Founded by William Baird and laid out according to the standard Dixie pattern in 1785, Baird’s Town was incorporated as Bardstown; it’s the Nelson County seat and home of bourbon whiskey production. Connecticut Yankee, John Fitch, inventor of the steamboat, died, penniless, in Bardstown in 1798. A model of his absurd motorised rowboat squats awkwardly in the northeast corner of the courthouse square. In the northwest, as Meryn photographed an historical marker about the world’s first successful amputation of a leg at the hip having been performed in Bardstown in 1806, a fellow smoking a ten inch cigar reckoned he hadn’t seen us around town before and so we must be visitors. He said the same thing to a woman who aimed a camera at the not-so-architecturally sound courthouse.
A self-styled guide to all things Kentucky, our man talked about his years drawing up car designs in Detroit and how he’d then moved to Louisville where he met his latest wife, a woman from the backwoods. They’d decided to move to Bardstown because it was more her size, and he’d been a local artist ever since. A purebred Yankee trader would have said as little as possible about himself and used the time to find out about his mark but our man was the generic scallywag-cum-carpetbagger, a mongrel. Smiling like a slave trader, he took us into his confidence concerning the fear and distrust he felt at the prospect of Americans electing a president whose best friend was a terrorist. He made no reference to race but it was the elephant in the room of his rightwing Republican Party mind.