For Mom and Dad, and maybe for my husband too, today was one of the high points of this trip. We drove from Nashville to Hopkinsville, KY, about an hour away.
Mom and Dad have been married for 52 years – it will be 53 in June. Two weeks after they were married in June 1955, Dad was called into the service (Air Force). He was promptly shipped off to England. In August 1956, Dad was transferred to Ft Campbell in Kentucky. Mom quit her job and packed up to move to Kentucky with him, so they could finally be together.
They lived in Hopkinsville, KY. They started out in a small, not very nice apartment, but soon moved into a better one on a tree lined street not far from the hospital. Good thing – Mom became pregnant while they were there and my husband, their oldest child, was born at the Jennie Stuart Hospital in November 1957. In August 1958, they moved back to Massachusetts. They had not returned to Hopkinsville since that time.
Our visit was a stroll down memory lane for them. So many years ago they had been newlyweds and new parents in a small town that didn’t have much to do. Hopkinsville has grown considerably since that time. There are new stores and restaurants, one way streets and streets that didn’t even exist when they were there.
We set off on a treasure hunt of sorts. Our first objective was to find the apartment they lived in when my husband was born. Of course, the house has changed a bit – new windows and doors, a change of exterior color. But they still recognized it. The driveway hadn’t changed; there was still a shed out back. We all got out and took pictures.
Our second objective was the Jennie Stuart Hospital. Fortunately, we knew where that was because my husband and I had located it when we had last been in the area. The hospital doesn’t look anything like it did when my husband was born – they’ve built a whole new building around the old one, I hear. Still, we all got out of the car and I took pictures of my husband and his parents in front of the hospital where he had been born 50 years earlier. So if anyone reading this is from Hopkinsville and has heard stories about people taking posed photos in front of the hospital this week, it’s true.
Next, we drove to where the church that they had my husband baptized in had been. Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church was in the same place, but it wasn’t the old church. It was a bigger, newer church. We still took photos there. Again, if you were one of the cars that drove by, thank you for not calling the authorities to report some odd folks taking pictures in front of the church.
We drove through the older downtown area, passing the movie theater they occasionally went to. So much had changed, yet there was enough that remained the same – Mom and Dad were able to make a connection between their early life together and their life now. It made me and my husband very happy to be able to give them that gift.
After our “tour” of Hopkinsville, KY, we drove to the Land Between the Lakes. There is actually the remnants of an old prairie in KY and they have made it a preserve for elk and bison. I try to never miss a chance to see bison. The entry was automated – you put in cash to obtain a token to enter the preserve. $5 per car. My husband only had a $20, which he put in. The machine gave him his token and his change – $15 in quarters!! Sitting in the car, we couldn’t imagine what was going on – how many tokens was he getting?! When he got back into the car, he had the huge pile of quarters with him. We laughed a long time about that!
We drove the loop drive and saw 2 elk almost immediately. But throughout the rest of the drive, we saw no bison. I was sorely disappointed and wanted to try one more time. My sad face got my husband to redo the route – and he was glad we did. Although they were at a distance, we did finally see the buffalo herd. We also saw some beautiful Eastern Bluebirds.
We left the preserve and drove along a “trace.” That’s an old, old foot path that eventually became a road. We passed an old iron furnace along the road. We discovered that the road was an exterior boundary of the preserve and, lo and behold, we came upon 2 large bison along the fence. We stopped to watch them and take photos.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Shoney’s to eat. Our rooms were ready when we got back and we settled in to relax. My husband went down to the Manager’s Reception with his parents; I stayed in the room – I didn’t need any more nacho chips!
This was the best day of our trip so far. Everyone had a good time, no one had any complaints and we didn’t get overtired.
Happy memories have a way of making everyone a bit more mellow.