Last of the ‘country correspondents’

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Mt. Olive writer has been submitting news for more than 50 years

By Larry Rowell

A once-loved tradition where community news and events appeared weekly in the local newspaper is being kept alive, at least on a part-time basis.
Up until about 20 years ago, nearly every small community in Casey County had a resident who would collect the local news, write a column and then send it each week to The Casey County News.
Clarice Floyd was one of about 20 correspondents who did this, but as these “country correspondents” have died, they’ve been replaced by the Internet, e-mail, mobile phones and text messaging.
Floyd, a spry and lively 92, is the last correspondent who still periodically gathers the news of her friends and neighbors in the Mt. Olive community.
She began covering the Mt. Olive beat in the late 1950s when then correspondent Mamie Durham decided it was time for someone else to do it.
Floyd said it was simply a matter of just talking to people in the community.
“I’d call people and ask if they had visitors or news or they’d call me or I’d get the news at church,” she said, adding that Durham and Geneva Emerson would always call her with some tidbit of news.
Also, when out-of-town guests visited the Mt. Olive community, or a local resident was sick or in the hospital, that news was fodder for Floyd’s weekly column.
Other sources of information  came from members of Mt. Olive Christian Church, where she has been an active member for more than 75 years.
In addition, local residents would congregate and share news each day at the two country stores — Hamilton’s and Emerson’s — located near the church, Floyd said.
Once she had all the news from her sources, Floyd began to compose her column.
“I’d get all the news, write it out by hand and then mail it on Friday,” Floyd said.
Floyd took her responsibility so seriously, in fact, that not even a broken wrist years ago kept her from getting the column out on time.
“I dictated it to my son, Carroll, who had come down to help out,” Floyd said.
Carroll, 68, a retired Bullitt County school teacher living in Campbellsville, said that even when his mother had to care for her ailing mother in the early 1970s, she handled it all with ease.
Although she doesn’t get out of the house as much as she used to, Floyd still remains active in caring for Aaron, 93, just like she has for the 71 years that they’ve been married.
“Ain’t many times I can’t find a job,” Floyd said, smiling. “I cook a big breakfast every morning — homemade biscuits, eggs, gravy, bacon or sausage — the whole thing.”
An avid quilter and gardener, Floyd said that she still does quilts but not as much as before. And she still loves to work out in her yard though she hasn’t tended a garden the past two years.
“I brought them corn and other things from my garden and when I came back the next time, she froze the corn and there were jars on the floor where she put up pickles,” Carroll said.
The Floyds have two other sons  — Bobby, 70, a cancer researcher in Oklahoma City, and Gene, 64, a retired federal government worker who lives in Shelbyville. They also have five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Even if her work as a country correspondent is fading away, Floyd still thinks that it’s important.
“It ties the families together,” she said.