Our arrival in Bardstown coincided with a few others arriving early so once we were set up we met up with Keith, Steve and Marge and walked into town to browse. We visited the Talbot Tavern where we decided to partake of the bourbon sauce over bread pudding. In this town, bourbon is king! Later on we ate dinner at Mammy's, the old five and dime turned into a restaurant. I had a Kentucky Hot Brown, indigenous to this area - first made at the Brown Hotel in Louisville - and it was the best one I have ever had. It is ham and turkey over toast, covered with a cheese sauce and topped off with a tomato and bacon slices then broiled. Yummy!
On Friday morning we returned to the hotel and helped Charles get the goody bags, shirts, name tags, etc. ready for everyone who would be arriving later in the day. We had a total of 96 participants this year, down from the 133 in 2011. We lost a whole family who had another gathering out west to attend.
Once finished, Ted returned to the trailer to wash the rig and windows. He also had to get our propane tanks filled. I chose to take the trolley ride through town and visit the Barton Distillery with Keith, Steve and Marge. They can keep their bourbon tastings and just go straight to the bourbon candy for me! But the science of making bourbon is very interesting. There are some new machines and things but the technique remains the same. I learned President Johnson had a law passed stating that bourbon 1) has to be made in the US; 2) it must be at least 51% and no more than 80% corn with the remaining ingredients being rye or wheat (never both) and barley. Others outside the US can make bourbon, they just can't call it bourbon. All bourbon is whiskey, not all whiskey is bourbon.
Bardstown was voted the most beautiful small town by Conde Nast this past year. Beautiful rolling hill, horses and constant employment distilling bourbon has made a wonderful life for the folks in the area. We ate lunch at Hurst Drug Store's original soda and lunch counter. We missed the crowd because on weekends it really gets packed.
By late afternoon everyone had arrived and we had a light dinner and "meet and greet" for everyone followed by an evening in the pool.
On Saturday everyone scattered in different directions. Ted and Brandon went to Brooks, KY to shoot. I spent the day with Kara, Bill, Morgan, Sam, Karen and Ron. I took another trolley ride with the kids and saw and learned a few more things about the area and making bourbon. Your tour guide makes a big difference and the route was different the second time.
We separated and had lunch again at Mammy's so Karen could have a Hot Brown, a favorite of hers too. Ronnie had a special dinner companion. The inside of the restaurant has changed little from its five and dime days and the old tin ceiling is original.
Saturday night we all gathered at the Carriage House and had our big dinner. Cousin Dave welcomed everyone and asked that people check the accuracy of their personal information on the Family Tree I had worked on. Charles did a terrific book of old photos (I was 2.5 years old and 10 years old in some of them) and he has a photo of my great-grandparents' wedding in January 1907. I still have no official documentation for this and the date is handwritten but I asked for a copy to put with the Census Reports that list their years married. I attended their 50th wedding anniversary in 1957 so I know the date is right but I would like to have it in a legal document.
After a big dinner the card games started while others went outside for a night time swim. We closed up the pool and the hall except there were three players left playing Texas Hold 'Em when we left. I don't know how long they kept the employees waiting to close up shop. Ronnie eventually won when Brian went "all in" just to end the game.
We returned to the hotel and went swimming in an uncrowded, quiet pool. Later Ted and I treated the 10 of us still there to dinner at the Stephen Foster restaurant next door. Everyone had been buying us things all weekend and this gave us a chance to reciprocate.
I had purchased tickets for all of us to see The Stephen Foster Story, an outdoor production performed at My Old Kentucky Home state park amphitheater. It had been really hot but the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and the humidity is nothing like we are used to so it was quite comfortable.
The production was very well done and of course listening to Beautiful Dreamer, Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, Camptown Races, Oh Suzanna, My Old Kentucky Home and many others was so enjoyable. How the play ends and what is written about Stephen Foster in the program has made me want to read his biography. Of course the play had a happy ending when Jeannie agrees to marry him but he died at age 37 after a fall "in his room in the Bowery." It sounds as if he was alone. Now I am curious what happened after they married. Stay tuned.
It was goodbye and hugs at the hotel when we got back to get our truck to come back to the campground. We will see Ron and Karen at the lake and Keith, Steve and Marge in February for the wedding. It will probably be two years before we see Lisa, Marshall and Brandon again.
Today we slept in and are just trying to get things caught up and back in order. We have been gone so much that we still haven't paid for our spot. The fact that there is no office or employees here hasn't helped. If they don't come by for their money before tomorrow morning, I will mail the check to this address. Not a great way to run a business!
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, everybody needs one. ~ Jane Howard.