Vicki Tyler Goode has a word of caution for any who are tempted to open up a conversation with her about her beloved downtown Perryville: “I will talk you to death!” she said.
Goode said she was inside one of the vacant historic homes recently and found a secret stash of Civil War era items in a closet and “just screamed” with joy.
“There was this bayonet, from the Civil War,” she holds the found artifact gently in deference to the importance of object. “And cannonballs and ... ”
All told, a pirate’s booty of treasures to add to the town’s museum.
“Just when you think these old houses have given up all their secrets, they surprise you,” she said.
Five years into her job as the manager of Perryville Revitalization, which she says she got by begging, Goode is still so excited about what she does as to make her excitement contagious.
Born in Danville, Goode is a graduate of Danville High School and Eastern Kentucky University. She has been married to her husband, Terry, owner of Goode’s Locksmith’s Service, for 34 years. (She said she believes the marriage “might just work.”) The couple have a daughter, Kate, who lives with her husband in Pacifica, Cal., with her “grand-dogs.”
She let Kate tease her when she was a teen about Mom not being able to put bands together with their music — a skill her daughter enjoyed showing off at Mom’s expense. She is “deathly!” afraid of cats for no particular reason. She is not very tall and laughs easily and seems to know virtually everybody and everything about Perryville — past, present and, she hopes, future.
Goode worked for 25 years as a facilities engineer for Whirlpool Mitsuwa, she said. When that door closed, she started knocking — hard — on another closed door until she was able to get it to swing wide.
“I have always loved this town” she said. “We live right outside of Perryville, on a 25-acre farm, but I had a lot of family in Perryville and spent a lot of time here.”
She talks about how nice it is to hear kids outside playing today — spring break and all — and how that’s what her childhood sounded like.
“We lived on our bikes,” she said. “If we were, say, drinking a bottle of pop even ... or reading a book, we were standing with a bike between our legs. Didn’t need a kickstand because we didn’t put it down.”
The fact that Perryville has a river running through it and that the river attracts kids to fish and run up and down the banks is one of her favorite things about the town. She would like to build a platform out over the water, she said. She would like to do a lot of things for downtown, and likely will.
“I have always loved the history of the town, the people, too,” she said. “I think we have everything in place and that it’s just waiting to explode. We are definitely open for business.”
Goode said the reason she begged the town to create her position and then let her fill it is that she couldn’t stand to see the town fade away.
“My hope is to see it get the attention and be an attraction the way it deserves,” she said.
Goode’s office is on the second floor of the spacious Perryville Community Center, which also houses the town’s museum. Among the hats she wears in boosting her town is that of curator and docent.
“We actually have 10 times this much still in storage, so we can change it up,” she said.
She becomes a walking history book as she narrates items and artifacts made even more interesting since she knows not only the historical significance but also the province of each item, or rather who found what, where and how it then got to the museum.
Goode, then, functions in her position as a bridge between Perryville’s past and future.
She is gearing up for an upcoming busy season.
There is a large lawn and garden event coming April 21 with, so far, 17 vendors as part of the Perryville Grows Redbud Festival, when the city for the fourth time will give away 300 redbud trees (to bring the number to 1,200 so far.) July 7 is the second annual Red, White & Blue Festival and will be followed by a reunion celebration for the 100th Anniversary of Perryville School.
All of this excitement leads up to the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Perryville, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to town the first week of October.
Goode hopes the town’s empty buildings and bargain historic homes find new owners among some who come to visit one of the upcoming events and then decide to stay.
“My hope is to keep the town growing,” she said.