By LISA SIMPSON STRANGE
Glasgow Daily Times
I accompanied my mother to visit Nancy last Saturday – Nancy is a town by the way, not a person. To get there you just get on Cumberland Parkway and head east. You’ll go past Russell Springs and Jamestown, but if you get to Somerset turn around. You’ve gone too far.
Nancy is one of those wide places in the road that at first glance may not seem to have much to offer to the well-seasoned traveler, but look closer and you will find all sorts of interesting sites to explore. Located close to Lake Cumberland, Nancy boasts the Mill Springs Civil War Battlefield, Museum and National Cemetery, Haney’s Appledale Farm with its roadside orchards and of course Helen Walters’ This-n-That Shop.
Helen Walters is a cousin. I met her several years ago at a Combest biannual reunion at Pulaski County Park – one of those potluck under the pavilion sort of events where you meet relatives you didn’t even know you had. The Combests, good Scots-Irish ancestors, are my mother’s people, as they say.
Mom’s first name is also Helen and for many years she made these treks to Nancy with her sister, my aunt, Mildred Thomas, from Columbia. But Aunt Mildred died in January 2010 and I have become my mother’s new travel partner on these excursions.
To make things even more interesting, we have another cousin, Mildred Gosser, who also lives in Nancy. So the two Cousin Helens and the two Cousin Mildreds used to go traveling and visiting together over in that part of the state.
I became a pseudo Cousin Mildred replacement in this lastest adventure on Saturday and the four of us were off to find new and exciting things to see and do. Traveling in a car with three octogenarians is an adventure in itself, especially if one of them is Cousin Helen.
She is one of those people who knows everyone and every place and has a story to tell about all of them. You don’t have to worry about keeping up your side of the conversation when you’re with Cousin Helen. She will keep you entertained for hours with tales of who lived where and who did what to whom and when.
Cousin Helen is also a collector. Along with her shop where she would sell a variety of items, her home is filled with her collections. There isn’t a horizontal or vertical surface that doesn’t have a display of some kind. But it is all very neat and organized and she can put her hand on anything she calls to mind in an instant.
Because of her experience with knick-knacks, doo-dads, whatchamacallits and anything else a person might want to buy, Cousin Helen took us to some of her best shopping haunts in nearby Somerset on Saturday.
There was Paul’s Discount store, an establishment that has everything imaginable for sale. My mother, the quilter, was happy to find a whole room full of fabric. Bolts of cloth filled the shelves and were stacked to the ceiling everywhere.
Next, Cousin Helen showed us the Peddler’s Mall where she also has a booth. My most interesting find there was what appeared to be a papier mache head of Darth Vader. No, I didn’t buy it, but hey, there was something for everyone.
She also took us to Rose’s, the “best place to get wash cloths and dish towels,” and we also visited an indoor-outdoor flea market.
Our quartet ended the trip with homemade cherry pie at Cousin Mildred’s house before Mom and I headed back to Glasgow.
I spent the day going places I don’t normally go and doing things I don’t usually do and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I highly recommend disconnecting from your regular world and spending time with people you don’t get to see very often anytime you get the chance. It’s good for the soul.
Lisa Simpson Strange is news editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. She can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.