November 18, 2016
Guest Bloggist Edition the Eighth
The real blogger here, my cousin-in-law, John, has been hounding me for months to do another one of these things. John occasionally says to be careful what you ask for, so, John, here it is.
I was in my home town of Russell Springs, Kentucky, recently, spending time visiting, working, and loafing. Mostly visiting and loafing. John told me about an internet photography book that he was working on, about “The Barns of Russell County.” (John is an excellent photographer, and he knows how to turn a camera on!) Knowing that John sometimes has trouble getting around, I offered to drive him around the county, so that he could concentrate on picture taking. He accepted and off we went!
Over a period of a few days, a few hours each day, we drove around to parts of Russell County that he had not explored for barns. We did not want to trespass on private property, so we usually stayed on the roads. Back roads at that, or as my mother would say, “pig paths.” There are a lot of these “pig paths” in my home territory.
Russell County, being mainly rural and agricultural, has a lot of barns. Most barns tended to be black or brown, but there were red ones and white ones, a yellow one, and multicolored. Most were wooden, which is what John was mainly interested in, but some were metal, and some were a combination. Some barns had decorations, such as quilt patterns, on them. There were large barns and small barns, some falling down and some in great condition. John, having an eye for photography, saw potential in even the most run-down, abandoned barns. Some barns were easy to get to, others not so much. Some barns were within picture-taking distance, but some were a ways off the roads, so we could not get to them. Most of our travels were on back roads, so traffic was not usually an issue.
John and I had our adventures while out on these picture-taking drives. Once we came up on a half dozen peacocks in someone’s front yard. None of the males spread their tail feathers for us, but John still got some nice pictures. There were always horses and cows around, sometimes near the barns. So a couple of times, John hung out the truck window and yell at the critters to stand still and look at him, so he could photograph them.
My cousin, Janet (John’s favorite sister-in-law), told us that her granddaughter had won a gift card to a country store in Sano. She was unsure where it might be, so we volunteered to find the store since we were going in that direction looking for barns. We drove up to Sano from Royville and found that store in downtown Sano. (Well, in all fairness, Sano ain’t that big!) John and I stopped to get a cool drink and inquire about the gift card. It was the right place! By the way, this store is located in Russell County, but has an Adair County (Columbia) mailing address. I guess the U S Postal Service has its reasons.
Our biggest misadventure came right after we left that store. We drove down Old Sano-Mt Olive Road about 100 yards and we stopped, to photograph a barn. I parked on the right side of a two lane road with no dividing lines separating the directions. John got out of the truck, walked across the road, cane in one hand and camera in the other, down a ditch and up the bank into a field, so that he could get the perfect shot. Of course, to get back, John had to leave the field, go down the bank into the ditch and then climb out of the ditch, and cross the road. Well, let’s just say that things went so smoothly that John decided to inspect the bottom of the ditch close up. Seeing him inspecting the ditch bottom, I went to help him. My first words to him were, “John, is the camera alright?” We had been there for maybe 10 minutes, with no traffic at all. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, two vehicles, one from each direction, appeared. Here you got two old guys hobbling out of a ditch, across a road to a pickem-up truck that is blocking half the road! The first traffic jam in years on Old Sano-Mt Olive Road! Things turned out ok though, no injuries, and the traffic jam soon cleared up.
Another time, we went south on US 127, headed toward Swan Pond Bottom. To get there, we had to cross the always-under-repair Wolf Creek Dam. The dam blocks the Cumberland River and created Lake Cumberland, a fishing and boating paradise. It is mostly an earthen dam, so if it ever fails, lookout Tennessee and everything in between! By the way, Swan Pond Bottom is in that flood path. John photographed a couple of barns on the way, and we stopped by Swan Pond Bottom, to visit an old friend of John’s late wife, Jeannie. Stella was home and invited us in. While there, she offered me some no-bake oatmeal chocolate cookies. I had not had that treat in years. When I was growing up, attending grade school, we occasionally got that treat as dessert in the lunchroom! That was decades ago. The cookies were delicious then, and they still are. (Some folks refer to these cookies as “cow piles” or “cow patties.”)
The final day of our barn hunting adventure took us to an area of Russell County near Windsor, which is actually in another county. This is the area where my Dad and his siblings grew up. John and I stopped by the old home place and ended up visiting my cousin, Peggy, and her daughter, Bev. Peggy was down from Ohio, visiting Bev and her husband, who live at the old home place now. The four of us drove down to Russell Springs for lunch and it turned out to be a good day for all. John was able to photograph two old (90-100 years) barns that are still in use. And I was able to visit with part of my family.
If anyone is interested, I suggest that you go to YouTube, enter in the Search box – The Gibson Brothers, The Barn Song. A wonderful song about a boy and a barn. Be forewarned though, it is a bluegrass music song. Well, I do believe it is time for a Mountain Dew!
Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …
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