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Points of decivilization

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By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

All the country is not lost, although I will concede that perhaps a significant majority of the population is (think of cities like Chicago, where they are attempting to call a truce on shooting people for 12 hours per day – I kid you not).

Let me explain. On Tuesday, Aug. 15, I was starting a trip that involves my standard monthly visit to Henderson, Ky. (necessitated by a project I am currently advising) and going on to Golden, Colo. to visit with my daughter’s family.

For the first leg, Apple GPS gave me several paths – a direct one from my home in Duluth, Ga. through Chattanooga, Tenn. and Nashville, as well as a couple less traveled. I chose one that lengthened the trip by two hours, but avoided most of Chattanooga and all of Nashville.  

Specifically, it took me through Cookeville, Tenn. and Scottsville, Ky. Remarkably, I spent a great deal of time on Bugtussle Road, which crosses the Tennessee/Kentucky border in the middle of nowhere. On Bugtussle Road, I came through an area still growing tobacco, with grand barns awaiting this year’s crop. I also came upon a farmyard with several vans where migrant workers were stretched out in the grass, eating their lunch. Looking at the tobacco it was easy to discern that they were in the process of topping acres and acres of it.

I then crossed a wide creek with a structure that could not be called a bridge but was not quite low enough to say one was fording it. It was concrete with many old-fashioned clay pipes going through it to allow passage of the water. It was only about a foot off the bed of the creek.

Much of this day’s trip was bucolic, as I was hoping it would be. Although I travel through and visit rural areas quite often, this day I framed the United States of 2023 differently than I have before. 

A couple of days later, Aug. 17, I continued to my ultimate destination for this trip, again, my daughter’s home in Golden, Colo. I had decided ahead of time to call on a farmer in Osborne, Kan., whose son-in-law posts fantastic wheat harvest videos on YouTube (look up “LaRosh Wheat Harvest). Of course, I had no appointment, I just stopped in.  

Mr. and Mrs. LaRosh graciously received me, and we had a grand visit of almost an hour and a half. I got to see all the harvesting machinery, at this time of year, stored in their fantastic machinery shop. I would estimate there is about $5 million worth of equipment there. That is what is amazing about modern successful farmers. Mr. LaRoush started out after high school with nothing but an old tractor, but has built a very nice business and created a lot of value along the way. The LaRoshs raised three children who are now in the business as well. This is the America I love.  

The rural areas of this country are largely undisturbed and other than a few newly improved roads, new farm machinery and so forth, look the same as they have for decades. The LaRosh Farm is an excellent example of this. It is the cities that have changed during my adulthood. They have changed for the worse and thus I now call them “points of decivilization.” 

Whereas in the past, people would joke about the countryside as being “uncivilized,” the correct view today is that the cities are regressing to an uncivilized state, or, to state it as I have, they are in the process of decivilizing. Think Portland, Seattle and San Francisco if you are having trouble visualizing this.

Country music singers have picked up on this trend in recent weeks. First, there was Jason Aldean with “Try That in a Small Town.” Now, there is “Rich Men North of Richmond” by Oliver Anthony. By the way, if you are offended by the words these artists use, I suggest you listen carefully to your kid’s rap music lyrics.

There are many reasons to be discouraged by the America of today, especially if you follow the news media and the politicians. Encouragement is found in the countryside.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at


Matthew (not verified)

19 August 2023

Have fun topping tobacco fellas. I broke off a top or two in my day. Hated every minute of it: hot, sticky, and the bees are slowly forced to buzz around to those last 2 to 4 rows. The last blossoms for pollination of the summer I would suspect... Jim, that creek crossing sounded interesting. Being an "engineer" myself, that would be an interesting sight to think about. The rare days that it floods would be worth the many days of tranquil water flow and ease of crossing. Instead of years of environmental studies, a bidding process, and a months long road closure to "upgrade" for a bridge to be built with Chinese steel and non-petroleum asphalt.

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