Friday, February 12, 2010

596. "Oh, he's my cousin"

I cut class today - no, I played hookie from work today. I didn't call in sick - I actually told my boss I wouldn't be in and he said ok.

Part of my unscheduled holiday was spent in Louisville doing those things you can't always get done during the day because you are at work. But I had planned my afternoon around a trip to Frankfort. (I know what you are thinking - how many times is he going to write about a trip to Frankfort pretending such a trip isn't just another in a series of the mundane adventures of a political junkie?). Well, here is another in the series.

Today's trip had little to do with politics. I attended a ceremony at the Old State Capital on Broadway honoring the conclusion of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial and the beginning of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Today, of course, marks the 16th president's 201st birthday. During the last few years the nation has been celebrating the bicentennial of his birth. Many of those events have taken place in Kentucky, in places like Springfield, the Lincoln Homestead State Park, Larue County, and in downtown Louisville on the waterfront where we have a new larger than life size statue of Lincoln, created by Louisville's famed sculptor Ed Hamilton. All of those celebrations, at least in Kentucky, officially came to an end today. But with that closing of one door, we open another, the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, or as some call it the War Between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression. Through the Kentucky Historical Society, of which I am a member, Kentucky will be marking the Civil War for the next few years. That program will be ran by Donna M. Neary, the director of Kentucky's Civil War Sesquicentennial Initiatives.

After the official program this afternoon, I found a friend in the audience, former State Senator Lindy Casebier, and we discovered each other's interests in being present today. I told him I wanted to meet Ms. Neary as she and I had already been exchanging tweets on the Twitter. She came over to our conversation and he made the formal introductions and an expansive conversation ensued. The end result is that I am hoping to somehow get involved in this sesquicentennial celebration as the Civil War in general, and the Civil War in Kentucky in particular, is something which holds my interest. My backroads travel of the Commonwealth often - regularly - involve stopping to read historical markers scattered across the state, many of which concern the Civil War. I have "cousins" buried here and there in the state, some with graves marked by a cross and the letter USA for the United States Army, while others have the same cross, but the letters CSA, for Confederate States Army. Most any Kentuckian with roots in the state have relatives on both sides of the blue and gray line. Again, it is something which interests me.

During our conversation, we somehow got talking about the colorful new interior in the New State Capital, which itself is celebrating a milestone, its own centennial. And at some point in that conversation I heard a familiar name and responded, "Oh, he's my cousin." I didn't go on to explain just how we were cousins as I have never thought of this person as anyone other than my cousin. I see him pretty regularly, we are the same age, and fairly close. But then it occurred to me that here I was in the Old Capital, which in the past housed the Kentucky Historical Society, which is the repository of so many genealogical records and resources, that maybe my casual reference to this person as simply my cousin was an orthographic faux pas. After all, we aren't simply cousins.

I have no first cousins. My brother and me are the only grandchildren of both sets of our grandparents. Our cousin-counting technically starts with second cousins, or properly, in some instances if we had any, first cousins-once removed - we don't have any. There is a nomenclature amongst genealogists, some of whom follow it with zeal and precision while others are lazier in their observance of the proper rules and terms. The person I casually referred to as my cousin is technically my third cousin-once removed. I am his second cousin-twice removed. Some people might call us fourth cousins. We share a common ancestor - Annie Collins. Annie Choate Brawner Collins was his great-grandmother. She was my great-great-grandmother. She lived at the fork between E. Main and Broadway, just east and opposite the Capitol Avenue bridge in downtown Frankfort. I've written about her before here on the blog. Whatever the technical relationship, in my family we're simply called cousins. And I have a lot of them.


Before I left Frankfort, I stopped in my favorite Frankfort coffee shop, the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe, located across Broadway from the Old Capital Annex. It is a ritual of mine although I've never been in there this late on a Friday. The time was about 6:30 p.m. There was a band setting up while I was there which was to be performing tonight to a sold-out house. Now, to be honest, there probably aren't 30 seats in the house, so selling it out shouldn't be difficult. For Louisvillians, the best way to describe the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe is that of a true combination Heine Bros. - Day's - Old Louisville - Sunergos coffeshop with a little Rudyard Kipling thrown in for music. It is quickly becoming a cultural center for downtown Frankfort.

Tonight's band is The Farewell Drifters, based in Nashville, Tennessee. With one exception, they all looked about 22 years old to me - with one older. The promo picture at right reminds me of a Procol Harem promo pic from the 1960s. They have a website - The warmup was a very mellow combination of folk music and bluegrass picking, played a little too loud but I am sure with a full house it won't be. I wish I could have stayed and the truth is I probably should have. As a Jackson Browne devotee, I am sure, based on the fifteen or so minutes I was listening, that I would have liked their performance. Here is some copy from their bio:

"Zach Bevill (guitar, lead vocals) and Joshua Britt (mandolin, vocals) write eclectic folk songs unbound by tradition, yet invariably influenced by it. Add the rest of the Drifters – Clayton Britt (lead guitar), Christian Sedelmyer (fiddle), and Dean Marold (upright bass) – and you have a delightful synthesis of folk pop and traditional string band music that appeals to a wide range of listeners."

The coffeehouse itself has a website - Those of you into indi music should check out their show schedule. Just remember, the seating is very limited. Also, they have a varied food menu and their beverage list isn't limited to coffee. There is also beer and wine, and being Kentucky, Ale-8-One in a bottle.

Another reason Frankfort is my favorite little capital city.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I get back from my active Navy stint, I'll resume going to the coffeetree for cappuccinos and discussion

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.