Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

A Stroll Down Into Redneck Country
by James Glaser
July 6, 2007

I am not using the term "redneck" in a derogatory manner here, but it fits well in describing the kind of area that Wanda and I spent our 4th of July. The two of us took a trip down to Lake Butler, which is a little town 21 miles south of Lake City, Florida on Highway 100. We went down there to look at and walk around on some land we are interested in. July 4th just happened to be a day the two of us could take the time for this "look-see."

The land looked high and dry and it had some big trees on it, but we are in the middle of a long drought, so about now, swamp land could look dry too. The actual land we were looking at was about 4 miles south of Lake Butler, and after we finished walking around on the property we drove back to that town to see what that was like.

We drove around and saw a hospital which the sign said specialized in hand surgery. We saw a lot of businesses that deal with farmers, and as in any Southern town, lots of churches. Like its name says, Lake Butler has a lake and we drove down to it where we found most of the local population having a car show, and a small carnival with several rides for young children.

To get back to my "redneck" description of the Lake Butler area, let me start with this definition of the word.

Main Entry: red·neck
Pronunciation: 'red-"nek
Function: noun
1 sometimes disparaging: a white member of the Southern rural laboring class
2 often disparaging a person whose behavior and opinions are similar to those attributed to rednecks

The people celebrating their 4th of July on the shore of Lake Butler seemed to me to be hard working, polite, Christian, white, Southerners, who made us feel welcome to their community. Their children were having a ball, and they looked and seemed to be well behaved. Both moms and dads were taking care of their kids, and both men and women were manning the many different booth set up around a great children's park.

The car show down there was nicer than the one I attended in the State Capital last weekend. Many of the cars were long time projects in various stages of completion, and you could see the pride many of the owners had in the work they had done. The Car show up in Tallahassee that I participated in was sure nice, but compared to Lake Butler, it was almost too polished. The Lake Butler Car Show just seemed more authentic. I guess it was what I always thought a car show should be. People explaining how they did this or that to their car, cars for sale, and cars up for trade. Some cars were all done, and some were in the middle of being finished. Some cars were polished and shined in the sun, and some cars were in flat primer with no chrome on them at all

It was kind of a surprise though, it looked like the whole town, and most of the surrounding area was there by the lake, but there was not even one African-American in the crowd. That is the first all white event of any kind I have seen since I moved down here.

Post Script:

I may have just assumed that the people of Lake Butler were Christians, and what got me thinking that was that the carnival was named something like, The Christian Carnival Company. Maybe they were the least expensive company the town could get, or maybe they were the only ones with an open date on the 4th. However, every church in the City of Lake Butler was a Christian Church, so I am probably right in my assumption.

Car Show Pictures

Lake Butler Car Show Pic 1

Lake Butler Car Show Pic 2

Lake Butler Car Show Pic 3

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