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My son did a blog post on this old Southern mansion that sits right in the heart of Danville, Ky. and played a part in his childhood.   When he was about six weeks old I hired an elderly lady that had moved to Danville from Eastern Kentucky to babysit him.  Her husband had died with Black Lung disease and she was living in a senior housing area.  She had a daughter and son-in-law that lived near her.  The daughter, Helen, could not have children and immediately fell in love with Rob.  Helen would come to her mom’s everyday to play with Rob and take care of him.  Eventually, Helen became the babysitter and I was taking Rob to their place.  They moved in later years to an apartment in this old house. It was just a 3 room apartment but it was huge.  The rooms had such tall ceilings and were as big as 2 normal rooms today. This house was amazing in its heyday!  I am copying his post below about this mansion.

Today, Rob is a husband, father, photographer, artist, actor,  and works for the Kentucky Educational Television Station in Lexington, Kentucky.

You can visit his artwork here.   He also has an online journal here

Antebellum Trailer Park

In William Least Heat Moon’s classic travel book Blue Highways, the author writes at the beginning of Chapter 13 that the highway took him through Danville Ky. where he saw a pillared antebellum mansion with a trailer court on its front lawn. If there was ever a stronger visual metaphor for the glory of the Old South gone to seed I can’t think of what it would be… I read this book in the late nineties while living in Los Angeles and was stunned that the author was writing about a place where I had lived. My Godparents Helen and Jim Strevels rented a small one bedroom apartment in that old house on the hill that by the early seventies had been chopped up into four apartments, two upstairs and two down.

Growing up there I had no idea how strange such a place would seem to someone from another part of the country. It never really sunk in that I was playing and living in a place that once housed a single family that not only owned vast tracts of land, but also, owned human beings. My Godmother once took me down into the basement to see the hand hewn limestone rocks that made up the foundation. I’ll never forget how creepy it was down there. She wasn’t helping much by telling me stories about haints, for those of you not from the south, haint is a word synonymous with ghost. My Godmother claimed that the ghosts of slaves who had died on that plantation haunted that property, yes, she even claimed to have seen and heard them.

It’s so ironic to me now that such a place ultimately evolved into a trailer park. Most of the folks living there were either the working poor or they were on some kind of relief. Sometime around the early nineties the house became so run down that it was condemned and even the trailer park that surrounded it is now all but empty of its little rectangular homes. I went back there yesterday and took some photos of the place and walked around the great ruin that it’s become.

All the windows and doors were sealed and the window above had a vine that had grown between the storm window and the interior glass. Anyone interested in seeing this old place before its demolished can find it on 408 South 4th Street in Danville Ky.



You all know how much I enjoy writing about Kentucky on this blog.  Karen Jones loves Kentucky and loves horses.  Read about her new book below!

Introducing SILENT PARTNER………….Set in Lexington, Kentucky, the story takes the reader on a journey through the trials and tribulations of recovering alcoholic, Jack Ramsden, a thoroughbred horse trainer who has a special young horse in his barn. Savant, a three year old colt, is about to become the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, a fact that has given Jack new hope to turn his life around.

Jack’s life takes a surprise turn when he literally runs into a former lover, Katy Alexander. Katy is a feisty, smart, and good hearted woman with a strong determination to keep Jack at a distance. Jack finds himself totally smitten with Katy, and is equally as determined to make amends for having dumped her twenty odd years earlier, for Josephine Jackson, an ill tempered Texas heiress. Josephine made his life miserable for seventeen long years before she threw him out, and he returned to Kentucky with his best friend, Nate Washington, to pick up the pieces of his life. Nate, a Vietnam veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, has stood by Jack through all of the ups and downs of his life. He is the only person who will tell Jack what he needs to hear, regardless of whether Jack wants to hear it or not. Their daily life in Jack’s small training operation is punctuated by the foul mouth of an African Gray parrot, along with a lazy German Shepherd, and a stray black cat that has an obsession with the bird.

Savant’s owner, Sid Blackstone, is a high roller with a big problem. He has mortgaged his Texas car empire and has entangled himself with some unsavory loan sharks, unbeknownst to his wife Bunny. A former Las Vegas showgirl, Bunny is clueless about Sid’s problems and enthralled with horse racing, which she knows virtually nothing about. When Sid disappears Bunny is thrown together with Jack to try to unravel the mystery behind the horse’s true ownership, a task that is complicated by the sudden attention of a handsome gangster named Louis Giovanni.

Together, with Katy and her best friends, Todd and Lauren Hendrickson, Jack, Nate, and Bunny attempt to keep Savant running, find out who really owns him, solve a murder, and find out what happened to Sid Blackstone. The story is full of plot twists, heartfelt friendships, good guys, bad guys, and a very cool horse. This book will make you laugh, draw a tear or two, and keep you guessing.

The book is now available on Amazon.com at here!!

Check out the great reviews on Amazon!

To learn more about Karen Jones and her novel, please visit: http://silentpartneronline.com/ 

This is Karen’s first novel. She is a friend of my family for many years.  You won’t be disappointed!

Annual Trip To Amish Country

On Saturday, Anne and Leigh, Anne’s boyfriend, Josh, and I made our annual trip to Liberty, Kentucky in Casey County to visit Amish Country. We have been doing this for years. The girls were two or three years old when we started going and they are now thirty.

We left from my house after having coffee and blueberry muffins to hold us until lunch. Anne drove with Josh as her co-pilot while Leigh and I sat in the back seat. I was good and did very little back seat driving!

Our first stop was the Dutchmon’s Market where I bought a pint of blackberry jam and we looked at all the hand tools, Amish hats, canned foods and bakery items. It started to pour rain just as we were leaving and one of the older Amish men asked Leigh, “Afraid to go into the rain, are ye?” and laughed like he had made some big joke!

Next, we traveled down South Fork Creek Road past the furniture store to Nolt’s Bulk Food Store. The girls bought some cheese and spices, and I bought apples, a pint of sorghum, cumin, celery seeds, bay leaves, and candy. Then, we went to the produce market! I go crazy in these places with all the fresh fruit and veggies. I bought fresh green beans, new potatoes, tomatoes, green onions, peaches, a cantaloupe, and a quart of fresh blackberries for a cobbler. The girls loaded up on produce, also, so they would not have to go to the grocery when they got home. The back of Anne’s car was loaded with goodies.

We headed for the Bread of Life Cafe because we were all starving by now. They have a great salad bar there and always have about three meats on the buffet.

Saturday, they had fried fish and chicken and some kind of steak with green beans, potatoes, corn, pinto beans, mac and cheese, cornbread, biscuits, and the best yeast rolls with cinnamon butter you ever ate. The dessert bar had pineapple cake, chocolate cake, bread pudding and soft serve ice cream. Josh cannot eat gluten so we were worried there would not be anything he could eat but I think he made out fine with the salad bar.

They also have a gift shop here and sell candy, bread, candles, jellies, and goodies of all sorts and kinds.

Feeling like four little pigs, we posed for pictures outside on the porch of the cafe.

Don’t you think Anne and Josh make a cute couple? This is me in the middle with Anne on the left and Leigh on my right. Can you tell they are twins?

Last stop was the Antique Flea Market in Harrodsburg on our way home to buy used books in their “book nook” that has hundreds of books.

Leigh is enjoying a rest and doing a little reading while the rest of us are looking at all the books and trying to make our choices to bring home.

My son, Rob, his wife, Sarah, and TW were supposed to go with us but Rob got called into work. We missed them this year!

We arrived back at my house tired from a full day of activities but it was a “good” tired.

It was another wonderful day. I am glad that Josh could join us this year. This one will be added to the great memories along with all the rest.

Note: Click on each picture to view larger version.