Kaleb and I got into Booneville on a Thursday night. It took forever to find our hotel (again, I use that term loosely and don’t really know what else to call it) since this place had no physical address. Eventually we found our hotel and we were driving up this long, winding driveway up the side of a hill. Initially we parked at the house where our place was located but Kaleb pointed out that the driveway continued around the house and up to another house at the top of the hill. That was where we were staying. So we got back in the car and continued up the rest of the driveway to our location.
The view from Highway 11 when coming into Booneville, KY
I am referring to the place we are staying as a hotel for lack of a better term since it’s not a “Bed & Breakfast” and it is a an old schoolhouse that was converted to a 3 bedroom house with a kitchen, a living room and an extremely small bathroom. The bathroom is only slightly larger than most bathrooms you find in 3 star hotels in Europe but it's a bathroom with a door, toilet and hot shower - and to me, that's all we need! This schoolhouse was built many, many years ago (I think something like over 100 years ago but am not completely certain) and hasn’t been maintained as well as one would expect. The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the overwhelming, musty smell and then your eyes are confused as to what to focus on since there was so many confusing patterns and colors. It looks like Cracker Barrel and Sherman Williams had a snarling “devil baby” and then that baby threw up all over the place. It was quaint and, in some strange way, charming. But, it was home for Kaleb and me for the next 10 days. We are staying in the converted house while Linda lives in her home which happens to be an old, converted Church.
This is where Kaleb and I stayed during our entire time in Booneville, KY
Our hotel is called Linda’s Victorian Rose and is owned by Linda Marcum. We got to officially meet her the following morning since we had arrived a little later than expected and we didn’t want to disturb her. I instantly felt secure about our belongings and safety when Linda (a 70 year old woman who can beat the snot out of most people I know) informed Kaleb and me that we’re completely safe and if anyone comes up to the property to do any harm then she will pull out her shotguns (note – this is plural on purpose) and “take care of ‘em.” With that piece of mind, Kaleb and I went into town to meet up with our two contacts – Cleda Turner and Susie Lacefield. We wanted to say “HI, “ let them know we were in town and start to get a feel for the city and people. The reason for staying Booneville for 10 days is because I believed it is important for Kaleb and me to be completely immersed into the culture and earn the trust of the people of Booneville. I have heard people in Appalachia have a tendency to be a little leery of outsiders so the sooner we can earn their trust the more information we can gather and the better the story will be in the end.
Linda Marcum of Lind'a Victorian Rose in Booneville. Don't cross this woman - she'll kick your ass! 🙂
Kaleb hanging out with a mannequin in Linda's yard. Linda has some interesting and eclectic decorations throughout the property.
We met up with our contacts and were told to just drive around the city, go to the restaurants, talk with the locals and get a feel for the area. That process took all of 30 minutes considering the city is unbelievably small only has literally three restaurants and not much to do in the way of entertainment. So we decided to head to a restaurant called “Dooley’s” where the men of the town get together everyday and sit at the main, long table in the middle of the restaurant. The table is called “The Table of Truth and Knowledge” and it’s where all the men gather ‘round and solve all of the world’s problems.
One of my contacts and now a friend for life, Cleda Turner.
We walked in and it instantly reminded me of that scene in “Animal House” when Boone, Flounder, Pinto and Eric Stratton walk into the “Delta Lake Club.” Here there are four white guys walking into an all black nightclub and all eyes in the club immediately turn to the new people in the room. Well, that was the feeling Kaleb and I experienced. But, as soon as we asked the men at the table if we could join them they gladly welcomed us and started talking with us about anything and everything. Obviously most of them wanted to know where we were from and what we were doing in Booneville. They didn’t ask in a defensive way but more out of curiosity. Kaleb and I could tell these people are just good people who appreciated someone taking interest in their story, area, history and culture. We felt completely at ease around these men and enjoyed hearing their stories and learning about the area.
Dooley's Diner in Booneville, Kentucky. I LOVE that old RC Cola Sign!
We stayed for a while and decided to have lunch. All of the food at this restaurant was fried and provided nothing really healthy or nutritious and about 95% of the people in that restaurant (and what we have noticed in the city so far) were smoking. But, that’s part of this area and I am not here to judge but rather convey what I am seeing and experiencing during my time here. After lunch, we went to the grocery store to get some food for our stay and drove around the area to see as much as we could. It started raining that day (and this was a sign of more things to come) but we made the most of our drive around town to see and learn as much as we could. Before stopping at the grocery store (the only one in town, has exorbitant prices and a really bad selection of fresh fruits and vegetables), I wanted to snap a picture of the barn seen below. So, I asked the property owner if I could take a photo of his barn and he said, “knock yourself out, son.” It was great and brought a smile to my face as it, once again, proved that these people are more friendly and welcoming than we could have ever expected.
This is the old barn I was able to photograph while driving around and acclimating myself into the Appalachian culture and community.
In the post tomorrow I share our first weekend in Booneville, which includes a semi load of free furniture and Kaleb and me going to an “old timey” Baptist Church (how, lightening didn’t strike that church is still perplexing to me).
See you tomorrow,
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