2018-08-08 / Editorial

DOLLY TIMES TWO

Don Lively

"I ain't scared."

It was a refrain that I and my childhood playmates often repeated when we'd be out in the woods late at night surrounded by the mysterious sounds that dark forests make.

And, the truth is, we weren't scared.

We were country boys, used to darkness and not the least bit spooked by the sun going down and taking clear visibility with it. We knew the paths through the pine thickets and the old growth oak and hickory stands. Our daddies taught us that there's nothing "out there" at night that's not there in the daytime.

We weren't scared.

We roamed literally thousands of acres, much of it accessible to us because Daddy owned it or rented it. We never gave much thought to who owned other properties. It was all ours as far as we were concerned.

We trespassed with impunity.

I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired.

Thousands of acres down by the river were some of the most remote and untamed parts of our county back then. There were a few fields but most of it was wild swamps and woodlands.

That was then.

These days there's a city down there.

Okay, it's not exactly a city but on any given day there are almost as many people on the property as there are in our county seat.

We have our very own nuclear power plant.

I still ain't scared.

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the facility for the second time. Since my first trip there the footprint of the plant has nearly doubled in size. I was amazed riding around the dozens of buildings and lots and remembering when it was all trees and water.

Years ago, after the plant had begun construction, there arose some opposition to its presence in our neck of the woods. As is often the case, the protesters were largely not local folks but were bused in from other places. They apparently considered themselves more enlightened than the local population and therefore needed to come down and educate us backwoods rubes.

Daddy, by virtue of the fact that he'd lived near the site for his entire life, except for when he was helping Eisenhower and Patton save the world "over there", was asked to speak on behalf of the pro-nuclear forces. He told the gathered group how he lived close enough to watch the sun come up behind the two cooling towers and that he had never been concerned for his family's safety.

I don't have the exact quote but it went something like this:

"I see those two big towers pointing toward the sky and it reminds me of Dolly Parton laying on her back," he said, referring to the mega country music star and her legendary sizable bosom.

Daddy's down-home analogy got a great reaction, helped to improve the new plant's image and construction continued.

A couple of years ago I was telling that story to a gentleman who has been in management at the plant for many years.

"That was your dad?"

He was well aware of Daddy's testimony which apparently became part of the early folklore of the facility.

Daddy knew back then just as we know now, there's nothing to fear.

Did you know that moose attacks have killed three Americans over the past few years?

Did you know that an average of three people a year die from falling into the Grand Canyon?

Did you know that there are fourteen recorded incidents of people dying of water intoxication, basically drinking too much water?

Do you know how many Americans have died from nuclear power plant accidents, commonly known as meltdowns, since the advent of nuclear power?

None.

I already knew that but the latest tour was nonetheless fascinating. Our host was so knowledgeable and interesting that I hated for the morning to end. I could bore you with all of the technical information that he imparted to us...well... actually I couldn't since much of it went in one of my math/ science challenged ears and out the other but suffice to say I'm more convinced than ever that nuclear energy is the cleanest and safest way to keep the lights on twenty-four hours a day.

Within the next few years we will have two more reactors which will more than double the amount of energy produced and along with those reactors we've watched the steady construction of two more cooling towers.

I'm not sure what Daddy would have to say about that.

Does Dolly Parton have a twin?

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