Down the Lane: It’s a small Kentucky world

Published 9:39 am Thursday, February 28, 2019

My friend Mary Lou told me several months ago she bought a place in Florida and wanted me to come see her this winter. I guess you know it did not take too much persuasion for me to do so. My other friend Sandra was also invited.

She and I decided to fly instead of make the long drive.

When you fly, you never know who will be seated beside you, and you can only hope it is someone you will enjoy. Luckily, that was the case for me.

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I met an adorable young blonde lady who was flying home to Orlando. Her name was Marissa, and she told me she was a frequent flyer to Lexington since her boyfriend was a junior at the University of Kentucky.

At first, she and I began with small talk, but it was not long before we would be talking and laughing like old friends.

Our topics of conversation ranged from our love of traveling to our families and included me telling her of exciting places to visit in Kentucky. I even gave her my phone number.

She told me about her trip to Jordan to visit her sister who lived there. She said she stood in the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. I was enthralled since I would love to do that. She showed me pictures of her trip, which her parents had given her for her birthday.

We laughed about how the Jordanians are amazed by blonde-haired women.

My sister had visited some countries where the people would run and touch her blonde hair since they are surprised by it.

She said she was asked to be married by two or three men. One offered her 20 camels. He was still persistent even after she would tell him no, she had a boyfriend.

She later told me her sister had moved from Jordan to Thailand and began showing me pictures of her and her sister’s family in Thailand. I could not believe it, but some of the photos she showed of her sister in Thailand were in the same place my daughter, Shanda, and grandson, Hayden, had taken pictures in December in Bangkok.

It seemed we had all kinds of things to talk about and I enjoyed the ride completely sitting beside her. We both agreed if money were not an option we would never stop traveling.

When I went to church this past Sunday, we had missionaries from Thailand there to speak to us. I learned a lot more about Thailand this month. I do hope to hear from this young lady again.

Sandra and I finally arrived at Mary Lou’s home in Fruitland Park, Florida.

We snuck through the door she left unlocked for us in the wee hours of the night.

The next morning and every morning we were there, we felt like queens as she cooked breakfast for us and would not let us lift a finger. She did the same for dinner, until we finally begged her to let us clean up after the meals.

On Tuesday, we enjoyed the day at Silver Springs, Florida, near Ocala. Sandra and I had been to Silver Springs before, but it had been more than 50 years ago for each of us.

I enjoyed a glass-bottom boat ride more this time since before I had my two little daughters with me and I was worried about them falling out of the boat.

We ate there and went on to Summerfield, Florida, to visit my cousin Barbara Vaughn and her husband, Roy. It is always good to see her since she has lived in Florida for many years now and I only get to see her during family reunions or funerals. She and I are a year apart in age, so we have always been close.

While we were out sightseeing one day, we noticed a tree with big, beautiful red blooms all around it. From a distance, we determined it looked like poinsettias, but we had never seen any that large.

It happened on another day we were on the same side of the road and passed the house again with the blooms around the tree. We could not pass this up and pulled into the drive of this home. Sandra got permission for us to get pictures of the tree and blooms.

It was indeed poinsettia blossoms that had caught our eye. They were now the size of bushes and had been planted all around the tree. The lady who lived there said people often stop and get pictures of the poinsettias.

She had planted them as small plants. She told us you have to plant poinsettias in the shade. She must have a green thumb for them to get so large.

Butch, Mary Lou’s husband, fished all day every day, and we were promised an excellent fresh fish meal while we were there, and they made good on their promise.

On Wednesday we went to Clearwater Beach where we ate lunch at a restaurant close to the beach. The food was good, but nothing in comparison to the fish meal Mary Lou cooked for us Wednesday night. Maybe I was hungry for fresh fish, but that was one of the most delicious fish meals I have ever eaten.

It was not hard to see Kentucky people in Florida. On Mary Lou’s street, we saw Kentucky Wildcat signs or wreaths. I even saw a wildcat stuffed animal attached to a golf cart. I guess the saying, “The Big Blue Nation” holds and BBN are everywhere.

Kentuckians have a bond when they meet whether in Florida or Kentucky. All you have to do is have a Kentucky Wildcat shirt or hat on. I had a pair of earrings on in the shape of Kentucky, and a lady asked if we were from Kentucky. None of us had a Wildcat shirt on, and that was the only way I could think she knew to ask us, or maybe she noticed our Kentucky accent, which is hard to hide. She was from Harrodsburg. She said we were the first Kentuckians she had seen.

Barbara has a Kentucky preacher and youth minister. One of them is from Winchester. The pastor at Mary Lou’s church, if I remember correctly, is also from Winchester. By the way, the lady whose house we stopped at to take a picture of the poinsettias we learned attends the same church Mary Lou does.

Life is full of coincidences, or the churches in the south know they can get some good people from Kentucky.

Though our trip was a short one, it was a good one, and will be one I never forget.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.