April 4, 2008

Gilbert and Novella Jones

William Faulkner is quoted as saying "The past is never dead, it's not even past." I drove to Franklinton, Kentucky today and Faulkner may have been right, at least in the sense that the past is part of who we are. Franklinton is where my maternal grandparents, Gilbert and Novella Jones, lived and farmed many years ago. As I drove down Franklinton Road which runs off of KY 22, there was the Berea Christian Church, where Novella went most Sundays to attend worship service; Gilbert wasn't a church going man. I think I can remember one Sunday he went when my parents, sisters, and brother went. It was a rarity seeing Gilbert in a tie. Usually you never saw him in other than a plaid shirt, khaki pants, and a straw hat.

Berea Christian Church

I wind down the road and came to a stop sign and there it was, Franklinton. What a shock it was. It had been at least eighteen years since I'd been there; the bank was completely gone. When I was a boy there was a building that simply said "Bank" engraved in the concrete pediment, like a cemetery head stone. Once, I asked my grandfather what happened to this bank. All he said was "It got robbed too many times." Gilbert was a man of few words. One time, when asked how to get rid of wild onions growing in the yard, his one word answer was "die". The rest of "downtown" Franklinton was, for the most part, slum. It looks like Fallujah after a terrorist purge.

Main Street, Franklinton

The road to my grandparent's farm was gravel and didn't have a name when I was a boy. Now it's paved and it's called Hickory Corner Road. I drive less than a quarter mile, and there it is, The Farm, where my mother, Joyce Jones, grew up, where we played, and hunted quail, rabbit, and squirrel. The house hasn't changed much.

It didn't feel at all like I expected it to feel when I first pulled up in the driveway. It was almost as if I had just arrived at a stranger's house. Everything was the same yet just a little off kilter, like putting a pair of exact same translucent photos over each other, but one a quarter inch off the other. There was a car in the drive but no one was home. I was itching to get inside but I probably would've set off a silent alarm system. I could see myself, after taking a few pics inside, coming out of the house, a state trooper with both hands on his gun aimed at my head. "FREEZE M0TH3R F*#KER !!!!

Here a few photos of the Jones Farm

The Dairy Barn (with a Christmas wreath still??) The pond to the right was dug and stocked just for the grandkids to fish.

I left the farm, down Hickory Corner Road, and went to the cemetery, where it took me awhile to find my Grandparent's headstone. Oddly enough, this was where a lot of the memories of the farm came back to me. I miss them both very much.

When driving to and from the Jones Farm I took the way we used to come when we were little, all the way up KY 22, through Eminence, Pleasureville, and Bethlehem. It's changed alot as I expected. I couldn't find the Chat & Nibble Restaurant in Eminence. I think Gilbert used to call it the Choke & Puke. The liquor store, where Grandfather "shopped", is gone. Most of the farms along KY 22 seemed dilapidated. When I was a boy it seemed every farm around the Franklinton area was neat as a pin. Of course there's quite a few subdivisions which have sprung up like the plague, especially around Ballardsville. I took Charlene's car to drive instead of my truck to save on gas. I estimated I burned about twenty dollars worth. Back when we were kids my father probably spent all of two dollars, to and from.

The day was kind of depressing and not at all like I thought it was going to be. I feel my age most certainly but I leave you with a more humorous William Faulkner quote. When asked about the difficulties of writing he said

"If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; The “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies."


  1. Barry, Wouldnt it be nice to be able to travel in time, at least in someways. I can understand a little depression. You can never go back. Brad

  2. woooah. i was enthralled looking at these photos. wild that you, u brad, justin and i used to play "auntie over" that mound out the back door - while the family was preparing homemade ice cream. funny what memories stick. thanks for the visual tour. glad somebody checked in on things there!