Good morning, Earlington.
This month, the Hopkins County chapter of AARP held its annual “picnic” in the fellowship hall of the Earlington Christian Church. This event is usually held in September, but has been altered a bit through the years. In the first place, 100-degree temperatures don’t agree with elderly folks.
The picnics were once held under the canopy by the ballfield at Madisonville City Park. The event always brought in a nice crowd. My family was usually running behind and arrived just about when the late, much-beloved Rev. Hughlan Richey was exiting his car. He never failed to call me by name, ask about each member of my family and remind me that his daughter Rebecca graduated with my sister. The unbearably hot, humid weather insured that the picnic — a misnomer as it was more of a huge potluck — be moved to Grapevine Church.
This is the first year I remember the AARP dining in E’ton. The ladies and men of the Christian Church are always super to visitors. A number of members show up to help. Barbara Frederick stayed much past the last visitor as she and her hubby were still there when my grandson’s dog took me for a walk. There were between 30 and 40 present. Seems I remember most of the same five at my table eating at Spencer’s Eastside Tour. As I recall, Sally Taylor won a nice door prize that evening, and H.W. Offutt teased all the ladies. AARP Treasurer Jean Merrill, who admits to being H.W.’s cousin, collected AARP dues. Vernon and Don Rickard jabbered on ignoring women’s talk. And Cheryl Ryan of White Plains led the short meeting.
I’m sure the AARP reminder was in “the” paper, but I would have missed it except for three reminders from Charlie Kistner, who is at physical therapy the same days as me. So, on Friday, Charlie reminded me again. That time, I put “AARP picnic” on my calendar. Charlie also asked if I might do him a favor. He thought I might identify the five Earlington men in his dad’s honor guard at Earlington. I reminded him I was born the same year his dad died. I’m sure a few remember Charlie’s dad. I am certainly not one of those, but I’m giving the mystery a try. I took the photo home.
Lawrence was a hometown boy known as “Lunky” to his friends. He was a member of the EHS Class of 1937, a clerk at the old Red Front grocery and mechanic for Tipton Service Station in Madisonville. Maybe none of these aspects seem memorable. But Lawrence E. Kistner, the sergeant, is an individual we all should remember. He gave his all for our freedom. Sgt. Kistner died from effects of what history refers to as the “Death March.” This was June 1942 in a Philippine POW camp. He was listed as MIA for two years after being unaccounted for following the bombing of his base hospital in the Philippines. He was originally interred in the Philippine National Cemetery, but relocated by the army in 1949 to E’ton’s Oakwood Cemetery at the request of his mother, Lillie Price Kistner. Carved in marble in the large KIA monument under the service flags at the same cemetery you will find the name of Sgt. Lawrence Kistner, US Army, 17th Ordinance,
see picnic/page PP3age 24. The least I can do is try to identify these five men carrying a flag-draped wooden box led by 6-year-old Charlie with hands stuffed in the pockets of his Sunday-suit walking beside Legion Post 2 Commander John “Boy” Wyatt.
This is my story of the 2016 AARP annual picnic held in the Christian Church and how I came to show up there. My grandmother used to say some stories take a bit of telling. This is one. If you missed the “indoors” picnic, you missed Mary Ann Smith’s famous mashed potatoes and tables of country vegetables and tasty deserts. You missed fellowship with a number of senior citizens and nice hosts from the Christian Church.
If you would like to join this group, you have only to drop by Country Cupboard the second Monday of each month around noon and make yourself at home in the meeting room beside the buffet. You might even see Charlie there. You will recognize him right away. He’s the jolly fellow with the white hair and long beard who represents the spirit of Santa Claus each December. He’s also the proud son of Sgt. Lawrence Kistner. God bless veterans — and their sons and daughters.