HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (6/7/13) - I’m not so sure that when the coal truck that took down the last over the street Madisonville, Kentucky – The Best Town On Earth sign entering the city limits of our lil Mayberry, that the “Best” of us didn’t get washed down the gutter with the rains of a lifetime that have come after.
We aren’t the same people that made up a community that the local paper at that time proclaimed as “The Best Town On Earth”. The people make a town and I get the feeling a little more each day those people are gone.
There’s still a few, here and there, but there is no doubt not as many as was.
I remember as a kid going to Evansville Christmas shopping and the bustle of the holiday not only made an already offish Northern attitude come forth but was exaggerated at that time of year. It was fun shopping at big shopping centers and malls, but the people made it a challenge to keep the Christmas spirit.
These days I can’t help but think that IF anyone was to come across the river south to encounter our customer service people and shoppers that they have the same attitude about us, not just at Christmas but every day.
We aren’t the same people. We aren’t the same town.
Now the words Thank you, you are welcome, Hello, Howdy, Good Day, Come Back Again, Can I Help You are for the most part a faded memory of The Best Town on Earth.
It shows up more with the benefit of social media to prove the thought.
Now the Chamber of Commerce, the sales force of the City of Madisonville, and a few others attempt to sell the theory of The Best Town On Earth but it’s more like Let’s Make a Deal and you more than likely going to get a Zonk!
I say a few, not the majority, still hold perform to the best of their ability – day in and day out.
One of those is about to hang a Closed sign on the door though.
It’s ironic that right under one of those The Best Town On Earth signs was a service station. One of the first ambassadors of our town any visitor or for that matter resident would encounter is the station attendant. Now all these years later The Best Town on Earth is about to say goodbye to one of its two ambassadors left.
J.D. Drennan is close to hanging up the Closed sign at his long standing gas station near the welcome sign at Exit 42 that welcomes people to The Best Town On Earth. Grey overalls and a little grease here and there J.D. has taken care of our visitors on the East side of town there on Center Street. Flat tires, directions, a new radiator hose, J.D.’s been the backbone that’s carried our impression on his back for many years of late. Best I can tell he’s the next to last of these first line ambassadors to our town.
Stay on Center Street and drive up the wrong way till you get to Center and Seminary and you’ll find the West side of town’s last standing ambassador, the folks at Pleasant’s gas station. The last place in town you can find a gas station mechanic to help you out in an emergency.
But back to the East, as that’s the prime entrance to our downtown, our stage, our heartbeat. With J.D.’s selling out of his business, we not only lost a friendly caring person to represent us, we lost one of only a handful truly that has kept representing us as The Best Town on Earth.
It’s a major, irreplaceable lost to our being.
Smiling, helpful folk are hard enough to find in this town and to lose one of the best at it is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed but most likely will be by the majority who call Madisonville home.
No doubt full service gas stations are a thing of the past. But our friendly, southern hospitality, proud-filled citizens of The Best Town On Earth shouldn’t be included in the passing of time.
Thank you J.D. for being a fantastic salesman of The Best Town On Earth, we sure are going to miss you.
Richard Cunningham is a Hopkins County native and a Kentucky Arts Council Community Scholar. Contact him at
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