Sweetums and I drove to Paducah, Ky., last weekend on a trip for his work. We initially planned to take the route through the small town of Mayfield. For one reason, we’d found online reviews saying it was a picturesque small town, but the main reason was to visit the Wooldridge Monuments.
The unusual cemetery monuments had been on my Odd Travels bucket list for years. Then we saw horrific news on TV the week before we left for our trip: Mayfield and several other Kentucky towns were hit hard by a series of tornadoes. Sweetums and I have experienced such devastation many times here in Alabama, me as a reporter and him as a law officer. It is so heartbreaking. But this time we were traveling as civilians and we didn’t want to be among the people who just go to look at the damage and get in the way of relief workers so we took a different route to Paducah.
On our trip home, we decided to see if the Wooldridge Monuments might lay on the outskirts of town so we could see them without bothering anyone.
It turned out that the monuments were just blocks from the devastated town square. Still, we were able to drive around most of the damage areas to get to Maplewood Cemetery. We held our breath wondering if the monuments had been damaged. We understood that 76 people had died in the tornado outbreak and that the monuments were obviously not of importance compared to loss of life. We were interested, though, because the monuments are one of the small town’s main tourist attractions and draw many visitors each year.
We pulled into Maplewood Cemetery and saw signs of damage. Several trees were down, knocking over historic headstones. We were happily surprised to see the Wooldridge Monuments were untouched. I won’t write a blog post about them until later because today I wanted to focus on another monument: A beautiful angel atop an obelisk looking over the cemetery and the city. She stood against a clear, blue sky and pointed a hand toward downtown Mayfield, which was largely demolished, including the county courthouse. The words etched into the base were: “Agnes Mayes, wife of W. J. Slayden, born August 28, 1847, died December 20, 1888. William J. Slayden, 1842-September 30, 1918. Our little children – Grace, Lizzie, Thomas and two infants.”
She was beautiful and undamaged so Sweetums took several photos of her. The results are so breathtaking and inspiring. We are hoping her photo and this post will draw some attention to the terrible conditions there so people can help. We stopped at Hawkins Screen Printing shop and bought “Mayfield Strong” T-shirts and a yard sign. All proceeds go to tornado relief and we added a donation to the cost.
The City of Mayfield lists numerous ways to help on its website here.