Tutwiler News

TUTWILER NEWS


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News from Tutwiler
by Janie Bruister

    What a beautiful sight we experienced last week watching the snow falling softly, then gaining momentum, before blanketing the earth. Actually, getting 6 inches was more like piling several thick quilts on the bed the way I did as a kid, even sticking my head under the covers when it really got cold. Mama made her quilts for warmth more than looks, thick and heavy, and they kept us warm long after the fires died down in the night.
    Somehow this snow was a balm to me, medicinal in its presence and effect, not to mention how nostalgic it made me feel.
    I think we were in real need of a good snow. It certainly confirmed winters presence which we were needing and it gave all of us the opportunity to be a kid again, in memory if not in action. I wanted the smells of winter to permeate the house, which was such a vivid reminder of cold mornings in the past. So I started sausage slowly frying and coffee perking, two aromas that will pull most anybody from under the covers. Add eggs and biscuits with warm homemade, buttery syrup and it gets everybody's attention. Later on we exchanged a few snowballs, made snow ice cream and had hot chocolate several times. Melanie persevered and got a great snowman erected. Took her four times of bundling up and un-bundling before the apparition came to life; a jolly figure, sitting, leaning back on its arms, looking content. I was told it looked like me! It's still there albeit much thinner now. (Wish somebody would say it still looks like me.)
    Many activities were cancelled due to the conditions with the most crucial one being my hair cutting appointment. Dusty and Gina Pearson had looked forward to the Steve Green Concert in Greenwood which had to be put on hold until another opportunity. Same thing for a group of young people coming from Drew to the Baptist Youth Center for skating, etc. Dottie Seymore returned home from a Carribean cruise in time for the winter wonderland experience.
    Elizabeth Jennigs escaped serious injury when her car left the road, flipping several times with her being thrown through the windshield. After an overnight stay in the hospital she returned home, thankful she had only a few stitches and a lot of bruises.
    Cois and Dorothy Martindale surprised Agnes and other relatives with a bref visit last weekend. Ray Palmer of Collierville, Tenn. visited his sister Shirley Brougher for several days recently. Ricky Brown and family of Jonesboro, Ark. visited his childhood mentor, L.W.Kimzey, on the 22nd, going on to the Ruleville Convalescent Home and visiting with Mrs. Kimzey who is a patient there.
    Community sick are Richard Thomas of Sumner, who is home now after being hospitalized with pneumonia; Dianne Grissom of Webb convalescing at home after recent surgery; and last time I failed to mention Alex Gates of Sumner having knee surgery. He is doing great, even driving (which I doubt he should be, but is). Carroll and I have been enjoying TLC from friends this last week. I've had a cold virus and Carroll a back ailment, but we're both better.
    Vera Jo (Orman) Bryant was hospitalized for several days last week in Cleveland and Sammy and Jerry report that she is now home and doing better. They missed the Sandwich with Books meeting at our Public Library due to being with her in the hospital. Mayor Elsie (Bardwell) Hanks of Webb, also Librarian of Webb, gave brief reviews on several books and a more in-depth one on The Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg which was interesting and happily funny. Elsie reminisced about her growing up years in Tutwiler and the fact that she, Joe Kellum, Charles Catledge and Betty Rice Bruister (Carroll's sister) all started school together in Tutwiler and graduated together from West Tallahatchie. They all love the Tutwiler of their growing up years and could probably write an interesting book about it. Other out-of-town guests at the review were Angie Etheridge, our county Librarian whom we had not met, and Bro. Truman Scarborough, both from Charleston.
    Aren't birthdays wonderful! I think they are. In fact, I'm like a kid who always says,"I'm going on..." whatever year it'll be next. It's good to be having them because so many are denied the priveledge. Another goodie is being included in the celebration. One such was a "Red Hot Mama" luncheon for Anne Barnes on the 27th, hosted by her longtime friend Marjorie Jennings Cox at her lovely home in Clarksdale. This close circle of friends attended the "Over the Hill" party Marjorie gave her back when she lived in Tutwiler years ago. You notice I haven't mentioned what year we celebrated at the recent one, but I can say it's been thirty years since the bleak "Over the Hill" one on her fortieth. What a difference a few years make!
    Another happy occasion was when Earline Burton and Ben Gray Barringer, Jr. joined some 200 more friends and relatives celebrating her sister Opal Graves' birthday last weekend in Meadville, Ms.
    That's about it, again, from Tutwiler where I would like to thank those who assisted me in the Angel Tree Project during the holidays. Three churches were involved. That's First Baptist at Charleston with Bro. Grover Glenn leading, Sumner Presbyterian Young Adults Sunday School Class with Susan Durdin leading and my Young Adults Class at Tutwiler First Baptist. All together we reached 31 prisoners and 58 children for the entire county. Thank you all so much.
    Also to all of you who responded to my Multiple Sclerosis Drive letters during December.....thank you so very much. This being a project so dear to me, I can't thank you enough. The MS Society assured me they will respond to each contributor and hope you've recieved yours already. "God bless us, everyone."


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News from Tutwiler
by Janie Bruister



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The rain that came down Thursday just may have caught us up on the deficit we'd had reported earlier for this year. It literaly poured on a group of us from First Baptist who attended the associational Merry Makers meeting at Spring Hill Church near Charleston that day and some reported they "came through hail" to get there. (No pun intended). Nevertheless over 70 attended and it was a merry time.
    Tuesday at the TNT Luncheon Meeting our daughter Melanie gave a demonstration of WebTV and how economical and easy it is with a set-top box and wireless keyboard to do just about as much as on a more expensive computer. It turned out she had to give it verbally since we couldn't get everything hooked up correctly on the church's phone and TV, but did state the plusses of a set-top box especially if you don't wish to spend as much and if your space doesn't allow for all the computer equipment. Some people are discouraged by the complexities of computers and WebTV is a simpler method of getting online, making most everything you want available to you that you'd get from a computer. Someone at the meeting aptly stated that we might as well get acquainted with the computer because it's the rage of the age, fast becoming a necessity.
    Another sign of the changing times I've noticed is the number of receptacles for mail. Where there was only one (US Postal Service) now are three or four. Those belonging to UPS, Fed Ex and Overnight Air.
    Speaking of flying, the MAAA (Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association) gave awards to local people at their annual convention in Biloxi last weekend. Robert Tharp, attending with wife Mary, of Tutwiler was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership, making him one of only thirty to recieve this award. Billy Kent, attending with wife Becky, of Sumner recieved the Pilot of the Year Award. Congratulations to both.
    More kudos are in order. Charity Swindoll, daughter of Mike and Cheryl, made the Presidents list at DSU. Dr. Anne Brooks, along with a native Tutwilian Margaret Ann Reeves Bishop, now of Clarksdale, are listed among the 75 Women in Business in the Delta. Pat Davis, daughter of Louise Davis, was named Employee of the Year where she is employed by the Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union with 10 branches in South Alabama. She is assistant to the vice president in human resources. And Caleb Dunavent, a 2000 Lee graduate was honored on his birthday Sunday by his parents, Barbara and Jimbo, with a Senior Party at Hopson.
    The new prison in Tutwiler is nearing completion. Already we know that Carolyn and Wayne McGraw are being transferred here where he will be employed. They will occupy the Myrna Mitchell home and Mrs. Mitchell will live with her children, Bill and Carolyn Bruister, in Clarksdale.
    Barry and Cathy Bryant of Rome were among those attending the Governor's Inaugural Ball in Jackson.
    Anne Barnes and Barbara Jennings have returned from Texas after visiting Anne's brother, Harlan Meyer, who had major surgery last week. He is much improved we're happy to report.
    On the homefront, several have had minor accidents that required emergency room visits. Charles Denney was entering the court house in Sumner and hit his head on a tree limb, requiring some 18 stitches. Charles makes his home with his Aunt and Uncle, Eva and Dickie Childress. Blake Smith had several stitches in his arm when he fell on a razor blade used in his science project. Mrs. Teeny Turner fell and broke her finger in two places. Her emergency room experience lasted 4½ hours before she was seen.
    We were all saddened by the death of Ruth Smith who made her home with daughter Linda Gray and family in Moorehead, after leaving Tutwiler several years ago. Services were held at Tutwiler Baptist Church with burial in Woodlawn Cemetery at Sumner. Many of us were classmates of her children and stepchildren and our sympathy is with them and their families.
    Can you believe we won't be seeing Peanuts and the gang every day any more? It's going to be as bad as when Hambone disappeared from the scene. I think I liked Woodstock best...maybe.
    That's about it, again, from Tutwiler where there's good reading at the Library. Like The Loop, Mother of Pearl and A Walk to Remember as well as many others. They don't have to be on the current best sellers list to be good. Some of the old ones are wonderful, too.

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News from Tutwiler
by Janie Bruister



    That host of daffodils Wordsworth talks about seeing as he wandered, have certainly been fluttering and dancing in the breeze in our yard. Nothing seems to spread as much cheer as does a bunch of daffodils, whether in the ground or in the vase, and they're in almost everybody's yard. Such a small thing,yet real head turners and the prelude to spring and spring break for the school house crowd.
    Tutwiler citizens are more than a little dismayed over the selling of Valley Bank, leaving the town without their services. It now joins the ranks of drug stores, hotels, grocery and hardware stores, dry cleaners and such of bygone days. Reminds me of Hughes Mearns poem (circa 1875).
          "As I was going up the stair
           I met a man who wasn't there.
           He wasn't there again today.
           I wish, I wish he'd stay away."
    I still "see" the school, the depot, and other landmarks as I go through town even though they're not there any more.
    Things aren't all bad. I'm delighted to tell you about Bruce Orman's promotion to Postmaster at Oxford. He had previously served as Postmaster of the Clarksdale office. Bruce is one of our homegrown Tutwiler boys, the son of Sam and Jerry Orman, and very deserving of this position. He, with wife Nancy and their three children, will be moving to Oxford as the end of school nears since Nancy teaches and two of the children are in school at present. In the meantime, he is commuting daily.
    Congratulations on the arrival of Hannah Elise Burda, born February 25, 2000. She is the first great grandaughter of Adelaide Steele and the late Woods Steele. Her grandmother is "Aide" Whitaker and her parents are Heather and Geoff Burda.
    The Ormans (including Joy and Ruston Sossaman) visited their grandchildren, Cam and Emily Smith, who now live in Covington, Tn. They continued their busy week by hosting the NARFE group in their home on Friday. This is the Tallahatchie County Chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and those attending from out of town were Effie Ford, Erlene Gresham, Mary Harpole and Helen Peters. Words of fond remembrance were expressed for two faithful members who died during the year, Polly Jennings and Katherine "Chunky" Clark.
    The First Baptist congregation were inspired by Jimmy Moore who brought mission reports from Hondurus and the Ukraine at the Sunday morning services. Jimmy is a pharmacist in Grenada who goes each year with others from all over the country and ministers to those needy people for a week at a time. As that group leaves another group comes and this continues almost year 'round. He says these children don't know what a toy is, much less Santa Clause. Two elderly ladies in his church who felt they could not help any other way ate lunch at McDonald's every day, getting a Happy Meal each time, providing over 700 toys for his group to take. This shows we can all find a way to serve if God leads.
    Edna Stillions attended her grandson Richard Harlan Stillions III's wedding in Brandon at Lakeside Presbyterian Church on Saturday the 26th. Daysidel Bruister-Berryhill and daughter, Delanne Billingsly, were also in attendance as, I'm sure, was Stan Bright of Sumner, Richard's maternal grandfather.
    Nena Smith was in town visiting "Unk" last week. Translated that means Tom Jennings. Every year Nena comes in February and helps Tom and Polly trim their crepe myrtle bushes, but this year it was just Nena and "Unk". She also visited Savannah Kellum briefly which is where we got to say "hi" to her. She was enroute home to Wesson after several days visit with her mother Marjorie Cox in Clarksdale. Rose Hays and children, Anna and Joel, visited her father in Cottonplant, Ms. this past week.
    Zack Jenkins from Sumner brought the book review at Wednesday's Sandwich with Books, giving reviews on Left Behind and Rising Tide which were most informative and entertaining. The crowd especially enjoyed him giving highlights (and lowlights) on his 25 year tenure in politics, serving as County Tax Assessor. I always said Zack's service to the public assured his re-election each time, for he truly did that. He was forced into retirement due to cancer which God, through the prayers of His people, has miraculously put into remission.
    It's certainly going to be different entering the bank in Sumner and not seeing Kae King's pretty, happy face and hearing her cheery greeting. She is back with Staple Cotton in Greenwood where she worked for 12 years before coming to Union Planters.
    Aubrey Seymore, Sr. was hospitalized with pneumonia but is home now and doing better. Leona Lane had a heart cath done in Memphis this week, ruling that out as being her problem. Her husband, Johnie, will have surgery Monday. Emmette Bourne of Sumner, accompianied by his wife Bettye, went to Memphis prepared for an overnight stay, thinking he was to have eye surgery but, much to their joy, he did not have to have it.
    We reported a couple of weeks back that Teeny Turner, pianist at Tutwiler Methodist Church, broke her finger. We sympathized with her but felt the music would go on since her neice, Beth Cristinsen, would take over. Now Beth has fallen and broken her finger. Same finger as Teeny and both on the right hand! Oh my!
    Deaths since last time are Opal Nail of Webb, Helen Casburn of Sumner and Ward Newton of Glendora.
    Opal was a patient of River Oaks in Clarksdale, where she had gone after it became apparent she could not stay alone. She loved to write eulogies of those she knew through the years and I still have the ones she wrote of my family members who've died. She could recall everybody's name, full name, etc. much better than closer family members could and always shared something she remembered about them to the grieving families. She was an innocent, loving child at heart.
    Helen had moved from Sumner several years ago to a retirement home in Little Rock. One of the things I recall about her was that she took her son, Dyson, (who was my son's age) "to town" to get his hair cut. Town was Memphis.
    Mr. Newton was living in Charleston with his family, having had to leave his longtime home in Glendora to be where they could see after him. He was fiercely independent. Independent in every way. He never did "cotton" to modern conveniences such as electric lights and such. He was laid to rest in a spot under trees in Memorial Garden Cemetary near Charleston, where he played as a youngster. He played on the hill just behind where he was buried and would slide down it as a child, landing in that very spot. He selected that as his final resting place.
    Goodbye, again, from Tutwiler and God bless us, every one!

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News from Tutwiler
by Janie Bruister



    Those of you who have children and grandchildren can readily relate to our experiences at least to some degree, I'm sure. If they use the car, then I know you can.
    When ours take a trip we usually meet them somewhere along the way bearing gifts. Last weekend we met them near Hattiesburg with a new alternator and a new battery! They were returning from the coast, where they had gone to visit friends and grab a little sun and beach time when the car refused to go any further. While in Biloxi, they'd already had to install a new battery, thinking that was the problem when it suddenly stopped there, but that was only wishful thinking. Now they were stranded some 4½ hours from home on a Sunday afternoon. We told them to stay put, grabbed our tool kits and took off. We bought the things we needed in Greenwood at Auto Zone, stopping once more as we got closer to them for snacking supplies since they'd been there for hours and it was nearing 8:30 by the time we reached them. It took two more hours to put the new parts on. That done and everybody set to travel, it still wouldn't crank. Most perturbed, we had almost decided we'd gotten a bad battery when we made a discovery. There is a plastic cap on the negative side of the battery (something new) that will allow it to slip right on but, unless it's removed, will prevent contact and render it useless. After removing that, the car started and we were headed home! We got to Jackson a little past midnight and the car failed us again, choosing to rest in the curve of the four-lane (or is it six?) stretch between the Fairground and St. Dominic's. A more inappropriate place can't be found. We finally just left it there, assuming no one would want to risk life or limb to vandalize it, and got rooms in a nearby motel for the night. First time, ever, to do so without any luggage, even a toothbrush. By morning we had decided to let the Ford Company handle it, which they did beautifully. We left it with them and everybody piled in our truck and headed home, arriving by mid afternoon, Monday. Since I had gone all night and all day withot cold cream, my face felt like it had a drawstring around it being pulled tighter by the minute, so I immediately headed for the bathroom for that purpose and, it not only gave relief, but made me feel better in general. Didn't do a thing for the way I looked! You can imagine how that was, being unable to do anything other than run my fingers through my hair and that was it!
    While I was slapping on coldcream, I heard Carroll greeting somebody at the door, which turned out to be our lifelong friends, Bettye and Ira Ousley, who were on their way to her mother's at Rena Lara and stopped by to see us. They thought our being stranded without what we think of as necessities and the way we looked was very intertaining (to say the least). Carroll had told me on the way home, "You don't look too bad", which I thought was hilarious, especially since he didn't overemphasize the too part.
    The Ousleys live on Lake Cherokee at Henderson, Texas and miss everybody here and want to be remembered to all of you.
    Our excursion proved NOT to be as nerve wracking as the bomb threat the Valley Bank of Webb recieved on Monday. The bomb was never found and the culprit has not been caught but everything turned out alright otherwise.
    Election Day was long for those who manned the polling places. It's difficult to sit for a 12 hour stretch even though it was good to see all the people who came out and, also, the Tutwiler Community Educational Center (where we were) was hosting the college students from the University of Wisconsin, who were helping with Habitat. We got to inhale the aroma of breakfast, lunch and supper as it was prepared there for them.
    The Jennings family certainly stay active. Former Mayor and Mrs. Phil Jennings have returned from Las Vegas where they enjoyed vacationing with four other couples. Luanne Jennings Vance is conducting an "I Love Dance" Production in Billings, Montana this weekend. Her daughter, Laura, was one of a 20-something member cast at Delta State University Friday night. Laura had a solo part in this production. Barbara and grandaughter Meg will enjoy the musical "1776" at the Orpheum Sunday. Another of Barbara's grandaughters, Elizabeth Jennings, is much improved after spending days hospitalized in Clarksdale, with severe strep throat and Bronchitis. This came on the heels of her wreck during the snow and icy weather.
    We have Leona and Johnie Lane's little grandaughter in our prayers. She is undergoing kidney surgery this week. Mrs. Ersie Lane of Sumner is improving after having back surgery in Greenwood. Mrs. Minnie Jones of Webb continues in ICU at Clarksdale Medical Center after sustaining a broken hip at her home, then having gall bladder and heart problems after entering the hospital. Sympathy goes to Ricke and Carlisle Parsons in the death of his father of Water Valley.
    "Peaches" and John Denney rendevoused with several couples they met on the internet from various states recently at the Hollywood Casino for a time of getting to know each other.
    Savannah Kellum and daughter, Gnoc Tran, enjoyed Gnoc's spring break from UT Dental School by going to Nashville, visiting Deena and Danny Kellum and family along the way. Shirley Brougher and Ruby Baldwin attended the funeral of a cousin of theirs in Jackson over the weekend. Geneva Woodall of Little Rock came by to see us briefly while visiting her mother, Mrs. Lorene Weeks.
    The Bible Study for women of all ages on Women of the Bible has reached its midway point. Anne Barnes hosts this each Monday night in her home which includes soup and dessert. This most interesting study is being led by Gina Pearson.
    We were delighted by the "Special to the Press Register" article on March 13th, stating that a scholarship has been established at Delta State University School of Nursing in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Clay by their children, Arthur and Alice Clay Smith. It is their "hope that the recipients of this scholarship will embrace many of the good values and work ethics the Clays believed in and lived all their lives". Those of us who knew and loved them say a hearty "amen" to that.
    That's about it, again, from Tutwiler where the Prison is in the process of hiring as well as nearing completion for its date of opening in May. Let's pray this will be a correctional facility in its truest sense and that the clean and bright facade will be the catalyst, inspiring everybody to clean, paint and fix up their homes, yards and the businesses in town. Let's all join in and do our share and more, to make this a good experience.

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News from Tutwiler
by Janie Bruister

    When I began writing this column several years ago, I mentioned in the first one what Tutwiler meant to me....and has for as long as I can remember. It has undergone many changes through the years affecting all of us. Someone has aptly said "old age is a seamstress doing alterations" and this saying certainly applies to the town as well. It is no longer the thriving, busy little town it once was, but it still continues to be home to some of the best people anywhere. It's ironic that during a time many think it's going downhill, others are extolling its virtues. Just this past week I heard the up side from the pulpit, the sick room, the neighbor and even the visitor. What pleases me, too, is to know that so many who leave here to make their home elsewhere carry with them qualities that make where they go a better place. We have some super people, young, old, black and white and I'm happy to call it home.
    A few weeks ago Anne Barnes told us she was moving. "Moving!!" we all moaned and then she told us she was moving just across the street. She has been doing this gradually with her children and grandchildren coming to help. For the past six Monday nights she's fed the Bible Study Group in one place or the other. She has about gotten totally moved where she feels she's living inthe new place. She's off to the Catfish Festival in Belzoni Saturday, but she's got things well underway for the Lion's Club Buffet on Sunday, leaving the rest in the capable hands of her sidekicks Thelma Wright and Barbara Jennings. The Bible Study was very ably led by Gina Pearson who happily made time from her busy life for these studies.
    Speaking of moving, I've discovered that Nathan and Irene Minyard from Sumner have moved. Nathan retired the first of the year from Mitchener Planting Co. and they bought a home at Crowder. Also Janet Pearson has bought Izzie Chin's house in Webb which she is in the process of renovating. Izzie, who visited last week, related that she had bught a lovely home in Springfield, Ill. near her son Jerry.
    We are so proud of our hometown boy, A.J. Downs III, who is having a fantastic season in baseball at Delta State Univerity. He is leading the team at the plate and helped lead the Statesmen to a #3 ranking in the country....that's country. Congratulations A.J.! I have visions of A.J. coming to bat over a major league plate someday.
    When it comes to performing, we can count on our hometown girl Lauranne Vance to be a standout. Laura had a solo part as a member of the cast in the musical production of Crazy For You at Delta State this past Thursday and Friday nights. Her mother, Luanne, made it back in time to see her perform after being stranded in Denver, Colorado where they had two feet of snow and planes grounded. Shirley Brougher's daughter-in-law, Cindy, was an orchestra member for the Crazy For You production, playing the piano. Cindy is beautifully talented on the organ as well as the piano.
    Our friends and neighbors, James and Annette Brand, spent several days in Houston, Texas with family during their grandchildren, Caitlin and Ryan's, spring break.
    M'Lou Mabry had surgery at the Clarksdale Medical Center this past week. She is now home and doing well. Her mother, Anne Starr, came from her home in Mercedes, Texas to be with her during this time and is getting in a visit with son, Billy Ray, who is living in his grandmother, Lucy Luckett's, home at present helping his dad with farming.
    Betye Sharpe of Webb is home after spending 31 days in the Oxford Hospital. She is slowly improving and we have her in our prayers. Also, Mrs. Minnie Jones remains hospitalized in Clarksdale even though my card was returned, making me think she'd been discharged. She's been there a month and we're praying for her as well, that both these sweet people will soon be much better.
    Our group of TNT members who meet monthly for lunch thoroughly enjoyed Malcolm Mabry sharing interesting tidbits on the settling of Dublin, which is the smallest Dublin in the world, being one of ten altogether. He showed a painting by Mable Callicutt of Cherry Hill Methodist Church which became the nucleus around which the settlement of Dublin was made. The little church continues to be in use somewhat even today and it was there in 1858. He also stated some of his heartfelt beliefs which we appreciated, more so because of his dedicated service in our state government and the nation. We enjoyed viewing his rock painting, which evolved during lonesome hours following his mother's death, using his "doodlings" for the unusual designs on them and we continue to enjoy his poetry from the heart of this talented man.
    Sandwich with Books at the Library met on Wednesday where the Rev. Doug Kellum from Memphis was a special guest. Everybody appreciated the report on the prison given by Sarah Cannon who is serving as Start-up Coordinator and Windell Banks, Chief of Security. They cleared up a lot of misconceptions and fears of some, which gave insight and a better understanding about this new "thing" coming into our midst. An Open House will be held upon completion and will reveal much we now can just speculate on. They're even going to invite you to spend the night (if you want to)....this is, of course, before any residents arrive!
    While preparing this column, I got a call saying the Valley Bank at Webb had been robbed! It's true. Everybody's ok, thank goodness!
    That's about it, again, from Tutwiler where those once-faded and anemic looking fire hydrants are now bright red and looking capable. Thanks!

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