Young Mary Goes: Glasgow, KY

I was telling a friend of mine about the month of June — how I’m waiting to move in my new (beautiful!) apartment while it is being renovated — until that time, I’m a nomad.  My friend said, “Mary, even when you have a home, you’re basically a nomad.”  And they were right.

I like to go and see and do.  I believe in the small town as much as I believe in the big city.  Ultimately, I believe in seeing it all.  And that includes my own backyard.   And Glasgow = Bowling Green’s backyard. 

Thanks to Brock, seen above, lanky and quirky and most importantly, a Glasgowian (proper term for person from Glasgow?) , I got a day’s worth of adventurin’ around his hometown last week. 

First on our trip, we headed to where any 20-something goes for a reminder of “live for today” and scooted to Glasgow Municipal Cemetery.   Filled with one beautiful monument after another, the headstone above of a woman in a rocking chair is to remember Ella Ellis Carden.  After a few unsuccessful Google results, I finally found this maybe-accurate backstory on Glasgow’s Topix.  (Hangs head in shame.) 

The lady in the chair was named Ella Ellis Carden. She and her husband, Lucien Carden, were well-to-do citizens and lived on North Race Street in the old Tompkins home, now the home of the Thistlethwaites. She died young and her distraught husband left money for a substantial monument to be erected and the lot to be cared for in perpetuity. Mr. Carden’s nephew and namesake, Lucian Carden Preston,(buried in the neighboring lot) was the trustee and overseer. The likeness of Ella was noted by her contemporaries as being extremely lifelike. The detail on the monument is outstanding.

Just up the hill from the cemetery sits Fort Williams, a Union civil war fort.  During the civil war, Glasgow was an important city because of its railway and Union troops in South Central KY used it for communication and supplies.  In 1862, a confederate named John Hunt Morgan took Glasgow over for three days — a short stint of time, yes, but just long enough to destroy Union rail and communication lines.

To fight future attacks of this kind, Fort Williams was erected the following year in 1863 - and like many things we do to avoid other things, it didn’t work as planned.   Months after the Fort was built, John Hunt Morgan came back for part deux and destroyed more than $250,000 worth of supplies.  

At Fort Williams, you can find historical signs giving more information and history on the battle — my favorite added info from the sign was a quote from an over-confident general.  He said, “I can keep all the Rebels now at the Cumberland River out of this place and can whip them anywhere I can find them.”  Whippin’ rebels?  Historical signs keeping it real at Fort Williams.

Short drive to downtown and to the Barren County Historical Foundation’s Art Gallery and Antiques! (Suggested and appreciated by the lovely Kayla - her blog is HERE!)  I’m a fan of any antique mall/junk store and there were tons of neat art and trinkets for perusing in this place.  Upstairs, there was a selection of great old books with great old cover designs.  And downstairs, there was a variety of original art, furniture, and the usual neato antiques and vintage accessories like the sweet, tiny clutch below that tucked inside, included its original mirror.  Swoon.

A walk around the corner and we marked off another “point of interest” from Kentucky’s tour guide for the Glasgow area and visited the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center.  Here’s the skinny on this museum:

  • located in the old Kentucky Pants Factory (I can’t find much on Kentucky Pants — help me, readers! — when I google it I get awful blue sweatpants with “go cats” on the rear. yeck.)
  • houses tons of neat old stuff, cool stuff, and LOCAL/REGIONALLY relevant stuff that makes you proud to be alive, cool, and from south central KY.
  • is FREE to tour - but there’s a donation box at the front desk.  AND you can become a member for the cheapy-cheapy cost of $25 a year. 
  • air-conditioned, go-at-your-own-pace facility perfect for a break from the blazin’ humidity of KY and good for your brain, too.
  • they even got’ butterfly specimens!

  • and they have displays with some beautiful vintage apparel and accessories (passed down through generations from REAL people in the area, I might add!) like this gorgeous wedding veil.

and cool vintage tools, equipment, furniture, and housewares, too.  Exhibits great for both kids and adults that show the type of manually-operated things I miss in life today.  I have a warm spot in my heart sometimes for paper ephemera, for the things that were used when things were harder than they had to be.  Like this!  The huge directory wheel that phone operators used to look up and connect folks via telephone to one another.   Isn’t it just wonderful to be reminded of the tangibility of connecting to someone even before phonebooks?

By this time, Brock and I had worked up an appetite.  Lookin’ and talkin’ and actually thinkin’ can do that to a person!  We chose to keep it downtown and meandered over to The Music Room Cafe at George J’s.  As I try to keep pretty up-to-date on the music-goin-ons in the area — I’d heard tale that this place was hosting some bands (Thanks to Melissa and KIC for that tip) as well as serving food and our trip would let me scope the place out and get fed.   Brock ordered waffle fries and an epic grilled cheese.  I order the delicious chicken-salad stuffed tomato seen below and a side of sweet potato tots.  Sonic vs. George J’s?  George J’s for the win on this one.

And I give this place the Young Mary Seal of Approval.  Here’s why:

- Chicken Salad & Tomato = perfectly refreshing, crisp, and plated nicely.

- Atmosphere is clean, friendly, and maintained its own diner personality without being 50s hokey.  George J’s kept it right on that one.

- Our waitress not only kept us informed on our food, but also had a sense of humor - AND let us know about their upcoming music nights.  The real kicker?  She was believably excited about those music nights!  Had I been a tourist staying overnight in the area, her genuine attitude would’ve made me come back to hear whoever was playing.  That’s good, genuine word of mouth. 

- Dining was inexpensive.  Both meals and drinks rang up to right at $20, and I still had some sweet potato tots to go. 

- What I’ll have next time: dessert and a listening ear - coming to a music night is next on my list.

With our energy revived, Brock and I took a short (beautiful countryside) drive to nearby Park City, KY where we stopped at the stone remains above — the last remnants of a historic tavern never-finished, Bell’s Tavern.  Nestled right beside the railroad tracks, Bell’s Tavern was first built as a wooden structure in the 1820s by Colonel William Bell.  It was an inn that hosted travelers visiting the Mammoth Cave area and particularly elite travelers like leading politicians and the wealthy.  Colonel Bell’s hospitality, lush service and dining, and his favorite personal appetizer (peach brandy + honey) were known throughout the country and the tourist elite. Long story short: Park City had swagger.

In 1858, a fire destroyed the original wooden structure inn and Colonel Bell’s daughter Mrs. Robert Slaughter Bell, who had run the inn since the Colonel’s death, began work on a grand stone inn - the incomplete ruins we see today.  After completing about 15 feet of the stone wall border of the home, the civil war broke out and doomed completion of the tavern.  Long story short: War, what is it good for?  Absolutely nothing. (And less peach brandy and honey for all.)

I’d love to know about the future of this place now - who owns it?  Will it continue to stand in remnants and won’t somebody just invest it to its former glory?  An elite inn for Mammoth Cave patrons (and nearby folks like me) sounds fantastic- doesn’t it?   Even if it opened purely for summer seasons and stayed purely as an event rental in the off-season — wouldn’t you just love that?  Where DO the swanky folks go when they visit Mammoth Cave now?  Or do the swanky even come there - or is it more reserved for fanny-packing families and hikers?  Somebody inform me!

As part of the “Young Mary Goes” series, I’m striving to DO something “new” with each visit to a new place as well as SEE all these great things.  As we were in the country, and Brock is a pretty great shot - the NEW thing I did on this visit was shoot a gun.  I had shot a rifle before at age 8 and remember very little about it other than my shoulder nearly being knocked out of socket —but since being an adult that understands what guns can do - I hadn’t touched one.  I’m neither really pro-gun or anti-gun - it’s something that I definitely wish I had more information and maybe a stance on — but I do enjoy and respect the sport of aiming at a target (a non-living one, like the paper plate we used) and firing.   Here’s a grainy cell phone video of my first gun shot:

After a couple of my own gun fires …and misses.. turns out if you’re full of anxiety/a beginner, you’re probably a terrible shot - I watched Brock hit the target dead on, we put up the guns and ammo (safely) and took a walk behind his homeplace to see a family plot as well as some more gorgeous countryside.  I’m as jealous of the gorgeous environment Brock has in his backyard everyday almost as much as I’m not jealous of the godawful cell phone service out there.  Give and take, folks. 

Everything was beautiful.  And this sunny walk was the perfect end to my day in Glasgow.  I’m also very thankful to know Brock — who is much more than a tour guide, but also a fantastic writer, sculptor, and generally good human being.  He put up with me, my blabbering mouth, my camera, and being forced to being in and taking shameless photos like the one below all day - “oooh , get a picture of me on the hay bale!” - and that is a great friend.

For more photos of the day in Glasgow, click HERE to see my Facebook album and make sure to LIKE my page while you’re there!   

If you have a suggestion for a place Young Mary Goes should..well.. go - or have feedback/questions for me, please feel free to hit my email: Mary.Sparr@Gmail.com with subject line: Young Mary.