where, and how, we’re doing them. For those of you who subscribe to our publications, or pickup your edition at one of our vendors, thank you. For those who read our news via our websites or Facebook pages, if you see something useful or helpful to your neighbors, please share it with them in whatever way you can. To all our readers, you are all on my mind daily, if not hourly.
Like many of you, I find myself looking for comforting thoughts these days. I’ve talked to you before about my Nannie Margaret. A 1936 graduate of Wahama High School who lived on Third Street in Point Pleasant for decades, she grew up during the Depression, when “people didn’t have nothing,” she would tell me. But, she didn’t just tell me, she showed me. Nannie didn’t waste anything. If there was a two-liter of Coca-Cola in the refrigerator with only a couple of flat ounces left, that was consumed before the new bottle could be opened – there were no exceptions to this rule, unless she wasn’t around to enforce it.
Like many Nannies, she also canned food. I can recall descending into her basement and opening up a wood cabinet to find jars of tomatoes, pickles and green beans. I can still see the pattern of old contact paper on the shelves and smell that mix of dampness, old wood and spice. My younger self wondered why she went to the trouble? You could buy all this at the grocery store. Having been to a grocery store lately, now I understand the significance of the glass jars and her efforts.
Nannie didn’t require an excuse, or global crisis, to send food out to people who needed it and as many can attest, her kitchen was open to all. If there wasn’t anything waiting on the stove, she had hamburger in the freezer – there was always something saved for a rainy day or an unexpected visitor. When she died, her freezer was full and when cleaning out her refrigerator, we even found a set of false teeth, the owner of which remains a mystery to this day!
If for some reason, you didn’t clean your plate, she’d ask, pointedly, “What’s the matter with it?” This was translated to mean, “What’s the matter with you?”And really, there is no excuse for not cleaning your plate. You either took too much to begin with or are taking something for granted. Nannie’s kitchen was a place that welcomed me, always. It was a place which taught me even when there’s plenty, consider not taking more than what you need, saving a bit for somebody else, because there’s always somebody else. If the somebody else didn’t show, well then there were leftovers.
Also, in that kitchen, Nannie kept her Point Pleasant Registers stacked on her breadbox until they reached some sort of tipping point when there was no choice but to discard a few to make room for the latest editions. At times, the stack was significant and I recall, more than once, Nannie digging through it in search of information, like a file cabinet. She would spread out the paper on her kitchen table, touch the tip of her finger to her lip, then slowly and deliberately turn pages to find what she needed. I hope, however you read our newspapers these days, you find something you need. As I’ve said before, though Nannie’s stack on the breadbox is long gone, the people at the Register, Gallipolis Daily Tribune and The Daily Sentinel are still doing what they can to bring you local news. Charlene, in case you’re reading this, here at OVP, we are still asking our versions of, “How are you? Tell me what you know!”
As for Nannie, she left us 16 years ago and when things of note, either locally, nationally, or globally happen, I often wonder what she’d have to say. Maybe something like, “count your blessings and your jars of pickles?” Speaking of, there were plenty of pickles and tomatoes when I visited the grocery store this week which I’m taking as a hopeful sign; a sign from Nannie that the cupboard is only as bare as we make it.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.