Story about Poga woman generates nationwide interest

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
Every person has a story to tell. We all know someone who leads an interesting life, but no one considers that their own life might be interesting to others. Whether or not they want their story told to the rest of the world is the question.
   The Star, in its Nov. 7 edition, printed a story about an 87-year-old woman who received her first indoor bathroom. By that afternoon, J. R. Campbell, instrumental in helping construct the bathroom, received a phone call from a woman identifying herself as a representative with the Jay Leno Show in Burbank, Calif.
   Campbell, principal at Little Milligan Elementary School, initially thought the phone call was a prank pulled by one of his co-workers. The caller asked Campbell a few questions about the story and told him that the Leno show was interested in having the Poga woman appear as a guest.
   After a few sarcastic remarks in an effort to test the validity of the call; for example, asking the caller to tell Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger to work on his accent, Campbell realized the call was legitimate and agreed to ask Missouri Dugger about appearing on Jay Leno.
   Dugger declined, saying she did not want any more attention from the news media. Her 15 minutes of fame had come and gone, and she was happy not to receive unnecessary brouhaha. Little did she know that hundreds of miles away, another newspaper reader would soon become aware of the story.
   On Monday afternoon, the Star office received a phone call from Barbara Treadway of the Elizabethton Chamber of Commerce who said she had just spoken with a Connecticut woman, Grace Platt. Apparently, Platt saw a rather inaccurate version of the story printed in the New York Post, whose staff had obtained the story from either a lesser-known wire service similar to The Associated Press or through a Web search. The story was printed in the Post in violation of copyright law.
   Platt said, "I was touched by the story. Around this time of the year, everyone is out buying Christmas gifts for people that they don't really need. But when I saw this story, I thought I could buy something for this person who needed it."
   She called information and asked for the number of an appliance store in Elizabethton because, in the story, Dugger mentioned needing a new wood stove. Platt planned on buying her a stove or at least donating money toward the purchase of a new one.
   The first listing the operator gave Platt was A-1 Appliance and Furniture Sales. Platt phoned the store, told them the story and asked how she could contact Dugger.
   Since a phone number for Dugger was not listed, the store directed Platt to the Chamber of Commerce. Treadway spoke with Platt then called the Star to tell the events that led the Connecticut woman to find Elizabethton.
   Though a stove is not an immediate need for Dugger, Platt still wants to donate money for anything else she might need in the future.
   Campbell jokingly told Dugger that Santa Claus might still visit her even though she just received a new automatic washing machine in addition to the bathroom. It does seem that Missouri Dugger, though she lives in Poga, may have a direct line straight to Santa.