Before we jump too deep into the January reader mailbag, allow me first to thank all the readers who responded to the Dec. 31 column about my recent health travails and the kind, gracious and able nurses who cared for me at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
I received scores of caring, supportive and thankful emails about that. One was from a woman who’d also undergone a gastric bypass eight years ago because of a stomach tumor — but hers was cancer, unlike mine, which merely bore that potential.
Beside losing most of her stomach, her treatment included chemotherapy and radiation. That was eight years ago. “Even with a partial gastrectomy, life can return to something that resembles normal — or at least did for me,” she kindly wrote. (She asked me not to use her name.)
Another was from a man in Glasgow who developed sepsis on vacation in Colorado in 2012. He ended up in the hospital for the better part of five months — much of it on full life support. He had to relearn to walk, too — and he did.
Those were humbling, because they suffered far more serious ailments than yours truly. And their stories of perseverance serve as beacons of hope for everyone dealing with medical uncertainties, which can be frightening.
So thanks to all who reached out — it definitely kept my spirits buoyed. There’s far too little space in this column recognize everyone individually, but you know who you are.
There was also plenty of response to a couple of early December columns. One appeared Dec. 6, about the Campbell County Board of Supervisors’ declaration of their locality as Virginia’s first (and so far only) “First Amendment Sanctuary.”
That was a reaction to Gov. Ralph Northam’s restrictions on assembly so as to curb the spread of COVID-19. It began with an explanation of the dubious Darwin Awards.
First up is Nancy Ayling of Roanoke.
“Dear Dan,” she wrote. “The Campbell County Board of Supervisors is a gift to you. Your column … plainly showed that many Americans have lost their minds with their ideas of ‘freedom’ and their constitutional rights. We always enjoy reading whatever you write and we applaud you for telling the truth.
“By the way, you’ve noticed that the vast majority of Darwin Award winners are male?? Just sayin’.”
Another was Patrick Hinely of Lexington, who described that city as “a tiny but very blue dot in a sea of red(necks).”
“How did public health become such an abstruse concept?” Hinely began. “Common sense and common decency ought to be enough to inspire us all to do what needs to be done to suppress this plague.
“We all must give up some things, but the sooner we do so, the sooner we can stop needing to do so … at the rate we’re going and the direction in which we are moving as a nation, it’ll take us as long to get past COVID-19 as it did Europe to get past Bubonic Plague in the 1300s.”
By far the most responses came from readers about my Dec. 3 suggestion to locate the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library at Explore Park in Roanoke County, a joint that’s been underused for decades.
“Made me laugh. Just the idea of him having a presidential library is funny, ludicrous,” wrote Edward Leonard of Roanoke. But there are better locations than Explore Park, he added.
“Florida is the best place so it will be surrounded with all the rising ocean because of global warming. I can see it now, all picture books. Perhaps wherever it is built there will be three sections: Super Hero Comics, a hall of Time magazine covers with his picture and another with all his golf trophies.”
Brian Boggs of Salem offered a few inspired ideas for the Trump Presidential Library at Explore Park. One was as a place to relocate all the Confederate statues that are being taken down across the commonwealth.
Here’s another: “Trump could hire his friend, Jerry Falwell Jr., previous chancellor of Liberty University, to run Trump U. Jerry Jr. is out of work currently and was buddy buddy with Trump in the past. Friends of a feather, flock together,” Boggs wrote.
Several readers came up with funny bone-tickling exhibits for the Trump Presidential Library.
Larry Martin of Roanoke County suggested “’The Border’ climbing wall, Four Seasons lawn gifts, and the Guiliani Tonsorial Parlor.”
Dr. Kellogg Hunt of Roanoke proposed another great feature, the Trump Center for Birtherism Research. “And who is better qualified to come out of retirement to lead [that] than Roanoke’s own Bob Goodlatte, who was a devoted champion of the movement?” Hunt wondered.
Reader Mary Gilles suggested a tie-in with Mill Mountain Zoo. Among the great exhibits would be a bird enclosure named the Trump Tweet Zone, and big cat cage called The Lyin’ King.
“He ran the Oval Office like a zoo for four years so this would be a wonderful extension of that era!” she wrote. “It would make our zoo and our whole region a REALLY BIG WINNER — so much winning we could hardly stand it.”
Lynn Robertson of Salem noted someone else has beat me to the punch on a concept for the Trump library. And for it they’ve foisted a clever website you should check out, www.djtrumplibrary.com
Among its attractions: The Hall of Enablers, the Wall of Criminality, an interactive exhibit titled “Lie to America,” and the Alt-Right Auditorium. Naturally, it’s surrounded by large Confederate flags, hung Nuremberg-style around the expansive room.
It also features a Grift Shop that sells pardons, “Lock Him Up” keychains (only $12.25) and “10% Less Racist” award ribbons that look like a bargain at $2.79. Of course, they’re colored gold.
One good thing about a Trump library is that it wouldn’t need many shelves, wrote Gene Stuckey of Roanoke.
“This library only needs to contain two books,” his email read. “’The Art Of The Deal’ and Trump’s favorite, ‘Mein Kampf.’ They should offer a T-shirt that read WORLDS GREATEST CON MAN.”
I would buy that!
Finally, I heard from Jim Privitera of Roanoke, who appreciated the humor, but added he wishes I hadn’t done it at Explore Park’s expense.
“The park has been increasing its appeal by adding events and activities in recent years,” he wrote. “This is the second year for Illuminights which has been extremely popular. Additionally there is a very attractive visitor center which is open year round and there are outdoor activities as well as camping and the Brugh Tavern. … The Park does have a number of family oriented activities and is a popular site for weddings and other events.
Thanks, readers, for your many emails calls and letters. Please keep them coming!
Contact metro columnist Dan Casey at 981-3423 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter:.