Cincinnati Kid meets Mason Dixon

Written by Tom Ludwick

Ron Carter and I met in the 54th Mechanize Infantry.  Ron was a soft-spoken, tall, blue eyed, Kentucky red neck. In many ways he reminded me of my cousin Donald who was from New River, Tennessee. Ron was always talking about his home and Green River Lake near Mammoth Cave Kentucky. As a city kid, Ron’s memories of the people and places in his small, rural hometown, were fascinating to me.

 One day Ron suggested a visit to his home in Glasgow, Kentucky. I would be able to meet his mother, stepfather, and younger brother. We arrived in town on Friday. We all met off I-65 at Luken Log Cabin restaurant. Ron suggested their southern fried chicken and dumplings and a side of sow belly greens. I was glad I took Ron’s suggestion as my meal was exceptionally good and very filling.

Ron’s mom had recently remarried. She married a man named Bert who ran a used car dealership as well as a lucrative bootlegging business. Ron’s family was living in Bert’s four-family apartment building that was in the center of town. They shared a large three-bedroom apartment on the second floor.  Bert was at the time mayor of Glasgow.  Unfortunately, Bert had lost the last election in part due to his thriving bootlegging business.  Glasgow was a dry town and the citizens did not condone drinking of any kind, including in your own home. The new mayor however wanted to change things with a policy of responsible drinking. Plus, Glasgow’s proximity to Mammoth Caves made it a good place for tourists to stop for some refreshments. But a dry town was not the place where thirsty tourists liked to visit.  It was helpful that the new mayor’s brother who was also the chief of police, wanted to open a bar in the town. This way the mayor and the police chief could control alcohol consumption and sales in the town.

After dinner, we headed into town. As we drove through the quiet streets, I asked Ron what people did for fun. I wondered if there were any clubs in town. I really did not see too much other than a group of young girls and one guy hanging out on the corner of Main Street. Ron pointed to the group and said that was pretty much it. Just hanging out on a corner hoping to get whistles from one of the cars driving by. There were no bars or dance clubs so people had to find other things to do for fun.

Ron was anxious that we get to his Mom and Bert’s place so we could play some cards. We walked in and introductions were made. Everyone said they could tell I must be from the North because I was so big. Ron’s mom invited me to come in and sit down and stay a spell.   Ron started talking with Bert about losing the mayoral election and the new mayor’s plans. Bert didn’t seem too upset about losing. As for the new mayor’s plans Bert chalked it up to the Southern style of business.

Ron asked if there was anything for us to drink. Bert offered us something from his ample supply of Country Club Malt Liquor.  We started playing cards and drinking when the phone rang. When he hung up, Bert told us we needed to hurry up and finish our drinks and put our glasses in the sink. Puzzled I asked what was going on. Bert said the law was coming. I stood there in stunned silence as Ron quickly got the rest of the booze out of the refrigerator and disposed it.  I said, “Oh crap are you kidding me?” Ron yelled that Bert was not kidding and I reminded Ron we could not afford to get arrested.  Bert looked at me and said, “calm down Yankee.”

Just then the police chief and one officer showed up at the door.  They came in, looked around and asked Bert what we had been doing.  Bert explained that his son and his friend had come to town for a visit and they had been sitting around talking and playing some cards. The chief of police asked if we had just got back from Nam. Ron replied no and explained that we were stationed at Ft. Knox.

 Satisfied there was no illegal drinking, Glasgow’s finest left the apartment and we pulled the booze out from where Ron had it hidden. We played cards until the wee hours of the morning.  After a few hours of sleep, we awoke to the smell of country fried ham, scrambled eggs, and fried corn and hot coffee.  I asked Ron if he usually ate fried corn in the morning. I had never heard of such a thing. Ron replied it was because we were on the Mason Dixon Line. You eat corn in the morning and drink it at night. Puzzled I asked how someone could drink corn?  Ron laughed and replied “if you all keep coming down here and you will find out.”

After filling our bellies, we thanked Ron’s family for their hospitality and headed back to Ft. Knox.

Meeting Ron and his family was memorable That visit showed me a way of life that was different from what I knew. But it also showed me that no matter what side of the Mason Dixon line you live on, our family and our hometown play an important role in shaping us people.  

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