A message from the past

Dear Editor:

There are those who would say that the Mountain Messenger is not the place to enter into a discussion of the American issues of foreign policy. This writer would agree but, also, believes that revisiting history might give a clearer picture of what could lie ahead. At the time of the Russian Revolution, in 1917, the army of the deposed Tsar was identified as The White Army eventually defeated by The Red Army (Communists). The United States had recognized The White Army as representatives defending the legal established government. In the I930s, the German Army invaded an area of Austria, called the Sudetenland, largely populated by Germans with the claim that there was discrimination against them tolerated by the government of Austria. With the assurances of Adolph Hitler, it was believed that this would end any further invasions of other territories, “Peace In Our Time.”

The Japanese had begun an ambitious mechanized leap forward requiring raw materials and certainly oil to grease the wheels of their industries. At the same time the military was invading China and the many nations felt that stopping the supply of oil to Japan would slow any further advances. Slowly but surely, the supply of oil was cut off, leaving the next move to Japan. All of these elements has a part in the world exploding with the beginnings of WW II. One can only hope for wisdom of our foreign policy not guided by selfish motives dictated by political considerations.

• • •

Having fired my shot across the bow, striking the main sail and casting the lines towards the dock to make ready for a few days in port before once again leaving port in the hopes of a steady breeze, blue skies and calm waters and rejoining the passengers always interested in hearing stories of a distant time. As they relax to the sound of the waves as we cruise through the waters, I begin.

“A family legend is that of my great-grandfather, Fletcher Chambers Snow Ballard, C.S.A., had a daily time when he sat down and read the local newspapers, as well as the story goes, a mail order subscription to the New York Times (one of the first). When he finished, his spoken words were always the same, “There’s not a thing in them.”

Cousin, Lewis “Dock” Ballard, (WV Reg) of Monroe County was the publisher of a series of booklets, “The Pilgrims Guide” relating the Holy Land journey by Issac Newton Ballard.

Now, if you haven’t jumped ship by now, into the shark infested waters, you share in knowing the value of the printed page in revealing experiences and thoughts that aid in the shaping of what you may become or giving you insight to your present considerations. True, this gathering of knowledge has now been expanded by our marvelous electronic age that demands careful attention as to the source and that must be coupled with personal observations, For example, I once read or was it said, that the modern day political scene on Local, State and National level is conducted by “The Mushroom Theory,” another way of saying “Keep’em in the dark and pile manure on their heads.” We know this is true!

This would be as good a time as any to restore some truth as to life. Remember, I said “truth.” My grandfather, Leonard H. Ballard, Sr., was the Sunday School superintendent of the Alderson Memorial Methodist Church, for many years. And, for many years, at the conclusion of those classes, he would leave his church, making his way up the hill to the Greenbrier Baptist Church, where he would join his wife, Ota Maria Karnes Ballard, for the Sunday morning service as she had vowed that she was not going to ever set foot in a Methodist Church. Even when speaking of her husband, “He is the salt of the earth but he is a Methodist.” Today, we would certainly say this is a perfect example of agreeing to disagree.

As it happened, he passed first and was buried in the Ballard Cemetery below Union on Route 219, and there he lay in repose for about three years until his wife decided that was long enough and had his remains moved to, you guessed it, the Alderson Baptist Church Cemetery where as on Sunday mornings, they are now next to one another for eternity, exactly as she planned. MORAL: “Women always have the last word.” We know this is true!

Jack D. Ballard


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