Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Bill Kirby: New Year's baby story stirs warm memories

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It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.

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– Freeman Dyson

Last week we had a story about the first baby of the year.

It is a feature we always seem to do.

That’s probably why Cathryn Broome, of North Augusta, called to see whether we did a similar story on her.

“When you get to be my age,” she said, “you start looking back.”

Cathryn was born New Year’s Day 1931 and said her mother always told her she was Augusta’s first baby that year and that the family received numerous prizes for the achievement. She said the biggest prize she got for 1931’s first baby was a load of coal for winter heat.

This prize might seem strange today, but I imagine that was a pretty good deal back then … and I speak as a former child often chastened for playing on the coal pile.

I couldn’t find any Chron­icle stories about the first baby of 1931, so maybe it was in the Augusta Herald.

COAL PLAY: It’s pretty cold this morning, so I remember how warm burning coal made a fireplace, a room or a stove.

I recall everyone sitting around the fire or stove, moving closer or farther back, considering the size of the fire.

As the fire got lower, everyone would scoot their chairs up.

Likewise, when someone put a fresh block of coal on the fire, we’d all be moving back.

It’s a warm memory.

GONE TO BLAZES: My latest Kirby’s Augusta video tells the story of “Big Steve,” Augusta’s famous fire bell.

It’s on augustachronicle.com and YouTube.

TODAY’S JOKE: A doctor was having trouble with the plumbing in his home.

The pipes in the bathroom began to leak, and the leak became bigger and bigger.

Even though it was very early in the morning, the doctor decided to phone his plumber. Naturally, the plumber was sore about being awakened that early.

“For Pete’s sake, Doc,” he snapped. “This is some time to wake up a guy.”

“Well,” the doctor said testily, “you’ve never hesitated to call me in the middle of the night with a medical problem. Now it just happens I’ve got a plumbing emergency.”

There was a moment of silence.

Then the plumber spoke up, “You know, Doc, you’re right. Tell me what’s wrong.”

The doctors explained about the leaks in the bathroom.

“Tell you what to do,” the plumber said. “Take two aspirin every four hours, drop them down the pipe. If the leak hasn’t cleared up by morning, phone me at the office.”


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