‘Drowned Town’ author takes the stand at the library and discusses his writing journey | The life


Paducah native Jayne Moore Waldrop presented and discussed her collection book of related stories Drowned Town at the McCracken County Public Library on Thursday as part of the Virtual Evenings Upstairs series.

The Facebook and YouTube presentation provided Waldrop with a space to share his book with a virtual audience. She read from it and gave a presentation that included historic photographs and visual interpretations of the land the audience immersed in.

Steeped in the history of engagement in what is currently known as the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area and the surrounding lands, rivers and lakes, Waldrop takes a historical approach, inviting readers to reminisce.

She directs the audience to historical landmarks, “drowned cities and lost places,” former presidential administrations, natural disasters, and communities past and present.

If the locations are erased from the maps, the inhabitants are alive and well as characters in Waldrop’s related stories. It sustains a transformed and uprooted society.

“I felt like I knew the story right around the edges,” she said during her introduction. “I wanted a deeper understanding of the enormous and monumental changes that occurred in western Kentucky in the mid-twentieth century.”

Waldrop said using the linked story collection structure allowed him to link relational narratives and different aspects of these changes around lakes and between rivers.

“It’s an unusual shape, but I thought it worked for the many stories that needed to be told and the many voices that needed to be represented,” she said.

A focal point of Waldrop’s literature was the displacement of hundreds of families when LBL was formed in 1963 under President John F. Kennedy.

“To do this, every home, farm, business, school and church had to be acquired by TVA – Tennessee Valley Authority – through the power of eminent domain of the government,” she said.

Loss is a big theme in the book, Waldrop explained.

“There was a price to pay for progress, and here some people paid dearly,” she said.

Rural electrification and flood mitigation are the result of geographic, environmental and societal changes.

Between the rivers, Golden Pond, Birmingham, Old Kuttawa, Eddyville and Kentucky Lake are some of the spaces and places Waldrop highlights in his book.

Waldrop told The Sun that his childhood was filled with recreational activities at both the LBL and Paducah’s old library, Paducah Carnegie Library.

“I want more people to know the stories of how this area changed with the creation of Kentucky Lake, Barkley Lake and Land Between the Lakes,” she said.

“A free public library opens the world to children and adults; its value to a community cannot be taken for granted,” she added.

Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham was moved by Waldrop’s literature and his interpretation and narrative of the area and its ancient human settlements.

During the series of readings, Waldrop devoted part of the program to reading Cunningham’s letter which he wrote to her:

“My grandfather, my father and I lost our land to the lakes. You are the first to say thank you. I am touched by all your work. The stories of different people and families intertwine. But nothing more moving for me than on your Acknowledgments page. “Thank you for the sacrifices made on our behalf and in the public interest.” After 75 long yearsyou are the first to say it.

Waldrop worked at The Sun as a reporter and editor and as a lawyer before embarking on a career as a writer. She graduated from Lone Oak High School. His family is from Appalachia in eastern Kentucky. She lives in Lexington.

She visits Murray State University on Thursday, April 14 as part of the Murray State Reading Series. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Waterfield Library Gallery.

McLib’s adult program coordinator Bobbie Wrinkle said The Sun Waldrop’s book aligns with the library’s initiative to reflect and talk about ethics, values, history, people and other cultures.

“The book and presentation focused on the impoundment of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers in the 20th century and the seizure of property under the power of eminent domain to create a national recreation area on the narrow strip of land between the lakes,” she said. “Those who are not local may not be aware of the creation of this renowned recreation area, Land Between the Lakes.”

She hopes to see in-person programming and attendance return this summer.

The McLib Live series was created to support public programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wrinkle said.


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