Musings and meanderings from the Isle of Isolation ...

Musings and meanderings from the Isle of Isolation ...
WDAM's Tim Doherty offers a few thoughts and poses a few questions as he separates himself from the crush, hunkering down on the Isle of Isolation during the days of coronavirus. (Source: Gray Media)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ We have been watching waaaaayyy too much black-and-white telly over the past many weeks, gorging ourselves particularly on a series set in World War II-era France ... How bad has it gotten? … You now may send any queries to us at the “Ile d’isolement” …

  • We extend our prayers and thoughts to the family of University of Southern Mississippi head football coach Jay Hopson, whose father, Dr. Briggs Hopson Jr., passed away Saturday.

The elder Hopson was 82.

According to the Vicksburg Post, Dr. Hopson started his practice in 1967, retiring in 2017 after a 50-year career. He was a much-respected and beloved figure in Vicksburg as well as the statewide medical community.

  • Kudos to USM sophomore Friend Chompitakdacha, who became the first Lady Eagles golfer in two seasons to earn All-Conference USA honors.

Chompitakdacha was a third-team all-conference honoree after leading USM with a 74.61 stroke-per-round average. That’s the fourth-lowest, single-season average in program history.

  • Seems the folks at Eskimo Pie have had a change of heart and are fixin’ to change the name of their signature frozen treat.

May we suggest something like “Delicious Chocolate-Covered Ice Cream Square?” Hard to argue that.

  • The light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a big ol’ train, and they call it the COVID-19.

Mississippi’s hospitals are reporting their highest admission numbers thanks to the coronavirus.

  • Are we the only ones more than a little put out by these viral ads that got shots of actual mice coming through the walls or, even more off-putting, like dead?

The whole idea behind the product being pushed is that it will take care of the critters so you don’t have to look at ‘em. Yet, there we are, lookin’ at ‘em.

  • Keepin’ in that vein, saw something somewhere that basically posed the question: “How are you going to get rid of the mice under your house?”

Our first response, in memory of Paul Lynde, was, “Invite ‘em in,” followed by a smug little chuckle.

But here in the South, there’s really only one tried-and-true method.


  • Stepped off the Isle of Isolation recently for a routine trip to a local House O’Vittles, and while waiting on the order, noticed a twin bubble-gum dispenser sitting off to the side.

That started firing the memory circuit’s ol’ View Master.

Back in the days before time was reckoned, the bubble gum machine was a 50-50 proposition when it came to shameless parental begging.

It only cost a cent, and chances were your folks had just gotten change back from wherever they had happened to drag you to and wherever the contraptions were found.

Oh, and they could be found anywhere and everywhere. Grocery stores. Gas stations. Pharmacies. Car washes. Department stores. Banks. Funeral parlors.

About the only places you couldn’t find them were school and candy stores.

In fact, they eventually came up with a toy-like gumball machine made of plastic rather than metal and glass for home use. The catch: You still had to pull money out of your own pocket to simply enjoy the gift you received for your birthday or Christmas.


The public machines dispensed little orbs of hard-shelled chewing gum for a penny, and all too often, some seemed rigged.

Many times, you had to be ninja-quick to grab the gumball coming off the slide after you opened the gate. Otherwise, you wound up chasing the marble-sized gumball across the concrete or filthy linoleum near the entrance/exit of a store. If that happened, you were out a gumball. No way that was getting anywhere near your mouth.

The machines also contained “prizes,” that were even more useless than what you found in Cracker Jacks or cereal. And if you wound up with a “prize,” no gumball.

(A quick aside: We still own a Boston Red Sox pin that came from one of these dispensers. We must have been by ourselves that day because no chance a sharp object that could be used as a weapon of discreet destruction would get past the parents.)

Most machines sat on a pole with a round globe holding the gumballs and “prizes.” Most you seated a penny in a slot connected to a crank handle, that on occasion, Arnold Schwarzenegger would have had trouble turning.

There also was a variation that donated proceeds to fighting polio or rickets or something. These had a slot you dropped your penny in and then slid a little lever to the right. When you let go, you had to make sure your fingers were out of the way because the other side of said lever acted like a knuckle guillotine.

When done correctly, two (TWO!!!) pieces of squared, Chiclet-sized gum flew onto an exterior silver chute about the length of a curved Frito.

Like everything else, gumballs went from a penny to whatever.

The machines also began to attract neighbors, large, rectangular structures that were stacked atop one another and filled with anything from miniature football helmets to stickers to horror objects like plastic fangs.

(”So, what’ll it be kid, the unlifelike “severed finger” or bad chewing gum that produces a wad the size of a couple rice grains? Only a quarter, either way.”)

Some machines would dispense nuts, like a small handful of peanuts. In our case, we were a sucker for the cashew dispenser.

It didn’t matter we had no idea the cashews had been sitting there or that they were a more expensive splurge (a dime) and that you got more in volume from the peanut machine.

But, we trace our taste for cashews to those days, even though prices on the cashew market must have kept rising because the machines quickly grew more expensive with less to show for it when you popped open the gate.

By the time prices had reached 50 cents a pop, you’d get a small wad of tissue that smelled of cashew. That was it. So, by that time, our craving for cashews was sated by picking through the seasonal can of mixed nuts that appeared every Yuletime.

These days, there are machines that toss out gumballs the size of a golf ball while crediting your ATM account at the same time.

Nonetheless, while the days of the penny machine may be gone, the notion that something from our childhood still is around got us to pondering.

At least until our order arrived.

  • Be kind. Be wary. Be smart. Be safe.

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