“Often hysterically funny, sometimes wrenching, Fitzhugh’s straight-shooting memoir is laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, and acute observations of life in rural Tennessee. He remembers vividly what it felt like to be a kid: the pleasure of being outdoors; the unquestioned bonds of a friendship; and the oddness of many of the things adults do.”
–Pre-publication Review, 2012
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From Turkey Creek – A Memoir is scheduled for release in 2015 by the Armand Press. What is Turkey Creek? It’s a place where a turtle can cross the road and not be asked about its intentions. Where is Turkey Creek? Why would someone write about it? To answer these questions, the book’s introduction is posted below.
I N T R O D U C T I O N
If you look at a map of Tennessee, there is, on Kentucky Lake’s east bank, north of Waverly and east of Big Sandy, a little bay called Turkey Creek. Don’t fret if you can’t find it; even some locals have trouble finding the place. Look for the little cove with a tiny island at its mouth. That’s Turkey Creek.
Originating in the hills of northwest Humphreys County, Turkey Creek snakes its way through eight miles of hickory forests, manure-laden pastures, and lowland thickets before widening and emptying into Kentucky Lake. At its mouth, Turkey Creek is nearly a half-mile wide. This happened when the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Tennessee River to form Kentucky Lake.
“Turkey Creek” describes not only a flowing abundance of minnows, crayfish, and cow poop, but also the countryside through which it flows—and any location within, say, eight miles of the creek. When someone says, “I live at Turkey Creek,” they could live anywhere in northwestern Humphreys County. People describe area roads in much the same way. Most roads are simply called, “Turkey Creek Road.” It’s easier that way.
Up until the last decade, when a modern marina and scores of new cabins sprang up, Turkey Creek rarely changed. In 1950, a lonely dirt road led past a campground and a fishing resort, then around a sharp curve at the creek’s mouth, and to a handful of cabins fronting Kentucky Lake. In 1960, the same dirt road led past the same campground and fishing resort, around the same sharp curve, and to the same lakefront cabins, and in 1970, and 1980, and so on. The number of cabins near the lake remained constant for many years, but the structures changed often; old cabins fell down and new cabins took their places. What was constant was always changing.
I grew up in two of those cabins. Turkey Creek is where I shot my first fish, snagged my first possum, spewed my first obscenity, kissed my first girl, and savagely attacked a family of tame ducks. Along the way, I learned the difference between a largemouth bass and a buglemouth bass, a water snake and a water moccasin, a pint of whiskey and a pint of moonshine, deer hunting and dear hunting, and a knot and a concussion. This all began in the 1970s.
During that period, Turkey Creek was more than simply a place for wild-eyed young boys to grow up. It was a place where friendships were forged, enemies were forgiven, lessons were learned, and where amazing things unfolded just beneath the surface of everyday life. Turkey Creek was my life’s starting point, and the source of my fondest memories.
There has never been an official source of information about Turkey Creek during that period, perhaps because so few people are left to tell about it; some have moved away, others have moved on. Moreover, no sane person would want to read about Turkey Creek, much less write about it. Until now.
The book that follows is the true story of a young boy growing up at Turkey Creek, written by that same boy, years later. It is a memoir, a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning. ♦