I recently was talking with a good friend of mine who grew up in Paris. No, not that Paris. This would have been Paris, Tennessee. According to my friend, the town’s early-19th century founders wanted to honor the Marquis de Lafayette, which was a very popular thing to do at the time. Lafayette had returned to America in 1824 for an extended victory lap late in his life, after having done so much to help George Washington defeat the British almost 50 years before. He visited all 24 states and was acclaimed a hero by citizens of a grateful nation who were, even then, suckers for a big celebrity. I have read that there are more towns and counties in the U.S. named for Lafayette and things related to Lafayette than any other person except Washington himself. I personally grew up in a county in Alabama where the town of “Lafayette” served as county seat. We pronounced it laFEHT, but I digress. Back to Paris, Tennessee: the founders wanted to get in on the Lafayette-naming craze, but no one was sure how to spell “Lafayette.” So they named the town “Paris.” This is according to my friend. I started out to tell you something totally unrelated to the Marquis de Lafayette, but I seem to have used up my space and time. Tomorrow, maybe.
Meanwhile, I’m going to post the first in a series inspired by the local spring arts festival where I was living in 1997. Much of it is not exaggerated.