Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Puke of Paducah

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

As a former resident of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I feel qualified to report that the state has more than its fair share of strangeness.  Many of the politicians (and Mitch McConnell in particular) are tools of the tobacco industry, and the residents puff away proudly as they demonstrate their independence on the way to debilitating illness which will be treated and paid for in large measure through the largess of the federal government - a government they often scorn.

While it is admittedly unfair to paint the whole state with a wide brush, there is one community in particular that I have always found to be unsettling - and that is Paducah.  Back in the early 1970's I drove through Paducah with a couple of carloads of college kids as we were heading toward a weekend outing to basketball championships in Evansville, Indiana.  Our little caravan stopped for lunch at a nasty cafe in Paducah.  The restroom of that establishment was memorable.  The walls were covered with graffiti, almost entirely racist, in which "cowboys" (the good guys) attacked and savaged "n_ggers" (the bad guys).  It was a time when most of the rest of America had moved on to a level of racial acceptance, but that little corner of Kentucky wasn't having it.

When I lived in Kentucky a few years ago, I had occasion to drive through Paducah on a couple of occasions.   There was no in-your-face racism in evidence, but there was a noticeable feeling of unwelcomeness or uncomfortableness in the air.  Whether it was fair or not, I always had the sense that the "cowboys" were still firmly in control of the community.

Now comes a news story about the Kentucky Baptist Convention offering an "outreach to rednecks" as a part of some "Second Amendment Celebration."  The Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah is luring errant rednecks to church with a free steak dinner and a chance to win one of twenty-five guns.    The graffiti has undoubtedly long since been painted over, but the cowboy attitude is still strongly in evidence.

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

An aside to Crimes in Desolation. De La Salle's Brother Bede [named after a historian and Doctor of the Church] who hailed from Paducha, Ky.

Bede left the Christian Brothers and returned, supposedly, to Paducha. While he was strict, overbearingly so, he never displayed the local trait. However, growing up in a town like that and turning to a monastic life, might have provided the tension for his strictness. He did live in a world of heroes and others, in my opinion.