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A SOUTHERN MANSION REMEMBERED!

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.

JULY IS NATIONAL ICE CREAM MONTH!

I love ice cream!  Remember that little jingle that went:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream?  I could eat it three times a day and never get tired of it.  I like it any way you can get it.  Sundaes, cones, shakes, or just in a bowl.  I can’t say enough about ice cream. 

I know where all the cheap ice cream places are.  McDonalds has a great cone for just forty-nine cents and several flavors of sundaes for only $1.00.   Arbys has a great milkshake for $1.00.  Steak and Shake has its shakes half price during the afternoon.  I clip coupons for Kroger ice cream, too!   I love Dairy Queen and Baskin Robbins and go there. 

My mom and dad used to make the best homemade peach and strawberry ice cream.  We had one of those old crank ice cream makers and my sister and I could not wait for it to freeze.

Are you an ice cream freak like me?  I am going to really celebrate this month.  How about you?

KENTUCKY’S COUNTRY QUEEN, LORETTA LYNN

Those of you that read my blog all the time know that I like to write about famous Kentuckians. This lady is Kentucky’s most well known country music artist, Loretta Lynn.

I plan to write about several of our songwriters and musicians in the future.

Loretta Lynn was born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky on April 14, 1935. She was the second of 8 children. That part of Kentucky is known for its coal mines and a lot of poverty.

Loretta married Oliver Vanetta Lynn at the ripe old age of 13 in 1948. Oliver’s nickname was Doolittle or Mooney. Mooney was from his early career of running moonshine. Loretta had her first child at the age of fourteen and four by the age of seventeen. She was a grandmother at thirty two. They were married for almost 50 years and had 6 children all together, including a set of twins, Peggy and Patsy. Peggy was named for her mother and Patsy was named after the great Patsy Cline.

I am sure most of you have seen the movie, Coal Miners Daughter or read the book by the same name. If not, they are both worth your time.

Loretta has written over 160 songs, released 17 number one albums, and had 16 number one singles on the country charts. She was the first woman named, Entertainer of the Year, by the Country Music Association and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She ruled country music during the 60s and 70s.

Loretta and Doo bought the entire town of Hurricane Mills, Tennessee and their 1817 plantation home there is billed as the 7th largest attraction in Tennessee. She filmed her famous Crisco commercials from the kitchen of the big house.

The Lynns had a son, Jack Benny, that drowned in 1984.

Doo died in 1996 and Loretta moved to a smaller house behind the big one where she resides today. The big house is open for tours.

I heard Marie Osmond say once that she started out singing country music because Loretta was one of her idols.

A favorite saying is supposed to be, “Honey, life flies by so you have to make every day count!”

A few years back, I made a trip to Butcher Holler to see her childhood home. It was an experience!

Finding the place was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We went to Paintsville, Kentucky and began asking directions. Everyone knew where it was but there was no roadside signs or anything at this time. The first thing we finally found was a rock with an arrow pointing down a country road.

Finally, we came upon a country store that was run by her brother, Herman. He told us he would lead us up to the old house and it cost $5 per person to enter and look around.

We followed him up a gravel road to the house. His dog ran along beside his car all the way up the road. The house sits on top of a hill and was worth the $5 to have a look around. There was an old wishing well in the yard and a lot of the furniture, according to Herman, was the original furnishings during the time they grew up. He said the wood cooking stove was original, too. There was lots of family pictures and photos around the place and pictures of her after she got famous.

This lady has endured poverty to become a major star and is a staunch survivor today.

I am proud she is from my home state of Kentucky!

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR

Sixty seven years ago today on December 7, 1941 at 7:55 a.m., Japanese fighter planes dropped the first bomb on Wheeler Field, eight miles from Pearl Harbor.

The surprise attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida on the Island of O’ahu, Hawaii killed more than 2,300 servicemen and 68 civilians and wounded numerous other Americans.

The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and seven other battleships were damaged or sunk.

There had been no formal declaration of war.

The entire nation was shocked by this attack and the United States declared war on Japan.

Two atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima brought surrender from Japan on August 14, 1945.

“The Oregonian”, a Portland, Oregon newspaper has been credited with the first use of the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” in its’ December 9, 1941 edition.

The song, “Remember Pear Harbor” and the saying became the slogan and battle cry of World War II.

Here are the words to the song:

History – in every century,
records an act that lives forevermore.
We’ll recall – as in to line we fall
the thing that happened on Hawaii’s shore

Let’s REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR –
as we go to meet the foe –
Let’s REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR
As we did the Alamo

We will always remember –
how they died for liberty,
Let’s REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR
and go on to victory.

Although Pearl Harbor brought unprecedented unity from the American people during World War II, the cost in resources, lives, and sacrifice impacted generations of Americans.

Each year we honor the lives lost in that attack and salute the veterans of World War II.
Presently, we are engaged in a global war on terrorism and must once again unite to preserve our freedom.

Today, let’s REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR, honor our veterans, and the brave men and women serving to advance freedom and peace around the world.

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.