Bennett: ‘Nowhere like Pike County’

Published 6:37 pm Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gordon Bennett has lived in New York City and Hollywood and places in-between but he’s never found another place like Pike County.

Bennett said what sets this place apart is Jesus.

Now, he’s not saying that Jesus is not in all those other places, because He is.

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“But, I’ve never seen a place where Jesus lives in the hearts of people like He does in Pike County, Alabama,” Bennett said. “I came here 15 years ago – just an old man with nine puppies and I knew right away that I had found the perfect spot.”

Bennett, a master puppeteer, has lived the good life. In Hollywood, he entertained the children of “the stars” in their homes with his puppet shows. He had his own television show and he knew just the right “strings” to pull to be successful.

Bennett made his own puppets and his mother handmade all the costumes for the puppets.

“My mother was as good a Christian woman as you’ll ever find,” he said. “She was a wonderful influence on me and she led me to the Lord.”

Life was good back then and people were different from the way they are today, Bennett said.

“I don’t think anybody can argue with that,” he said. “It’s a tragedy the way people are living. So many people don’t have any respect for each other or anything. Some people don’t even have respect for life. They don’t have Jesus in their lives and they don’t care about anything, except maybe money and the things it can buy.”

Bennett said he’s not sure what his life would be like today if he had not found his way to Pike County.

“I was living in St. Pete, Florida but I wanted to get out of the city, out of the kind of life and find a place where I could be happy and content,” he said. “And, I heard about this place in Alabama, where people cared about each other and looked after each other — a place with nice families and children that would enjoy my puppet shows.”

Bennett loaded his car and, when he stopped in Monticello, he knew immediately that he was at home.

“It was the perfect spot,” he said. “It was quiet and peaceful and beautiful and just the right place for a Puppet Picnic Park.”

For several years, Bennett entertained children and the young at heart at his Puppet Picnic Park and at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama. But, there comes a time to put the woodenheads to bed.

“I got where I couldn’t pull the strings,” he said, with a smile. “But life is still good because the people here are good. They know the Lord and they Love the Lord. And, they’re not afraid to talk about Jesus. They’re eager to talk about Jesus. That’s why there’s no place like Pike County.”