The Joys of Rural America

5 01 2010

I’ve been residing now in Bardstown, Kentucky, since the middle of October and I’ve gathered some impressions about my new location. I never imagined myself as the kind of person who could stand to live in sub-20,000 population community and this largely remains true. Yet, Bardstown has a surprising amount of charm despite its diminutive census count.

image courtesy

If you were took to the left of the buildings in this picture you would not be able to see the Kentucky Standard, but it's really just right around the corner.

For example, we have a Mexican restaurant. It is pretty mediocre, but the staff is at least, very friendly. They always seem to be laughing at seem hidden joke and encouraging a lot of alcohol consumption. I like to think the source of their humor is their amusement at the thought of all the places on this world, they ended up in a small town in the Southern U.S. This is often something I laugh at myself, about myself.

People in general have that hospitality the South is famed for. It’s welcoming and a nice change of pass from the space everyone seeks to maintain in cities like my previous residence of Chicago. It is, however, a very conditional extension of friendship to a stranger, based primarily on the assumption that you are a lot like them and don’t harbor a secret approval for Barack Obama’s job performance.

I made the mistake of airing my political views in the weekly column space afforded me and received some strongly worded accusations of calumny on my part from readers. Voicing liberal-leaning opinions about Sarah Palin, universal health care or abortion requires a kind of steel will and steady resolve that I’m not entirely sure I possess.

The nightlife is rousing if you’re into FM radio country and members of the opposite sex averaging 32 in age. Still, the bourbon is cheap, strong and readily available, mitigating these flaws somewhat. A watering hole named the Talbott Tavern sits across the street from my place of employ and is during the day and early hours of the evening, a classy-ish, overpriced place to grab dinner for tourists.

I enjoy imbibing the occasionally beverage at the attached bar; the bar itself is old, dark wood with stains and nicks set deep in the grain. The rest of the rectangular, high-ceiling room is lacking the same kind of character but isn’t intrusive enough to spoil the mood. Enjoyment of the tavern rests in getting there early because weekend nights can overflow with crowds and cigarette smoke. A jovial affair, but not necessarily the ideal place for one such as myself to seek fellows of like mind (though this has not prevented me from trying).

Despite the odds being stacked against it, I’ve made some friends whose company ranks as enjoyable. The short drive north to Louisville is often worth the trip on the weekend with spots that yield the kind of local, unique establishments that define all larger metropolises.

The proximity of Louisville really improves the general feeling of Bardstown, which is close enough to not feel like an isolated speck of humanity but rather a detached part of a larger community.

I have a two bedroom apartment five minutes from the newspaper that lacks furniture/belongings, but has plenty of closet space to put all my non-stuff. In seeking out a place of residence, I emphasized nearness to the newspaper over other factors and that has led me to locate my base of operations in an interesting spot of town.

Its position is a perfect testament to my inability to make sound practical decisions. You see, in a city of 12,000 people I managed to plant myself squarely in the middle of the one block that comprises its “ghetto.”

I’m not entirely sure if it really qualifies as ghetto compared to some place like say, East St. Louis or my own hometown of Decatur, but I’m pretty sure the people in the downstairs apartment enjoy recreational use of Meth and my next door neighbor is a double-wide trailer topped with an aluminum roof. You know, the kind of people who like to keep shit on their front lawn for no apparent reason.

I’d say if you took a driving tour of Bardstown and then afterward filled out a questionnaire with one of the inquiries asking “Where would you go to buy drugs?”, you would probably answer at the corner of O’Bryan and Fourth Street. My apartment is about half a block due east of this intersection.

Bardstown itself is, in all honesty, not too terrible for its size (like I said above, Louisville aids this somewhat). Compared to the fun-spot-to-visit/terrible-place-to-live vibe of Lake of the Ozarks (oh Todd, where are you now?) I’d say it’s downright bearable. There’s a little diner around the corner from my work that cooks chicken sandwiches of a ridiculous size and my apartment, while in somewhat of a rough neighborhood, heats well during these cold winter weeks.




2 responses

5 01 2010

frank, give me something better.

6 01 2010
Jim Gibbons

Either way, sound like you should move to Portland.

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