27 February 2007

Buford Pusser festival. No, really.

When I was a kid, I grabbed one of my dad's Louis Lamour books and read a bit of it. I think it was called "The Man from Skibbereen," and the hero of the story was a guy named Crispin Mayo. Which implied, to me, nothing more than deep-fried Hellman's. You'd think he was from the South, not Skibbereen -- which is in Ireland. Anyway, I thought, what a great name.

It's only rival might be Buford Pusser, who, as anyone who saw "Walking Tall" could tell you, was the Tennessee sheriff who brought order to his corrupt county with a hickory stick. Why they changed the guy's name when The Rock remade the film I'll never know. Yesterday a friend passed a press release my way about the unveiling of a life-size portrait of Pusser being unveiled at the Henco Furniture showroom in Selmer, Tenn. on March 6. You can't make this stuff up. Best of all, the release mentions that there's apparently an annual Buford Pusser Festival. There's even a Miss Walking Tall pageant as part of the fest, which is in May. Before I die, I will go to that festival and buy a T-shirt. I'll wear it proudly, in the same way I wear my Wassau, Fla., Possum Day shirt. (I also found myself wondering if Henco sells furniture made of hickory.)

For more on Buford Pusser's legend, you can visit his Web site, but to hear a more rounded take on the tale, I'd point you to the Drive-By Truckers' album "The Dirty South," which includes two songs that explore the story of McNairy County. This one tells the story from the side of the guy at the wrong end of the hickory stick.

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