The fabulous time I had in Monroe County! (the first time)

First I would like to say sorry for the delay.  Election Day, what craziness.  However, here, as promised, is the continuation of my summer as an intern. This week: Monroe County!  My first contact with Monroe began with getting in contact with Blanche Trimble – she was referred to me as “the Matriarch of Tompkinsville arts.”  I’ll go ahead and spoil the surprise: I never met the lady, but we chatted several times on the phone.  She always sounded cheerful and eager to help.  Of course for that matter, so did everyone in Monroe.

After several talks with Blanche I headed out of Bowling Green along Hwy 100.  On the map it seemed the most direct route, not only to Tompkinsville but to hit Fountain Run as well (Fountain Run has a park with an amphitheater that needed to be measured and documented), but Hwy 100 on the map does not take into account the slow moving tractors frequently utilizing said highway.  So it took a bit.   I should note the Fountain Run Park furnishes their patrons with some of the coolest outhouses too.  The toilets are stone, and it was kind of awesome.

Anyway, at the far end of the park sat a little white house, and I needed some additional info.  So I walked over to the porch.  I was about to knock on the door when I noticed some deer skulls on the table outside and a skinning knife stuck in one of the porch supports.  I knocked anyway, and inside met this young guy named Johnny, who was going to be deployed soon. He answered my questions about the park and then confided he had been one of the local contractors hired to help build SKyPAC.  “Whoa! Really?” I said.  He confirmed, and I shook his hand and headed off to T-ville.

The first place I looked for was the Monroe County Rolley-Hole Marble Super Dome.  You can Google more specifics about the game if you want, or you can hang around with this blog for a while, and at some point I’ll post more specifically about the game, how to play and who does play, and other pertinent details about all things Rolley-Hole.

Tangent aside, I made my way through downtown T-ville with some half-baked directions, and at the fork in the road, I turned right when I should have made a left.  About five miles down, I saw a couple of old guys: one was mowing the lawn and the other seemed to be flipping his socks inside out.  I stopped and briefly explained about SKyPAC and cultural mapping and looking for Rolley-Hole arenas; they quickly began bickering whether I needed to go straight to the Super Dome or if the Bowman boys still played down by the market up the street or….well honestly, it went on for a bit and I started admiring the scenery until I heard directions.

Eventually the guy on the mower said, “Well you go up the street for a couple miles.  You’ll go down a hill and there’s another hill after that one.  Well down in between those two hills there’s a grocery store.  The Bowman boys used to have a Rolley-Hole court down there and if they still play there I’m sure you’ll run into one of ‘em.  The Super Dome is back the other way through the stop sign.”  I said thanks and took leave toward the hills with the grocery store that might have a Rolley-Hole court.  Really I just wanted to see the Super Dome, but I figured they went to so much trouble arguing about where I needed to go, I could be polite.

Well the grocery store was kind of tiny, and I wasn’t entirely sure if it was open.  Eventually, after staring at it for a sec, I went in and grabbed a Sprite and asked the guy at the counter about the Rolley-Hole court and the Bowman boys and mentioned something about SKyPAC and cultural mapping. “Well,” he said, “if you go up this street you’ll see a barber shop on your left, and the Bowman’s house is as about as far away from that barber shop as we are from that stop sign.” He was pointing at a stop sign, “You see that stop sign there?” I did see the stop sign, and I told him as much.  “Well their house is the brick one and if you go knock on the door, I’m sure they can answer your questions.”  I said thanks and headed down the road to the Bowmans’.

Now the Bowmans were the Bowmans, but where I was going was actually the Waldens because a Bowman daughter had married a Walden but they’re still considered Bowmans.  It still confuses me a bit, but they all turned out to be great people and went above anything I had expected.  Anyway, I got to the door and Mrs. Walden answered.  There was talk of SKyPAC and cultural mapping and she called up her son who was a couple houses down.  His name is Ben, and he walked up the back trail where I was waiting next to the car.  “You must be Ben!” I said.  He was Ben, and there was more talk of SKyPAC and cultural mapping.  He explained the gist of Rolley-Hole and briefly the history and handed me a couple Rolley-Hole marbles he had made out of river granite.  “You want to watch me make one?” he asked.  Of course I did.

Now why I didn’t get to meet with Blanche and take her to get some tasty barbecue like I had promised.  We walked a couple houses down and Ben went through the whole process of picking out stones and grinding them down and all things Rolley-Hole marble-making related.  Afterward his mom brought me a book about the history of the game.  So I left there with three homemade Rolley-Hole marbles and a book explaining it all.

As I was leaving I asked again about the Super Dome.  Ben looked at the time and figured it might be too late to catch anyone but told me the lights were on the left as you walk in the front door.  I guess he saw this confused me (because I couldn’t imagine anyone could just walk in whenever they wanted and turn on the lights) so he offered to take me down there and show me how to play.  As we left, Ben ran into his grandpa Colonel in the drive.  The two talked for a bit and there was mention of SKyPAC and cultural mapping and the Monroe County Rolley-Hole Marble Super Dome.  So Colonel hopped in Ben’s truck, and we headed off to Super Dome.

The two old guys with the socks and the mower had been right: I should have turned left when I turned right at the fork in the road, but it worked out because I still made it to the Super Dome.  Now the Super Dome is tucked in back of the fairgrounds at the end of a dirt road, and it’s kind of a blue shack.  I’m not going to explain too much because this is getting lengthy, and I already omitted the side jaunt to Mud Lick. I hung out with Ben and Colonel, and they showed me how to play Rolley-Hole (which I was no good at), then took leave to meet up with Blanche.  Sadly, when I called it was too late, and she said she was already in her PJs.  So instead we had another great phone chat, and I promised to get her barbecue some other time.

I swung by Gamaliel to catch the Thursday night bluegrass jam they hold at the town hall, but it ended right before I got there.  I got some more stories about Monroe and the great people there, but I’ll get to that later.  Maybe after I finally track down Blanche and buy her some barbecue.

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