Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 6-13-11
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
Just got back a few days ago from a nine-day trip that included the Memorial Day holiday to see the four Yield grandkids – Chance, Skimpy, Paltry and little May Bea – who live in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Ol’ Nevah and I earned our grandparents stripes this trip. While there, we enjoyed an eighth grade graduation, three classroom awards programs, one track meet, three AAU basketball games, and a choral performance at The Village in Gatlinburg.
On our way out, we made the trip in two days with stops to see the Kentucky Derby Hall of Fame at the famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and a brief straying off the interstate for a tour of the equally famous bluegrass Thoroughbred horse country near Lexington.
On our return trip, we took our leisurely time over three days and we forsook the interstates and took the two-lane backroads through Middle Tennessee and middle Kentucky. In route, we happened through Pall Mall, Tenn., and discovered the birthplace of Sgt. Alvin C. York, who earned the Medal of Honor for his fierce fighting of the Germans in World War I. We visited his grave and memorial in the simple rural cemetery near Pall Mall. It wuz the Sunday before Memorial Day and I was amazed at the number of visitors to Sgt. York’s memorial.
In fact, through our brief trip, I came to believe that Southerners take an uncommon pride in honoring their dead. The graves in the cemeteries everywhere we drove were simply a mass of flowers and floral sprays. I wonder – are the displays of patriotism rooted in the extraordinary death toll the South experienced during the Civil War? That’s a question I’ll never get answered?
We then drove near the beautiful country around Dale Hollow Lake which is located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. After leaving the lake, we drove through a town whose name made me laugh – Marrowbone, Ky. – and wonder how hungry the founders of the town were at one time.
Next stop was at Rosine, Ky., the birthplace and burial site for Bill Monroe, the originator of modern bluegrass music. We visited his restored home and enjoyed the relics in it. Then we walked down to the rustic outdoor stage where the Cumberland Highlanders bluegrass music shows are taped for airing on RFD-TV. I even had ol’ Nevah take my picture on the Cumberland Highlanders’ stage.
We overnighted at Owensboro, Ky., where we got to spend a few hours with old friends who raise tobacco, commercial broiler and roaster chickens, corn and soybeans.
Next day we visited Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and then crossed the Mississippi River near Chester, Ill., which was the first bridge open north of the flooded Bootheel of Missouri. On our way west through central Missouri we passed through another little wide spot in the road town that made me grin – Knob Lick.
We overnighted in Salem, Mo., then made a short day of our return to Damphewmore Acres. It was a great trip, but it sure wuz good to be home once again – even though the 4-inches of rain we received while we were gone had made the grass grow out of control and the gardens sprout a mass of weeds. Oh, well, something to do for the next week.
One more note about our trip. While the devastating tornadoes that hit Joplin, Mo., and the little town of Reading, Kan., which is just 30 miles from our home, deserved the nationwide news coverage because of the deaths and property damage, I can tell you the most under-reported national disaster is the agricultural situation in southern Illinois, southern Indiana, northern Kentucky and everywhere along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
Folks, as of Memorial Day, we saw virtually no crops planted in the entire region. I saw nary a single tractor or implement in the fields. In short, the region has been flooded out although the high water has gone down. We drove for miles and miles and could see from the drowned trees where the flood waters had stood for weeks on end up to 10-feet deep. Our Kentucky friends had fields underwater for nearly two months.
Even across Missouri, the wet weather had delayed crop planting and even the fescue hay wasn’t baled.
The damage we saw didn’t even include the intentional flooding of the Mississippi bottomlands from the Bootheel of Missouri to the mouth of the Mississippi. All in all, it’s an unmitigated disaster. I feel for the farmers involved.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the flooding along the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers, coupled with the extended drought in the Wheat Belt and Texas, is surely going to have an impact on our nation’s food supply and the prices of food commodities.
Maybe we’d all better lay in a supply of flour, corn flakes, and soybean oil before this fall.
Well, this travelogue has gone too far, so guess I’ll wind it up for this week with these words of wisdom about floods from the Great Buddha: “What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?”
My salutation to you is “have a good ‘un.”