Sunday, December 20, 2009

579. On The Road

"Weekends were made for Michelob." That's an old advertising line. A nice cold Michelob might be good on a hot summer weekend night, but this weekend was not the time for imbibing a cold, brisk beer in a sleek, green bottle.

Rather, as is my wont, I spent the weekend on the road, visiting the living and the dead.

Saturday my mother and I travelled to Frankfort together where she dropped me off at the Wendell H. Ford Kentucky Democratic Party Headquarters where I was to attend the 4th Quarter meeting of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee. My favorite cartoon character, Foghorn Leghorn, might make a funny here, implying that visiting the Democratic Party this weekend could be a stop one would make while visiting the dead. But then, that wouldn't necessarily be a funny - it is well close to the truth given the failures going on in Washington and our recent failures in Special Elections. So instead, I won't say anything about the meeting.

While I was cussing and discussing at the meeting, my mother crossed over US60 to the Sunset Memorial Gardens, where several generations of my people are buried. But, let me rephrase the beginning of the sentence. I did no cussing or discussing at the meeting. In fact, three different people commented on my lack of commenting. It was not for lack of trying. Despite sending the Chair a Christmas Card so as to get on his radar screen, and sitting directly in front of him during the meeting, and politely holding my left hand up for most of the meeting, I was, not surprisingly, never recognised for a comment.

Had the Chair called on me, in our discussion about how do we do this Special Election thing should there be a next time, I would have said that I've never understood why we go through a grand and monumental effort every four years during what is called the Reorganization, (allegedly) electing three people in each precinct in every precinct in the Commonwealth, and that group electing members to County Executive and State Central Executive committees, and then we do very little else with them. We are not even sure if the people we elected last year are still viable to the Party this year. Nor do we make any great effort to fill the vacancies in those precincts where no one was elected. (As a note, I've been told that Fayette and Franklin counties do endeavor to keep these slots filled). The truth is, if every precinct level opening was filled just in Jefferson County, we'd have a base-base of about 1545 troops-on-the-ground. Well, that's what I would have said if given the chance. I will add that several people who did get called on made impressive and passionate speeches - especially Marcus Woodward of Ashland, Charlotte Lundergan of Lexington, Lisa Tanner of Louisville, and Martha Jane King of Lewisburg. Mr. Woodward's discussion on healthcare was somber and sobering. Most everyone applauded. It was a great speech about a serious delinquency in our government. Let me move on.

My mother made her way to her cousin's house off Versailles Road opposite the road that leads back to the Frankfort Country Club. After the meeting, I hitched a ride over there. From that visit, we went to another cousin's house in Versailles, near the big Kroger off Lexington Road in Woodford County, east of town. Our final destination was back in Frankfort, but I very much dislike backtracking, so I coursed through downtown Versailles and headed west on US62, rather than physically north on West US60, the way we came into town.

This ride takes you past the High Bridge across the Kentucky River, just upriver from the old crossing of Shryock's Ferry opposite Tyrone in Anderson County, where perched up on the hill is a sign saying Welcome to Paradise, indicating the home of Wild Turkey Bourbon. We climbed up US62 into the east side of Lawrenceburg, and then northward out US127 toward Frankfort. Along the way, where KY151 (the old US127) leads off to the left is my cousin Loretta Sharp's restaurant called the Captain something. I've never been there. She operates another one by the same name down in Lee County, Florida. She is one of two cousins of mine operating restaurants in the area. The other one is Melanie Baker, who's Melanie's is at the corner of Saint Clair and West Main streets in downtown Frankfort. We didn't stop at the restaurant and instead stayed on US127 out of Anderson and into Franklin, crossing over both I-64 and US60, and leaving that road at KY1005, which takes one over to Choateville to the west. There we visited with my maternal grandmother's oldest sister, Frances Catherine Lewis Moore, who is 89. She had cooked up a pot of vegetable soup with a great deal of roast beef as flavoring. She also had freshly made jam cakes, and while we were there her great-granddaughter whipped up some oatmeal and peanut butter cookies. I had a little of everything.

Eventually, in a hard blowing snowstorm (which didn't stick) we made our way back to Mom's house.

Today was a different trip, one I had not planned until a few days ago. After church, I told a friend I wanted to go find the grave of Mrs. Sylvia Cross, the lady I mentioned in the previous entry who died last week. I knew from the obituary the name of the cemetery and I gathered from maps where the cemetery might be. I knew if I could find the cemetery, her grave would still be fresh and covered with flowers.

We started south on I-65 toward Greensburg, the county seat of Green County. Mrs. Cross was said to have been buried in the Green County Memory Gardens on KY61 south of Summersville. Not wanting to make the trip on the interstate system, I exitted at the Lebanon Junction/Boston exit, one of many along I-65 with KY61. We headed east toward Boston, a tiny community just out of Bullitt County and into Nelson. Turning south on West US62 for a brief period, we then turned east on KY52 which takes one along side the railroad spur from Lebanon Junction over to Lebanon itself, through the communities of Nelsonville and Lyons. The road ends at US31E in the community of New Haven, where we turned south on the Federal highway. I should have bought gas there in New Haven, as it was the cheapest I saw along the entire trip at $2.399 a gallon. But, I didn't. We followed US31E into Larue County, passing along the way the boyhood home of President Abraham Lincoln, the place at Knob Creek. At White City, I thought about turning onto KY470, but couldn't recall exactly where it came out, so instead I stayed on the road I knew, into Hodgenville, around the new roundabout - much better than Louisville's new roundabout at the Zoo, this one seems to have some purpose to it - and then south. We drove up into the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, noticing the 56 steps representing the years of the president's life, and the granite edifice holding the little log cabin, dubiously yet traditionally held to be the birthplace of the 16th president. The entire facility is presently closed for renovations.

We crossed US31E onto KY61 towards Buffalo. Before US31E was completed sixty years ago between Lincoln's birthplace and Magnolia, this was the road over which is was routed. In Buffalo, I encountered KY470, now remembering where it led. KY470 south of Buffalo is the original alignment of US31E toward Magnolia. We contined on KY61 toward our destination. Along the way, I began noticing the names I read in Mrs. Cross's obituary - we passed a Despain Road (Despain was her maiden name), as well as several sites with the name Bloyd, which was her first husband's last name. We passed over the hill at Mount Sherman, out of Larue County and into Green County, down the hill into Taylor Chapel, through Allendale and Bloyds Crossing, past the old Skyline Drive-In Theater (will open May 1st), and into the crossroads village at Summersville.

At this point, we need only to look for the cemetery which quickly came into view less than a mile from the town on the east side of the road. The cemetery is about two acres and only about half developed. Nearly in the center, closer to the back side than the front, was the newly dug grave, covered over with flowers now a little over a week old. Although it was very muddy due to all the recent rain and snow, my friend and I crossed over to the grave. Her marker appears to have been in place for some time, noting her birth year of 1917, but much too soon for 2009 to mark her death. Next to her's is a gravesite for her son and daughter-in-law, people I've never met, but according to her obit, are still among the living. After a pause, a prayer, and some pictures on my cell phone, this pilgrimage was at an end. About 80 miles separate Mrs. Cross's final residence in Old Louisville and this site she had obviously chosen years ago as her final resting place. I was very sad.

We left the cemetery for the sojourn home. Again not wanting to backtrack, I headed south toward Greensburg, knowing KY88 a few miles ahead could take us over to both US31E at Hardyville or US31W and I-65 at the Hart County seat of Munfordville, usually pronounced with an "s" between the "d" and the "v." Twenty five miles separate KY61 in Green County and US31W in Hart County. Along the way I began to recognise the road, remembering a visit to another graveyard. We came upon the Gilead-Fairview Road, a name which stuck in my mind. I turned there and just a few hundred feet to the north was a fork with a lane called the Pleasant Grove Cemetery Road. Here in this cemetery is buried my cousin Scottie Ralston. I had brought my mother to her funeral in January 2004. The cemetery is quite small and full of stones bearing the name Ralston. Isabelle Scott "Scottie" Dean Ralston's mother and my grandmother were sisters - sisters also to the 89 year old Frances with whom we visited yesterday. I called my mother from the cemetery - Scottie was ten years older than me and ten years younger than my mother when she died.

This was our final stop, from there quickly making our way over to Munfordville and US31W's intersection with I-65. Headed north, crossing the Green River, the Nolin [No Lynn] River, and the Salt, we were safely back home about darktime here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

So begins Christmas Week. Merry Christmas.

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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.