Thud & Blunder (1964)

A safety-training cartoon from 1964 produced by the British National Coal Board

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“Et in Arcadia Ego” bench in Abbo’s Alley



Given by Friends and Classmate to Celebrate

Our Friendship with

Thomas Carleton Ward C ’69

August 3, 1947- June 30, 1997

Quick Bring a Beaker of Wine

So That I May Wet My Mind

And Say Something Clever

From Mary Margaret Roberts (February 9, 2013):

TC was a great wit with a very dry sense of humor, thus the Aristophanes quotation on the bench he often recited. One of his favorite comments to make was “e pluribus unum” said very slowly and with a sigh as he peered over the top of his horn rimmed glasses whenever he witnessed someone doing something particularly distasteful or particularly stupid. Discussions of Mississippi politicians often ended with “e pluribus unum.” There is no question that Honey Boo Boo would merit an “e pluribus unum” comment. When he called me, he always began the conversation with, “MM, TC, quelle surprise.” Clearly, I have more to tell about TC than about his bench. I will have to tell TC’s mama, my great aunt, that the bench has an admirer. She will be pleased.

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USA Today: “Grundy Worst County in TN”

I’m only putting this here to be able to find it– what the article says is offensive to me

Did yours make the list? The worst county to live in each state,” USA Today, June 27, 2019. By Samuel Stebbins and Michael B. Sauter, 24/7 Wall Street

By several economic indicators, the United States is in a historic era of prosperity. The unemployment rate recently hit 3.3%, its lowest point since the 1960s; the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached an all-time high last year; and over the past decade, incomes have climbed by 14% nationwide, and by at least 16% in over a dozen states.

In this context, it can be easy to overlook the parts of the country that have been left behind. In nearly every state in the nation, there is at least one county where social and economic measures reflect a poor quality of life.

To identify the worst counties to live in, 24/7 Wall St. used U.S. Census Bureau data to construct an index of three measures: poverty, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and average life expectancy at birth.

Only counties with populations of at least 10,000 were considered. County equivalents like Census areas, parishes, and independent cities were included in our analysis. Data on life expectancy is from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation – an independent population health research center at the University of Washington. We also considered April 2019 unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Often, these counties have higher than typical unemployment and have reported a declining population in recent years. Many of these counties also rank as the poorest county in the state.

Tennessee: Grundy County

• 5-yr. population change: -2.9% (state: +3.8%)

• Poverty rate: 28.5% (state: 16.7%)

• Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 11.0% (state: 26.1%)

• Life expectancy: 72.5 years (state: 76.3 years)

Grundy County, located just northwest of Chattanooga, ranks as the worst county to live in Tennessee. After declining by about half a year since 2010, life expectancy in Grundy is just 72.5 years, nearly four years below the average life expectancy in the state.

The typical household in Grundy County earns only $31,919 a year, well below the median household income statewide of $48,708. Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and in Grundy County, only 73.2% of adults have a high school diploma, the smallest share of any county in the state.


Grundy County Herald, July 4, 2019

Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady says statistics used to generate the report are skewed and based in part on a previous census in which approximately 3,000 addresses and residential information were not counted. He states he has been in communication with the Census Bureau to correct and improve the next Census in 2020.
The low figures trickle down to impact a variety of aspects of the county. With a low population, retailers are not knocking on the county’s door to move into the area. And, a lack of services, such as medical care does, not attract new residents.
Brady, addressing the inaccuracy of the report, says out of the nine counties in Appalachia noted as “distressed,” Grundy County used to be the most distressed, but the county has since moved into the number four spot with increased annual household incomes and other improvements. Brady is working with the commissioner and the governor to promote the county.
Brady sees improvement in the area’s future and does not think Grundy County will be on or toward the bottom on any reports in the future. “Not for long,” Brady said.


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German POWs and Dixie Highway

Sewanee Purple (April 16, 1918) 3

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Antigone in Sewanee 1894

Various Notices on the Sewanee Production of Antigone of 1894

“Loftier than this devotion to the legitimate, semi-legitimate, and wholly illegitimate drama, is the success on the stage of the students of the Greek department, who, under the direction of Vice Chancellor Wiggins, have won an enviable reputation by their presentations of the masterpieces of ancient tragedy and comedy. Every summer they put a Greek play on the boards, now a comedy of Aristophanes, that makes the audience hold its sides with laughter; now a solemn and moving tragedy of Sophocles or Euripides that brings tears to the eyes of seasoned veterans. The performance of the “Antigone” last summer elicited great enthusiasm, not only at Sewanee, where it was presented before a large and distinguished audience, but also at Nashville, where two brilliant performances were given in the opera house. So great is the interest aroused by this successful reproduction of the spirit of old Greek life as exhibited in the Greek drama, that the Greek play may be said to be the leading feature of a Sewanee commencement—a function which lasts several days, a performance at which there is no vacant seat, and a marvel of staging considering the primitive surroundings of the University.”

American University Magazine 2.1 (May 1895) pp. 29-30

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Sewanee Purple (November 3, 1894) 1, 4

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Abbo’s Alley & German POWS

That some of Abbo’s Alley was laid out during WWII by German POWs is something I’ve often heard, but seen little documentary evidence. Below is what I’ve found.

New York Times July 1, 1984, Section 10, Page 25:

To the Editor:

Thanks very much for Alan Cheuse’s refreshing article on Sewanee (Travel, May 6). As a student I was one of Abbo Martin’s ”assistants” in the development of Abbo’s Alley (now known as the Abbot Cotten Martin Ravine Gardens). In one afternoon in 1951 two of us, under Abbo’s watchful eye and the direction of his waving hickory walking stick, planted nearly 2,000 Dutch daffodil bulbs. It was especially gratifying to note that Mr. Cheuse singled out daffodils as one of the graces of the Alley.

Abbo’s assistants worked hard, at $2 per afternoon, to help him fulfill his vision. It was work that, in a way, transformed us and made us better. I never fail to go back to Abbo’s Alley on my visits to Sewanee. I planted part of my youth there with those bulbs, and dogwoods, and hemlocks. Abbo eased our labor by quoting Wordsworth to us if our spirits flagged. Or he led us off to some new task with ”As Plato says, ‘a change is as good as a rest.’ ” I never really knew whether Plato said that, but the idea helped.

During World War II Abbo was assigned three German prisoners from the nearby camp in Tullahoma. He later received letters from one of them, remembering his kindness. ”They had never had a milkshake until I bought them one at the Union,” Abbo told us. As he left them working by themselves, while he drove up to the Union, he would admonish them: ”Nicht gangen away, oder ich gechasse mit bloodhounds.” They smiled at his fractured German, and promised to hang around.

I’m thankful for those days at Sewanee, and especially thankful for Abbo.


Little Rock, Ark.

Richard Allin writes the ”Our Town” column five days a week for The Arkansas Gazette.



No doubt the poem Abbo recited was “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


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From “Abbo’s Scrapbook,” a feature in the Sewanee Purple (March 23, 1955) 2

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“Thoroughly Useless Nation”: Mommsen on the Irish

From Theodor Mommsen (trans. William P. Dickson) History of Rome, Vol. 4 (London 1867), Book 5, Chapter 7, pp. 286-87 (link here)

Mind you, an edition of this work won a fucking Nobel Prize for Literature in 1902

In the mighty vortex of the world’s history, which inexorably crushes all peoples that are not as hard and as flexible as steel, such a nation could not permanently maintain itself ; with reason the Celts of the continent suffered the same fate at the hands of the Romans, as their kinsmen in Ireland suffer down to our own day at the hands of the Saxons — the fate of becoming merged as a leaven of future development in a politically superior nationality. On the eve of parting from this remarkable nation we may be allowed to call attention to the fact, that in the accounts of the ancients as to the Celts on the Loire and Seine we find almost every one of the characteristic traits which we are accustomed to recognize as marking the Irish. Every feature reappears : the laziness in the culture of the fields ; the delight in tippling and brawling ; the ostentation… ; the language full of comparisons and hyperboles, of allusions and quaint turns; the droll humour … ; the hearty delight in singing and reciting the deeds of past ages, and the most decided talent for rhetoric and poetry ; the curiosity … and the extravagant credulity which acted on such accounts, for which reason in the better regulated cantons travellers were prohibited on pain of severe punishment from communicating unauthenticated reports to others than the public magistrates ; the childlike piety, which sees in the priest a father and asks him for his advice in all things; the unsurpassed fervour of national feeling, and the closeness with which those who are fellow-countrymen cling together almost like one family in opposition to the stranger; the inclination to rise in revolt under the first chance leader that presents himself and to form bands, but at the same time the utter incapacity to preserve a self-reliant courage equally remote from presumption and from pusillanimity, to perceive the right time for waiting and for striking, to attain or even barely to tolerate any organization, any sort of fixed military or political discipline. It is, and remains, at all times and places the same indolent and poetical, irresolute and fervid, inquisitive, credulous, amiable, clever, but — in a political point of view — thoroughly useless nation ; and therefore its fate has been always and everywhere the same.

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