Saturday, January 28, 2012

Busy two weeks...

On Tuesday, 17 January, we attended the monthly meeting of the Boyle County Genealogical Association, where I tried out my new (well, new to me but used) LCD projector.  I had bought the projector on eBay, and had to buy a special cable as well, which cost almost as much as the projector did.  But I presented a video and slide show on the cemetery cleanup workshop we did back in October 2011.  Everything worked quite well -- need to get a few bugs out of the projector because it didn't project ALL the picture, some on the right side was cut off.  But it worked fine otherwise.

On Saturday, 21 January, we attended the monthly meeting in Frankfort of the African American Genealogical Group of Kentucky.  I think I mentioned that I'm a contributing member (meaning that I contribute records but pay no dues and have no vote).  The meeting was a "meet and greet" in Frankfort, and we had a great time talking with many people, offering suggestions, and in general, just getting to know members of the group better.  I'm probably the most active member contributing records and files to the AAGGKY Yahoo group, but it's important to me to get African-American records published.

Dinner at "Rio Grande" Mexican restaurant was good, too!

On Tuesday, 24 January, we again drove to Frankfort, this time to a college basketball game.  I haven't attended a college game in person since January 1968, and we can't afford to see a UK game (plus I'd rather use the cost of tickets there to pay the electric bill).  So off we were to the Kentucky State University game against Tuskegee University.

Earlier that day, we had gone to see "Red Tails," a just-released movie about the Tuskegee Airmen.  We had planned on seeing the movie as part of my homework in my African-American Experience class.  And we had planned to attend a KSU game as part of that class as well, so to combine the movie AND a basketball game against Tuskegee was not co-incidental, but well planned on our part.

We had plenty of time between the movie in Danville, and the game in Frankfort, so for the second time in 4 days, we splurged on dinner.  This time it was at La Fiesta Grande, our FAVORITE Mexican restaurant in Frankfort -- they have a branch in Danville where we go for special events, though another Danville Mexican restaurant is our usual (and inexpensive) fare.

The game was close nearly all the way, though KSU never did take the lead, and it reminded me so much of high school basketball only with a smaller crowd.  Interestingly, the Lexington paper covers sports on about 90% of its pages, including every high school in the state and colleges in the southwest I've never heard of.  However, there was not ONE mention, even in the score listings, of KSU.  Why?  I don't know, but KSU is an historically black college.

The KSU band certainly delivered some spirited performances, but their rendition of the National Anthem was arguably the worst band performance I have ever heard.  A trumpet solo in the midst of the Anthem, tried to play it like a jazz tune, and the poor kid totally blew it.   Why can't people leave the National Anthem alone?  It's NOT a jazz, blues, or rock concert tune.

But what really concerned me was two groups of college women who were dancing to the music of the band.  I'm not a prude, but when the author of my textbook talks about the sexual objectification of women as being harmful to Black women, I think he was talking about these girls.  They were gyrating their hips back and forth, running their hands up and down their bodies, like the purely sexual objects one sees on music videos.  Frankly, MY daughter would never have been allowed to display herself like that in public, nor would she have wanted to!  And people wonder why rapes and teen or unwed pregnancy occur?  If I were a young man, I'd probably have been aroused -- and this was in public at a basketball game, for goodness' sake!  As an older man, I'm just disgusted.

OK, today, Barry is busy.  The sun is out (for the first time in days), the house is warming due to solar heat, and he's PLANTING LETTUCE!  Sunflowers got in their soil the other day, the portable greenhouses will be assembled today, and within a month, the greenhouses will be full.  Yeah, it's only January 28, but the average high for the month so far has been 11 degrees warmer than last year, only 2 days with a high colder than 32, coldest temp so far is 15, and compared to last year when we had snow actually on the ground from early December until mid-February, the snow this year has not yet lasted a day.  It's looked like November in Maine all winter here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Late October through December events

On October 28-29, I participated in a cemetery preservation workshop, conducted by Jonathan Appell, from Connecticut.  Appell was in Kentucky working with a large cemetery in Louisville, and we managed to get him over to Perryville for two days.  We learned how to clean stones properly, how to repair and reset stones, and in general, how to preserve them for future generations.  Just a few hints -- DO NOT use wire brushes, bleach, detergent, or other harsh chemicals.  Different stones made of different materials require different treatment.  Appell has a great website at for anyone interested in finding out more.
Re-setting a fallen stone.
 In December, one of our neighbors, being VERY pregnant, gave birth to a calf.  Then a few hours later, ANOTHER calf.  We've named them Christmas and Hanukkah -- even though they're not ours.

(L to R)  Momma, Christmas, and Hanukkah
We've named this one Hanukkah, born just after Christmas was born.  She was so small, her owner is feeding her in the barn, probably until Spring.

Trip to Washington DC 13-18 October 2011 -- THANKS Don and Jean!

From 13-18 October, Barry and I took a trip to Washington, D.C.  I've been there  many times, but the last 8 or 9 times were with a busload of 8th graders, and we only spent 2-1/2 days in the city.  THIS time, for four days, we could go where we wanted, see what we wanted, do what we wanted.  We stayed with two of my former students, Don and Jean, (and Chuck the Cat) who graciously opened their beautiful home to us.  They live only a few miles from the Washington Metro, in Fairfax, so we never had to take the car into the city.  The Metro is beautiful, efficient, fast, and CLEAN, unlike other subway systems I've seen (New York and Boston).  Highlights of the trip, other than Don and Jean's company and hospitality, are shown in no particular order because I can't get this blog editor to do what I want...GRR!

In front of the National Archives

The Capitol - Rotunda, under the Dome
Archie and Edith Bunker's Chairs, Smithsonian Institution
Space Shuttle Enterprise, the NEW Air and Space Museum in Virginia
Occupy DC

The President's helicopter, "Marine-1" leaving the White House
Union Station -- still a working train station, but with a great indoor mall.
The White House, North Front (the one you usually see on TV news)
The Pentagon 9-11 Memorial
A high school friend on the Viet Nam Wall

"The Wall"

Daniel Chester French's statue, Lincoln, at the Lincoln Memorial

A station on the DC Metro

Washington National Cathedral - damaged in the August 2011 earthquake

Washington National Cathedral

The US Supreme Court

The US Botanical Garden, left, and the Capitol, right

Reading Room, Library of Congress
The Capitol at night
Martin Luther King Memorial, the night before the dedication.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

August, 2011 - To Maine and the Kentucky State Fair

Since my last entry, many things have happened.  Much I have not written on, because it had become commonplace -- not much sense about writing about things that don't change much from day to day, though if this were really a diary, I would do so.

So, here's a run-down of events since June, 2011.

Aug 2-6 - Barry and I went to Maine camping.  Visiting family was great, but the weather didn't cooperate after the first two days.  It's no fun camping with rain, so we actually left Maine two days early.

Seeing my grandchildren was a treat.  Gannon explored our dish drainer, while Garnet simply enjoyed being held by Barry.  

The campground showed a movie outdoors one night, so we took the kids to it.  It was really their first drive-in, even though we "drove" the stroller.  Garnet in particular couldn't keep her eyes off the "screen," actually a large sheet hung from two trees.  

As usual, when we go to Maine, we meet friends in Waterville at our favorite restaurant in the whole world, Ming Lee's.  Alison and Glen, Pushpa, and Brenda joined us.  The real treat though, was harassing Brenda about her "Smart Car."  Here, Alison's trying to lift it with her cane.  

Another highlight of the Maine trip was being invited to the reunion of the Messalonskee High School Class of 1976.  Guess who the bald guy with the "Kentucky" shirt is in the middle?

After returning home from Maine, our next event was the Kentucky State Fair, August 23, in Louisville.  We spent the day looking at the exhibits, the dressage events, and wondering why on earth ANYONE would spoil a Krispy Kreme Donut with "Buffalo Style Chicken Breast with hot pepper cheese" or even a hamburger!

In August, I was elected president of the Boyle County Genealogical Association.  Barry had been attending meetings since we moved here, but this was the first time I seriously considered taking an office.  Since then, I've been busy writing newsletters and organizing meetings.

I also joined, as a contributing (non-dues, non-voting) member of the African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky.  I've been transcribing Black marriage records, none of which have ever been published, and have become quite active in this group, working with the co-editor of the Kentucky African-American Dictionary.

The next "blog" entry will describe events in October -- a trip to Washington DC, a cemetery preservation workshop, and the birth of twin calves next door.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heading east and south in direction and 250 years back in time

Friday, June 24.

Tim Horton's, Ashland, KY
Paramount Theater, Ashland
We left home for eastern Kentucky at a reasonable hour, for a change.  Barry suggested that instead of staying over one night in eastern Tennessee, that we stay in eastern Kentucky, then move on to Eastern Tennessee.  That proved to do the trick.  Our entire trip was more relaxed, and we found more time to "shunpike" than we would have otherwise.

Our first highlight was in Ashland.  Tim Horton's!  Didn't know there were any of those in Kentucky.  SOOO good.  Next highlight was also in Ashland -- the Paramount Theater.  Many country music greats got their starts or spent their early careers here.

Coal is life in eastern Kentucky.  One sees coal trucks all over, and most of the small valleys have train tracks to get the coal out.  Much of it is done by truck, but rail is still the most important way.  Love coal or hate it, without it, eastern Kentucky would have nothing.

Welcome to Paintsville
We headed south from Ashland along US Route 23, officially designated in Kentucky as the "Country Music Highway."  Many of the greats of country music were born, lived, or died near this highway.  Now, I'm not really a great fan of country music, but it IS part of American history, and some of it I really DO like, so this was OK by me.  Barry on the other hand, can tell me details about each of the singers I'd never have known otherwise.  This time, it was HE who was the history teacher.
Country Music Museum

Near the end of the afternoon, we arrived in Paintsville.  We were in the motel in plenty of time to visit the Country Highway Museum, have a great Chinese buffet, and walk around town for awhile, just taking our time.

Saturday, June 25.

Today was a really interesting day.  Because we had plenty of time, we didn't have to stick to the highways and do 80 in a 55 mile zone like everyone else.

Loretta Lynn's homeplace
East Kentucky Road Sign
We took off on a local road, found the community of Van Lear, and followed the signs to Loretta Lynn's birthplace.  We went up a side road, then off to another smaller side road. Then we saw the hand-painted sign, "Butcher Holler", off to what was barely more than a paved path through the woods.  Driving a couple of miles up the road, we came to the old home place.  It's not the original (that is at Lynn's theme park in Hurricane Mills, TN), but it's a good reproduction.  Hard to believe that the small one-lane road we were on was not even there when Lynn was born there in 1932 (not 1934, as most of her literature says).  Her younger sister, Crystal Gayle, was born in Paintsville, the only one in the family born in a hospital.
Webb's Store, Van Lear, KY

Dewey Lake
On leaving Butcher Hollow, we drove by the Webb Grocery, run by Loretta's younger brother, Herman.

Jenny Wiley Park marina
We then took a back road, to get to Ky-3, which a fellow at the Van Lear post office said was the route the coal companies use nowadays to get the coal out of the hills.  We kept going without taking the now-four-lane Ky-3, and ended up at Dewey Lake.  It's a man-made lake on John's Creek, and the location of the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.  There's a music theater there, a huge marina, and the water is blue-green, unlike most of the water in Kentucky.

Then, by back roads from Dewey Lake to Prestonsburg, which we expected to be bigger than it was.  But it was back to the Country Music Highway, headed for Pikeville.

Betsey Layne, KY
On the way, we passed through Betsy Layne, KY, birthplace of Dwight Yoakam.  Not much here but a wide place in the road with a liquor store!  But when we got to Pikeville, I understood why the city wanted permission to remove a mountaintop to provide more flat land.  The only flat land left apparently was the Wal-Mart, Lowe's, McDonald's shopping center.

Then it was overland to Virginia.  The Country Music Highway in Kentucky is now a four-lane divided highway, where the speed limit is 55, and it didn't take us much time at all to get to the Virginia border, the city of Wise, VA, then on to Tennessee at Kingsport.

Entering Tennessee
Kingsport is a place of great historical significance to Kentucky.  Settlers from southwestern Virginia would gather at a 4-mile-long island in the Holston River, called the Long Island of the Holston.  From here they would go down the Holston then up to Cumberland Gap, where the Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky borders meet.  This route in Virginia is called the "Old Wilderness Road," roughly the route followed by US-58 today.

Barry at Hooter's, Johnson City, TN
Then off to Johnson City, TN, where we again arrived early enough to tour the town -- about 65,000 people, but most business is now outside town at the malls near the main highways.  Downtown is being restored, but almost no one goes there any more.  The highlight of Johnson City was stopping at Hooter's.  Neither Barry nor I had ever been in one, and we understand the food was good.  However, we were going out for steak that night, so all we had was a drink there.

Sunday, June 26.

Chuckey, TN
Two goals today -- visit Barry's niece in Chuckey, TN, then go through the Cumberland Gap.

We found Chuckey, and Lisa's house just fine, spent the morning with her while it stormed outside.  We were very fortunate that all the rain got out of Mother Nature's system before we headed out.

Davy Crockett's birthplace
Lisa took us to Davy Crocket's birthplace, a nice state park on the Nolichucky River, another route to the west.  And no, he wasn't born on a mountaintop in Tennessee -- that's just another Disney myth; somehow, "born in the Nolichucky River valley" doesn't sound right.  I somehow doubt that he "kilt him a bar when he was only three" now, as well.  But it's a nice place, and an historic place as well.

Cherokee Reservoir on Holston River behind Barry
When we left Chuckey, we headed west, then turned to the north, passing through Greenville, and a number of other towns along US Route 25E, headed home.

Cumberland Gap, TN/KY
Clinch Gap, TN
We spent a great deal of time and mileage driving near the Holston River many miles down from Kingsport -- at Cherokee Reservoir.  A bit after that, we began to climb Clinch Mountain, named along with the Clinch River, and went through Clinch Gap, an easier gap than Cumberland, apparently.  But it wasn't long before we actually saw Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap from Tennessee
For many people, Cumberland Gap is a place they may have heard of from their US history classes (at least those who stayed awake).  But this was the gap through Cumberland Mountain which, other than possibly the Mohawk River in New York, funneled more people west than any other break in the Appalachian Mountains.  The Gap was known well before Daniel Boone's day, long before 1770, indeed, as far back as the 1680s (just read that in "The Wilderness Road" by Dr. Robert Kincaid).  But with the push west shortly before the Revolution, Cumberland Gap became THE place to cross. 

The Wilderness Road began in western Pennsylvania, followed the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, then down the Holston and Clinch Rivers, turning north to cross the Cumberlands.  It then ran as far north as present-day Corbin, KY, where it split, one route going north to the Kentucky River (Daniel Boone and Boonesborough), the other heading northwest toward the Falls of the Ohio (present-day Louisville, KY).  I'm more interested in the northwest route because it passed through or near present-day Mt. Vernon, Stanford, Danville, Perryville, Springfield, Bardstown, and in general, our area.  In fact, our telephone book says "Wilderness Trace" on it.

Middlesboro, KY from Cumberland Gap

Fern Lake, and the meeting place of KY, TN and VA.

Cumberland Gap Tunnel, TN entrance

Town of Cumberland Gap, TN

Cumberland Gap and Harrogate, TN

Powell River Valley, US 58 in Virginia
Google Earth screen capture of the Cumberland Gap area
The Cumberland Gap and Wilderness Road saw over 300,000 settlers come into Kentucky between 1774 and 1810.  Many of those settlers stayed in Kentucky, but many also moved on to Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and points west.  So the Gap was really our first great highway to the west.  As more people came, the trail became a rude road, and by 1810, wagons could pass through.  By the 1920s, US-25, running from Detroit MI to Jacksonville FL was paved for the most part, renamed the "Dixie Highway", and saw an enterprising guy nicknamed "The Colonel" in Corbin, KY, open a motel and small restaurant where he sold his "secret recipe" fried chicken.  Today, US Route 25E from Corbin to Interstate-81 near Knoxville, is four-lane, divided, and one of the best roads around.  The part through Cumberland Gap was known as "Massacre Hill" in the 1950s, with trucks and tourists not mixing well on the narrow road.  So in 1991, Tennessee and Kentucky began work on the Cumberland Tunnel.  This new road takes a four-lane highway 4000 feet through Cumberland Mountain, roughly half a mile west of the original road, which is now a hiking trail in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.

The beauty of the area, and the historical significance were, for me, the highlight of the trip.  Well, meeting Barry's niece was the highlight, too.  And so was Butcher Holler.  They all were wonderful experiences, all done in a nice, relaxing three-day weekend.