It's true - bourbon brings people together

FATHER’S DAZE
Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

We went 500 miles to Kentucky to tour the Bourbon Trail in May and wound up running into someone else from my old home town in New York state 900 miles away.

They say a good bourbon can make strange things happen and apparently they’re right.

We spread our visit to the seven distilleries on the Bourbon Trail over two days – the better to savor all the good bourbon – and we ended the first day at the Maker’s Mark distillery.

It was early enough that we decided to take the full tour, so we bought our tickets and went outside the join the group getting ready to take the tour.

Standing there, I looked over at one of the other couples and noticed that he was wearing a 75th anniversary polo shirt from the Coldenham Volunteer Fire Department.

Since there’s only one place I know of in the entire United States called Coldenham – a little hamlet about 25 miles from Warwick, where I grew up – I had to ask him if that was where he was from.

He replied that he actually lived near Coldenham, in Walden, which was another coincidence since Walden was where Terry and I first lived after we were married.

We chatted a little bit and that seemed to be the end of it, except that he kept looking at me curiously.

Finally, he asked me my name and when I told him, he asked if I was related to George Feldner.

It turned out that he had grown up in Warwick as well, graduated from high school three years after me and had my father – the aforementioned George Feldner – for two years of math in high school.

When he added that he also had my father for his homeroom teacher his senior year, I figured at that point I owed him an entire bottle of bourbon in sympathy.

I told him that and he laughed, agreeing that my father had a reputation as a “hard-***” but quickly adding that he was good at math and thought my father was a great teacher.

It helped that he was also interested in railroads and quickly found out that Mr. Feldner was as well – and an easy way to get on the good side of “Little Grump” (my father’s nickname at the high school) was to talk railroads and trains with him.

He and his wife were visiting Kentucky and decided to take in the Maker’s Mark distillery at the end of their day after having visiting Mammoth Caves about an hour and a half away.

We took the tour with them and spent the time reminiscing about the old hometown, the old high school and my old man.

At the bourbon tasting that closed out the tour, the world got even a little bit smaller when we learned that a mother and daughter on the same tour were from Sheboygan.

I’m not sure if any distiller has ever used it as their slogan, but it appears bourbon has an amazing ability to bring people together from hundreds of miles away.

We ran into my fellow native Warwickian the next day at the Wild Turkey distillery, but this time they were leaving just as we arrived, so we didn’t get to share another tour – but by then, running into them hundreds of miles from home probably wasn’t so remarkable any more.


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