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Monday, Feb. 15, 1999
100 years ago this week, it hit 33 below zero at Greenwood

    I heard from Mr. Hobart H. Ellifritt of 427 Stealey Ave. in Clarksburg this past week. In a letter that he hand-delivered, he made mention of an article in the Wednesday, Feb. 10, newspapers about the extreme cold that devastated the country 100 years ago.
    He mentioned that his great-grandfather, William W. Clark of Greenwood in Doddridge County, kept a diary from 1871 until 1901, of which he still has a copy.
    "I checked his entries for February 1899,"he said, "which were:
-Feb. 9, Cold, 10 below zero at 7 a.m. and 4 below at 5 p.m. and 14 below at 9 p.m.
-Feb. 10, 22 degrees below zero at 6 a.m., 10 below at 9 p.m., 33 below at Greenwood.
-Feb. 11, 10 degrees below zero at 7 a.m. and 2 below at 9 p.m. (A regular heat wave, according to Bob-n-Along)
-Feb. 12, 2 below zero at 7 a.m., snow 14 inches deep.
-Feb. 13, 10 degrees below zero at 8 a.m., 6 below at 9 p.m.
-Feb. 14, 16 degrees below zero at 8 a.m. and 16 above at 3 p.m." (Sweating yet?) No doubt in my mind the groundhog saw his shadow that year.
    Mr. Ellifritt, in his letter, briefly described his great-grandfather Clark, saying he recorded a lot of interesting events that happened in the Doddridge-Ritchie County area in the latter part of the 19th century. "He was very faithful in recording the weather and deaths in the area. He was worshipful master of the Masonic lodge in West Union for several years and also held higher offices in the fraternity. He was a dedicated Christian and belonged to the Methodist Church at Duckworth Summit. He was a farmer, was overseer of the poor and made caskets for people."
    Mr. Ellifritt made a further observation for BobnAlong. He said if you live in a rural area in northern West Virginia, you'll likely see an Eastern Bluebird on your property this spring. "Bluebirds and other cavity nesters need our help to assure them housing. A few years ago, the bluebird population declined drastically, but with a lot of help of bird-lovers, they are making an amazing comeback. I have a number of rebuilt and repainted bluebird nesting houses which I will give to anyone interested."

    My friend Jim Eakle, the principal at Adamston Elementary School, has sent me a list of "Ordinances of the Town of Adamston." There appear to have been 63 of them in all - I believe they were dated 1911 - so obviously I can use only some of the ones I consider more humorous.
    Sec. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to run, gallop, ride or drive any horse, gelding, mare, mule or jack rapidly, or at any other than an ordinary traveling gait in any street, alley or road within the limits of the town."
"9. It shall be unlawful for any person to speak or utter any lewd or filthy words or profane language in any street, alley or public place."
"10. It shall be unlawful for any person to make any indecent or immoral exhibition or exposure of his or her person or to cause or procure any person to do same, in the presence of view of any other persons."
"19. It shall be unlawful for any one to keep any house of ill fame, or bawdy house, or house of resort for prostitution, or keep or harbor persons therein for the purposes of prostitution."
"22. It shall be unlawful for any person to bathe in the creek or river within or forming the corporate limits of the town, from sun-rise to one hour after sun-set."
"23. It shall be unlawful for any person to fly a kite on any street or alley of the town."
"25. It shall be unlawful for any person to roll any hoop, or play at ball, bandy or shinney, or engage in any sport or play of exercise which might produce bodily injury to any one, or endanger the life or property of any person on any street or alley of the town."
    That's all I have space for this time around, but perhaps I can use more later. My thanks to Jim Eakle for his contribution, and my thanks to the Adamston Lions Club and Dave Marple for asking me to speak to them recently.

Telling the truth under oath has been
on trial as well
    Both perjury and obstruction of justice charges against President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial failed miserably to bring about a conviction. Perhaps that was expected.
    Although senators were split 50-50 Friday on the obstruction charge (one short of even a simple majority) they were 55 to 45 against the perjury charge. In our view, that was most unfortunate.
    Sen. Robert Byrd has confused his constituents on his stand on the issue, seeming to do not only a 180 but a 360 from his original position. He, like many others, may have argued that convicting the president would be bad for the country.
    But we argue that there has been more on trial than just a political figure (the top office holder in the nation and perhaps the most powerful individual on earth) in the courts of law and of public opinion these past 13 months. To be sure, it has been a political issue all the way.
    There is also the moral issue. By failing to vote by even a simple majority to convict the president, it sends the clear message that it is all right for the nation's leader to be immorally involved with a White House intern half his age, so it must be OK for other officials (or every citizen of this land ) to become similarly involved.
    And there is the issue of simply telling the truth. It is difficult indeed to convince all who condone Clinton's alleged actions or saw nothing wrong with them that telling the truth about it even comes into play here. A serious precedent has been set, and it is not at all clear that future prosecutions on perjury charges will be brought about more forcefully as a result.
    In fact, it is not clear whether the public will now feel greater license to skirt the truth in testimony in any trial. Granted, placing the right hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth means more to some than others. But outright lying under oath in a court of law is a crime perjury, which is a felony.
    It is true, perjury, which means intentionally lying about something important in a judicial proceeding, is a fairly difficult crime to prove. Clinton's being cleared is not going to change that. And it will not discourage prosecutors from trying to make a perjury case when the facts warrant.
    In our view, there has been a dramatic liberalization of the court system in general. Still, the bottom line is: There are laws we are all meant to follow requiring that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth be told. Otherwise, trials are nothing more than a waste of time, as we feel the impeachment trial has turned out to be.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman

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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999