Tuesday, July 8, 2008

True Grits

I live near about ten or 15 miles away from the town of Lone Jack Missouri. If you tell someone in Kansas City Missouri that you live near Lone Jack Missouri you are branded a bigot in their mind.

Is this stereotype of small town Missouri justified? Until this 4th of July 2008 party I attended, I thought it was. Now I think small towns are less bigoted than big cities.

How did Lone Jack get this negative reputation? Lone Jack was a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War and a large plantation was near by. I've seen the ruins of limestone and concrete where local legend says many captured run away slaves were hung.

A few miles from this most northern of southern plantations is a place where the KKK meet every year in a group of streamlined trailers, shining sliver cabins of hate and fear in green spring fields.

In the 1960's there was a gas station in the town of Lone Jack but the owner of the gas station refused to give service to African Americans and the oil companies vowed never to put a gas station in the city limits of Lone Jack or so legend tells us.

A movie history of my part of America is as follows.

John Wayne says he lost his eye in the movie True Grit in a battle in the town of Lone Jack Missouri.

In the TV movie The Day After, Kansas City Missouri is hit by two atomic bombs.
Holden Missouri is mentioned but not seen in the movie. Holden is five miles east of my hometown of Kingsville.

In the movie Ride With The Devil, there was a doctor in Kingsville Missouri.

So my part of the United States of America in popular culture is a single line in a movie about the Civil War or a future Nuclear War. In local legend my area of the country is painted as a bigots paradise because of the areas sins of the past. Is this fair and why did I buy into this stereotype?

I know an artist that lives in Lone Jack and buy ceramics from him when I make sales of my own. I can't imagine this man or his wife being anything but good people.

In my own town of Kingsville I remember when my father rented a house to a woman with a mixed heritage child. I was proud of my father when he stood up to the bigots of the town that didn't want a girl with an African-American father going to school with their children.
He told them he would rent to anybody he thought was a good person and it was none of their business.

The most hateful bigot I knew lived in the town of Kingsville many years before he moved to a farm a few miles away. His two sons married African American sisters and his beautiful mixed heritage Grandchildren melted his bigoted heart.

When I was a child the town of Holden had a small African American population that has now completely integrated into the European American population. You can't find that in any large city. In one generation the impossible happened. This is what makes my country great.

When I went to that huge 4th of July celebration on the house next to the party was a Confederate Flag. At the party I saw people that were of mixed heritage from all over the world and that Confederate Flag had no meaning.

About ten miles east of Kingsville I sometimes eat breakfast at a little restaurant in the town of Pleasant Hill and I put my foot in my mouth saying how much I hate grits and only people in the boot hill of Missouri eat grits. I offended a woman at the next table that grew up in the boot hill eating grits. I told her I was sorry and promised her I would try grits again.

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