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After Fay Shelton suffered from a bout of rheumatic fever at the age of 5, her mother sold a cow to purchase a piano for her daughter. Thus began a life-long love of music, which included a career as a music teacher in the Owen County School System.
Now retired, Fay, with an engaging smile and amazing talent, entertained the historical society and friends last week at our monthly meeting. Celebrating October events in music and song, Fay’s fingers glided effortlessly up and down the piano keyboard as she played tunes which reflected traditions of community, home, and church. “These traditions give us a sense of belonging to the past, enjoying the present, and looking forward to the future,” advised the small, energetic woman as she led the audience in a sing-a-long. Directing the audience to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, Fay requested we remain standing as we sang the stirring Stephen Foster favorite “My Old Kentucky Home.” The audience displayed a fine voice as they enthusiastically joined in singing hymns, lullabies, nursery rhymes, television commercials, and songs performed by celebrities such as John Lennon, Julie Andrews, and Dale Evans.
Accompanying Fay, Margaret Lane was our other special guest. The tall, statuesque woman not only was Fay’s good friend in high school, but also became her sister-in-law by marrying Fay’s brother. Margaret has held many important positions in the commonwealth, including director at the Lieutenant Governor’s Mansion under Gov. Martha Lane Collins. Margaret joined noted Kentucky historian and author Dr. Thomas Clark, to write and publish a book titled “The People’s House,” which compiles the history of all the governors of Kentucky. Included in the book are tidbits of little-known information. Margaret’s latest endeavor, “Beyond the Fences — A Culinary View of Historic Lexington,” not only contains recipes, but is replete with the history behind those delightful dishes.
As Margaret pointed out, “food is also a part of our history and tradition.” One tradition she related involved the practice of cutting an end off a ham or roast before cooking it. The reason was discovered when an inquiry was made to the grandmother who declared she had to cut off one end because her pan was too small to accommodate a large piece of meat. Margaret related how compromises, treaties, even discussions of war, have all been debated while sharing meals, and emphasized the importance of food in our history. Proceeds from “Beyond The Fence” will go to the Central Baptist Hospital Foundation Cancer Program, and the book can be purchased by calling (859) 260-6105 or visiting the website at beyondthefencecookbook.com
Food, songs, artifacts, stories, and documents all serve to enlighten, enhance, and enjoy our history. Please support the Owen County Historical Society as we continue to focus on preserving and sharing the history of Owen County.