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A Thought for Today

by Terrell Tebbetts                  

A few years ago I enjoyed introducing the Thunk family headed by the old matriarch Hoodah Thunk and sprawling out over several generations. In this season of good cheer, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy meeting another local clan—the Knoh family. It was headed by old mammaw Ida Knoh and old papaw Aydint Knoh. I’m afraid these fine old folks were pretty mistake-prone when they moved to north Arkansas in pioneer days. In fact coming here was one of the mistakes. Aydint Knoh thought the White River steamboat was going to take them out to Colorado. He just didn’t know. Aydint and Ida Knoh were the proud parents of three strapping sons—Howdya Knoh, Whadya Knoh, and Hoodya Knoh, each with a fine career. Howdya Knoh was the curious one, always ready to separate rumor from truth and ferret out the fact of any and every claim. He began as a newspaper reporter. He moved from covering the crime scene to entering law enforcement, eventually becoming the head of criminal investigation for the Texas Rangers. Whadya Knoh loved school, often playing school in the summers when he couldn’t actually attend school. Not surprisingly, he went to college, majored in history, and became the long-time and much –revered teacher history at Batesville High School. His ferocious tests were revenge for his students hanging him upside down out the second story window. Hoodya Knoh, the baby of the family, never met a stranger—in fact, as he grew up he determined that he’d meet and remember every single person in the region. Naturally enough, he became a politician, glad-handing more and more people till he became a governor, then a U. S. Senator, and finally an, uh, over-friendly President. Sadly, the old observation that it’s shirt-tail to shirt-tail in three generations held true for the Knoh family. The third generation didn’t fare so well as their parents. Wudenya Knoh, the son of Howdya, was a total pessimist. He could make any success feel like a failure, carping and nitpicking till every leader looked like a liar and every business deal looked like a swindle. He ended up on welfare. Didjah Knoh, the son of Whadya, was a know-it-all, cocksure about every pseudo-fact and half-baked opinion he held to be gospel. He failed at preaching, then at teaching, and finally at editorial writing. Yanevuh Knoh, the daughter of Hoodya, inherited mammaw and papaw’s cluelessness. She never planned a future because she couldn’t ever see what was coming. In fact, she apparently didn’t see the Freightliner coming at her when she entered I-40 going in the wrong direction. Sigh. Luckily for the family’s future, Yanevuh had three kids before her tragic accident. Her boy Aye Knoh, her elder daughter Yew Knoh, and her baby daughter Wee Knoh show great promise. They’re fast learners in their elementary school classes—all-Knohing kids at heart. Knoh-el, my friends! Terrell Tebbetts is the Martha Heasley Cox Chair in American Literature at Lyon College. He can be reached at