Different And The Same

April 27, 2018

The Gardener and I recently visited our family in Kentucky. We enjoyed the great variety of weather thrown at us, both warm and cold; and the beautiful countryside, considerably different than our own. It was nice to see IGA grocery stores, Phillips 66 gas stations and mom and pop ice cream stands in the oddest of places. This is also the land of Lincoln’s birth and youth, Mammoth Cave and others, antique shops, fireworks stands and excellent barbeque, everywhere.

The western Kentucky town of Glasgow, population 14,000, is located on the Barren River and is situated in the county of the same name. It was settled by people from Scotland and named for their home city. It has been a town, a settled place, since 1795. The people who live here were once tobacco and crop farmers. They were potters (plenty of local clay) and garment makers. Today they raise horses and cattle and milk many cows. And it appears, if you read the billboards and many signs along the highways, that health care in all of its many forms are big business here, and across this state today.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor
Postcards from the Pine Columnist

We like to read local newspapers when we travel. We look for a big city edition, a small town press and better, both. You can Google all you want but a real in your hands newspaper tells a lot about a place and the people who live there.

The Barren County Progress, published in Glasgow, is a regional paper serving several counties. The Progress’s appearance, although larger at two sections is in every way, very much like the Marion Press. This paper arrived in cousin Paula’s mailbox on Thursday and I could not put it down.

            The front page carried the latest in upcoming election battles. It is spring primary time in Kentucky. (We note that the only position sought by women is that of county clerk.) There was also a piece on the struggles of a small local dairy farmer. The paper has also been doing a series on old unsolved crimes. This edition told the story of a woman who has been missing for 22 years; taken from her home one night, likely murdered, and not to be found. Her family still seeks answers. 

The Progress has all the usual stuff. The sports section covers local school events and Kentucky highlights. Upcoming events take care of church listings and the news from various schools. There is copious advertising for cars, real estate and all the usual services and businesses. On page seven I found the Cave City Personals and Dirt Road Diaries, each as different as night and day and both absolutely delightful.

This springtime view of the lovely rolling hills of western Kentucky greeted us each day.

This springtime view of the lovely rolling hills of western Kentucky greeted us each day.

 Cave City Personals falls into what we would call ‘the locals’ category. It is written by a correspondent named Angel, who devotes her entire space to the comings and goings of one elderly woman. Bertha Hogan cuts a lot of material to make rugs, listens to religious radio, preaching on television and apparently does not go anywhere until her various chores are taken care of, from cellar to attic. Believe me, they are listed. I found Bertha and her limited travels fascinating however I am told this gets old week after week. This kind of thing has long disappeared from the pages of the Marion Press. It is probably a good thing.  

And then there was the Dirt Road Diaries. This is written by local columnist Clinton Powell. His column had to do with his great love of dogs and in particular an incident from his childhood, involving family, neighbors and puppies. His tale was accompanied by a couple of old photos. Mr. Powell tells a good story. His Dirt Road could be my Postcard from the Pines.
My point here is this. For all of the differences between us in this wide and wonderful country of ours, we are basically the same. We may look different and sound different (we were asked where we were from everywhere we went), but we are all truly the same. Those Barren county dairy farmers have the same fears as Missaukee county dairy farmers. The unsolved murder of the Kentucky woman could be the story of a well known and unsolved murder here. Both families still wonder why and grieve.
We all worry about what the future holds. We all deeply care about our families, jobs, homes and the place in which we live. We want security and a bright future. It is indeed universal.

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