An online architectural tour of my earliest years in Frankfort, Kentucky

If you’re reading this in the future, and want to send a cyborg back in time in order to keep me from being born, so that I don’t destroy Skynet, or do whatever terrible and awesome thing it is that I’m going to do in my remaining years here on earth, this is where you should probably send them. This is the duplex in Frankfort, Kentucky were my parents were living in 1967, just prior to my birth… I hesitate to think about it, but it may even be were I was conceived.

My parents just recently went on a pilgrimage of sorts, retracing their early years of married life around Frankfort, Kentucky, and this is one of the photos that they texted me. I don’t imagine that any of you will likely care, but, as I’m tired of thinking about politics, and figure there’s a chance that one of my kids may someday be curious as to where I got my start in life, I thought that I’d share a few of the photos here, along with my abbreviated notes.

As for the duplex above, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it. I never lived there outside the womb. By the time I exited my mother, we were living in Lexington. My mother, as I understand it, had decided to move back in with her parents when my father left for the military, having been drafted to serve in Vietnam. So that’s how I ended up being born on February 11, 1968 at Lexington’s historic Saint Joseph Hospital, instead of in Frankfort.

My mother and I, as it turned out, didn’t live in Lexington for too long. My father, having been pretty seriously injured while in training, never was shipped off to Vietnam. And, after serving for a while at the Navy hospital in Portsmouth, he was discharged… After he got back to Kentucky, he, my mother, and I moved back to Frankfort, and got an apartment. Sadly, I don’t have a photo of that apartment, but, according to my mother, that’s where I learned to walk. And I think it must have been around this time that, according to family legend, I won the title of “Little Mister Frankfort.” [I was apparently a radiantly beautiful infant.]

So, then, when I was one year old, my parents purchased their first house, which you can see here. They bought it in 1969 for $13,500, a fact they still talk about to this day. While I don’t have an exact address for the duplex where I was being incubated inside my mother, or the Frankfort apartment where I learned to walk, I know that this house can be found at 1009 Mojave Trail, in Frankfort, which, interestingly, is just two miles from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, the place that makes one of my favorite bourbons. [Maybe there’s something in the local limestone water they use that reminds me of my youth.]

[If someone wants to put a plaque in the yard of this house, designating this as the place where Mark Maynard was potty trained, I think that would be fine. I wouldn’t want to see their house turn into any kind of shrine, though, so please don’t start leaving candles and the like.]

I’ve said here on the site before that my first memory is being in my crib at about 2 years old, when we lived in Monticello, Kentucky, watching the breeze blow a yellow curtain on a summer day as I listened to kids playing outside, and a lawnmower cutting grass in the distance. I think, however, I might be wrong about that, as I have a really vague memory — now that I’m thinking about that house in Frankfort — of being in a playpen at the house of the woman who lived next door to us on Mojave Trail. Her name, according to my parents, was Angie Condreva, and she’d babysit me on occasion. I don’t remember much, but I have a sense of pulling myself up and watching soap operas through the slats of a playpen set up in the living room at the front of her house.

We only stayed in that house for a year or so. When I was two years old, we moved to our second house — the house in Monticello where I remember watching those yellow curtains flutter in the wind. My dad, who had been working in construction, had gotten a job at AT&T, keeping things running at a remote relay station in rural Kentucky, just outside the Daniel Boone National Forrest, and we apparently had to move to be closer to it. [Monticello, which is near Lake Cumberland, advertises itself as “The Houseboat Capital of the World“.]

My parents, on this recent stroll down memory lane of theirs, also visited my great grandparents’ home in White Sulphur, Kentucky, about ten miles east of Frankfort. This is that house… the one I told you about not too long ago, where there was a pistol hidden inside the clock on the mantle.

Here, speaking of my great grandparents, and this house of theirs, is a little context from that earlier post that I referenced above.

…I should add here that my great-grandparents weren’t wealthy when I knew them, lest my comment about “fortunes” should give anyone the impression that they were William Zanzinger-like characters who inherited tobacco wealth and walked around town wearing diamond rings. Toward the ends of their lives, they lived in a very simple farm house, sleeping in separate twin beds (just off the kitchen) that sat at a 90-degree angle to one another, with a gas heater and a small television between them. My father tells me, however, that, while they were never what we’d call rich, there were years that they did quite well, reaching a high point in the 1950s, when they had a 60-acre tobacco farm of their own on a parcel of about 1,000 acres. [I need for my father to show me where this farm would have been, as I only remember their later house, which was near Georgetown, Kentucky, in an area referred to as White Sulfur.] So, all things considered, they did pretty well for two people who, as teens, got married, started farming the land of others, and eventually got a place of their own in the small town of Rabbit Hash. [To hear my dad tell it, their fortunes began to change during the flu pandemic of 1918, when, as everyone around them was dying, they kept going, farming more and more land for those who no longer could. My father says my great grandfather was able to do this, and not get the flu himself, by “staying drunk” for the duration. And that’s how they came to eventually own their own farm, where they raised my father. Even then, though, they still lived in a house without insulation, electricity, or indoor plumbing. They wouldn’t get a house with those things until my dad was about eight years old.]

So this house you see above is the last house they lived in, and the only one that I ever knew. We would visit often when I was young. It was behind this house that I shot my first gun. And it was in a pond near here that I believe I fished for the first time, with my father and great grandfather.

Before I call it quits for the night, there’s one other property in Frankfort that I should mention, and that’s the site of my paternal grandfather’s bicycle shop at 109 West Main Street, which, just recently, was reopened as a brewery. This is what it looked like when I was young.

As my father wasn’t particularly close with his father, we didn’t spend much time here. I do, however, have some memories of my grandfather, and of the shop. I remember it being dark and dusty. I remember that it had an old and dangerous-looking freight elevator in the back. And I think it may be the place were I first stood on a skateboard… One day, I’ll try to write more about this side of the family. For now, though, I’ll just say this… I talk a lot about “first memories” on this site — it’s something I ask a lot of people about when I interview them — and it’s just occurred to me why I might do this. My father’s first memory, he once told me, is being kicked out of his home at the age of two, along with his mother, by his father… So, yeah, the memories in Frankfort aren’t all pleasant.

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7 Comments

  1. K
    Posted August 20, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    And here I thought you were a yankee who came from money.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 20, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear that you weren’t close to your grandfather. My guess is that your parents were doing you a favor.

  3. Eel
    Posted August 20, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Is two miles from Buffalo Trace a safe distance, or is it still within range of the dreaded “whiskey fungus”?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/us/kentuckians-fed-up-with-a-fungus-sue-whiskey-makers.html

  4. Dan
    Posted August 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Is there anything to do in Frankfort outside of Buffalo Trace and Mark’s old family homestead? I’m thinking of hitting the bourbon trail sometime soon.

  5. Lynne
    Posted August 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I am probably going to go down there in the fall to get my dog’s teeth cleaned because vet services are MUCH cheaper in KY than around here :) I may have to put a potty training plaque up LOL

  6. Posted August 20, 2019 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t been to Frankfort since I was a kid. I think, if memory serves, I was last there in about ’84 or ’85… so it’s been about 35 years. So I don’t know anything about distilleries, whiskey fungus or other things that one might do it town. I know that Rebecca Ruth Chocolate is headquartered there, though, and I’m pretty sure that they still make really good bourbon ball chocolates…. As for that house I gave the address of, I wonder if anyone will ever ring the bell there and tell them that a small town blogger in the rust belt used to live there. If they do, I hope they get video.

  7. Dan R.
    Posted August 21, 2019 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    You’ve fished?
    You’ve shot a gun?
    You’ve been on a skateboard??

    All of these are shocking to me.

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