Tag Archives: Charlie Turner

Charlie Taylor: Mayfield Needs Help

In August of 1958, Charlie Taylor, his parents, and younger siblings John and Fran, moved to Westport from rural western Kentucky.

Charlie Taylor, in the 1959 Staples yearbook.

It was a culture shock for the Staples High School sophomore. He found friends on the football team and Downshifters hot rod club, and retains a fondness for the town.

Though long removed from here — he’s had successful dual careers with Vanderbilt University and as a Nashville singer/songwriter — he is an avid “0688o” reader and commenter.

But Charlie never lost his love for his hometown of Mayfield either. Last week, the community was one of many devastated by tornadoes that swept through Kentucky and neighboring states.

Now Charlie is trying to help. He writes:

Mayfield was like Mayberry. You got caught doing something wrong, you were disciplined on the spot — and sent home to get disciplined again.

It was a town and area built on your word, and a handshake. It was a part of Kentucky ignored by the state politicians — until my grandfather’s friend Alben Barkley became vice president under Harry Truman.

Cattle, hogs, corn and soybeans were our crops. Young boys like me hunted, fished, and grew up in Boy Scouts learning to live off the land.

Mayfield had a good education system by today’s standards, with music, history, civics and government courses that taught critical thinking skills. 4-H and Future Farmers of America were popular Mayfield groups.\

We rode bicycles, and learned to drive stick shift cars and farm equipment at 12 years old. We played sports in each other’s backyards, and were gobsmacked by Elvis, Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry in our teens.

People bought on credit at retail stores — especially our farmers. People helped each other. They elected the toughest guy in town sheriff: “Hoot” Spillman. There was one squad car for the whole town.

Those towns rarely exist anymore. And now the Mayfield I knew literally does not exist anymore either. There is nothing left of the downtown. Many residents escaped with just the clothes on their backs.

A small part of the immense destruction in Mayfield, Kentucky.

This could happen anywhere. Governor Beshear is doing a great job on the ground, as is President Biden. But much more help is needed.

“06880” readers: Please do what you can!

Click here to contribute to the state’s official relief fund. 

Each loss is intensely personal.