- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By Alan J. George
I am struggling to understand why The Lebanon Enterprise chose to publish a guest column that served no purpose other than to allow an individual with an obvious agenda to string together several disjointed ramblings and baseless and unwarranted rants and personal attacks. I am referring, “of course” (to borrow her phrase - see below) to the Nov. 14 guest column from Donna Kapfhammer.
As a proud 1973 graduate of Marion County High School (and a former sports reporter and columnist for The Enterprise back in the early ‘70s), I take considerable umbrage at the sheer nastiness of this woman’s missive, as she scattershot cast slings and arrows at my beloved hometown, at Catholics, and, frankly, even more offensively, at my cherished late uncle and aunt, Hyleme and Nonie George.
As a 33-year prosecutor, I cannot help but chronologically, and piece by piece, deconstruct her column, and in the process, destroy whatever defense could possibly be mounted in support of the newspaper’s decision to publish her column.
Let’s see - first, she and her husband have no problem violating nepotism rules. That breach of employment etiquette speaks for itself.
Then, she flippantly says “of course” her answer was “no” when asked if she was Catholic, and from Marion County. “Of course” her answer was no. As if it’s degrading to be Catholic, or from Marion County, or worse yet, BOTH (the horror!).
Then it all becomes clear when she reads (what is, until now, unbeknownst to me, apparently the learned treatise for all things “Lebanon”) that classic tome, “The Cornbread Mafia” (sarcasm intended).
Your guest writer (I choose to equate her to Lord Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” world - “[s]he who shall not be (further) named) then proceeds to say that “the natives” harbored deep criminal secrets.” All of us privileged to have been born in Marion County are “natives.” Her incredibly offensive implication, then, is that everyone in Marion County in 1977 was part of some pervasive secret criminal cult.
Somehow, I must have missed out on all that rampant criminal behavior. Members of my immediate family and the extended George family were, and are, still blessed to be living in Lebanon, contributing to this wonderful community in many positive ways.
She then rambles about the era, which serves no purpose, as the article seems to be basically intended as a simple smear piece. She mentions that her husband befriended police officers. I assume he befriended non-police officers, as well, so her point was what exactly?
Then her true intentions are exposed - her attack on my Uncle Hyleme. She refers to him as “subdued,” which would indicate that she knew what he was like back before her brief stay when he was mayor of Lebanon (but how could she, since she didn’t live in our supposed hellhole then?). She talks about his generosity in bestowing her family with massive amounts of fresh produce, which most people would be appreciative of (and, it should be noted, many were - Uncle Hyleme was extremely generous in such ways to a number of locals). But no, he must have had ulterior motives, she proclaims - to curry favor with the local paper’s new editor. Yet she fails to assert or explain any such motive, and just leaves this implication hanging - another example of a totally nonsensical assertion.
Then, she continues with her cavalier cheap shots, referring to this great man, who loved and faithfully served his community, particularly minorities, the downtrodden, and underprivileged, as a “criminal,” as if this slur defines a man who, despite the humblest of beginnings, rose to incredible heights.
The gall of her, and of this publication, for printing such garbage.
She revisits a long-since irrelevant incident, important to her because a questionable account of it appears in that great piece of literature I mentioned earlier (sarcasm continued). And she mentions my uncle in the context of her “Cornbred Mafia” discussion, as if he were somehow a part or player in that so-called infamous “organization.” Nothing could be further from the truth. But she does not appear interested in uncovering the truth, but simply in spreading dirt.
Unbelievably, she next attacks my Aunt Nonie, who passed this year at the magical age of 100, a century spent with grace, humility, and incredible, unfailing selflessness. Yet your guest writer, who by her own admission only had limited contact with Aunt Nonie, harps on her view of my aunt’s physical characteristics. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to these old eyes, and to those who were privileged to have known her, Auntie Nonie was actually quite a lovely woman, in the expansive sense of that adjective.
She then implies that my aunt was a subservient woman. Aunt Nonie, subservient? Are you kidding me? Ask anyone who truly knew Aunt Nonie - not just briefly made her acquaintance - and you will be regaled with many stories of her indomitable will, and strength. I’ve been on this earth for 58 years, and this is the first negative word I have ever heard or seen about Nonie George. I am confident it will also be the last.
After burying her cheapest shots at the George family in the middle of her column, the writer then veers wildly, with no transition, into meaningless recollections about her all-too-brief career here as ace photographer and cracker jack local reporter.
Then those mean corporate executives intervened, and according to her, decided to “reinforce” the nepotism prohibition, costing her the local job. Actually, they didn’t “reinforce” anything - they “enforced.” She had been drawing a paycheck she should never have been authorized to receive, but undoubtedly had no problem receiving, all because her husband was the boss.
The writer then attacks former editor/publisher George Trotter, whom I have fond memories of, and whom I felt privileged to work for. Mr. Trotter always treated me with the utmost respect, even when I was a mere high schooler working at The Enterprise. But she infers that Mr. Trotter acted as a ruthless corporate magnate, “driving up in his Datsun (sic) 280Z” (?!) to propose new contract terms for her husband (because I guess, back in the day, the Datsun 280Z must have been the status symbol of powerful newspaper publishers, because why else mention it?).
She closes by wondering aloud if her late husband had not shared with her many deep dark secrets he had learned about our Godawful hometown.
And that’s it. That was her “guest column.” A column designed to do what, actually? If enrage Marion Countians, and the George family in particular, was her goal, she has succeeded, mightily. If enlightenment was intended (which would be my hope, since the column was actually published, which continues to amaze me), then she failed miserably.
Since she alluded to my uncle’s ownership of the renowned and iconic Club 68, I cannot help but harken to a group which may well have played (before my time) at “The Club,” or Club Cherry, or both - The Coasters, and their classic 1958 hit, “Yakety Yak,” with it’s memorable opening line, “Take out the papers and the trash . . .”
In this case, the Nov. 14th edition of The Enterprise, since it included this despicable guest column, was one and the same - both the paper AND the trash.
I am stunned that such rubbish was printed in a newspaper I have long-admired, and was proud to have been associated with.
Editor’s note: Alan J. George is a St. Augustine Grade School alum (Class of 1969) and Marion Couty High School graduate (Class of 1973). He is the Woodford County attorney.