COLUMN: Time in Tyrone would be good for us all

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By Ben Carlson

It was a warning I dismissed almost immediately, not because I am brave, but mostly because I hate being told I can’t do something.

“Welcome to Anderson County, but if you know what’s good for you, you’d better stay out of Tyrone,” a few folks told me when I arrived in town four years ago.

“Not even the police like to go down there,” they said.

Of course within a few days I meandered my way past Wild Turkey and into Tyrone, didn’t see anything much to fret over, turned around and headed back to Lawrenceburg unscathed.

Because I think that area is fairly cool and like to navigate Wildcat Road when the leaves are in full bloom, I’ve since ventured into Tyrone more times than I can recall. Not once have I seen anything out of the ordinary, and generally get more friendly waves from folks I see along the road than anywhere else around town.

Until Monday morning, I can only recall one time I went to Tyrone for newspaper work, and that was a very pleasant trip to interview a woman who had a length of firewood that contained what she thought was the image of Christ.

But when news broke that the river was about to spill its banks, I hustled to Tyrone for some photos and hopefully some comments for today’s paper.

Needless to say, the folks there were more than hospitable; they were downright friendly and I’ve come to expect nothing less.

There were residents at both ends and the middle of the main street, batting the breeze about the water rising and offering each other help moving furniture and other items out of harm’s way.

When I stopped, I met several men seated on a stone wall, watching the river envelop a workshop one of them owns after it had already swallowed whole his camper.

I hesitated, but only for a minute, before asking if I could join them on their perch to snap a few photos.

Any apprehension I had disappeared immediately, and within minutes was invited to one of their homes to photograph a young man trying to catch fish — in what used to be his back yard.

The man, a rather imposing looking fellow with about 6 inches of chin hair wound into a tight braid, invited me in and allowed me to follow him into the home’s lower section, where I photographed water seeping beneath a glass door and other damages.

Imposing or not, he couldn’t have been any more hospitable. I wished him well and headed out for more photos.

Back out on the road, I stopped and listened as a group of neighbors amicably debated where they should position a man’s pontoon boat to allow easy access once the river’s mood really turned sour.

I watched small children toss rocks and sticks into the water flooding across the street; water that would by dark top the street’s guardrails and then some.

But regardless where I stopped or with whom I spoke, I never received so much as a sideways glance from the good people in Tyrone, who welcomed a wandering, camera-toting person into their community and homes, no questions asked.

If you think my point here is to dispel the notion that Tyrone residents are rough-and-tumble sorts who don’t like outsiders, you are correct.

Like most stereotypes, that simply isn’t true.

But here’s one that is: While they might not be the most refined folks in Anderson County, they are perhaps the most self-reliant people you’ll find here or anywhere else.

I asked more than a few during the day if, when the time comes, they’ll hightail it across the bridge to safety.

Most just smiled, said they’d seen worse and went on with their day, content to know that no matter how bad things get, they’ll have each other.

And that’s enough.

I left Tyrone about dark Monday night, thinking about the warning I mentioned earlier and how unnecessary it was.

No, newcomers don’t need warnings to stay out of Tyrone. Instead, perhaps the rest of us would be better served to spend part of a day with folks there.

I know I came away a better person for having done so, and I’m sure there are plenty of folks Lawrenceburg proper who would do the same.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.