Sisters by Chance, Friends by Choice

Are you from a state that starts with the letter ‘K’? 

In an earlier blog I wrote about how nice the people were in Kansas.  The same is true with the people in Kentucky.

If you stop for even a minute to look at a map or check your cell phone while you are on a bike in Kentucky, here’s what will happen:

A family will pull up in a van, roll down the window and say “You ok?  Need any help?”

A guy in a somewhat used looking vehicle will hold up a big jug of water and say “Would you like some water?”

Just before you get to a big hill a guy will stop next to you in a pickup and say, “Would you like a ride?  That hill is pretty big and you might need a little help!”

That’s the kind of thoughtfulness and kindness that is typical in Kentucky.  All of these people are not rich by any means, but they are rich in benevolence, kindheartedness and humanity.

You can’t get away with anything either.  I was on a particularly long ride and was on a major 4 lane highway when I really needed to take a leak.  I kept putting up with it for a few miles when I finally decided I really had to do something about it.  This area of the highway was pretty exposed, but there was a big rock about 30 yards off of the highway.  I went off of the road to the rock, pretended to read my map and took a leak still standing on my bike.  A few cars went by and I just kept looking at my map thinking “I’m pretty far away from the road and I’m looking at a map, nobody will know.  Also, I’ll never see any of those people anyway, so who cares?”

About 40 miles later, I had to go to the bathroom again and went to a convenience store in a small town way far away from that highway.  As I got off of my bike to walk in, there was a rough looking but pretty nice guy and his wife in a beat up pickup nearby.  As I parked my bike he looked at me, started to smile and said “Hey, you was the feller who was taking the leak by the rock back there!”.  We both laughed and I said “Well, when nature calls you gotta have an answer!”  Forty miles away from that rock on the highway in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  Yup, you can’t get away with anything in Kentucky.

I was on a particularly long ride in the heart of Kentucky when I kept crossing paths with a FedEx van.  I was on a 100 mile ride that day and I thought there is a really strong FedEx presence in this area, there’s vans crisscrossing all over the state.  After about 75 miles of riding I see this FedEx van pull ahead of me about a quarter mile ahead and as I approach there’s a guy standing out in the road holding a bottle of cold water out for me like I was running a marathon and I was to grab it as I went by.

“I saw you out there riding and I thought you might need  some cold water.  It’s cold for sure!  I passed you at least 7 times!  I’m a runner myself and I know what you’re going through.”

Frank Carrington

What a guy!  His name is Frank Carrington and he is the personification of Kentucky himself.  I had water, but it was warm by then and his offer was greatly appreciated and taken.

Jaine and I found this same kind of hospitality and kindness extended to us when we visited our sister city, Brodhead, KY.   We live in Brodhead, WI,

When Jaine and I stayed at Berea, Jaine found that there was a city of Brodhead, KY just about 17 miles from where we were staying.  She thought it would be a great idea to visit the town so we hopped in the SAG wagon and checked it out.

When we got to Brodhead KY, the first thing we did was take pictures of ourselves at City Hall. 

After that we parked in the parking lot nearby and went inside city hall.  The city clerk was there and we told her we were from Brodhead, WI.  She said “I know about y'all!  There was a mix-up with some important letters sent to us that should have gone to Brodhead WI and I called the ladies up and they were the nicest people.  We talked for half an hour!”  We asked if she knew how Brodhead KY was named and she said, “Well, there was some railroad engineer named Brodhead that put the depot in our town so it was named after him but that's all I know.  You should talk to Bryan, he knows a lot more than me about it.”

Edward H. Brodhead

Just then, the City of Brodhead’s Emergency Management director Bryan Bussell came in to the main office.  Niceness suddenly didn’t disappear in Kentucky with him, that’s for sure. 

Bryan, John and Bryan's Nephew

He was one of the most interesting and intelligent people I’ve met in the state so far.  He was the son of teachers and was trained at the university as an engineer.  He confirmed the story about Edward H. Brodhead naming the town after himself and filled us in with a lot more information about the town including the town’s annual event put on by the fire department called the “Little Worlds Fair”.

At one time Bryan was the chief of the Fire Department and is still an active volunteer although his nephew is now carrying on the heavy lifting for the needs of the department.

Later, when Jaine and I visited the Dari-Delight restaurant for a burger just across the parking lot from city hall, Bryan came in carrying a T shirt for the Brodhead Fire Department.  “This here’s shirt is for you!” he said as he handed me T shirt.  I thanked him profusely and put it on right in the restaurant, right over the t shirt I was wearing.

After we ate, Jaine and I went back to city hall and gave Bryan some post cards from Wisconsin.  Just then the mayor of Brodhead came in, Wally Cash.  Wally looks 70 but is over 80 years old and drives around town in a John Deere Gator.  “Yup, people call me Wally Gator around here!” he quipped.  He runs a pretty tight ship and is genuinely proud of his community, just like Bryan and everyone else that lives in our sister city.

John in Brodhead KY Fire Dept T Shirt and Mayor Wally Cash                   Wally's Gator

I couldn’t help but see the parallels between our two towns and the people who live in them.

Sisters by chance, friends by choice.


Brodhead KY Depot Park

Brodhead KY Fire Department

Brodhead KY Pharmacy


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