“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation — a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way ... nearly every American hungers to move.”
— John Steinbeck, from “Travels With Charley in Search of America”
From the English Puritans who braved hardships to cross the Atlantic nearly 400 years ago, to the Cambodians and Haitians who arrive on our shores today, we are a nation of people who have always journeyed in search of a better life.
On Wednesday, I had an opportunity to be part of the Winchester Kiwanis Club’s annual luncheon at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum. It was a perfect day for a picnic — cool and bright — and the menu was a perfect sampling of American food, including barbecue from DJ’s Bar & Grill, baked beans, potato salad, iced mint tea, and best of all, Roger Davis’ fresh, homemade blackberry cobbler with Breyer’s natural vanilla ice cream.
I¿thought, it doesn’t get any better than this.
But it did. The real treat was getting to view the museum’s new Smithsonian exhibit, “Journey Stories.”
The traveling exhibit, brought to Winchester by the Kentucky Humanities Council and funded by a federal grant, tells the story of migration in America through photographs, paintings, recordings, models and artifacts.
The stories cover the Plymouth Foundation, riverboat journeys, the California Gold Rush, the arrival of Irish and East European immigrants at Ellis Island, the West African slaves who came in chains, the construction of the great transcontinental railroads, the Dust Bowl migraton, the beginning of flight, and tourism by automobile after Henry Ford’s mass production of the “horseless carriage” made travel to national parks and and campgrounds affordable destinations to ordinary Americans.
The exhibit opened May 28 and runs through July 9.
If you want to relive an important aspect of American history during the Independence Day weekend, I would urge you to visit the museum.
It’s open during regular hours, from noon to 4 every day except Sunday, and will be open on the Fourth of July.
And, because the Smithsonian exhibit is on display at the museum, admission is free.
The museum is located at 217 S. Main St. in what was once the old Guerrant Hospital.
For more information, call 745-1358 or visit www.bgheritage.com.