Saturday, September 19, 2009

543. An Original County Trifecta

Sometime last week my friend Keith requested a free trip to Lexington for he and his friend, something he knows I am usually up for most anytime. They didn't say exactly when it was they wanted to go, so I suggested they could travel with me to Frankfort today, attend with me the State Democratic Committee meeting, then we'd all head to Lexington where most everyone was concerned about THE FOOTBALL GAME but they were only going to see his friend's sister. In fact, they weren't even aware THE FOOTBALL GAME was being played until I explained why all the Jefferson County plates were zooming past us as I leisurely made the drive from Louisville to Frankfort.

So the three of us set out for the Kentucky Democratic Party Headquarters, located on the east side of Frankfort off US60 just south of Interstate 64's Exit #58. They sat through about the first third of the meeting before escaping to the outdoors while I sat through the rest of the meeting. While we aren't supposed to divulge what happens for fear of ouster from the Party, I can tell you without divulging any secrets that we didn't do much of anything today. There was quite a spread for breakfast of some very good food and I ate my share and perhaps that of two others. There was also a few times that I wanted to speak, or vote NO on a matter, but I didn't; I was quiet for the most part. I did speak up when there was an attempt to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Committee without a vote, something the By-Laws do not allow. I would have thought that the Party's legal counsel would have caught that - or maybe one of the newly appointed members of the By-Laws Committee, but no one spoke up so I did. Thus a motion was properly made and seconded, and the motion carried filling the vacancy. We are whole once again.

Eventually the meeting came to an end and I rejoined my friends for the twenty-two mile trip over to the Hamburg Place area of Fayette County where I dispatched them at an Aeropostale store in one of Hamburg Place's myriad of shopping centers. I explained to them some of the history of the once-sprawling horse farm, much of which is now developed into way-too-many shopping and office centers. It is frankly abhorrent in my opinion.

Given that I had no where to be for several hours, I thought it would be a good time to make a short drive south to some places I hadn't been in a while, checking to see what has changed and what has not. So from Lexington, I headed south on I-75 across the Kentucky River at Clay's Ferry into Madison County. Avoiding Richmond, I continued south exiting the highway at Berea and found my way into the Kentucky Artisan Center, just north of the collegiate community. This is a combination Rest Area, Restaurant, and Educational Exhibit, with students and other craftsmen and women demonstrating various things, all amidst a commercial venture where lots of Kentucky related stuff can be had for a mere buck or two - or twenty - or a hundred. I was intrigued by some hardwood tree Christmas trees which ran from about $20.00 up to about $70.00. I might go back and get one of these. They are said to be made in Elliott County which, unrelated, is one of eastern Kentucky's reliably Democratic counties, and one of only eight in the Commonwealth which carried for Barack Obama in 2008. Good for Elliott County.

From the Kentucky Artisan Center I ventured south along KY595 into Berea, home to one of Kentucky's college treasures, Berea College, whose history is worth writing about and maybe I will some other day. I got caught up in the traffic related to the Spoon Bread Festival parade, which managed to tie up all three of Berea's main streets. The festival is named for one of the signature dishes at Berea College's Boone Tavern Hotel. It is a corn meal type bread made with butter, milk, eggs, and meal with addition now and then of baking soda and/or sugar. However it is made, the festival in its honor is now in its 13th year. I headed west out of Berea along Chestnut Street, turning south onto US25 down the hill toward Mount Vernon.

Along this two-lane highway, which is a branch of Kentucky's famous Wilderness Road, one finds themself situated between two other forms of transportation. The CSX (formerly L&N) Railroad runs along the east side of the road while I-75 is about a good city block to the west. Leaving Madison County, one enters Rockcastle along the twenty or so mile drive between Berea and Mount Vernon. I followed US25 all the way into the Rockcastle County seat, passing through the Country Music mecca of Renfro Valley along the way.

At the end of US25, one can turn left and go a block and a half to the Courthouse, pictured here, or right onto US150, which is another branch of the Wilderness Road, and is, in fact, here in Mount Vernon, as elsewhere, called Wilderness Road.

Many years ago - it was 1990 - with my late friend Rob, one day we set out to drive the entire length of the eastern branch of US150, which begins over in Martin County, Indiana, follows eastwardly to Paoli and New Albany, then crosses the Ohio River into Louisville, from which it follows generally southeast through Bardstown, Springfield, Danville, Stanford, and Crab Orchard, ending in Mount Vernon. Although I wasn't going back to Louisville right away, I would be making part of that route today, but in reverse. But the route Rob and I travelled then has been greatly changed, and is presently being changed even more. Much of it has been straightened and widened, and even more is being corrected now, a part of President Obama's highway building stimulus fund package to get the economy moving again.

Thus I left Mount Vernon, then passing through the old town of Brodhead, making a left turn to stay on US150 which would in about three miles leave Rockacastle County and enter Lincoln County. The first town in Lincoln is Crab Orchard, which is one of Kentucky's oldest known places, predating the creation of the state by many years. The orchard full of crabapple trees was a meeting place for man and animal alike as it boasted several springs in the area, making it a place of hospitality in the old wilderness of what was home to Native Americans during the exploration of what would become Kentucky. Its post office was founded in 1815.

Staying on US150 requires another left turn, this one in Crab Orchard, which leads into the Lincoln County seat of Stanford. Just east of town, the highway becomes widens and becomes a by-pass. To go through Stanford, one must turn left on the "old road" which is now signed as KY78, but was still US150 when Rob and I made our journey. I believe my Young Democrats friend from back-in-the-day is still the PVA in Lincoln County. David Gambrell is a far more conservative Democrat than me, one more suitable to the voters of Lincoln County. I followed the old route of US150 through town past the courthouse, and then northward along Danville Street which leads, naturally, to Danville.

The road between Stanford and Danville, and in fact from here to my destination of Frankfort, is a wide four lane highway with medians and shoulders, a pleasant drive where one must watch one's speed between one courthouse town and the next. Danville and Stanford make up two-thirds of a trio of courthouse towns which are the closest together of any three courthouse towns anywhere in the Commonwealth. If one were to drive the triangle of US150 from Stanford to Danville, then KY52 over to Lancaster, then US27 back to Stanford, you would drive fewer miles than an entire trip between downtown Louisville and downtown Shelbyville. From this point back to Frankfort, I mostly followed the four lanes, which meant I followed around the towns of Danville in Boyle County, Harrodsburg in Mercer County, and would have driven around Lawrenceburg in Anderson County, except that I like to take the old road south of town, pausing at the Sand Spring Baptist Church Cemetery where my great-grandmother's little sister Vivian Antoinette Brawner Wheat is buried, along with other members of her family.

I followed the old US127 through town which eventually returns you to the four lane, which itself returns you to Frankfort, the place I was headed for a birthday celebration. That was all of my adventure tourism for the day. I will say the birthday party was a grand affair, with plenty of very good food and drink, copious amounts of roasted pork, homemade barbecue sauce, potato salad, and more than a few sasparillas. We were celebrating the 55th birthday of a friend, Phinis Hundley, who is the Larue County Democratic Party chair.

So I started the day in Frankfort with some delicious food at Democratic Headquarters and ended the day in Frankfort with some delicious food at the home of a friend on Watkins Court in downtown old Frankfort. That is until I returned to Louisville, the county seat of Jefferson County.

Here is a trivia question for you. How does the entry title relate to the contents of the entry?


Tomorrow is the 29th birthday of a dear friend, and one well known to many Louisville and Kentucky politicians. Will Carle, who is an employee of the governor's office, is twenty years less three days younger than me. Happy Birthday Will.

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.