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An Entertaining Chauffeur

Before I get to the business of pie making, let's go back to Kentucky, shall we?

Pretty much every time we are traveling and said travel includes a water view, I make it my business to photograph the sunrise. The Ohio River is but a mile down the road from the b&b so after waking early I threw on some clothes and drove there.
Welcome to Paducah indeed. As you can see I missed the actual sunrise, arriving a wee bit late, however, it was still pretty and peaceful with barge traffic just beginning to show life. Below, if you look at the right side of the photograph you will see how the Tennessee River merges with the Ohio.
The cloudless sky was a welcome sign for our upcoming tour through the countryside. I was absolutely dying over these red, red, trees.
Our hostess asked us the previous night what time did we want breakfast, and 7:30 was the agreed upon time, so as to not keep Hilary waiting. Here's another look at the place, opened in April, it is lovely inside, albeit with some interesting hosts who spent FIVE years restoring the place!
Returning to Hilary's home, we learned Ginnie would not be accompanying us as she had a hair appointment. We wasted no time hitting the road to Fancy Farm. That said, we did take a circuitous route for sight seeing and detailed narration of whom lived where and how everyone is related!

When B is driving I have no problem asking him to stop, however, I was a little reluctant to ask Hilary in spite of his assurance that he did not mind. Thus, sometimes I shot photos out the car window while we were driving as I wanted to remember everything and the surest way for me to do so is with a photograph.
One thing that really struck me is how I was expecting things to look more rugged and messy than they did, making for a very nice surprise. Except this house below...
The photograph does not do it justice--the back of it was pretty much sinking into the dirt! Hilary got out to chat with the man who lives here. Upon his return to the car, we all were quite puzzled as he looked as neat and tidy as a man can be. How he lives here is quite the mystery.

There was pretty much no traffic on most of the roads we traveled. Hilary was intent on showing us this historical marker and I'm glad he did.
If you could see how empty it is in these parts, you too, would be amazed that a man could reach such heights! Not too far from here I did ask Hilary to pull over so I could get this shot.
Now you may recall that I'd contacted the author of the Fancy Farm website, and she graciously agreed to meet us. By now I asked Hilary about calling her--his reply was "I don't know why you want to meet with her, she can't know a DAMN thing more than I do!" He is colorful like that.

Two miles down the road and there it was, the famous St. Jerome Catholic Church, the heartbeat of Fancy Farm.
As a reminder to the parishioners, they have a handy sign out front proclaiming thanks and giving go together.
In truth there is not a whole lot to see in Fancy Farm because all of the wooden buildings that comprised their downtown burnt in the 1950's, but one place remains that is pretty much like it always was, including serving Royal Crown, a soft drink we did not even know was still made.
Parking the car out front, unlocked I might add, we took a look inside the church.
Hilary is having a chat with the organist, no doubt asking who her family is. This is a pretty fancy church for such a tiny place, however people come from miles around to worship here, as well as go to school in a nearby building. Hilary is 82 and took his first communion here back in what, 1938? Yup, that's right, he said he was five years old and shaking in his boots!! We walked around looking at the inscriptions on all of the stained glass windows. Our Great Grandmother was a Toon, and pretty much all of the Toons are related in some fashion.
Bruce suggested he take our picture together on the steps of St. Jerome.
This is as good a time as any to show you what our Great Grandparents, as well as our Grandmother looked like. Although there are no dates on the back I'm presuming these were taken more than 10 years apart.
Our Grandmother, who I now know was called Lottie by everyone, is in the middle. Hilary's Mother, Anna, is on the left in both photographs. Amazing isn't it? What is so fantastic about all of this is knowing more about the people in the photographs, including the fact that Tommie, as he was called, pictured on the far right had polio, thus his hand is held in an unusual fashion. Hilary had plenty of stories to tell from his childhood about the folks pictured here with many of them being quite colorful.

By now he'd agreed that I could call Cynthia. We were to meet her for lunch at Droopys, the building pictured above. While she was driving the ten miles from Mayfield, we toured the famous picnic grounds. It takes quite a complex for a community of 490 people to feed 12,000 once a year on the first Friday in August, something they have been doing since 1880!!! Here are some of the pavilions...
Some are for seating and some are for the bar-b-que pits, the likes of which I've never seen before. Apparently wood is placed in the bottom to make the hot coals, sort of like some folks use a much smaller version for lighting charcoal.
From there they shovel them in underneath these pits.
The pits go on and on; by our estimate at least as long as a football field!! We had just enough time to visit the land where Hilary was born just down the road. He'd told us that a railroad track ran through his front yard and he was not exaggerating!
During the war years, when he was a teenager, trains came by carrying supplies about every five minutes. Talking to Tom and Matt Monday evening, Tom was curious about the train songs Hilary so loves. Well here are a few classic train songs, a few most of us have heard before. I can't exactly remember what happened to their childhood home where his parents lived for all of their years. All that remains is a 50 year old barn and wide open spaces where Hilary and his four brothers once raised tobacco, had rabbit traps, and hunted squirrels.
The life he leads these days is a far cry from whence he came.

Despite Hilary's reluctance to meet with Cynthia, he had a lot to say once she arrived. Was she ever nice! Droopys, the only place in town was quite the place. Oh how I wish I'd taken a few more shots of the interior.
And, oh so reasonably priced! One reason Hilary was disdainful of Cynthia's knowledge is because she's not from around these parts, having come from Louisville about twenty years ago. We learned she came to FF to marry an Elder boy, and so she did. She met Jimmy's sister years ago at a Red Cross event and they became fast friends. When her marriage broke up in Louisville she decided to make the move to FF and has never looked back, living on a farm that has been in the Elder family for three generations. She is the new historian for Fancy Farm, thus the website. For the record both Bruce and I had an RC cola for posterity's sake.

Following our lunch, we went over to the old school where generations of Fancy Farmers went to school, a Catholic one, natch. Hilary reminisced as we went into each classroom that once housed an entire grade of students.
The bottom floor has been beautifully restored with one room outfitted as a museum. Upstairs, there is work to be done, however, that is where all of the boxes of research were to be found. Turns out that for the 150th anniversary of Fancy Farm, a priest wrote a book about the history and families that made up the town. Mind you all of this was before the internet,so everything is on paper, all the marriage certificates, land deeds, baptism records and so on. Cynthia pulled out the Courtney folder which was not all that big because our family actually lived nearby in Murphy's Pond where we would next attempt to visit.
I say attempt because it is down a long dirt road, well a few of them do have a little gravel.
Unfortunately the road into Murphy's Pond also contained a lot of standing water and mud, making it impossible for us to actually see the old homestead. I have in my possession letters written to my Mother in 1966 seeking her approval to sell her stake in Murphy's Pond to the Nature Conservancy. Those letters are filled with history and gossip including several mentions about Anna's boys, Hilary and Howard who are big shot doctors! Howard, or Joe, as Hilary calls him, is also still living in Michigan. He's 87 and we darn near got to meet him as well because he was driving down for the holiday. Sadly he did not make it before we left town.

While we were at the school Cynthia's husband showed up and invited us to his farm. Who could resist? We didn't. They grow tobacco and have some livestock as well. I was most anxious to see their two foal and I did not have to wait long!
Actually, I'm getting ahead of myself because we first went into a barn where Jimmy has workers stripping the tobacco leaves for shipping. The Mexican gentleman are here on work visas, housed and fed by the Elders.
Before the leaves are ready for stripping they are smoked in a tobacco barn for some period of time. Oh wait...barn cats! In plenty of stories I've read about barn cats, but now I've seen them for myself.
I mean they were everywhere!
Yet even more!
If ever there were a photograph that I've taken that I really, really like, the one below would be it.
We were walking up to the barn to see the ongoing smoking process.
Fires are lit in a deep bed of sawdust and keep smoldering for who knows how long! I've forgotten many of the details. Jimmy was quite the talker, and as we were leaving, he and Hilary got into a long discussion about the various merits of planting specific tomato varieties. According to Hilary, as we were taking our leave, Jimmy might very well talk into tomorrow. That, my friends, is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black!

A drive over to nearby Mayfield, the county seat and the closest thing to a city around those parts, and back to meet up with Ginnie for dinner. We dined at an excellent Mexican restaurant where, of course, Hilary and Ginnie are well known.

Beginning our day with Hilary at 8:30, we parted ways 12 hours later! Can you even imagine him spending so much time with us, talking all the while? And he tells us that his brother Joe likes to talk!
Really, really, a great day. You may be wondering how Bruce was handling all this family talk, and I bet you won't be a bit surprised to learn that he was the perfect gentleman each and every moment.

Back to reality...the pies won't make themselves,

Gail


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