May 22, 2024

Rural Issues: Bringing history to life

On my way to Kansas City a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at a Dollar General store to pick up some Halloween candy for the kids that come by our stalls at the American Royal cattle show.

One aisle was overflowing with discounted Halloween candy and decorations. Fall and Thanksgiving decorations filled the shelves the next aisle over.

A worker was methodically hanging and piling Christmas decorations onto shelves in the next aisle, while in another aisle, bags of potting soil, patriotic garden flags and decorations, mosquito repellent cans and candles, and picnic accessories sat waiting to be replaced by the Valentine’s Day candies and decorations secured in the cardboard boxes stacked along the aisle endcap.

It was as though someone threw six months of holidays into a food processor and hit the pulse button.

I spent much of October on the road, away from the farm. In addition to conventions, weddings and cattle shows, I carved out some time for a special vacation.

My sister, parents and I spent the first week of the month in Kentucky. Both Mom’s and Dad’s ancestors came through the Cumberland Gap and settled in Kentucky before moving on west to Illinois. We hiked to the Gap and stood in the spot where Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee meet.

We hiked the wilderness trail where our ancestors had walked or ridden through on horseback or in wagons where indentations from their tracks are still seen in the rock they crossed. We stood on the land in Cumberland County my fifth great-grandfather had settled in the late 1700s.

A self-guided walking tour of the Civil War battlefield at Perryville, the largest and last major battle of the Kentucky Campaign, brought history to life.

Pictures of soldiers reminded us how very young so many of those boys that fought and died were. More than 7,600 men died in that battle, with most of the Confederate soldiers buried in two mass graves on the site.

It was one of the most horrific battles of the war. One soldier lived to tell that “the ground was slick with blood.”

My sister, Debbie, suggested that every American citizen should visit a Civil War battlefield. As divided as we are as a citizenry today, I could not agree more.

We had many adventures and so much fun as we made our way through the Bluegrass state. I highly advise adult vacations with parents.

This one was made even more special as we celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with dinner at Texas Roadhouse the last night before we headed back home.

As we drove, my sister and I recalled as children counting windmills, the old-fashioned kind, to pass the time when we were riding in the backseat headed to an aunt and uncle’s or grandparents’ house on Sunday afternoons.

We decided children of today, when not glued to a screen, should count Dollar General stores instead of windmills. There is at least one in every small town.

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.