During the recent Labor Day holiday, the annual celebration of coonhounds and coon hunting marked the 75th anniversary of the famous Key Underwood Memorial Coon Dog Graveyard in the red clay hills near Tuscumbia, Alabama.
It was Sept. 4, 1937, when Mr. Underwood buried his dog, Troop, in the woods where the two hunted raccoons together. Since that time, more than 200 coonhounds have been interred at the site, and each year hundreds gather to celebrate dogs and coon hunting the first weekend of each September.
The cemetery is one of Colbert County’s most-visited attractions, but especially on Labor Day weekend, when a celebration includes music, dancing, food and a “liar’s contest.”
Readers of this blog may recall the story of Shawnee Hills Beaujolais, or Bo, an 11-year-old, award-winning black-and-tan coonhound from southern Illinois whose burial and service drew 400 mourners to the northwestern Alabama cemetery last fall.
Also last week, some several hundred miles to the northeast, a group of neighborhood suburbanites in Columbia, Maryland, had a celebration of their own after petitioning the Howard County Planning Board to change the name of their cul-de-sac, because they found it offensive and controversial.
The name of their street was “Coon Hunt Court.”
All six households of Coon Hunt Court, located in the Oakland Mills neighborhood of Thunder Hill, were unanimous in their support of the name change. With the Sept. 6 action by the Planning Board, the street will now be known as April Wind Circle.
“When my wife and I first moved our family to Thunder Hill, I had a lot of trepidation moving on a street named Coon Hunt Court,” resident Ambrose Lane, Jr. told the Baltimore Sun. “Although I found the street name insulting, and still do, Thunder Hill was a beautiful neighborhood, the house was nice and the elementary school is one of the best in the county and state.”
There’s no question that in the context of American history, the term “coon” has carried a derogatory meaning with racial implications, but perhaps the residents of this Baltimore suburb might have been seriously overreacting to a name that simply implied cultural heritage and the tradition of hunting.
What do you think? Was this political correctness gone overboard?
Share your comments below.