Setting the Record Straight

Reading about the “Pringle Compound,” or the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) compound disgusts me. Pringle does not have a compound!

We have excellent food, a pool table, and beer at the popular Hitchrail (of which owner/award-winning Chef Dennis Boitnott, recommends making reservations), a sand plant, the Pringle Poacher Car on a hill, elk droppings on the Mickelson trail, dogs running loose, and the proud title: “The Elk Capitol of South Dakota,” but we do not have a FLDS compound (the six foot chicken Pringle had moved to a Minnesota poultry farm).

News about this compound being constructed first hit the dirt streets of Pringle when an out-of-town news crew showed up at the Hitchrail to get the locals’ opinions on the FLDS being “in the neighborhood.” My husband and a neighbor having coffee were the first residents questioned. When asked to comment, my husband and the neighbor gave a puzzled look, shrugged their shoulders and my husband replied, “We didn’t know anything about it.” After getting similar responses from other residents, the TV crew left and drove back to Custer. They had to, to get back home.

In the beginning of the drama surrounding the FLDS, newspapers referenced the compound as being “near Pringle.” Once the socially frowned-upon practices continued to create a news frenzy, typing the word “near” became too tedious and was eventually eliminated from headlines. Although many people are still clueless as to where Pringle is, the compound has become known as “The Pringle Compound” without Pringle’s approval.

The problem with associating the compound with Pringle is that we are a small town. Pringle is not equipped to handle any high profile attention we know nothing about such as Warren Jeffs, the FLDS’ ring leader who also stars on America’s Top Ten Most Wanted list and who has never been to Pringle either. Our town is too used to very little attention and besides, we already have a reputation: The Pringle Poacher’s Association. Locals can handle PPA inquiries because everybody’s been to a PPA pig roast before. We can talk about our own misfits, black sheep, and outcasts but we know diddly about this Warren Jeffs guy and his compound.

I’m proud to say I’m from Pringle but it’s more irritating than a scabby rash to read about Pringle’s “compound.” I have to explain where my community is to most acquaintances because Pringle isn’t marked on the free tourist attraction maps with a big star. Pringle is mistaken for a brochure’s printing flaw.

Only when I describe where Pringle is in reference to Custer can people visualize my town’s location. This is why interested FLDS readers would have a better idea of where the compound is if it were described as being “southwest of Custer”. Instead, the compound’s location has been shoved onto Pringle; the town exiled from tourist attractiveness.

If a crow were to do a fly over, Pringle is closer but tourists desperate to go see the sordid and creepy attraction of the Black Hills would be better off taking the more direct route rather than driving through Pringle to get there. Having to take all of the necessary forked gravel roads from Pringle would make any tourist want to give up and stop for a beer and game of pool instead.

This column was originally published April 20-26, 2011.  ©2011 Amy Kirk

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