On This Day

In 2016
I took the advice of my wise readers and loaded my truck with my dogs, guns and wife, shook the dust of California off my boots and headed for Tennessee, never looking back.

We settled in Macon County right up on the Kentucky border. Matter of fact if I were to shoot in that general direction the bullet would land in Kentucky, probably disabling somebody’s tractor or still. Maybe a meth lab, it being Kentucky and all.
The nearest town is Lafayette, population 5000 and some, and is the County seat. It’s a bustling little town with 2 stoplights (3 if you count the 4-way stop by the drugstore), a Walmart, Tractor Supply and a livestock auction yard right in town. The courthouse sits right in the middle of the town square where you can find an antique shop, town department store, bank, newspaper office, a storefront church and approximately 37 starving lawyers.
There are no railroad tracks and 1 small stretch of 4 lane road in the entire county which only has two towns – Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs or RBS for short – 1 major highway (52) and Highway 10 which is a highway in name only. The nearest freeways are all 40 miles away.

There’s so little crime here that the weekly paper has been running the same headline for 3 straight weeks about a burglary ring (3 guys) getting busted here.
The police force is so bored that an minor accident in front of the Tractor Supply is sure to draw all 4 cops on shift as well as every deputy in the vicinity. And if there’s a State Trooper having pie at Midgett’s Country Restaurant, he’ll show up too.
There was a double homicide a few months back but it was barely in the county and both the suspects were from Trousdale County and the beef started down there. As far as I know the two counties are still fighting over who gets to take credit for it.

No gangs, no graffiti. None. We don’t go for that shit around here. Same thing with drugs, I haven’t seen any of it no matter what the Discovery Channel said about meth and pill abuse in Tennessee. Not in Macon County as far as I can see, anyway. I know it’s here but it’s not as big a problem as it’s made to be.
Our youngsters here have shown me they’re good kids, sons and daughters that any parent would be proud of. No sagging drawers, most of the boys around here are in camo or overalls – with both straps fastened.
But they have a LOT to do here – sports are huge. If you go to my weekly paper HERE you can see for yourself. And 4-H is big out here which is to be expected seeing as the town lives pretty much on agriculture. Plus there’s plenty of hunting and fishing around and the kids take full advantage of it – the girls too.
That’s the difference, too – that’s the whole secret to keeping your kids off drugs but that’s a whole ‘nother subject.

The county is overwhelmingly white with a smattering of Mexicans, especially when the tobacco comes in. I think I read on citydata.com there’s 24 black folks in the county and they’re good folks. They don’t act any differently than anybody else and they’re treated like everybody else. There’s no racial tension from either side that I can see, just the way it should be. We have an Asian family too.

It’s a semi dry county – No bars and I can buy beer here but not wine or alcohol. I also can’t have a beer with my meal. If I want whiskey I have to go to a liquor store 19.3 miles away in Hartsville. That sucks, huh? Not only that but they have a “beer tax” here – a six pack of decent beer runs 9 bucks. I know huh? Gotta take the bad with the good.
By the way, Greg B, I’m drinking the beer you bought me as I’m typing this post. Thanks, man.

Lafayette’s police force. A small southern police force. You know where I’m going with this, right?
No, you don’t.
The only thing I’ve got to say about LPD is that they wave at you when they drive past. I’m serious. I’ve had no interaction with them at all, even when I was tooling around town for a month with California plates on which is very noticeable seeing as Tennessee doesn’t require a front plate. But they haven’t given me no problems at all. But then again, I haven’t given them any reason too.
Same thing with Macon County Sheriff’s Department who patrols (occasionally) my area. I very seldom see a deputy on my road, maybe 3-4 times in the past year? But that’s a good thing – the less police in your area, the less crime. Gotta put your assets where you need ’em, I can understand that.
I have made the acquaintance of a detective here and he’s a good guy. He’s welcome to come on to the property for a social visit any time, we’ll have sweet tea and do a little shooting.

The one thing that I truly love about this place is how doggoned friendly everybody is. I swear, you cannot get out of your truck anywhere without hearing a “You doin’ all right?” which I’ve discovered is the official Tennessee State Greeting. My standard reply anymore of “Yeah, I’m good, still breathin’ and ain’t bleeding or locked up” always gets a laugh.
Men open doors for ladies and ladies let them know they appreciate it. Folks greet one another on the street. Sir and ma’am are common words around here.
I have yet to see any kind of hostility towards anyone here. No fights, no arguments, no disagreements, nothing. It’s a far cry from California, man.

It was the best decision I ever made in my life. I absolutely love it here.

Lisa asked me a couple weeks back that if I could go back to California for a visit, what would be the first thing I’d do? and I said “Leave”.

This entry was posted in California, Tennessee, To Serve..., Wirecutter. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to On This Day

  1. Grandpa says:

    That’s why the “Song of the South” rings true, brother. Sweet potato pie and shut my mouth.
    As well as “we say grace, and we say ma’am; and if you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn”. The South is… the South. Yankees will never understand it, and we’re okay with that.
    Sorry you gotta commute to get whiskey, I can’t do the drive for you, but I’ll pitch in as I can.
    Truck ’em easy, brother. Be blessed… and safe.

    • bobdog says:

      Absolutely nothing wrong with small town America. Once you get off the interstate, there’s still some nice country out there.

      There’s a lot more to life than being erudite and sophisticated and shit.

  2. Bud says:

    first thing you’d do if ya went back to Kally is “Leave”, LMAO. opportune time to ask, how do the locals pronounce “Lafayette”? the county seat down here in Walker County, Jawjah is La Fayette (luh FAY utt).much farther south of you is Whitwell, Tn. its pronounced “Wut wull”, and of course, Louisville, Ky isn”t pronounced “Loo eee ville”, but “Luu ah vull”. thanks for makin my day fun

  3. kennymac says:

    That is awesome.

  4. SAM says:

    Are you all right? Only you are being nice about people (and Cops).

  5. Aesop says:

    A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, and it sounds like you’ve found a real sweet spot (the country between the coasts is full of them, and no doubt of it) but those of us still in Occupied Territory are still giving them hell.

    I paid my dues, and I’m not leaving until I get to see the whole thing crash and meltdown, followed by pulling down the statues of Lenin in Sacto.
    Even if I have to do it myself.

    Almost anywhere east of the Coastal Range, the state has more in common with Wyoming than Hollywood. Even the Lefty weenies near the coast are starting to realize they may run the government, but that they aren’t the whole show in this state by a mile.
    Which is healthy for them, and funny for me.

    But thanks for the tourism brochure from Reality; I hope paradise there lasts longer and stronger than it has here.

    • Elmo says:

      There’s an old government building in Sacramento that has a slogan carved above it’s entrance that reads “Bring me men to match my mountains”.
      I often think of it when I hear the latest crap getting shoved through by the clowns currently running this place.

  6. Granny says:

    The courtesy of your basic southerner is an experience only the privileged few can appreciate.
    You’re in hog heaven boy, enjoy the hail out of it.

  7. Lofty says:

    I always reply to greeting by saying…no use complaining, nobody listens.

    It always brings a smile, or a shit I will listen response..to,which I reply got half a day have ya.

    People like it.

  8. Steve in KY says:

    I sure am glad you are here.

  9. anonymous says:

    Sounds like you and Tennessee are made for each other. It sure does sound peaceful. I think the pronunciation for Lafayette in Louisiana is pronounced “LAUGH YET’, but I may be mistaken. Regardless of how its said, sounds like a great place to be.

  10. Jeffery in Alabama says:

    Same here. I told you that you would like it! LOL

  11. bocopro says:

    I grew up in that same little town in central Indiana back in the 40s and 50s. Never locked your car, and you slept with the winders open at night. Drank water from the garden hose and shot turtles in Prairie Creek to sell to a Ma & Pop 4-table diner.

    Ate a lotta red squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and bobwhite quail that I shot and cleaned myself. Detasseled corn, denutted pigs, put up hay, and stomped wool, often for little more than $5 a day.

    You could tell the boys from the girls by their clothing and their hair, and you couldn’t shoot an arrow into the air anywhere without fear of it comin down on a church. Three black families, all of which were solid citizens, about 4 permanent Mexican families, all of which were purty much Murkanized.

    Good folks, good families, good friends, good times, even tho we had no TV, no A/C, and no THC. ‘T’ain’t like that there now, tho.

  12. Greg says:

    Hi Wirecutter,
    Like you I escaped Cali after living there 20 years. Settled in a rural Appalachian area of Pennsylvania on 35 acres. Never looked back except for an occasional visit to friends and family. You made the right choice! Thank you for the great blog, I look forward to it every day.
    -Conemaugh Farmer

  13. bikermailman says:

    Happy as can be y’all are enjoying the fruits of a wise decision. You have a good woman, who went along with it, she could’ve made or broke the process.

  14. Paraclete says:

    Welcome to the South, Pard…..
    It only gets better as time goes by….
    The reason that the alcohol situation is what it is…
    They don’t want any competition with their corn squeezin’s :)

  15. bocopro says:

    Where I growed up, we called the Lafayette (the one with Purdue University) about 30 miles down the highway “Laugh-a-Yet” . . . no disrespect or anything, just the way we said it.

    Played ’em in football and basketball (West Lafayette Jefferson) muchas veces with inconclusive overall statistics . . . full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  16. cato1776 says:

    Have you run into Brother Edward Stagl yet?
    He has Lafayette as his home base, can’t remember which Church (liberty baptist church, I think).
    He’s easy to find, he’s usually carrying a 12 foot cross or it’s on top of his Vehicle ready to evangelize another town, county, State or country. He spent time in Africa, Mexico, China, Sri Lanka, India and who know where else carrying the Cross.

  17. Andy says:

    A place like that is the only way to get me to leave Texas. Glad you found HOME Kenny.

  18. H says:

    I love a story with a happy ending.

    My current response to “how ya doin'” greetings is “you’re lookin’ at it” shamelessly stolen from Wilford Brimley’s character “Ellis” in No Country For Old Men.

  19. Nick says:

    I’ve been here in Tennessee for 40 years and still feel the same way as you do. If you haven’t been to Cyclemos yet you need to plan a visit.

  20. Joe Mama says:

    When I fled CA to GA in 1996, I noticed most time you drive by someone sitting on the porch they wave at you.

  21. nat says:

    Q. How y’all doin?
    A. Finer’n frogs’s hair! how bout y’all?

  22. Rich in NC says:

    I was gonna say ” So, yer home, then. Right?” Somebody beat me to it. Then I was gonna say “…Finer than Frog’s hair…” but somebody else beat me to it. We moved from South Jerzee just outside of Philly to 12 miles south of Danville, VA in NC. We are 12 miles from the nearest city and have woods and deer and cows and corn and tobacco for neighbors. So, I know exactly how you feel with all the niceness around you. ‘ How ya doin’?’ Finer than Frog’s hair, and you know how fine THAT is.
    I read your words every day, and get a kick out of them, everyday. Welcome Home.
    Rich in NC

  23. Timbo says:

    I’m envious.
    It’s like you went back in time, when things were good.
    Happy for you you.

  24. Alemaster says:

    “I’m well, Sir/Ma’am, thanks! How are YOU?” No sense in exaggerating my rural bluegrass Kentucky upbringing. On another note, just up the road from you is my alma mater. Until yesterday I thought that I would never be proud of WKU but the student government outdid itself. regards, Alemaster

    • Alemaster says:

      Oops! “Until yesterday I NEVER thought that I would not be proud of WKU………” Fixed it! regards, Alemaster

  25. grayjohn says:

    Driving through rural Kansas everyone waved at me. It was weird at first, but I liked it. I missed it when I came back home. Tennessee sounds like heaven.

  26. Jim22 says:

    Good job, Ken. My little town is not in tennessee but we have about 1500 people and one stoplight. County seat is 22 miles away and there’s a walmart there. Everybody waves as you drive by – even if they don’t know you.

  27. sk6actual says:

    Spent my last 6 formative years in the El Cajon area, leaving by choice for USAF enlistment in 1962. Even at the tender age of 18 I could tell some of them folks were batsh*t crazy, for example, I mean who puts rattle snakes in my mailbox becuz your religious cult is inferior to my religious cult.
    By that age I had already lived all around the world and my service took me back to the Orient for most of my service and various areas of the US. I finally settled in the NC mountains. If Kookifornia fell into the Pacific it would be no great loss to me.

  28. pigpen51 says:

    I’m from MI, and although from a small village, where the people are always friendly, and treat everyone nice, it is nothing like the south. The first time I drove down there back in 1984, I couldn’t believe how kind and real the people were. And every time since, I find that without fail, it hasn’t changed a bit. Always a purely warm and generous greeting, a willingness to talk like old friends, and never in a hurry to have you speed up your pace in a line at a store or gas station. That is something that takes getting used to, for us northerners. I am used to dashing in and getting out quickly, and you have to slow down in the south, and be patient, and wait your turn. I love it, since that is actually more of my personality. And I don’t think that in all of the time I have spent in the south, that I have ever run into a mean or angry person. At least that dealt with me, of course I know that they are there, just not in my time down there. I have a friend who is from MI, and now lives in TN, who visited up here last summer, thinking he might move back to MI. He decided not a chance in hell, after remembering how crappy the people were up here.

    • nat says:

      The two problems with MI are Big 10 football and only two seasons-winter and the Fourth of July.

  29. Gnome Sane says:

    “Hangin’ in there”
    “Hangin’ in there like an ol’ rusty nail.”
    “Hangin’ in there like a wet hair in a biscuit.”

  30. Jerry Tribble says:

    Sounds like you landed in heaven. Here, you can get 30 miles away from Dallas and you can still drive down the road with your left elbow out the window and one hand on the wheel then also wave hello with the same hand at every pickup that passes and they wave back. Dog head hanging out the left window and a rod and shotgun in the rifle rack. Good to say that 70% of this country is still half ass decent.

  31. Winston Smith says:

    I think you understand me now when I talk about small town southern cops. They are just neighbors like everyone else in small communities. Act like shit and get treated like shit. Act human and be treated like a human.

    And please tell me that the Midget Country Restaurant is a real place……..

    • Wirecutter says:

      Midgett’s is a real place, I eat there at least once a week. Order off the menu or eat at the buffet, all you can eat for $6.99.
      My usual is catfish, fried okra or squash and green beans.
      Not a midget one in the whole place, though.

      • Cederq says:

        Now I miss that, a good meal and inexpensive… Look out South I’mma coming back…

  32. Unclezip says:

    They got a stop light? Wow, that’s a big city. Howdy y’all.

  33. Jim Jerzycke says:

    Been a year already? WoW!

    So good to hear you and Miss Lisa have found a true home there.

    My wife has about 40 days of work left before she retires, and then we’re OUTTA HERE!

    I’ve been cleaning up stuff, dumping stuff on eBay, and giving stuff away. Once we get the house finished, it goes up for sale, and in this crazy Kommiefornia housing market, it’ll sell in a couple of weeks, and we’ll be walking away with about $300k in cash. That’s enough that we’ll have maybe a $50k mortgage on a really nice place in Colorado.

    Drop me a line if you ever get up our (new) way. We’d be glad to put you up while you enjoy the area.

  34. waitingForTheStorm says:

    Been in Lafayette 5 years now. Also, the best decision in my life (besides marrying my dear wife). Pay attention, most of the women call you “hun”, short for honey. I did have one run in with the local police: my license plate number was reported stolen. They police were extremely polite and we soon discovered that it was my number but on a plate issued by Indiana. We had a good laugh and went on our ways. When I met the game warden, we had a good talk; I have seen him once in 5 years. I have more friends here, not just acquaintances, than any time in my life; and I am just about the most anti-social SOB you will ever meet.

  35. Dan O says:

    As a rule Mrs. Dan O and I make our vacations to small towns. Actually, we passed within about a 100 miles of you last fall (on I-75) on our way to Dahlonega, GA. Couple years before that was Paducah, KY. Southern hospitality alive and well in both destinations. And we go in the Fall so other tourist traffic is minimal. As I told one proprietor in Paducah, we like to meet and greet the native population w/o the tourists getting in the way. (heh) No big cities for us. Small town Buckeye born and bred and only travel to “the city” for work and shopping.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying your new home.

  36. pdwalker says:

    Sounds wonderful!

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