Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Pilgrimage Home Was Just a Free Vacation

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Pilgrimage Home Was Just a Free Vacation

Article excerpt

Years ago when the big automakers in Dee-Troit shut down for a couple of weeks during the summer to retool for the next year's models of cars and trucks, relatives, who during the Depression and in the years after World War II had journeyed north in search of work, would "come-in" on vacation. At least that's the term I always heard applied to their showing up on the doorstep to claim beds and a place at the table for a week or so as they scratched an itch to come home - at least for a while and if only to remind those who had stayed behind how backward our little communities were and to regale us with stories of adventures on the long trip down U.S. 41 and of life in the big cities with their big stores and fast cars.

But come they did, and there were lots of them, not just those who worked in the car factories but in the steel mills of Gary and the factories of other towns that rimmed the lower end of Lake Michigan.

That whole area was populated with Kentuckians who had gone north searching for fortune. Just as Kentuckians seem to always be longing to come home, they grouped together in their self-imposed Babylonian Exile so much so that some of the communities where they settled were given monikers such as "Taylortucky" and "Yipsi- tucky" by the locals.

In the Detroit area, they formed a corporation, Kentuckians of Michigan Inc., and bought a parcel of land to use as a park and picnic ground at Romulus. Miss Kentucky and sometimes politicians from the Commonwealth made their way north for a big summer picnic to see the displaced homefolks.

I wrote about one such gathering a quarter of a century ago, and even then those who first went north were dying off or moving back, and those who inhabited the picnic grounds were of the second-and third-generations for whom Kentucky was something known only from those summer visits "home," if at all.

I don't know whether the organization continues to hold together or if the Bluegrass State continues to find any place within their heart. …

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