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TROLAND: My name is Tom Troland and today we are interviewing Alice Bacon Blanton, who is the niece of Albert Bacon Blanton. It is October 30, 2008. This is part of the Buffalo Trace Oral History Project and we are here at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. First of all, thank you so much for participating in this interview.

BLANTON: You're welcome.

TROLAND: Let me begin by asking just a very general question: tell me something about yourself.

BLANTON: Well, I was born June 10, 1918, I've lived in Frankfort all my life, and I, uh, worked for--all my work in life was for my father, James Bacon Blanton, at a lumber and building material firm. And, uh, we--before, I, I started working there in the summer of 1939, but I 1:00can remember, uh, I used to work in the summertime, and I was familiar with it. And, and I remember distinctly when Prohibition was repealed, and Frank Messer and Sons started building warehouses for the then George T. Stagg Company and build-, uh, business certainly picked up. (laughs) It had been very slow up until that time. And, uh, what else would you like to know about me?

TROLAND: Well, many things. Uh--

BLANTON: I--

TROLAND: Tell us a little about--since you bought that topic up--a little bit about this time in your life when you were a young girl and Prohibition had just ended. What did you know about Prohibition? How did it affect you?

BLANTON: Well, uh, not at all, really, as far as I knew. Um, I used to come down to the distillery when I was a little girl and play. I 2:00learned to roller skate here because we didn't have--we had a short concrete walk at home, wasn't long enough for me to learn to roller skate, but there was enough concrete down here, so that's where I learned to roller skate. Um, the, I can remember the--there, there was only a handful of people working here: Uncle Albert and, uh, Jimmy Johnson--that's the father of the present Jimmy Johnson--and Benno (??) Johnson and Fithian True (??) and Mack (??) Miller, who used to drive the, a car--they didn't have station wagons in those days, but it looked like the, uh, the (laughs) father of the station wagon. And, uh, Miss Fannie Gray was the, uh, uh, secretary, typist, lady of 3:00all work in the office, and those are the only people that I remember here. I'm sure there may have been a few more, but very few. And, uh, everybody came down on the streetcar. The streetcar came down from town, came down the middle of, of, Wilkinson Street, and then came across our front field, across the road about where the entrance to the distillery is. Came along the side of the, uh, hill on the left-hand side as you approach the distillery, and everybody came there. And also everybody who lived in Leestown, as we called this area then, traveled back and forth. We came back and forth. Our laundress came on the streetcar, our, m-, our nurse came on the streetcar, and, uh, 4:00Pro-, during Prohibition, there simply were not enough people coming down here to justify the continuation of it. But it, uh, originally it came down to the, uh, where the, then the railroad track ramp had a turnaround and came back to town, but they discontinued it, and my father went out and bought three Model T Fords. (laughs) And that, after that, that's the way we--one for himself, one for my mother, and one for the old man who lived on the place: the man of all work, Uncle Joe Lindsay (??). And Mother had a hard time learning to drive, and Daddy had a hard time learning to drive, but Uncle Joe jumped right in his car and--(laughs)--and drove right off with no problem at all. And, uh, we drove acro-, or up the road, just from chughole to chughole to chughole until we got to town.

5:00

TROLAND: What was your earliest memory of coming here to the distillery site?

BLANTON: Just, uh, just coming down to, to, uh, to learn to skate, and then as, uh, Uncle Albert moved down here in, uh, in an apartment in the back of the, uh, office when I was eight years old. And I would come down to see--he had a Chow dog who bit people, (laughs) and he also raised gamecocks. And, uh, he would give us chewing gum-- (laughs)--if we stopped in to see him, and that was--but I, I didn't, I didn't come down frequently. I just, every now and then.

TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about the house where you lived, which is a very old house in this area.

BLANTON: Well, my great-grandfather built it in 1818, and that's 6:00documented in the family Bible. And there, there was, uh, it, the land itself was a land grant to Hancock Lee, and my great-grandfather bought it. He was not on the tax rolls in 1808 but was in 1814, so he bought it sometime in that time. And, uh, there, there was a house on the property, and the--he tore down all but one room and attached the rest of the house onto it, and originally it was a, a living room, dining room, bedroom downstairs, and two bedrooms and an upstairs storage room, and a full attic and a full basement, and an upstairs gallery and a 7:00downstairs gallery. And the galleries were enclosed to make a kitchen and to make bathrooms. There, there was a, uh, stone kitchen in, in the back, uh, attached to the house by a walkway, but that was torn down before I was born. And the present house in the back, which was, uh, a laundry room and a dairy room downstairs and servants' quarters upstairs, servants' quarters that--and there was a bathroom downstairs.

TROLAND: Why was the house called "Beeches"?

BLANTON: Because there were a number of old beeches there, and evidently enough that, that they dominated the front yard. And I can remember when I was a child there were still three of them left, but they were in bad condition, and one by one, they fell over. And, uh, my father 8:00replaced them with three European beeches, and one of those was--uh, is gone. The last beech tree fell over and fell on top of the European beech, so there were two beeches gone. And I replaced that with one, and we lost--really there's just the skeleton of one of them left that, that was, uh, denuded this summer with that s-, winds-, heavy windstorm.

TROLAND: Have you lived in that house for your whole life?

BLANTON: Yes.

TROLAND: And who, who was living there, uh, among your family when you were very young?

BLANTON: My mother and father; Uncle Albert Blanton; my aunt, Miss 9:00Elizabeth Dudley Blanton; and my, uh, grandmother had lived there, but she died, uh, the winter before I was born. So when, and when--and my mother and father, of course--and, but when, uh, my mother and father were married in, in 1916, and my grandmother was still living then.

TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about your parents. You've spoken a little bit about your father and his business, but what was your, for example, what was your father like? What kind of a man was he?

BLANTON: Well, he was, uh, the, the most--I've, I've never had any doubt but that the most important thing in my father's life was my mother and me, and my sister, and our welfare. And he was, uh, a serious man. He 10:00was the oldest of his family. His father died when he was fourteen, and Uncle Albert was just about two years old then, and he had, uh, this, he--there were four brothers and two sisters, and Daddy was the oldest. And when, uh, Mother, uh, before Mother was married, uh, my grandmother and my Aunt Betsy went to call on my Grandmother Roberts. And Grandmother s-, Roberts said, uh, "Ida is, is, is a lovely young woman, but she is a little spoiled." And Grandmother Blanton said, "Spoiled? You should see Bacon. When, uh, her, his father died, he 11:00became the head of the household, and I trained the children to stand up when he came into the room." (laughs) So he, he was the head. He was forty-nine when I was born, so he had been hea-, and he died when he was eighty-three--so he was head of the household for many years, almost seventy years. And, uh, Mother was, uh, when she--her fa-, when she was twelve years old, her father moved here from Eddyville with the Hoge-Montgomery Company. And, uh, she went to Science Hill and then went to Wellesley, graduated from Wellesley, and came home and taught at Frankfort High School until she married. And, uh--

12:00

TROLAND: What was your mother like? How would you describe her in a few words?

BLANTON: She was bright and funny. She was really the most intelligent person that I've ever known, and very good company. And, as I say, very funny, not deliberately--witty--(laughs)--and, uh, and very, very well-read and, uh, expressed herself well, very eloquent and, uh, little and redheaded.

TROLAND: Can you think of a story about something that happened in your 13:00family involving your mo-, your mother or your father or both?

BLANTON: Well, I can tell you, I can tell you one of my last memories of Mother. It was--Thanksgiving dinner was our big family dinner, and, uh, my sister and her husband and her, uh, three children were there. And, uh, Mother looked around the table as the, uh, dinner was drawing to a close, and she said, "Oh, I have so much to be thankful for." She said, "Here are my daughters and my, my son-in-law, and my dear grandchildren, and this wonderful meal that Corinne (??) has prepared for us, and I'm just as thankful as I could be." And everybody smiled and started eating dessert, and I was sitting by her, and she looked over at me and said out of the corner of her mouth, "And I have a lot to complain about." (laughs)

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TROLAND: What do you think she had to complain about?

BLANTON: (laughs) Well, she, she was eighty, and she, she had the, all the things that you have when you get to be eighty; you know, her knee hurt, and, and she got tired easily, and, and, uh, and just, just all the--all old people, I'll tell you this, and you'll know it (laughs) when you get to be as old as I am--people, all old people have lots of things to complain about. (laughs)

TROLAND: What is, uh--(clears throat)--excuse me--(clears throat)--let's try again. Can you think of a, of a lesson or something, something important that you've learned from your parents that you've taken, uh, with you through life?

15:00

BLANTON: Well, I, I had the--I never knew either of them to do anything dishonorable, and they never--they told us the truth. And I can remember when, just for instance, when I was a little, little girl, I climbed up on my father's knee and said, "Daddy, is there a Santa Claus? I have to know." And he said, "No, Alice Bacon, there isn't." And the reason I had to know was because there had been a series of burglaries in this area, and I heard a good deal about it from the, uh, ser-, the servants' quarters. And I thought that--it was nearing Christmastime-- if a little man in a red suit came down the chimney and there wasn't any 16:00Santa Claus, then it was a burglar, and I wanted to yell. And if there was a Santa Claus, I wanted to act like I was asleep and let him leave his presents, and that's why I had to know. And Daddy told me the truth then, and he did--and mother did, too--all the rest of my life.

TROLAND: Was there any particular reason why you asked your father that question rather than your mother?

BLANTON: (laughs) No, he was just, he was just available when it occurred to me. But, uh, they, they were, uh, as I say, Daddy was, uh, forty-nine when I was born, and Mother was twenty-nine, and they were at home in the evening. They, they were, they were there. They, uh--

17:00

TROLAND: Tell me a little bit about your sister.

BLANTON: Well, my sister, uh, is, lives in Florida now. She was six years younger than I was. She, uh, went to Margaret Hall School and to Randolph-Macon. She married, uh--she was, uh, a college girl, a young girl, during World War II, and her husband, uh, left Vanderbilt to go into the Navy, came back and finished at the University of Kentucky, went, went through, uh, to medical school at the University of Louisville, then did his residence at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York. And he was the, uh, chief pathologist and head of staff at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, and they lived in Louisville until he 18:00retired, and then they moved to, uh, Longboat (??) Key, Florida. And, uh, Ellen's (??) a bridge player, as I was, and they were, her whole family were great tennis players; the bo-, one son and one daughter were, uh, champion, Ken-, state champions from age to age as they grew up. We had a tennis court when I was a child, and Ellen (??) was a good player then. I was very poor; all I could do was just lob the ball over the net. I, I could run after it, but I--and I could hit it, but I couldn't, uh, guide where it went. I wasn't a very good, uh, I wasn't very athletic.

TROLAND: Now, there was, uh, someone else living, of course, in that house when you were very young, namely Albert B. Blanton of--

19:00

BLANTON: Uh-huh.

TROLAND: --uh, bourbon fame. What were your earliest recollections of your uncle living in, in, in that house?

BLANTON: Well, Uncle Albert was, uh, also funny--(laughs)--and good company, and I amused him, and I remember that he laughed at me. And, uh, I remember I didn't like (laughs) being laughed at very much. I c-, I remember one thing: that I adored butter. And, uh, we always had a butter plate with a pat of butter on it, and once when I thought nobody was looking, I put the whole pat of butter in my mouth, and he howled with la--(laughing)--I don't know why that amused him so, and, and, and then I, I can remember crying because he laughed at me. But, uh, uh, he was--it was fun having him there. He, he w-, he, he was really a charmer, (laughs) there's no d-, and then my Aunt Betsy taught 20:00the fifth grade, and, and I adored her. And, uh, she was, uh, she was nearer my fa-, Daddy, let's say his father was fourteen when he died, Daddy was fourteen when his father died, my Aunt Betsy was twelve, and Uncle Albert was two, so there was ten years' difference between Uncle Albert and my Aunt Betsy, and twelve--but, uh, he had, Uncle Albert had, uh, when he moved down here in the apartment, there were a group of bachelors that, that used to meet down there on weekends and cook; they liked--and, uh, he was friendly with them then. There, there was Mr. Mason Brown, whose sister gave the Orlando Brown house as a museum house, and, and, uh, Mr. John Selbert and his family still 21:00own Selbert's Store and, uh, a friend named Captain Wiley--and what he was captain of, I don't know--and, uh, Mr. Jordan Hoge, spelled J-o- r-d-a-n. In those days, J-o-r-d-a-n was pronounced "Jerdan." (laughs) You know, you, in the Bible, the river was the River "Jerdan," and Mr. "Jerdan," and the Hoges, there are still Hoges in Frankfort. John Mothman's (??), it's that same Hoge family. And--

TROLAND: What was Colonel Blanton a colonel of?

BLANTON: This was something that, uh, Mr. Rosensteel (??) did. He was a Kentucky Colonel, and Mr. Rosensteel (??) wanted him to be called, always spoke of him as "Colonel Blanton." And it embarrassed Uncle Albert because there, at that time there were, uh, during and 22:00after World War II, there were colonels and, and majors and so forth who had really earned the, the title, but, uh, for Mis-, but for Mr. Rosensteel (??) it was, uh, uh, a publicity thing, I think. But he was actually the colonel of nothing.

TROLAND: So your Uncle Albert never really liked to be called "Colonel."

BLANTON: No.

TROLAND: How old were you when he moved out to his, uh, apartment on the s--?

BLANTON: I was eight years old.

TROLAND: And why did he move out at that time?

BLANTON: Because we moved, we, uh, we moved to town to housesit for a friend of my mother's family for the winter, because she wanted to be 23:00in town for the winter. We went to school in town. We di-, there was a f-, an eight-room, I mean a one-room, eight-grade schoolhouse right across the road from us, but we, my father played Jewish, and they took us to the city schools. And, uh, Mother took us back and forth to school, and I think she just wanted to be in town where her family was and where the schools were for the winter. And when we moved in town for the winter, my Aunt Betsy moved in, into town, to an apartment in town, and he moved down to, uh, the apartment in the distillery, attached to the office in the distillery.

TROLAND: By that time, obviously, he had been working at the distillery for some time. Do you have an idea what his position was in the 24:00distillery at that time?

BLANTON: I, I think that at one time when it, when it was at its lowest, I think he owned it for a short while when--(laughing)--I was going to say when it was just bottling a little medicinal whiskey and, and wasn't worth very much. And then, uh, Schenley acquired it when, uh, when Prohibition was repealed. And, uh, it was, as I say, it was just a, a renaissance for Frankfort, because there was not only, uh, George T. Stagg Company, but, uh, uh, Old Taylor and Old Crow in Millville, and, uh, the--and it's a shame that they, they're no longer operating. 25:00And then, uh, Labrot and Graham just over the line in Woodford County, so, and, uh, so, so many of the citizens in Frankfort were, who were unemployed were employed in the distilleries and by the construction workers who were building new warehouses. And I can remember that there was, uh, one minister in town who was very much opposed to not only the drinking of whiskey but the manufacture of whiskey, and he would, on Sundays, he would, uh, preach against it, and his flock left in droves. (laughs) And, uh, my family were Episcopalians, and the, I guess it was the largest church with the smallest congregation in 26:00Frankfort, but, uh, the co-, the congregation swelled (laughs) when, when, uh, the, the, with members of, of this other church. (laughs)

TROLAND: So I gather your family did not attend the church that this particular preacher preached at.

BLANTON: No. (laughs) I'd say they were, they were lifelong Episcopalians, and, uh--

TROLAND: We talked a little bit, uh, about your recollections of Prohibition, coming down to the distillery from time to time. Any other thoughts about what you've, what you were thinking when you came to the distillery? Just to play, of course, but what impressions did you have?

BLANTON: I was so young. I just, it was just a place to come and play, and there, there really wasn't very much going on. As I say, one of 27:00the people working was Mack (??) Miller, and he drove a, uh, something that looked like a very, very, uh, early station wagon. And he--every day my mother would call the grocery and leave her order for groceries, and then she would call Fencil's (??) Meat Market and leave her order for meat. And, uh, Mack (??) would, would go up to town and, and take the mail from the distillery and do whatever errands they had him do, and he would pick up our groceries and our meat and bring them back down. And I can remember Mother calling Mr. Fencil (??) and saying, "Mr. Fencil (??), this is, uh, Ida Blanton. Uh, I'm going to have 28:00some company today, and I want a, a really nice, large T-bone steak, about forty-five cents." So (laughs) it was--

TROLAND: Now, uh, your Uncle Albert moved out when you were eleven, you say?

BLANTON: Eight.

TROLAND: Eight. Excuse me. Uh, you were eight. Uh, did you visit the distillery more commonly after he moved out, to visit him, or did that, uh--?

BLANTON: No, no. Uh, by that time, I, when I would come to the distillery, I ha-, uh, really my nurse would bring me down to, to skate. I didn't come down alone. And by that time my sister was born, and the nurse had moved along to her, and I was more interested in what was going on in, at school and in the--and, and I came down, uh, 29:00I, I really didn't come down much to see Uncle Albert. He came to see us. We, he came, although he was down there, he came frequently to di-, to--I started to say dinner at night, but we had supper at night, (laughs) and he would come. We had breakfast, dinner, and supper, and he would come for su-, frequently for supper.

TROLAND: As you got older and, uh, and became an adult, you obviously s-, uh, got to know, uh, your uncle even better, uh, over time. What, what would you say, how would you describe him now, thinking of him from an adult perspective? Uh, knowing him as an adult rather than as a young child, how would you describe him?

BLANTON: Well, I don't think my, uh, ideas of him changed at all. He was just, uh, attractive and, and good company, and I knew he was very 30:00much beloved by the people who worked down here, the, the few when I was young, and, and more when there were more employees. And, uh, then, of course, when I was in, uh, when I was in college, he married and built the house up on the hill. And after he and Aunt Vannie (??) married and while the house was being built, they moved back down in, into the house. So they spent about the, oh, I guess the first maybe six months or so of their married life living down with--but I was in college at that time.

TROLAND: Where did you go to college?

BLANTON: University of Kentucky.

TROLAND: And what did you study there?

BLANTON: I majored in mathematics, which I have used none. The 31:00o--(laughs)--I, I took it because it was, it was kind of like, uh, like a game. They, they were fun, and, and, uh, when I, the only thing that I studied there that I used when I worked for my father, I took, had, also he wanted me to take bookkeeping, and I took a course in accounting, and Daddy would like for me to, uh, he was always interested in percentages. What percent, what was our, the percent of our, our, uh, uh, our expenses, and to do, do our, our sales and that sort of thing, and, and all of the calculus and the--(laughs)--and the differential equations. They were just a waste of--I could no more do 32:00that. It, it's just as much gone as if I had never studied it.

TRAVER: I was going to ask if there were any other women in that, her class.

TROLAND: Interesting question. Uh, in your class at the University of Kentucky, were there other women who were also studying mathematics?

BLANTON: No. I had, I had one professor, the, the, uh, uh, man who, Dr. Cohen (??), who taught integral calculus, and when he would ask a question--he would ask questions from time to time, and he would say, "So and so and so and so, Mr. Blanton?" And I would turn, and he'd say, "Excuse me, Miss Blanton." (laughs) And then, then he would, maybe a week later he'd be back, "So and so, Mr. Blanton." And I'd, I'd answer it, or sort of answer with the answer, or say, "I don't know," (laughs) and he'd say, "Excuse me, Miss Blanton." But--

33:00

TROLAND: So when was the last time in your life when you felt the need to make use of the integral calculus?

BLANTON: The day I graduated. (laughs)

TROLAND: I see. Uh--

BLANTON: And I, I wish, if I had taken, uh, almost anything else, (laughs) it would have done me far more good. I, it's that I just, uh, I enjoyed it, and it was fun, and aft-, and after I was a sophomore, I had that, I had so many hours in it that it was just easier to go on with that than it was to back up and pick up something else. I, I'm afraid that I've gone through life following the line of least resistance, and I did then.

TROLAND: I think few would describe a major in mathematics as, uh, the line of least resistance, but I accept your, your description nonetheless. Uh, you said that you knew, uh, uh, some of the members 34:00of the Johnson family. We interviewed earlier Jimmy Johnson, a long- term employee of Buffalo Trace. You knew some members of that family, is that not true?

BLANTON: Yes. I, I just, I just remember Jimmy and Benno (??), who, uh, were his father and his uncle, and I also knew Cary West (??). And I know that there i-, was a connection there, and I don't know exactly what it was, but, but the, the families owned property down there. And Cary (??) was quite a bit older, and my guess would be that he might have been a great-uncle.

TROLAND: When you say "Jimmy," uh, "Jimmy Johnson," you're referring not to--

BLANTON: Senior.

TROLAND: --the man who worked here for so many years, but to his father?

BLANTON: Father.

TROLAND: Yes, who also, of course, worked here.

BLANTON: Yes.

TROLAND: I see. How did you, how did you know these people, or under 35:00what circumstances did you meet them?

BLANTON: Well, just when I was working, just playing, would come down and play down here, and they would be here, and, uh--

TROLAND: What was your--

BLANTON: --you, you, you understand that this was eighty-odd years ago. (laughs) But I just remember the names, and I, I, I remember the way they, I, they looked. I can remember their face, and, and they looked, uh, Jimmy's father looked very much like he did. And, uh, uh, I knew him. I used to, to run into, when the, the, uh, uh, old post office was on High Street, I used to run into Jimmy frequently. I don't know whether they had a post office box there or what, but, but we would, uh, I would ask about it. And, and he also, uh, he and his family were 36:00customers of ours when we, when I worked at the J.B. Blanton Company, and I knew him through that.

TROLAND: Do you have any particular memories of World War II and its effect either on the community or on the distillery as you sort of understood it through your own--

BLANTON: I, I don't have any recollection connected with Uncle Albert, but I have a very clear recollection because I was here and I, I worked for the, the Blanton Company. And, uh, uh, and the, there were, all of the men were going. Most of my friends, uh, were married, and their husbands were in the Army or the Navy, and they had come home, and there wasn't anything much to do but play bridge. I think that's 37:00the reason I got to be such a bridge player. We'd play bridge in the evenings, and, uh, one night a week we'd go to the Salvation Army--I mean to the Red Cross--and roll bandages, and there was always quite a contest as to who could, how, roll the most bandages per hour, and I got the booby prize. I was--(laughs)--I was uh, never very good at handiwork, and, uh, it took me forever to roll a bandage, but, uh--

TROLAND: Did you ever develop a taste for bourbon yourself?

BLANTON: No. No. (laughs)

TROLAND: I understand that, uh, your uncle used to have parties at his residence here on the distillery grounds, uh, at which special bourbons 38:00were s-, provided, but apparently you never, uh, attended one of those parties.

BLANTON: No, I, I was, I was a whole, I was a, uh, really a generation and a half, uh, younger than Uncle Albert. He, he was about forty when I was born, and, uh, in those days, chil-, children just didn't go to things like that. And, uh, then, uh, by the time that, that I was old enough really to have attended, he, uh, he and Aunt Vannie (??) would entertain at home. Satur-, Sunday night supper was, uh, he would have friends in for Sunday night supper, and he was a wonderful cook. And 39:00Aunt Vannie (??) said once that I would rather prepare a twelve-course meal myself than clean up after Albert Blanton when he fixes Sunday night supper for six people. So--(laughs)--but he was very meticulous. If he chopped anything, he would chop, chop, chop, chop, chop into little teeny-tiny pieces, but his, his specialty was roast leg of lamb, and it was marvelous. And I, when I say that I, I didn't, uh, attend the parties, but we had family dinners together, our family at his house and he and Aunt Vannie (??) at our house. And when he had--he had, had a couple who lived up there; there was a house in the back. But when he had a family dinner, he would, he would cook. At least he 40:00would fix the roast lamb, and he would fix his specialties.

TROLAND: Can you think of any other stories, uh, involving your uncle that, uh, were either memorable or funny or unusual?

BLANTON: No. (laughs) I just can't. (laughs) I'll, but I'll tell you one thing: when I get home tonight, I imagine I'll think of, of, of many. (laughs) You know, you always do: "I should've, I should've come up with that."

TRAVER: I have a question about the, your dad's company. You might have already said what, what you did, what the company did, but could you talk about your dad's company?

BLANTON: Well, uh, my father, uh, when he, uh, when his father died, 41:00he went to work on a riverboat, working for the U.S. Engineers. They went up to, uh, around Beattyville, surveying for the series of locks and dams. There were s-, lo-, there were locks and dams lower down in the river, but nothing up at the headwaters of the river. And, uh, he, uh, was an instrument boy for the surveyors, and he loved the river. And when he was finally able to save enough money, he had a boat and, uh, a tugboat and a pump boat and some barges, and he pumped sand out of the Kentucky River. The Kentucky River sand is fine, and it's suitable for mortar sand. The Ohio River sand is coarse, and it is suitable for concrete. And then, uh, then he had a plaster mill, 42:00and, uh, he, uh, manufactured the plaster that went into, to the new Capitol, and started, uh, handling brick and mortar and, uh, sewer pipe and that sort of--and then he took on a line of, uh, lumber, and he also had a quarry out in Thorn Hill. And during the Depression, the quarry sold rock to WPA, and that is what kept us going. And my father said that he tied the, the boats and barges up along the side of the river because there was no call for the sand, and he kept, a, a 43:00skeleton, uh, force working there: one man in the office, and a night watchman who also drove the truck and manned the plaster mill. And he said some days we'd sell a sack of cement and some days we wouldn't sell anything. But the quarry and the, the roadwork and the WPA work kept him going. And, uh, so when I--he was not having any sons and having only two daughters, and I, since I was the older, when I was in high school I would work there in the summertime because he was desperate for me to learn something about the business. And then when I graduated, I went to work as the assistant bookkeeper. He had had a wonderful bookkeeper, but there were two companies that, that, uh, had 44:00to--and there was enough work of that kind for two people. So then I worked there, then after he died I more or l-, had--I guess the buck stopped with me, but there were, were other people really that knew more about the lumber, certainly about the, the building part of the business than I. And I stayed, then I sold it when I, or the family sold it, when I was sixty. I felt like I was ready to retire by that time.

TROLAND: Who do you think had the greatest influence on your life? What person have you known in your life that had the greatest influence, and what was that influence?

BLANTON: Well, I think Mother and Daddy had, had, had, and I, I, I-- never a day passes that I don't think about them a hundred times.

45:00

TROLAND: Is there anything else you'd like to say that I haven't asked you?

BLANTON: I have absolutely rung my mind dry. (laughs) I can't think of another thing. Y-, everything y-, everything I know, you know now.

TRAVER: I have a question. Was Uncle Albert the first member of your family in the bourbon business, or was your grandfather?

BLANTON: My grandfather was. He, my Grandfather Blanton went to, west with the gold rush, and he got as far as Denver and stopped and opened a store to sell things to people who were going on to California to, uh--and, uh, he prospered, and he thought that Denver was the coming 46:00city of the west, and he invested his money in Denver real estate. And when the Civil War broke out, he sold the real estate, bought Confederate bonds, came back home and joined the, uh, Confederate Army as a first lieutenant, and he served in a regiment, in a Tennessee regiment, under General Hood until the war was over, and he retired as a major. And then he came back home and worked for the dis-, worked for the distillery work, and his health was really ruined. He, he served all through the war, all through the big, big battles, and, uh--

47:00

TRAVER: So he must have lost much of his fortune.

BLANTON: He, he--such as it was, he lost it all. (laughs)

TRAVER: Because of the Confederate bonds.

BLANTON: Yeah.

TRAVER: He put it all into Confederate bonds. That wasn't the place to have it.

BLANTON: ----------(??) Uh-huh. And someone said, "Ben, that was a foolish thing to do." And he said, "I can't understand why anyone would wa-, be willing to give his life for a cause and wouldn't give his money." Of course, at that time he didn't have a family. He married after, when he met Grandmother Blanton, who was Alice Bacon, when she was here visiting Mrs. Crittener (??) and your great-great-great- great--(laughs)--grandmother and, uh, met her and married.

TROLAND: So I think it's fair to say that you have whiskey in your blood but not actual whiskey in your actual blood.

BLANTON: (laughs) Exactly. (laughs)

TROLAND: Well, thank you very much for taking the time out for this 48:00interview. We appreciate it very much.

BLANTON: Well, I, I, just as I said, I'm sure that, that, uh, when I sit down tonight (laughs) after supper, I'll think of a good many things that I should have told you and, and have not told you, but--

TROLAND: Well, you've already told us a lot, so we appreciate that so much.

TRAVER: Well, we'll catch those on the next round then, when you think of those.

BLANTON: (laughs) This is it. (laughs) Amen.

[End of interview.]

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