McConnell House

The instructions read, 'Go to the end of the road and look straight ahead.' Sure enough, a sign bearing the announcement Showcase of Authors, McConnell House, June 19, 2010, 10:00-4:00 stared from across the end of Industrial Parkway as Betty, my sister, turned right onto Hwy 23 toward the Best Western.

"Hey look! There you are," Betty shouted as we made the turn.

"Yeah, that's neat! I'll call Roy and Venita and tell them where we are." I said searching for my cell phone.

"We are here. We just passed Hobby Lo—you all have a Hobby Lobby!" I said with surprise mounting in my voice.

"Honey, we have everything," her eastern KY accent poured from the other end of the phone. "If you're at Hobby Lobby, you're there. Look ahead and you'll see Golden Corral. The hotel is rite behind that. We will leave rite now and be there in a few. We're goin' to show you the town."

"O.K., but don't rush. We haven't gotten there yet and we will need to check in."

"See you in a minute." Click.

By the time Betty and I checked in and settled our luggage, we heard a riiiiiiiiggggggggg.

"Best Western, how may I help you?" Betty asked into the receiver. She laughed and said, "103. Come on down."

If God has a good hostess award, the Howell's will be in the top ten. Betty and I were treated to a delightful meal at Cheddar's, a view of Billy Ray Cyrus' old home place, the high school he attended, the delightful aroma escaping the bakery as we drove by, and a tour of the ornate tombstones in the local cemetery before stopping at their house for a visit with Mother Trudy. There we were treated to a piece of delicious homemade coconut cream pie from the bakery that had previously tantalized our senses. After a good visit and many fond farewells, we were taken back to the hotel where Betty and I quickly crashed.

The next morning the staff of Best Western treated us to the best "free" breakfast ever.

"Do I have to wear this bonnet and long skirt?" I asked Betty carefully removing them from my luggage.

"Of course!" she chimed smiling, knowing she would not be required to as a helper.

The 8.2 miles (from the Howell's precise directions) to the McConnell house was a trip in itself. How many unique little towns did we go through—Flatwoods, Russell, Raceland, Worthington, and finally Wurtland?

We reached the stately McConnell house nestled among the big shade trees where we were immediately greeted by a fully dressed Colonel and an old-time farmer decked in coveralls, hat, handkerchief and pipe.

"And how do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky, Lou-is-ville or Lou-e-ville?" he drawled as we stopped to ask for instructions.

"Frankfort," my quick-witted sister replied.

We all enjoyed a good laugh and proceeded to introduce ourselves. Colonel Charles Dahnmom Whitt was the host of the event and the farmer was distinguished writer, William Lynwood Montell.

Betty and I unloaded our material and proceeded to the front porch where regal columns, rocking chairs and plenty of shade warmly greeted us. The screech of the screen door and the creak of the big wooden door announced our arrival.

"Wow," we said in unison as we entered the majestic entry hall with the winding stairway leading to the second floor.

"This old house has been converted into office buildings and meeting rooms," Sharon, the hostess, dressed in full southern belle attire, explained. She pointed to a brightly lit room with sunlight shinning through the grand windows stretching from the wooden plank floor to the towering ceilings. Betty and I quickly set up our table with ample copies of Jesus My Son: Mary's Journal of Jesus' Early Life careful not to invade the half of the table designated for Mark Maynard.

As the rest of the authors arrived, all sizes and shapes of old civil war era costumes appeared. There was a conductor, a grand lady, farmers, long skirts, bonnets, with an authentic one belonging to Karen Newman's grandmother, and even our own mad doctor. Then enters the Mad Trapper, Soc Clay, with his sourdough starter and cookbook neatly stashed in a basket containing authentic Alaskan mittens, snow shoes, guns and whatever else he could pack. His table display was a sight to behold.

Karen with her book of poetry, Absolute Zero, shared a table with Colonel Whitt and his civil war era book, Legacy: The Days of David Crockett Whitt, with his revelry horn displayed in the middle. The next table hosted associate minister Jennifer Johnson with her steamy inspirational romances and vampire queen, Cammie Eicher.

The next room was filled with children's books, civil war books, KY ghost books, Appalachia books and many others. The mad doctor had pamphlets from his studies guarded by his lab assistant, a rubber snake.

As everyone worked setting up their table, the colonel beaconed us into the splendid dinning room which housed a table of books from the Jesse Stuart Foundation. Stacy R. Nelson, decked out in his hunting gear from the era, was signing on behalf of the foundation along with his own collection.

The colonel appeared holding a beautiful sheet cake ordained with a picture of the McConnell house strategically painted in the icing. After many pictures and polite greetings, everyone returned to their stations eagerly awaiting the horde of guests to arrive. And we waited and we waited. If the colonel had not entertained us with his horn and Soc Clay rose to the occasion with an old time jig, we may have been bored, but there really wasn't time for boredom. The hordes never did come, but the people who graced our event listened intently as each author explained their work. State Senator, Robin Webb, and a city commissioner candidate arrived with an eagerness to trade books for votes. Please don't tell them I can't vote in his area, but if I could, they certainly have my vote.

As we finished our delightful meal of fried chicken and the fixings, Mark Maynard, the other half of my table, arrived with his book, Mark My Words. If you live in Northeastern KY and did not get this book for your special male—father, son, friend, or good neighbor—for Father's Day, there is still time to surprise him with a copy to celebrate July 4th. It is a delightful collection of previously printed stories of all the old sports stars of your area. Name a star, he is in there in some fashion.

I may have not sold the hundreds of book I had hoped, but I sure did meet some nice people and witnessed the best display of hospitality I've seen in some time. What more could one hope for on a hot steamy, June day in Wurtland, KY?

If you missed this Author's Showcase, shame on you! Bobby Allen and the Tourism Cabinet put forth a great deal of effort to gather such an amazing variety of talent under one roof. This was my first visit to Wurtland, and I am already looking forward to next year. Hope to see y'all th
ere.