Just follow these instructions

Just follow these instructions

By Kevin Kelly - Contributing columnist

There is a belief that when confronted with a task, something to build or put together, or use a piece of equipment, men routinely ignore the attached instructions to help you accomplish what you set out to do. I don’t think that’s true of every male I know, but we like to think it’s standard operating procedure for most guys we don’t know.

For some individuals blessed with a natural talent for changing motor oil, running a lawn mower or snapping together an outdoor grill, instructions may be more of a hindrance than a help. More power to them. You’re doing good work in this world. Yet, for average folks and dunderheads such as myself, instructions are more than just the life blood of completing the project — they’re a godsend.

Particularly in the case of erecting something like a bookcase or something more ambitious, and if there are more than say, three or four parts to the thing that had better be marked with a number that corresponds with the one found in the instructions. If you’re one of those types who can eyeball the project and figure out on your own how it goes together, you may be in for a difficult time if this job is specifically designed to work out exactly as that folded document with schematics tells you it does. Believe me, nothing is as frustrating as taking it apart to find out how many steps were missed in the assembly process because you didn’t think it was that challenging to your innate skills.

Yes, there was a time when such tasks were simple and could be accomplished with little difficulty by yourself. How well I recall what a breeze it was to replace a burned-out headlight on my first car, the 1965 Chrysler that was almost a decade old when my father bought it as a second vehicle and soon passed on to me. If I remember right, you simply removed a front panel with a screwdriver, pulled out the old light and plugged in the new lamp, followed by reinstallation of the cover plate.

Well, that was when Cincinnati dominated major league baseball, American Motors introduced the Pacer and “Charlie’s Angels” was new on the ABC schedule, so a lot of things have since changed in that regard. Today I wouldn’t even attempt such a maneuver unless I was an industry-recognized service technician — they’re not called mechanics anymore, are they? Well, more power to them, I say.

A reminder of the importance of following instructions came last week when I made an especially good bowl of Ramen noodle soup. On the surface that shouldn’t be a difficult item and while I guesstimated how much two cups of water goes into a small saucepan, scanning the instructions helped in reaching the level of perfection I sought. Or maybe it was so tasty because I hadn’t had Ramen in a month of Sundays.

Anyway, it taught me a lesson about getting along in life, proving that no matter how much older you are, you learn something every day.


School’s out, vacations are the norm and a slower pace takes hold as we move into the summer pattern. A perfect time for the outdoor activities planned by our communities for the benefit of citizens that should be patronized and enjoyed.

A range of events in Point Pleasant, Pomeroy and Gallipolis are scheduled to bring you out of the house on warm nights for exposure to history, culture, music and other diversions. Among these — starting this week in the Gallipolis City Park — is the Ohio Chautauqua presentations returning to the Old French City following a two-year hiatus.

The Ohio Humanities Council-sponsored Chautauqua reacquaints us with some of history’s great figures and what made them passionate about the issues of their time. These personalities step out of the history texts thanks to skilled and knowledgeable reenactors who shouldn’t be missed.

The 2018 Chautauqua speakers bring to life humorist Erma Bombeck on Tuesday, labor activist Cesar Chavez on Wednesday, feminist Betty Friedan on Thursday, pioneering African-American fighter pilot Gen. Benjamin O. Davis on Friday, and a Saturday wrap-up on Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of President John F. Kennedy whose shocking assassination as he sought the White House noted its 50th anniversary this past week.

Activities begin in the park around 6:30 each evening with musical accompaniment with the presentations starting at 7:30. Workshops for children and adults will also be conducted during the daytime at the Dr. Samuel L. Bossard Memorial Library. Enjoy these — a lot of work goes into bringing Chautauqua back to Gallipolis every couple of years, and it’s well worth your time.


He was one of those “that guy” actors in movies and TV as we grew up who always seemed to be working but we had no idea of his name. But William Phipps, who was 96 when he died June 1, created an impression on those of us who took in every science fiction movie that popped up on weekend TV for his appearances in some of the genre’s big and little films.

Phipps, an Indiana native and Navy veteran of World War II, was already a veteran of West Coast stage and radio productions when he entered movies in 1947. Supplying the voice of Prince Charming in the 1950 Walt Disney picturization of “Cinderella,” Phipps took his first stab in fantastic films with 1951’s “Five,” Hollywood’s first-ever speculation on a post-apocalyptic future.

He was then seen in “The War of the Worlds” and “Cat-Women of the Moon” (both 1953) and “The Snow Creature” (1954). One may also count his appearance in U.S. footage shot to pad the running time of the British-made “Evil of Frankenstein” (1964) for its network showing.

As such, Phipps became as noteworthy a denizen of sci-fi movies in their heyday as Richard Carlson, who headlined five films in 1953-1954, including “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” But Carlson’s stardom in such endeavors may have been overshadowed by the popularity of his then-current TV show “I Led Three Lives.”

Phipps continued as a working actor and it was no accident that he snagged roles of varying importance in two of the biggest movies of 1956, “Lust for Life” and “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.” A couple of weeks ago, watching an episode of the Gene Autry-produced mid-’50s TV western “Annie Oakley” in which Phipps appeared, I marveled at his career and longevity, little realizing he would leave us just a day or two later. Thank you for the memories, Mr. Phipps, and your special place in them.

Just follow these instructions

By Kevin Kelly

Contributing columnist

Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.

Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.